Flux talks to Pat Byrne

With his gravelly vocals, penchant for Springsteen covers and skill with a guitar, it was easy to see why every Voice of Ireland mentor wanted Pat Byrne on their team. The obvious winner from the outset, Pat easily beat out the competition to take the top prize of a €100,000 recording contract in April of this year. Since winning The Voice, he has completed work on his debut album All Or Nothing, which to make his own he had to do battle with the inner workings of the music industry. Not completely at ease in the plush surroundings of the Westbury Hotel, where his press day is taking place, you can see that Pat is still the same lad from Borris in Co. Carlow.

“My biggest worry after winning was that I was going to be thrown a load of cover songs, or get a load of crap songs written for me,” he says, reflecting on his feelings after the win. At first, however, it appeared his fears were justified. Upon his arrival at the Metrophonic “hit factory” studios in London, he discovered that the producers had different ideas about the direction they wanted Pat to go: “They didn’t know anything about me because I was on The Voice of Ireland, and when I got there they had a lot of Olly Murs dance-pop stuff written for me. It wasn’t what I wanted at all. But after a while they started to understand what I was about.

With the help of his Voice mentor Bressie and Danny O’Reilly of The Coronas, Pat began crafting the album he wanted to make. Behind all this lies the fear that being the winner of a TV talent show is a hindrance to being taken seriously as a recording artist (X Factor 2010 winner Matt Cardle being an glaring example of this), but Pat is confident in his abilities. “Obviously there is a stigma attached to [being the winner of a TV talent show], but I honestly think this album is a lot different to anything that has come from a TV talent show,” he says. “I went and I wrote some of it myself, we recorded it in Phil Collins’ studio with a live band – it was approached like I was an up and coming singer-songwriter, and not like “Here, I won this, let’s get an album out as quick as we can.

Pat praises The Voice for focusing primarily on musical talent and not on grabbing tabloid headlines, in comparison to other TV talent shows. “I don’t know how it was watching it, but it felt like it was more about the talent. When you’re watching The X Factor, it really is just like a soap opera and then every couple of minutes they come out and sing a song,” he says. “It’s more about the personalities and what’s going on behind the scenes, you see so much stuff in the papers…I don’t think anyone who watched The Voice could say there was any background story at all, it was really just about the singing.

With mentor Bressie a constant source of advice and guidance, his career is in good hands. His friends and family are right beside him on his journey, even if sometimes their support takes unusual forms. “Every week my friends doctor my Wikipedia page,” Pat laughs. This week it says “math genius” beside his name. “Did they mention The Leavey Lads too? That was a pop band we started for a laugh in the first year of college. We put up loads of posters around campus saying “Live gig on the Astroturf pitch” and 80 or 90 people showed up! We all dressed in white and sang Backstreet Boys covers. It was good craic. We had a lot of Buckfast.”

All Or Nothing is out on November 16th. Follow Pat on Twitter @patbyrne_

Pat Byrne

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