Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Fergus O’Farrell RIP

The Interference singer and artist has died at the age of 48

Fergus O'Farrell and Interference on the set of Other Voices

Wed, Feb 3, 2016, 08:58

   

Very sad news from west Cork about the death of Fergus O’Farrell, best known as the singer and frontman with Irish band Interference. In more recent years, his work as an painter also had O’Farrell in the spotlight.

When you watch a music scene for long enough, you’re always surprised by the bands who get away. You’re often surprised too by the acts who get through the gap and make it to the next level, but it’s the ones who get away who often stick with you the most.

Watching the comings and goings on the Irish music scene in the late 1980s and 1990s, Interference were one of the groups who stood tall for me. They were a band of superb musicians with a striking lead singer playing a sublime, magical blend of music which touched the soul. For many years, you expected more and more people to get around to knowing and loving them, yet it never happened. Interference remained a best kept secret – a cult band, to use that phrase which damns with faint praise – a band who influenced many others who went onto great things.

O’Farrell was front and centre to the band’s appeal. He may have been in a wheelchair due to the effects of muscular dystrophy, but this didn’t strap his voice in. This was a work of art in itself, an extraordinary instrument which had soul, swing and sway to turn any song into gold. Add in the subtle, soaring and by turns delicate and muscular playings of his brethern in the band and it was something to behold.

Interference never quite got their dues in their hey-day and instead, the band who came together in an old shoe factory saw many of the musicians who flocked to experience their world step on and take off. An album was released, some attention was paid, but O’Farrell’s health ruled out the kind of touring which was required to take them beyond their base and things petered out.

In the early 2000s, there was a welcome return and rally with a 2003 appearance on Other Voices (see below for footage), gigs abroad and a berth for O’Farrell’s “Gold” in the film Once. Back in 2012, David Young and Sarah Blake made a great documentary A Talent For Life – the Fergus O’Farrell Story for RTE Radio One and you can listen to it here. O’Farrell was one of those rare birds who truly illuminate a time and a scene and he’ll be sadly missed. Condolences to his family, friends and bandmates on their loss.