Ciaran Lavery on Tom Waits – Rain Dogs (1985)

This albun changed my life: The singer on the frightening and otherworldly Tom Waits

Tom Waits still frightens the life out of me. He has always seemed otherworldly or an actor flamboyantly playing the role of a real-life person. I approached his music with so much interest and caution simultaneously. Rain Dogs landed on my lap in the form of a broken plastic CD case – a gift from Santa Claus himself. I sat crosslegged on the floor of my room in front of the CD player with a sense of both nervous intrigue and a hopefulness that I would "get this".

I had begun a collection of his work spanning from his back catalogue at Asylum Records, so I was familiar with the Tom Waits growl that appeared somewhere between Closing Time and Small Change. What I wasn't prepared for was the explosion of Afro-Cuban brass and percussion married with German polka rhythms, or the all-round weirdness, in fact. I smiled from the inside out.

This album is so diverse and something I’ve referenced in some way or another in the studio. It cannot be defined by genre or be pigeonholed. Nobody will ever listen to this and utter the words “it sounds a lot like . . .” and for that reason, I adore this. It is simply the sound of Tom Waits, a true artist creating new rules & pushing boundaries, like all memorable forms of art should.

Ciaran Lavery's new album 'Sweet Decay' is out now  and he plays Whelan's, Dublin on April 19th. More tour dates