Bournemouth-based award-winning contemporary folk group Tinderbox bring their All Grown Up tour to the Sherling Studio at Lighthouse on 21 October. Inspired by artists such as James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, and Counting Crows, their songs explore a myriad of poignant themes that range from war and the environment to lost friendship, global travel and (of course) love.
Dublin-born singer-songwriter Monique Houraghan reveals more about the band’s back-story, their latest album and life on tour …
Can you tell us a little bit about how Tinderbox was formed?
Dan and I met at University in 1994. In 1997 we began writing songs together and performing under the guise ‘Apeneck Sweeney’ (a name which derived from the T.S Eliot poem Sweeney among the Nightingales). We actually released an album under that name the same year. In 1998 we moved to my hometown of Dublin and began to write more original material; building up a healthy repertoire of our own songs. For many years we searched for the ultimate band name and in 2001, in Vermont USA, Dan was reading a book about The Who drummer Keith Moon in which it describes the band using a ‘tinderbox’ to keep their gig earnings in during their formative years. The word resonated; so he read the excerpt to me and that was kind of the 'Eureka' moment. Tinderbox was officially born.
Your new album All Grown Up has been really well-received and seems to have a real ‘coming of age’ feel to it – were there any recurring themes that came about as you were writing it?
Yes, your 'coming of age' reference is right. Recurring themes include reflections on childhood memories, coupled with the relationship we have with our own children now that we've 'grown up'. Also the realisation that life is short and we should ‘grab each moment while we can’.
Any favourite songs from that album?
That's a difficult question as all the songs say something significant to me. If I was pushed then I would say that Down The Track is one of my favourites.
Tinderbox have had tremendous success touring; both here in the UK and globally – any favourite moments or places you have visited?
We've been lucky enough to visit and perform in many countries but I think we'd both agree that our favourite place to date would be Fiji. It has such a relaxed and laid back atmosphere with everyone on so-called ‘Fiji time’. The people are really friendly and they absolutely love music. When we were out there we'd use our music to connect with the locals, taking it in turns to play our songs. We spent many evenings under the stars listening to each other's music and entertaining fellow travellers. We have fond memories of the Fijians repeatedly asking us to play ‘track number 4’ on our (then current) CD. At this point in time, 2001, we hadn't recorded any proper studio albums as 'Tinderbox'; only an album of demos that we recorded in America some months before. Track number 4 was called Out On My Own and happened to be the first song that I'd written on the guitar so it meant that much more. Some weeks later we bumped into the owner of this resort in the airport on our way out to our next destination. He said “they drove me crazy when you left - with Track Number 4 on constant repeat.” He went on to explain that eventually, the locals played the CD through the loud speakers so often that it stopped working. 'Track number 4' eventually ended up on our first studio album Golden in 2008. We should send them a copy!
In recent years Tinderbox has become a trio with the addition of multi-instrumentalist Bob Burke. What extra dimension does Bob bring to your music?
There's an ongoing joke between us about Bob being the 'third member of the duo'. We do play primarily as a trio now and have for many years but even before that Bob contributed significantly to Tinderbox - all the way back to that first studio album Golden in fact. Bob kind of puts the 'icing on the cake'. His harmonies work so well with my lead vocals and the way the two guitars interweave and harmonise is often quite sublime.
What are you looking forward to most about playing at Lighthouse?
Lighthouse is such a renowned venue and it’s so professionally run that it's a privilege to be a part of it (even if only for this show). We know that we're going to have a quality evening with a wonderful, attentive audience. It’s going to be a cracking night!