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Musician Justin Logue: I once stood in for Chesney Hawkes' bass player ... within two hours I had learnt the setlist before going on stage

In the latest interview Rachel Dean talks to Justin Logue (31) from Castlederg who is the lead vocalist in celtic rock band The Logues

On stage: Logan McCool whose happiest moment was when he played Dergfest in his home town of Castlederg
On stage: Logan McCool whose happiest moment was when he played Dergfest in his home town of Castlederg
Flann O'Brien

In the latest interview Rachel Dean talks to Justin Logue (31) from Castlederg who is the lead vocalist in celtic rock band The Logues.

Q. Tell us about your childhood

A. I had a very good childhood. I have two older sisters, Natasha and Christina.

My parents, David and Sandra, were split up, but we still had a fun childhood.

I would see my dad in Scotland and my mum's side of the family in Birmingham every year, so I was always travelling to two different countries.

When I was very young, I was always singing and performing. I actually first learned the trombone in primary school, but I wasn't really into it.

When I was 15 years old, I got my first bass guitar and since then I wanted to be a musician. It was a gift from my dad - it was either go to Alton Towers or get a bass guitar, so I chose the guitar and I haven't looked back.

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Q. What are you most proud of?

A. Chesney Hawkes' bass player couldn't make it to Dergfest and I had to fill in and play bass for him. I learned the setlist within two hours, then I went on stage with them. It was a lot of pressure, but I am quite proud that I was able to do that. Some of the songs I hadn't even heard before.

I was nervous when I was learning the tunes, but whenever I was backstage with Chesney and the band, I was pumping myself up and they were really supportive.

We all had a shot of whiskey before we went on stage. I absolutely loved it.

One of the things I remember Chesney saying afterwards was that he got a good vibe from me because I was dancing about and really enjoying myself, and that made him enjoy himself too. I suppose he was nervous too, because he was missing his bass player and he didn't know what I was going to be like.

Q. The one regret you wish you could amend?

A. I don't really have any regrets. You learn from your mistakes.

I probably would have started writing and recording more music earlier, but it's a lesson.

We're getting better as we progress.

Q. What about phobias? Do you have any?

A. I have a fear of letting people down sometimes, but it's not really a phobia. I always want to put on a good show.

Q. The temptation that you cannot resist?

A. Partying and enjoying myself when the band's off. I used to party during the week but now I've got myself a job to stop myself doing that because we would always be playing at the weekends. I have to look after my voice now, so I've had to grow up a little bit.

Q. Your number one prized possession?

A. My bass guitar. I call her Rhonda. I remember somebody asking me what my ideal bass guitar would be and I said, "I already have it". Rhonda has played with Chesney Hawkes. There are better and more expensive guitars available, but I love mine.

Rock on: Logan (second from left) with Chesney Hawkes (second from right) and Chesney's other bandmates before going on stage at Dergfest
Rock on: Logan (second from left) with Chesney Hawkes (second from right) and Chesney's other bandmates before going on stage at Dergfest

Q. The book that has most impacted your life?

A. The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien. I remember reading it and it was the first book that got me properly into literature.

I love the book so much that I actually have it as an audiobook on my phone. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.

Q. If you had the power or the authority, what would you do?

A. I would make sure people enjoyed themselves more. I think we're too serious here in Northern Ireland. It doesn't mean you have to go out drinking. Just enjoy your life while you can - as long as you don't harm anyone, it's all good.

Q. What makes your blood boil every time without fail?

A. I rarely get angry, it's kind of strange. I do avoid the news though, because I find it all so disappointing. I'm past getting angry. I just think, 'How can we go so far back?' With Brexit here and Trump there, I feel like people don't have power anymore. Their lives are static and they need to stand up for themselves, for change.

Q. Who has most influenced you in life?

A. Probably Flann O'Brien. He was born in Strabane, not far from Castlederg. I used to be the chairman of the Flann O'Brien Literary Festival before things got too busy. I have spoken to different people around the world about his work. Even when I'm writing - even though he was a writer and I'm a musician - I try to live by his words.

Q. Your top three dinner party guests, dead or alive, and why?

A. Obviously, Flann O'Brien. I have so many questions to ask him. Though, one thing about him was he never liked speaking to people, so I'd just give him a drink.

I would invite Jaco Pastorius because he's my favourite bass player. I would chat to him about different techniques on the guitar.

Then, Eric Morecambe who is one of my favourite comedians of all time. I'd just sit and watch him, and laugh.

Q. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

A. The advice I gave myself and put into song lyrics: "Enjoy the good times, survive the bad."

Q. The unlikely interest or hobby that you love?

A. Swimming. The only time I actually get to swim is when we're working in foreign countries. Rather than going out drinking, I go swimming. It helps me to clear my head and chill out.

Q. The poem that touches your heart?

A. One of my favourite poems is Lord Byron's When We Two Parted. I love reciting that whenever I've had a few drinks in me because I find it to be an absolutely beautiful poem.

Q. The happiest moment of your life?

A. The last time we played Dergfest in my hometown of Castlederg. It was a great atmosphere and there was a lot of love in the place. A few of my friends from Scotland were there and some family from Birmingham came over, too. It was amazing.

Q. And the saddest moment of your life?

A. My aunt Vikky died of cancer when I was quite young. She was really supportive of me, even at the start when I was just finding my way in music. She died before The Logues had started, and I know she would have loved to have seen us and I would have loved to have performed in front of her.

Q. The one event that made a difference in your life?

A Playing in Holland for the first time, about 10 years ago. We were no longer just playing at wee pubs in Northern Ireland, we were stepping onto a stage in Holland. It's the moment we knew we could go further afield.

Q. What's the one ambition that keeps driving you onwards?

A. Music. I want to keep learning, writing and listening for as long as possible.

Q. What's the philosophy you live by?

A. Just the same thing I always tell myself, "Enjoy the good things, survive the bad".

Q. How do you want to be remembered?

A. As a man who enjoyed his life and made people happy when he was around them.

The Logues will be playing at The Belfast Empire tomorrow night. And at The Townhouse, Castlederg on October 4 and Sandinos, Derry on October 11

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