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Acclaimed folk ensemble Only Child celebrate a decade of releasing music and playing gigs

Explore Liverpool Music Writer Matt Jacobson interviews songwriter Alan O’Hare from Only Child.

Alan O’Hare’s eclectic folk ensemble Only Child celebrate their tenth anniversary with a special gig featuring a string quartet and the launch of their first ever vinyl album ‘Looking Forward To Looking Back’. 

Since forming in 2012, they have released four acclaimed albums, three EPs and a live album recorded with a string quartet and have played headline gigs at Liverpool’s The Music Room, The Zanzibar Club, 81 Renshaw, The Magnet, Prohibition Recording Studios and Thornton Hough Village Club on Wirral. 

The tenth anniversary celebration takes place where it all began back in 2012, at Leaf on Bold Street – I wanted to know more about the ten years, influences and the future for Alan O’Hare 

Congratulations on the 10th year of Only Child – has the time gone quickly?

It has and it hasn’t! I’m just like everyone else, sometimes it feels like the blink of an eye and sometimes it feels like eternity. A decade seems like a long time in 2022 though… 

What have been the main changes since you began the journey?

Improvement! What’s the point of doing anything if you don’t enjoy it and get better? The changes in the world and in my world have been plentiful and hopefully the songs reflect that, too. 

What have been the challenges?

Keeping it all going! As an independent artist, it has to be about more than the money… ’cause there is none! So, keeping friends, family and fans motivated to keep coming back to gigs and investing in new music is the biggest challenge. Personally, I challenge myself every time I sit down with my guitar to do something better than I’ve done before. That’s the challenge that excites me most. 

What have been the highlights?

Making friends. It’s funny, when you release music and play gigs, if things go well, you get to make a whole host of new friends . I’ve met musicians, journalists and fans alike who I count amongst my friends now and that’s a great thing I think. Making four albums and having each of them sell-out of physical products has been heartening, too. 

Supporting some of my favourite songwriters, playing some seminal venues and going into Jon Lawton’s Crosstown Studios every year or so with a batch of new songs for the best musician in Liverpool to get stuck into alongside me.

With albums and EPs behind you, are the aims and objectives still the same, to produce and record?

Absolutely. If I’ve done anything right, that body of work can be something my daughter can look at in the future and see that anything’s possible in life and flexing your creative muscles is one of the noblest things a person can do. I’m 43 and still writing songs… it’s never gonna’ leave me, so the aim remains to record them and play them live to people.

Are your influences as important as ever?

I think so. I remain a restless listener and a rabid reader. I’m always at the bar seeing life itself all around me. In terms of music, the artists I really love are all growing older and it’s inspiring to see them continue to create and take me on their journey. I’d like to do that. 

You are celebrating at the place it all began, LEAF – will it bring back and evoke memories of the initial gig?

It really will. That night ten years ago at Leaf, the first Only Child gig, was a big one for me. Although I’d been in bands and had fun since I was a young man, that was the first headlining gig of mine and I’ve never looked back. It was a special night with a lot of love in the room. We had a string quartet playing with us for the first time and I can’t wait to recreate that vibe… with lots of new songs too, of course! And two of the band from that night will be with me once again: Jon Lawton on guitar and Lee Shone on keys, so that’ll be lovely. 

How will you select the setlist?

It’s all about the atmosphere I want to create. Songs that suit the strings. Songs that suit the room. New songs for me, old favourites for the audience, a couple of surprises to keep us all on our toes. The Only Child journey started with a record about grief and it’s still a well I go to often. The story of Only Child is how music can save your life, so the night will be upbeat too. I better get cracking on this setlist then, eh… 

What next for Alan O’Hare?

Crosstown Records has just released a limited edition vinyl LP for me: ‘Looking forward To Looking Back – A Decade Of Only Child‘ and I’m so proud of it. My first vinyl playing record! We’ll launch it September 23rd at Leaf with a string quartet, head across the water to Thornton Hough Village Club November 19th with the band and then announce some smaller things and support slots to continue to promote the record. Album number 5 is written and the recording is on the horizon too. Gotta’ keep moving… 

Thank you Alan and very best wishes!

With Love and Peace

Matt

Matt Jacobson

Explore Liverpool

You can see Only Child at Leaf this month, ticket link below.

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