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INTERVIEW Hometown on home ground



Hometown on home ground

Louis Walsh’s new band Hometown, featuring Breaffy’s Cian Morrin, talk about stepping onto the road to success

Edwin McGreal

As they relax in the sitting room in Cian Morrin’s parents’ house in Rhinshina, Breaffy, Castlebar, interrupting band practice to talk to The Mayo News, the six members of Louis Walsh’s latest boy band, Hometown, are asked if they are living the dream.
“Not yet,” smiles Ryan McLoughlin. “We’re still out of pocket, and trying to get €20 for a train out of here is a lot of money,” he adds, laughing.
He’s only half joking. If they make it big Hometown will certainly look back on times like last week in Breaffy as a sign of how far they’ve come.
Launched to much fanfare a couple of months ago, the six young men are facing plenty of hard graft. They’ve all given up school, college and jobs, and the big bucks seem a long way away as they crash in each other’s parents’ houses for practice sessions.
It was on a Friday lunchtime when we called to Paraic and Caroline Morrin’s home. Cian’s brother Eimhin and neighbour Colum Dravins were in one room relaxing and watching TV, while Hometown were across the hallway working on their harmonies.
Only a few months ago they had never met each other and now the six of them – Cian (19) from Breaffy, Ryan McLoughlin from Kildare, Dean Gibbons from Tallaght, Dayl Cronin from Tipperary, Josh Gray from Wicklow and Brendan Murray from Tuam – are trying to gel and make it big together.
They appear very much at ease with each other, wise-cracking and slagging and laughing. They are going to Sweden this month to record part of their first album, but first, they’re getting to know each other’s voices and, just as importantly, each other.

Classroom to stage
For Mayo man Cian, it is a remarkable change in direction. Last September he started third level in St Patrick’s in Drumcondra, training to be a national school teacher. He was gone inside a month when he was told he was in Louis Walsh’s band. After faring very well on X Factor in the UK and having clear ambitions for a music career, Cian was in the door to the music industry.
“I’d have singing above teaching any day,” he admits. “It was always the hope that I’d get somewhere like this. I was playing in a band, Scale 3, with two of my friends for three years around Castlebar and had gone for the X Factor and all those competitions … I decided to go for this and finally something worked out for me.”
Word leaked out long before an official announcement that Cian was in – he describes it as having being ‘the worst kept secret in Breaffy’.
Boy banter
Ryan is the main talker, 17-year-olds Brendan and Josh are the subject of plenty of gentle ribbing from the older lads about being underage while Cian, Dayl and Dean are all well able to hold their own as the barbs fly over and back.
What’s the worst habit any of them have?
“Brendan not hearing what we’re saying,” says Ryan, instantly. “Brendan has selective hearing. He tends to tune in every now and again. Or Tuam in,” he jokes, like a king of pun.
As you can imagine, it’s not all work and no play. Dayl admits to knocking plenty of fun out of the bouncy castle in the back yard, there for Cian’s youngest brother Finian’s birthday party. “You’re never too big for a bouncy castle,” he jokes. The six of them spent a couple of hours the previous evening playing football in the back garden, all things that help the bonding process.
Paintball was suggested as another bonding exercise, but quickly ruled off limits for fear one of them might get hit on the throat and damage their vocal cords.

The road ahead
The plan is to release their first album and single in September or October, while their first ‘proper gig’ will be July 11 next when they play support to Shane Filan in the Marquee in Cork.
They’ve already had the customary introduction to an Irish audience on The Late, Late Show, impressing the audience with their version of Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’. And they certainly did not produce a cringe classic for the ages like Boyzone did on their first appearance over 20 years ago. Cian describes appearing on Ireland’s flagship entertainment show as ‘great’ and ‘mad’
The lads are currently working on building up their fan base through social media, sharing covers of various songs.
Ryan describes their manager, Kiltimagh man Louis Walsh as ‘a good lad’. “He knows everything about the business and what you have to do and where you have to go. He knows it inside out and there’s no better man for us,” he admits.
Dean, whose grandfather is from Mayo and who is a cousin of the Reaney family in Parke, admits to loving the challenge of trying to find their niche these weeks.
“The last two months, with meeting up and jamming and stuff, you try to find a sound that is yours. Louis isn’t here for all of this, he doesn’t see this kind of work that we put in here but then when we meet up he can see the work we’ve been doing.
“Like we were listening to recordings of ourselves from a month ago to now and the difference is phenomenal. Our sound seems to be so much more natural now. We know where people sit in the vocals,” says Dean.
Do they have a long term plan?
“We’re not going to put a limit on it, we can only wish for success as long as we can go,” said Cian. “We’re doing the hard graft now. You have to do it. Any of the best bands have done the hard graft from the start.”
Had things gone differently, Cian Morrin would currently be lying around on three months’ summer holidays from St Pat’s, playing Junior B football with his brothers for Breaffy and performing in pubs around Castlebar.
Instead he is part of a band who Glenn Herlihy, the executive producer of their new album, thinks ‘will be one of the biggest bands in the world’. Maybe not living the dream just yet, but heading in the right direction.