Irish Musician, Rory Gillanders, Talks to Us About His Return to Music with His First Track in Three Years, “Soulless World”

The Dubliner Rory Gillanders has always had a love of the music of singer-songwriters (notably Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Noel Gallagher, and Ryan Adams) but he didn’t envision himself following in that lineage until he suffered an accident.

“I always loved listening to music and stuff, but when I got the guitar, I didn’t really play it that much, to be honest,” Rory tells Post-Burnout. “I got a few lessons and stuff, but then kind of lost interest, you know?

“It was only when I was in London, I got a back injury, I was out of work for maybe six or eight months, and I bought an old guitar in a charity shop, and I had a lot of time on my hands, obviously, so that’s when I kind of started writing songs, properly, and spending a bit of time on it, you know? So, yeah, look, every cloud has a silver lining.

“So, that’s kind of how I started getting into it properly, then. I was in London, I ended up recording an EP over there and just going to a few open mics and stuff, and that’s kind of how I started getting the ball rolling on the whole thing, properly, anyway.”

After five years living in London, Rory moved back to Ireland in 2019. “I was working full-time, as well though, so I wasn’t properly focusing on the music as much,” Rory says of the time after moving back. “It’s hard to kind of juggle the two, you know what I mean? But, yeah, I moved back then, and I recorded an EP when I returned to Ireland, and kind of tried focusing on it a bit more, you know?”

Viewing Rory’s discography tells the story of this move: His first EP, Tomorrow Means Nothin’, was released in 2017 and was followed by three singles in 2018. Then there was a three-year gap until he returned with the single “Eye of a Hurricane,” followed by another single and his second EP, Wilderness, all released in 2021.

As may not come as a surprise, considering the year of release, those slew of songs were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. “You were saying about the back injury and then COVID, the songs I write seem to be inspired by bad situations, but I’ve managed to get music from them,” says Rory.

“It’s been therapeutic, kind of, writing about those situations and getting the words down on the page, and, yeah, I’ve got some [Laughs] good tunes out of it, out of the situations. So, I seem to be kind of inspired by those kinds of situations, but, sure look, what can you do? Whatever inspires you, you’ve got to work with it.”

Photographer Uncredited
Courtesy of Old Crows Promotions

Since then, Rory settled down in Maynooth and spent a considerable amount of time constructing a consistent band that he could record and gig with. Despite having now achieved that, he never wants to lose sight of his ability to perform as a one-man army.

 “I really want to try and get the full band going, but the essence of a song, a lot of the stuff I would’ve started listening to was just acoustic guitar [and] lyrics, like Dylan and Springsteen,” Rory says.

“I love the lyrics of the songs, and to be able to strip the song back to just those basic elements and it still kind of resonates is good, so I’m hoping that the songs themselves are powerful enough without the full band.”

Today, after another three-year gap, Rory released his first track since the Wilderness EP, titled “Soulless World.” Opening with the line, “Now the old world is gone and it ain’t coming back/But maybe we can build a better one,” the song was written during the COVID-19 lockdowns and was Rory’s attempt at finding the silver lining of that dire situation.

When we asked Rory if he legitimately believed that the post-pandemic world was going to be a better place when he penned those lyrics, he laughed and replied, “No! Ah, look, you know, nothing lasts forever, you know? I was thinking about that saying, ‘The only constant thing in the universe is change,’ so I was trying to put it in perspective, even though it was horrendous.

“’It won’t last forever and there will be a day when it’s finished,’ even though it did not seem like it at the time, at all. It was horrible, but that’s what I was trying to get at, there: Maybe there’s a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel, maybe.”

On how the song resonates now that the lockdowns have (touch wood) ended, Rory says, “It’s all a bit surreal, looking back, isn’t it? Thinking, ‘Did that actually, really happen?’ It’s something you still kind of think about, don’t you? It was such a strange thing to live through, and I’m definitely still scarred. I think a lot of people are still traumatised by it, and I think I am.”

The day we talked with Rory was actually the eve of his wedding day. “Yeah, maybe not the best time to release a single!”  he quipped on the day. After establishing the band and getting married – which were endeavours that occupied his time and concentration – Rory now feels that he is in a position to focus on giving his fans a more regular string of releases.

“I just want to put music out a bit more consistently,” he says. “I don’t want there to be that big gap again between releases, you know? So, I’m already thinking about the next single and working on that, and just putting things out a bit more consistently, and putting the band together took a while to get all that in place.”

The song is accompanied by a music video that Rory and his friend shot in a few hours on the Clontarf Promenade, using his friend’s iPhone, and was later edited and colour-graded by him for little to no money. “Fair play to him, man,” says Rory. “Because, like I said, I had no budget, really, to do it. So, the next one will be AI!  [Laughs]”

This causes Rory to reflect on the tenacity of being an independent artist. “It’s very hard, you know?” he says. “Nowadays, for independent musicians, there are so many people trying to do it, and I’m […] just looking for even a little bit of recognition for people to listen to the song and maybe it resonates with them, man. So, look, you just got to chip away and keep trying.”

Rory Gillanders’ latest single, “Soulless World,” is available on all streaming platforms now. You can keep up with Rory on his website.

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