As Aslan celebrate 40 years, Christy Dignam reveals he was once on brink of Australia move
“I said, ‘What we’ll do is, we’ll go back to Ireland and I’ll give Aslan a year. Then we’ll get married and we’ll go back to Australia”
As they celebrate 40 years together, Christy Dignam today reveals that he was on the brink of emigrating to Australia when Aslan hit the big time.
The 62-yer-old singer and songwriter had been on holiday in Sydney with his partner, Katherine, and fell in love with the country.
“I was 21 when myself and Kathryn made our first trip to Australia,” Christy tells the Sunday World. “I had a sister living in Sydney, so we went over for a holiday. We were there for a month or two and we loved it down there.
“I said, ‘What we’ll do is, we’ll go back to Ireland and I’ll give Aslan a year. Then we’ll get married and we’ll go back to Australia, have our kids and rear our family there. That was the plan and here we are 40 years later.”
Christy’s songs such as This Is and Crazy World saw Aslan become a major force in music.
Despite the group splitting as a result of his drug addiction, they later reformed and are still one of our best-loved bands.
Rock legend Dignam, who has a rare form of cancer and was given just six months to live in 2013, tells how he depends on music for his positive approach to life.
“When that whole pandemic sh*t was going on and we weren’t gigging I was sat in my house starting to go mental,” Christy says. “When I’m on stage I exorcise all the demons and when I’m not doing it my head just starts getting melted. I had to go back to counselling, the pandemic was doing my head in that much. Now that I’m back out performing it’s amazing. On my first gig back the crowd were so loud I couldn’t hear the band and didn’t know where to start the song.”
Looking back on the early days of his career, Christy admits he had no idea that Crazy World would become one of their biggest ever hits. “The plan at the time back then was that you released your weakest single first and that would go bottom of the charts, then your second best song would go a bit higher when it was released and then you’d put out your best single. So it looked like you’re getting better all the time.
“We looked at the three songs and decided Crazy World was the worst of the three, so we put that out first and it became the hit it became. I thought, ‘If you like that wait till you hear Rainman’, which I considered to be the best. But, of course, it wasn’t received all that well.
“Even today, and despite being this long in the business, I still don’t know what is going to connect with people. Now I see the appeal of Crazy World, but at the time I didn’t see it at all. Ultimately, it’s the people who decide what’s going to be a hit.
“The amount of people that have come up to me over the years and said that song [Crazy World] got them through this or that, to me that’s better than a number one record. Just hearing those little stories of how it helped people through whatever traumas they were going through at the time is the best feeling.
“We were playing in Portlaoise recently and when we did the likes of Crazy World or This Is and we had the audience singing back our songs to us there is no feeling on earth like that.
“It’s hard to achieve any form of success, but to sustain it for as long as we have I’m proud of that. Of course, along the way we broke up and got back together again, but ultimately it was the songs that stood the test of time.
“Any young band that comes to me and asks for advice I tell them, ‘It’s all about the songs, if you don’t have the songs then it’s end of story.”
Aslan recently featured in a Virgin Media documentary that followed the band as they worked alongside the Red Cross to release a charity song for Ukraine.
The film follows Christy, Alan Downey, Joe Joel, and Billy McGuinness as they gathered members of the Ukrainian community in Ireland to record their classic song, This Is.
“It took a week to do it and it took their mind off their lives and the horror of what they are going through for a few hours each day,” Christy says. “Even if that’s all we achieved recording This Is with the Ukrainian choir then it was worth it.”
As the talk turns to band member Billy McGuinness’s appearance on Dancing with the Stars, Christy jokes: “When he came to us and said he had been offered it I told him, ‘Billy that show was made for gobsh*tes, go for it!’ He was probably the worst dancer I’ve ever seen, but look, Billy has a great personality and he was really entertaining on it.”
ASLAN will perform at The Galmont, Galway, during race week on Saturday, July 30.
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