O’Shea are an unstoppable force. Making their debut as a performing duo in 2007 and releasing their first official album in 2011, everything’s looking up for the new country superstars. From receiving numerous accolades for their musical talents, being a part of the Tourism Australia initiative, to raising a family of two, the humbling pair of husband and wife Mark and Jay O’Shea are staying on the road of success.
Welcoming the new year with their latest album ‘The Famine And The Fame’, O’Shea are ready to take their show on the road and keep doing what they love doing. We had a chance to interview Mark and discuss the inner-workings behind their passionate album, their musical relationship, and all the travelling ahead. Here’s what he had to say…
Stephanie Ochona: Hiya, how are you today? Where is our interview finding you?
Mark O’Shea: Backyard of a rented house in Tamworth. Kookaburras laughing and sun shinning!
Mark O’Shea: Our “work” is doing what we love, so we never get tired of that! The 20 something hr flight from Nashville to Sydney with the 2 kids is a bit of a killer though….
SO: You’ve featured in the top #3 spot of the ARIA Country Charts and had several #1 singles before, what are your hopes for the new album?
Mark O’Shea: We were kinda hoping to do a deal with every local council in Australia whereby every time you turned on your tap to get a drink of water, someone arrived at your doorstep with our new CD….. it was inspired by U2.
Unfortunately that didn’t take off ;) So I guess we are just hoping that folks buy it and enjoy it!
SO: Can you tell us more about the title ‘The Famine And The Feast’? Why did you chose to go with this title and what does it mean to the band?
Mark O’Shea: The album is about Life and Love and the 2 extremes that they both hold. So “The Famine” is 6 songs that are more introspective, darker and focus on the fallout of love and “The Feast” is a lot more positive in sentiment and highlights all the beautiful and exciting things about being in love.
SO: Love is one of the most popular topics in music, how did you find an original approach to such a timeless idea within this new record?
Mark O’Shea: We found that the songs we were writing were very extreme in their lyrical positions. That is to say the protagonist in the song isn’t feel a little down, he or she is completely crushed. OR conversely, they’re not feeling like things might turn out ok, they’ve had a revelation that the world is beautiful place and they have an incredible amount of power to participate in it.
SO: You’ve mentioned that these songs are very personal and close to both your hearts. Do you think your attachment to the songs would affect your future performances of them?
Mark O’Shea: It always does. Jay cries all the time. ;)
SO: How do you feel about the public being able to listen to songs that are quite intimate and precious to you both?
Mark O’Shea: That’s what the relationship between artist and listener is all about. If we didn’t care about what we were singing about, how can we expect anyone else to?
SO: O’Shea has packed in quite a lot of musical variety in this album by playing everything from electric guitar to banjo, and even a mandolin. Is experimentation in the cards for O’Shea’s future releases?
Mark O’Shea: We like to keep things interesting from an instrument standpoint, but don’t look for a Polka record from us anytime soon.
SO: The iconic Tim Nichols is someone O’Shea has collaborated with in the past, and he has come back for ‘The Famine And The Feast’. This time you also got a chance to work with Grammy Award winner Steve Wariner and Shaye Smith. Do you ever get star struck by other musicians you get to write/perform with?
Mark O’Shea: All the time. We live in a state of being starstruck. That’s what makes living in Nashville so exciting. There’s always someone or something to inspire you.
SO: What drew you to working with Steve and Shaye on this new record and what was the most valuable thing that you took away from those sessions?
Mark O’Shea: They’re both great songwriters themselves, and of course Steve is one of the world’s greatest guitar players, but above all, they are beautiful human beings. It’s always a joy to work with nice people.
SO: Are there any artists/producers you would love to collaborate with in the future?
Mark O’Shea: I could be here all day writing names if I were to start down that path! But yes, we’ve been lucky to work with some of our musical heroes and hope to continue with that in the future!
SO: Before you were O’Shea, you were both individual artists. What major differences did you find between working solo and working as a duo?
Mark O’Shea: Compromise. Which is a good thing. As a solo artist, I would have an idea and get all worked up over it thinking it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Fortunately, as a duo, I have another set of ideas to keep my wackiness in check…. and visa versa.
SO: Do you two have any solo projects on the side or is all of the focus on O’Shea now?
Mark O’Shea: It’s full steam ahead on the duo front and we are having a ball!
SO: You’ve got a few shows coming up in Australia for your #BadDayGood Tour. Are you excited to be back on the road?
Mark O’Shea: Very excited to be playing the new songs and catching up with old friends.
SO: Is there anything you miss when you’re busy touring?
Mark O’Shea: Sleep.
SO: Do you have any special remedies or must-have items that you take with you on the road?
Mark O’Shea: 2 Kids.
SO: Will O’Shea be taking their #BadDayGood Tour to an international scale later this year?
Mark O’Shea: We have some shows and festivals in the US coming up. We never really stop playing it’s the thing we love the most!
SO: Thanks for your time!
O’Shea’s brand new album The Famine and the Feast is out now.