- 23 Jan 20
She saw the world touring with Damien Rice – and even met a fresh-faced Ed Sheeran. Fast forward 15 years and Vyvienne Long has released her second solo album.
There’s a song on Vyvienne Long’s fantastic new album, A Lifetime Of High Fives, called ‘Money Stuff’. It addresses the day-to-day struggles of jobbing musicians. But it is furthermore a rumination on the tribulations we all face trying to keep our necks above the waterline.
“It explores being a musician and also the challenges of making ends meet and feeling screwed over by big corporations,” says Long. “That feeling of being absolutely powerless to influence anything. Everybody has to suck it up, that’s the theme.”
Long today lives quietly in the Wicklow commuter belt. But she spent the early 2000's traversing the world as part of Damien Rice’s band. That’s her strident cello on ‘Volcano’, perhaps his most straightforwardly catchy song.
A decade-plus on she isn’t nostalgic, exactly, for those days. She is, however, struck by the extent to which the industry has changed. “I get nostalgic for that support system. As soon as he reached a certain level, so much was taken care of. I certainly miss that.”
If Rice were to call her up and ask her to travel the world with him again, what would her answer be? “I would certainly be willing to pack up a case if my own album found a wider audience. That would be brilliant. I would love to tour it. Otherwise I think, my domestic life would be a priority.” Some of her adventures during the Rice years were surreal. She recalls meeting an eager young teenage fan of Rice’s, who had flown over from England to see his hero in Whelan’s. He had red hair and his name was Ed (Sheeran). Whatever happened to him?
A Lifetime Of High Fives, on which Long sings and plays piano and cello, had been a while coming. It’s nearly a decade since her debut, Caterpillar Sarabande. In the interim, she put out a live record and Christmas and Halloween singles. Was the delay by choice? “It was a long time,” she nods. “I love the idea of a band going in and recording everything and it’s all really fresh. They do it all in two weeks. Mine took much longer. Part of that came down to the fact it was a solo project. The cello parts, the piano parts, the vocal parts – I did them all myself.”
Being an independent artist brings certain freedoms, she says. But there’s a lot of hard work. Again, she thinks back to her Damien Rice days and how straightforward it all felt. ‘The advantage is that if you can afford it, then you can make an album without having to have the nod from the record company.” She pauses. “The disadvantage is you’re doing absolutely everything yourself.”
A Lifetimes Of High Fives is out now.