The Lost Brothers started as a “joke” according to Oisin Leech, but he and musical partner Mark McCausland soon found people taking their dusty, gentle folk harmonies to heart.

They claim all art as influence, referencing writers like John Fante and John Steinbeck along with musicians including Nick Drake and The Coral. Their debut album 'Trails of the Lonely' is one of my favourites: a Simon and Garfunkel drinking whisky-laced coffee in the rain with Bert Jansch affair (which they recorded in my native burg, Portland OR, with M. Ward’s band) that is both fresh and ageless — so I tracked down Oisin at his Dublin pad.

He was about about to go to a Glen Campbell gig with his mum but graciously took the time to talk about what makes the Losties’ world turn. Poetry, shoes and Bob Dylan are in; 'OK!' magazine is out.


PB: Favourite slbum?

OL: Bob Dylan: 'Blood on the Tracks'. There’s a lot of hurt, anger and pain in 'Blood'. The emotion is so intense, so heartfelt. The whole album is like a car that’s still going to be going in a hundred years. A million years. It’s a timeless work of art.

PB: Favourite song?

OL: Townes Van Zandt's ‘Mr Mudd and Mr Gold’. He said he wrote it when he got in trouble at his boarding house and the matron of his boarding house gave out at him. It’s kind of a sublime movie about two guys playing cards and the cards come alive.

PB: Favourite book?

OL: John Fante: 'Dreams from Bunker Hill'. He wrote it when he was blind – dictated it to his wife, Joyce, who typed it for him. It is a beautiful story about Arturo Bandini as a young writer, struggling as an artist, growing up as an Italian Catholic in America in the 1950s, and it cuts straight to the heart. Some of the things in the book are – you wouldn’t necessarily want to be talking to your wife about it. Yet he dedicates the book to her.

PB: Favourite instrument?

OL: The uilleann pipes – the Irish bagpipe.They’re different from the [Scottish] bagpipes because they’re played with a bag under the arm. It’s a magical sound. Do I play them? Never! Like pedal steel they’re hugely complicated to learn.

PB: Favourite film?

OL: 'The Deer Hunter'. I love the wedding scene with its atmosphere of the cold, hard-working, working-class American town. And how it then cuts to the war, and the soldiers struggling together in a totally different environment. It’s heart-breaking.

PB: Favourite poem?

OL: William Yeats' ‘Sailing to Byzantium’. There is a beautiful Yeats exhibit in the National Library in Dublin and in it is a great note he wrote. He was asked to fill out a questionnaire about writing and he said, "Inspiration is like ice. You have to use it or it will melt away."

PB: Favourite city?

OL: Palermo, Sicily. We used to busk there years ago. It’s a great place to play music. People there are warm and festive and it’s fascinating to walk through the huge fish and vegetable markets.

PB: Favourite food?

OL@ Pasta Fagioli, which is bean pasta from Naples. I also like Irish stew with homemade brown bread. That, and a cup of coffee before a gig will set you on your way.

PB: Favourite painter?

OL: I love Turner’s storm scenes. I remember them like photographs in my head. I love the drama and how they jump out at you. They kind of stun you when you look at them.

PN: Favourite item of clothing?

OL: Shoes. I buy one pair every year from a shop in Old Street Underground station in London. I’ve worn the latest pair in all weathers, snow, rain, mud and festivals, and they still look new.

PB: Favourite historical era?

OL: I’d love to be back in Shakespeare’s time and see 'Julius Caesar' at the Globe. I love the film with Marlon Brando.

PB: Motto?

OL: “No fear, no meanness, no envy” [which was advice from Irish folk legend Liam Clancy to a youthful Bob Dylan]

PB: Thanks Oisin. A final question: you seem drawn to the dramatic and heart-rending. Do you ever get an urge to unwind with a copy of OK! magazine?

OL: No, but I should sometime! I don’t even watch TV.

PB: Thank you.


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