RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW BELFAST BAND MARTY RAFO
Hiya Marty thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
I got my first guitar at the age of 11 for Christmas and ended up becoming obsessed with it then. My brothers used to play the Oasis “There And Then” DVD flat out in the house and that’s when my idol became Noel Gallagher and I pretty much wanted to be him
Introduce us to you / all to the members and your musical history.
My name is Marty Rafo and I’m a singer/songwriter from Armagh N. Ireland. Current members of my band are; Dave Mulgrave (Drums) Jordie Kelly (Bass) and Conor Cunningham (Lead Guitar.)
I formed a pretty successful rock band called Ignition whilst at high school and we played sold-out shows in both our hometown of Armagh and Belfast.
After that, I formed another rock band in my mid-20s called “Shoot The Preacher.” It was pretty successful also, as we secured management in the states and played a lot of shows over there, including “Rock The Fort” music festival supporting “All That Remains” at Fort Bliss Texas to over 10,000 US troops.
I then Formed “Martin Rafferty And The Northern City Lights” which was a great success. We did a first successful UK tour and even met the likes of Noel Gallagher, Jimmy Page and Bono and received some really good press. Our last single “You’ll Never Be Alone” reached No.1 In the UK/Ireland iTunes charts.
I then changed my name for the last time to “Marty Rafo” and here we are now
What was life like for you before you embarked on a career path in music or was music always the direction you were going to go?
I picked up the guitar at the age of 11 thankfully, so before that, I was more interested in playing sports and wanted to be an archaeologist. I had a great fascination with dinosaurs. That all changed when I picked up the guitar
What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?
I remember hearing “Wonderwall” for the first time and wanting to play it on guitar. After I learnt how to play and sing that song, I knew that this is wanted I wanted to do for life and make a living from it
Knowing you have a background in running a music school and teaching up and coming kids the trade, where do you feel you currently sit within the music industry and what do you feel your place is within it?
I’ve pretty much modernised my sound from changing my name, and obviously because of teaching, am familiar with today’s mainstream commercial style. I’m also writing songs in a different way and getting the tracks produced different. So I think my sound currently has that modern mainstream feel to it, which would’t sound out of place on any commercial radio station
What’s the biggest thing you have learned from someone else in the industry?
I think it’s all the small changes that turn into really big things from my current PR Linda Coogan Byrne from Good Seed PR. She has taught me about branding, commercial radio and who I can be as a songwriter instead of as an artist, being pigeon hold into one specific category.
Tell us Two truths and a lie about you.
One of my other hobbies is boxing
2. I’m also currently learning how to swim
3. Noel Gallagher wants me to co-write a song for the big Oasis reunion
If you could wish for one thing to aid your career what would it be?
A music sync deal that lands me an £100k cheque. It’s not cheap being an independent artist and investing in your own career
Do you ever worry about people taking things the wrong way or cancel culture? Discuss….
Not really. To anyone who knows me, I’m a pretty respectful person and am totally all for anyone who wants to be or do whatever they want in life as long as it doesn’t offend or hurt anyone else.
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories? If not why not?
I love to watch conspiracy videos on YouTube for entertainment purposes, but after I finish watching them, I don’t really give them a second thought. My favorite one at the minute is the “Paul McCartney Is Really Dead” conspiracy
What was the worst experience you have had on stage?
I was playing an acoustic Gig with my mate years ago in our hometown of Armagh when two gunmen walked in and opened fire on some lads in front of us. To this day, it’s probably still my worst gig experience
Tell us something about you / each member that you think people would be surprised about.
I won the ” Most Inspirational Educator Of The Year” award at our local Armagh i People of the Year awards in February
Conor is also the lead guitar player in a great wedding band called “The Gatecrashers” and likes to smoke pipes
Jordy can play about 5 different instruments and is a genius at sound production
Dave has two amazing kids and is one of the supervisors of one of Ireland’s biggest care homes
What makes you stand out as a band/artist?
I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel and just write great upbeat pop/rock songs that have a positive message. I’m now just trying to keep things simple and focusing on great catchy melodies with great sound production, that people can on the dancefloor and get them in a great mood
I hear you have new music out, what can you tell us about it?
Yes, I have a new single coming out called “Our Last Goodbye.”
I’m super proud of it and we have recorded three separate versions of the song, which are all due to be released separately. One is the band version, another the acoustic version and lastly, a dance version produced by a great up and coming DJ called Cokebeats.
I set myself a challenge to write the perfect No.1 hit pop song and really do think I achieved it with this track
What was the recording process like?
It was completely different from anything that I had ever done before. I went into the studio and recorded vocals, guitar, and piano with Jordy and another friend Connall McBride at Manor Park Studios. The files were then sent to another producer called Gavin Kennedy who produced the track and added the drums and bass etc. I couldn’t be more happy with how everything turned out
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?
I think it was learning how to simplify everything and studying other hit songs.
I’m now writing to a click and beats instead of solely on guitar and I’m doing a lot of the pre-production work before I hit the studio and working alongside producers more closely.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
In all honesty, not one thing
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world? Be persistent, be consistent, and have no fear