NIALL Breslin is not an angry man, but he exudes a palpable air of cynicism, even world weariness, odd in someone so young.
The former Blizzards front man, now turned solo and self-styled as ‘Bressie’, has just released his debut solo offering, the chart-conquering ‘Colourblind Stereo’, and is shortly to arrive in Limerick to play his first solo gig in Dolan’s - a venue he remembers fondly from the Blizzards days.
Breslin has a tale to tell and he is not interested in niceties or platitudes, a straight-talking, interviewer’s dream whose conversations are littered with expletives and witty asides; for example, when discussing the vagaries of a song produced by David Guetta he says “there is more melody in a f*cking dead badger”. Nice.
He’s a brave soul also, deciding in January 2010 after two platinum albums and a string of top 10 singles that he needed a new challenge, upping sticks for London and a job with Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment as a songwriter.
“I said that for years, in every interview I have done, if five years down the line The Blizzards are still playing the same venues, I can’t do that any more, it is not progress, it wasn’t for me personally and it wasn’t for the guys either,” says Bressie, speaking from his London home.
“We had just signed in the UK and things were looking up, but it is a strange industry and I didn’t feel like...I didn’t think I was going to develop in any way doing what I was doing. I do still - we all want to make another album, but we only want to make it just for ourselves, we don’t want to worry about record labels or selling albums - but we are still very close friends,” he stresses.
Discovering a “fantastic creative energy” in London helped Bressie ease his way into his new life as a songwriter, but it wasn’t easy.
“My first week over here I was tasked with writing for a rapper/r’n’b singer - and I thought, Jesus Christ, what do I know about that? But it is exciting and you find yourself going and researching these genres and producers and you are pushed hard and I have always liked that, no matter what I have done. Being pushed, not having a choice, unless you want look stupid, sitting around a studio saying I can’t do anything here.”
Released in May, his first single ‘Can’t Stay Young (Forever)’ proved to be a massive airplay hit and showed his new direction - eschewing the pop-rock-indie referencing Blizzards tunes for a bouncy, 80s-type pop with lots of nods to the likes of Duran Duran and Pet Shop Boys. It took a lot of self-belief for him to abruptly change his style, but he is unconcerned about the critical reaction.
“I didn’t necessarily have a lot of self-belief in going off and doing something completely different, but I love sitting down and working out a song, I love melody,” he explains slowly.
“What I was doing in terms of direction and production, I didn’t want to make it like the Blizzards. My love of music is from the 80s, my love of production - I love 80s sounds. That creeps in a lot and I used a lot of old 80s synths on the album.
“Some Blizzards fans won’t like it - I really hope they all do, but I know some of them won’t. Unfortunately I would rather build something that is a little different for me, rather than just doing what I have been doing,” he adds.
The likeable Mullingar man admits to being extremely nervous ahead of the release of his single - he says it in a way that is unprintable here - and says he was “emotional” when it hit number one in airplay terms. That doesn’t ease the stress of releasing his album and going on tour, however.
“It never eases, it just doesn’t. I don’t know how to monitor success any more, I don’t know if it is when you sell out a venue or if it is getting a number one, or the radio play - I don’t know, that is what confuses me,” he says. “I have never particularly cared what critics think, it is not really my thing, what sold Blizzards records was us getting on the road and playing every county in Ireland, working our asses off.
“I just want people to listen to the album. I can’t stop illegal downloading but I just want people to realise what does go into making an album, the sh*t you have to go through - it is not drinking Jack Daniels in a studio, it is disgusting, it is fighting, it is sleepless nights - I just think I want people to enjoy it and say, you put a lot into that. That is my personal monitor of success. I am pretty sure Sony’s is different though,” he laughs.
‘Bressie’ plays in Dolan’s Warehouse on October 6. Tickets are on sale now.