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INTERVIEW Singer/songwriter Kevin May


Kevin May and Mick Lynch have been gigging together as The Guggenheim Grotto and Storyman for the last nine years.
?Kevin May and Mick Lynch have been gigging together as The Guggenheim Grotto and Storyman for the last nine years.

Life on the road

Ballinrobe musician has recharged his batteries and is back on tour

Ciara Galvin

A FAR cry from travelling the highways and byways of the USA with his band Storyman, Ballinrobe man Kevin May took a break from a hectic touring schedule late last year to catch up with friends and family in south Mayo and to do ‘a little’ bit of songwriting.
Having travelled through 43 of the 50 US states over the last number of years with former band The Guggenheim Grotto, now renamed Storyman, May came home late last year to renew his visa and recharge the batteries.
Returning to the US last week to embark on a 30 date tour supporting big name indie singer songwriter Ingrid Michaelson, the coming weeks and months will be busy for him and fellow band member, Dublin man Mick Lynch.

In the beginning
So where did it all begin? Kevin said it all started off when he took the stage for Ballinrobe Communitys school’s 1994 production of ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’. From there he played in various bands teaming up with local men Brian Ansbro and Eamon Mulderrig, before forging a partnership with Lynch, who was a musical acquaintance of Mulderrig. From there, Lynch and May eventually formed the folk influenced indie band The Guggenheim Grotto in 2005.
The duo developed a cult following at home and abroad and achieved unexpected success with their first album ‘...Waltzing Alone’, with songs featuring on major US prime-time shows ‘Brothers and Sisters’, ‘One Tree Hill’ and the 2007 film ‘The Education of Charlie Banks’.
“We had success with the first album and it was the first time we had a rush of TV placements. Since then we’ve been steady,” explained the singer songwriter, adding that it was only when they released their second album did they take the leap to quit the day jobs.
Speaking about the influences on his music career, the easy going musician said the fact his brother David played guitar as he was growing up led him to pick up the guitar. But May says it was the Dublin singer songwriter nights in Dublin he and Lynch used to attend, that really inspired him.
“People like Mundy, Paddy Casey, Glen Hansard and Damien Dempsey would drop in and sing a few songs and we would just go up without a mike and with an acoustic guitar and just play. They inspired us to go on.”
After many tours across the USA, Kevin says Storyman are now focusing on more manageable tours, since their gruelling 2010 tour when they did coast to coast a number of times and even did the driving themselves.
“That was the most gruelling. We’d think ‘what are we doing’ and don’t get me wrong I like Mick, but being in a car with him for that length of time?” he joked, adding that the current tour would be the first on a tour bus with the added bonus of ‘being able to sleep’.
On the road
So what are May’s favourite things about touring? Well, simply being on stage, getting to meet old and new friends and seeing new places. And, at the end of it all, having great stories to tell! Like this one. After playing a concert at a house in the wilds of West Virginia, and with a broken down car, the lads had to stay at the house for the weekend, unknowingly attending a swingers party.
“It was an OK gig and after we finished, a DJ started and the place turned into a swingers party. Myself and Mick didn’t know what to think,” he admitted.

Where to now?
After their phenomenal success as The Guggenheim Grotto why the change of name, and why now?
“We signed with a new publisher and had a new album coming out and it’s a lot more up tempo. And people had a difficulty with the name The Guggenheim Grotto. We thought now is a good time to change. I think changing the name will stand to us.”
Asked what plans are in store for Storyman, May is grounded in his reply, explaining that he and Lynch review their progress after every tour in order to assess whether to stay touring or go down the route of recording.
“At some stage we have to decide to just be a recording band. Mick is married now and touring is difficult,” explained May.
And when can we expect Storyman to treat their Irish fans to a concert? For now that isn’t entirely certain but according to May, it could be on the cards for Christmas. Here’s hoping.