- 24 Aug 23
After the success of Walking On Cars, former lead singer Pa Sheehy has embarked on a promising solo career, recently releasing his new EP Lost In A '90s Arcade. The Kerry star discusses his musical inspirations, changing vocals and an upcoming Irish tour.
After Pa Sheehy’s 2021 EP The Art Of Disappearing, and 2022 single ‘Róisín’, the Dingle native may just have hit his creative peak new EP Lost In A '90s Arcade. On some tracks, you might barely recognise Pa’s voice, but be assured that it is the most sincere version of himself you’ve ever heard.
“During the last few years, I’ve slowly fallen out of love with my voice, and how it sounds on a record,” says Sheehy. “When I would record the vocals, I’d listen back to it and think: ‘I’m not sure I believe this guy’. So I tried to strip away everything I knew and what I was about, and just see what else was there. What you hear on the new EP is as raw and as naked a vocal as you’ll hear me sing.”
The new EP, released on Irish label Paragon, avoids overproduction, instead focusing on five intimate and engaging songs. Sheehy’s new vocal approach has unlocked another level for the Kerryman, one fans are already fond of.
In particular, on ‘Meet Me At The Record Store’ and ‘Stutter’, his vocals are higher and more delicate than ever, something he puts down to the influence of his favourite musicians, and especially several female artists.
As well as long-time favourite Bon Iver, Pa cites the likes of The Staves, Soccer Mom, and even Ireland’s own Sorcha Richardson as inspirations. One artist does, however, stand above them all.
“Phoebe Bridgers probably would have been the most inspiring to me in the last while,” he notes. “I completely fell in love with her album, Stranger In The Alps. Her new record is awesome too, and then of course the boygenius stuff. She’s on a different level.”
And as for a dream collaborator to work with? There could only be one answer: “Ye, Phoebe Bridgers. That’s an easy one.”
Pa’s love of music goes back to early childhood, when his mother would take him to Roxy Records in Tralee. Back then, the most impressively colourful album cover informed his music taste.
“As a kid, we’d go into Tralee every couple of months, you’d follow your mother around shopping,” he reflects. “And at the end if you were good, you’d get to go into Roxy Records and pick out a CD. The CD I picked would never be based on my knowledge of music, but on how cool I thought the artwork was. A lot of my favourite albums to this day were found by that process. I still have a very vivid memory of going into the rock and metal section, and looking at an album called Follow The Leader by Korn, because the artwork was so amazing. That’s one of my favourite albums today.”
The album is mentioned on ‘Meet Me At The Record Store’, as is David Bowie’s Hunky Dory, which Pa also discovered for the first time in the Tralee record shop.
Indeed, ‘Meet Me At The Record Store’ is a touching song, where Sheehy searches to find the essence of who he is. Much of the music on the record follows this theme, with the singer being as candid in his lyrics as he can be.
Meanwhile, Pa’s upcoming Irish tour this December includes shows in Dublin, Galway, Cork, Limerick and Belfast, and finishes up in his home county Kerry. Looking forward to the tour, one show in particular means the most to him.
“The one I’m looking forward to most is the INEC in Killarney,” he enthuses. “It’s the home crowd. And the last time I played there it was during Covid, so we could only sell 180 tickets. This time we can fill the place. My hometown has always been a great support. Even in the Walking On Cars days, there was a community behind us, and I’m starting to feel that again for the solo music.”
Lost In A '90s Arcade is out now.
• Pa Sheehy is playing Electric Picnic (September 1–3), while his Irish tour begins on December 1 at Whelan’s in Dublin.
Read the full, extensive Electric Picnic special feature in the current issue of Hot Press: