In conversation with Tony Clayton Lea (Irish Times)

It’s all about the roots – we are what we are because of circumstance, upbringing, family environment and influence. For proof of this all you need to do is take even a cursory look at the career of Colm Quearney (aka Q). Colm grew up listening to blues and jazz, and checking out his dad’s nifty bass playing at Sunday afternoon gigs in various venues around Dublin.

And so started a life’s journey in music: initially playing electric bass at the School of Hard Knocks, and studying double bass in the rather more refined quarters of the College of Music. I went on to forming bands, discovered the music of Jimi Hendrix, and then moved from playing bass to the lead guitar.”

Q formed Dragonfly, a cultish rock act that imploded in 1994. Within weeks of Dragonfly splitting, he received a phone call from (then) Irish contenders Lir, whose keyboard player had left the band. There followed a time spent living the life on the cusp of potential significant success. Like so many before and after, however, plans for this Irish rock band didn’t work out. Every cloud, though, has a veritable silver lining.

“I learned how to be in a band, how to write songs,” says Colm, “and of how hard it was to be in a band, and how much fun it was. The people that I worked with were likeminded, yet I never felt with Lir – as well as with Dragonfly – that I was doing anything that would ever be commercially viable. It didn’t matter to me, though, because I felt that would come later. I was working through a lot of music I was interested in and influenced by. It was a bit self-indulgent, perhaps, but it was also great fun.”

And on being solo “It’s great to be writing songs when there’s no agenda, when there’s no idea of who you’re writing the song for, or when you might be releasing it.”

In 2001, these songs eventually found their way onto Q’s contrarily titled debut album, The World’s Not Round. Thereafter followed more songwriting, a sophomore solo album in 2004 (Bodyelectric) and 2010’s (Root to the Fruit)

As if that wasn’t enough, Q was often delving into the roots of his own inherently personal influences by performing with unsung Irish blues heroes (and his father’s contemporaries) such as Pat Farrell, Jimmy Faulkner, Ed Deane and Noel Bridgeman in bands such as The Houseshakers and Left, Right & Centre. “I secured a work ethic and integrity from these people,” states Q, “that otherwise might not have been there.”

Q’s primary focus is his solo work. Resilient and resourceful, he has kept himself busy through downtime periods by building a studio (The Qube Analogue & Digital) from where he plots, ponders and produces.

“You can get the song right and the recording totally wrong,” claims Q correctly. “Have I got it right? Maybe I have and maybe I haven’t, but perhaps down the line I’ll realise I’ve created all these songs. Maybe I’ll look back when I’m not so close to it, and just enjoy them.