Music | Busker's Paradise


Tattooed fans, the admiration of Paul Weller and dreams of busking around the Continent – Kate Rothwell finds out why Declan O’Rourke has the big, bad, beautiful world at his feet.


Declan O’Rourke doesn’t envision taking on continental Europe the same way that most of his musical peers do; three-month intensive tours of anywhere his agent can book him in wherever the latest album has been released. After a couple of gigs in Berlin, he would rather follow his own route when taking his music abroad.

“I love just travelling around and being a nobody… I like the idea of maybe doing that at some stage, going off, travelling around the world and doing a bit of busking for a couple of years.”

That’s not to say that he doesn’t have enough to keep him busy on these shores as he continues to play gigs around the country and this month sees the release of Declan O’Rourke – Live, ten tracks from his concert in the Dublin National Concert Hall, for which his songs were rearranged to be accompanied by a string section.

Last year saw the release of his second album, Big Bad Beautiful World, but while “looking forward to making some new records in the future”, Declan shies away from specific details about his next album.

“I’m working on various things in that respect but I don’t know which one’s going to win the race so I’ll have to hold my breath on that one.”

One fan of O’Rourke’s, who will no doubt be keen to get his hands on a copy of whatever he next releases, is punk legend and frontman of the Jam, Paul Weller, who, when asked by Q magazine what song in the last twenty years he wished he’d written, said O’Rourke’s ‘Galileo’.

Possibly O’Rourke’s best known song, it was a surprise to him that it should be the one which would attract so much attention. “I can understand why people separate it from the rest of the stuff – it’s quite different… it’s not the kind of thing that you hear any more. It is an old style thing. When I wrote that I was amusing myself, it’s the kind of stuff I love listening to but I didn’t think that anybody would be interested in it. I was excited about it just on a personal level.”

In a market saturated with one-man acoustic folk musicians, the temptation to alter your act in order to sell more records and get more radio airplay is great, but it is not something that Declan is concerned about. “You can’t compare yourself with however many other ones are out there… you can and some people will, and change what you do to suit the market but I can’t do that. I started out doing this because I loved it… it got me to a certain point at least so I’ll stick by that.”

O’Rourke doesn’t need to change what he does in order to earn the adoration of his fans – the current background to his MySpace page displays how one girl even went so far as to have lyrics from ‘Sarah’ tattooed across her stomach.

“She did say that she was going to get another one done but I haven’t heard back.” There may be many of his kind about, but this singer-songwriter has definitely made his mark.

Declan O’Rourke plays the Olympia on 12th December