Love/Hate actor Kieran O’Reilly made headlines in 2013 for his controversial role as a Drugs Unit undercover detective, a job which he actually held in real life at the same time. The fifth series of the show (O’Reilly’s second) has just finished but Garda O’Reilly has no time to rest. His band Hail The Ghost have just released their debut single and have an album due out in March. We caught up with him to talk about the band, Love/Hate, and how he finds the time for both!
It’s been a while since your last band White McKenzie stopped recording, what made you want to get back into making music now?
I suppose it never really ended; I started Hail The Ghost, albeit just the name, as soon as I had decided to leave White McKenzie, I did some work at home initially and myself, Eamonn and Ian started as a band at the start of the year.
Hail The Ghost’s debut single Headstoned was released on Friday, would we be correct in saying it’s heavily influenced by The National?
I think The National are a great band, I take that as a compliment. I haven’t consciously taken influence from them in my writing. I listen to a lot of music and during the making of this record I’ve listened to a specific collection of bands and I’ve stopped myself venturing outside that because I feel that if you’re recording a record over a long period of time your writing might naturally evolve in tandem with your own musical intake over that period. I wanted to have a cohesiveness on this record and I wanted there to be an obvious correlation between the songs. I think that this was one of the things that we struggled with in White McKenzie because there were so many different musical tastes. Whilst writing this album I’ve been listening to bands like: Beirut, The Antlers, Slowdive, Elbow, Sigur Ros & Middle East etc.
You’re in studio at the moment recording the album Forsaken, which is due out in March. Does it follow a similar path to Headstoned?
I think Headstoned might meet certain songs in the middle if that makes sense. I think we’ve found ‘our’ sound and I think there’s a nice mix on the album.
You told us in a previous conversation that you’re more excited about the rest of the tracks on the record than the single. Is that still the case now that you’ve had more time in the studio?
I did say that didn’t I…..Hmm, I think when you’re writing and recording, you’re always excited about what’s new and I think that that’s the way it should be, otherwise you probably should re-assess things…I’m particularly excited about one or two of the tracks on the album, mainly for personal reasons. I’m always fascinated when you release something to discover what song(s) people actually connect with, it’s nearly always different to what I’ve anticipated. I’m looking forward to seeing how a song called Even Judas… and Colony of Ants are received, who knows?
What was the thinking behind not continuing under the name White McKenzie despite the three of you all being former members?
Well, I think the name had to change for a number of reasons. It’s a different band for one. White McKenize was a six piece and I suppose it was its own entity. Eamonn and Iano were part of that band too but Hail The Ghost is something that we would see as very much its own thing. It has its own sound and it’s pursuing its own direction. We’re still good friends with all the other lads, some of whom are also pursuing different music projects.
When can we expect to see Hail The Ghost live?
Plans to play live are currently being discussed. I think that we won’t play live until the actual album release itself, so maybe March. We’re already looking forward to it ourselves. It’s been a hard year writing and recording.
You’re an awfully busy man these days. Actor, Garda and now you’ve made a return to the music scene. How do you do it!?
Yeah, I’m still a cop. That’s my only job. Outside work I’ve packed a lot in this year, I really have great support at home and it’s only because of this that I’ve been able to pursue my hobbies the way I have. There’s been a lot of late nights…just look at my face!
Obviously, you’ve picked a great time to promote the album just off the back of series 5 of Love/Hate. How much has the show changed your life?
The idea to release now was really pushed by Brían F. O’Byrne (Detective Moynihan). We Skype a lot and he’s always been encouraging us to release something since I played him the first song a year ago; he’s nearly at manager status now. Love/Hate has been surreal. I never really anticipated all that came from it. It’s been really positive and a huge learning curve. It’s made me realise a lot of things personally. I suppose I didn’t realise a lot of things at the time because Love/Hate is kind of a whirlwind in itself. It’s kind of only setting in now how amazing the last two seasons have been and how lucky I was to even be a part of it.
One of the main things many take from the show, is the realisation that many people have when watching it that these sort of things are happening in Dublin and Ireland all the time. Of course, you’ve had copious amounts of real-life experience when it comes to the subject matter of the show. How close to the bone was it?
I think the nation itself all agrees that it’s a very true depiction of real-life contemporary Ireland – one just has to read the papers. I think it’s really ‘hats off’ to the visionary himself, Stuart Carolan; he’s created something that will be remembered by this country (and others) for many decades to come. One scene that has stuck with me was a very subtle scene where Moynihan attends The Dentist’s (Andrew) funeral. I was pleasantly surprised when I read it in the script because I thought this subtle nuance was a fantastic example of how Gardaí go above and beyond the call of duty every day in this country and that it’s something that’s not really commonly publicised. I thought it was exceptional that this was captured by Stuart but also, I know that this is exactly what Moynihan would do himself – so it was perfect.
What was it like to work with the likes of Tom Vaughan Lawlor and Laurence Kinlan and how have they had an affect on your acting career?
To work with actors like those two was a privilege. Both men are extremely professional and very talented. I watched them (and many others) very closely to try and learn as much as I could. I had the fortune of working alongside Brían F. O Byrne for the most part and he practically gave me a condensed master-class in acting over both seasons which I am really grateful for. I was a non-actor entering the show and still have so much to learn but I found all the actors/actresses very welcoming and supportive.
We have to ask. Will you be in the next series if/when it does happen?
I think if Love/Hate did come back (who knows) I think there’s a reasonable chance I might be in it but then again, who knows?
Apart from a possible role in the next series, any other acting roles in the pipeline?
Yes actually. I’m shooting a short film in early January called ‘Little Bear’, it’s really a lovely short film. It was written by Daire Glynn and will be directed/produced by Daire Glynn and Ger Duffy, both of whom were Assistant Directors on Love/Hate. It also stars Kojii Helnwein (Models of the Runway) and Calum Heath (The Canal) so I’m very excited to be involved in that. I’m also part of the Actors Studio in Bow Street with Maureen Hughes and Shimmy Marcus too so I’m learning a lot, I love that place.