CHENNAI: How often do you hear that a man who worked on The Lord of the Rings soundtrack is coming to Chennai? Well, Irish flautist Alan Doherty isn’t just playing in the city; he also plans to collaborate with desi musicians and friends he’s made along the course of his Indian tour — to make his next album. Eager for a sitar session and big on butter chicken, the Irishman who has been promoting his album ‘From Tallaght to Halle’ with his band ALDOC — has already played at venues in Mumbai, Goa and Kolkata.
Between a crazy flight schedule and ‘crazier traffic’ that the light-hearted musician even dedicated a song to during a show as part of the IndiEarth XChange festival in Chennai on Monday, Alan squeezes in a quick chat with City Express. He will perform next at The Moon and Sixpence, an Irish pub at the Hablis on Wednesday night. Excerpts follow:
We hear this is your first time in India...
Yes this is my first time in India and it’s been a dream. Actually I’ve been dreaming about this ever since I was 17 and started listening to this Indian band called Shakthi, which I fell in love with and still listen to.
Have you found any new melodies on this trip?
Well the funny thing is, a couple of nights ago, we had a popular Indian singer come up on stage and sing with us in Kolkata and he was singing in a raga style - that inspired the guys. But no new melodies yet. I’m sure we’ll be going home with some, by the end of the week.
People still probably ask you about the Lord of the Rings. And we have to admit, we’re curious as well. What was that experience like?
I was 19-years-old when I got the phone call and I had never even heard of the book, The Lord of the Rings. It was all a big secret. I told them I couldn’t do it because I had another commitment at the time. But eventually it all worked out and they flew me out to New Zealand for a week. For a kid, getting off a flight from Dublin in his track pants to play as a soloist with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, it was a big experience! Also, I didn’t know how to read music, so that was kind of embarrassing.
What are you working on next?
With ALDOC, we have a new single coming out for Christmas. And then next year, we’re working with Ravi Kulur, a flautist from Bangalore on a new album. It’s going to be a collaboration between Irish musicians and English musicians, so we’re looking forward to that, especially after having now experienced your country.
If you could pick up one instrument from an Indian music store, what would it be?
A set of tablas I think. I’ve had a few tabla lessons already. No no, (changes his mind) maybe a sitar because I saw it once and it looked really cool!
Can you tell us about the making of the album From Tallaght to Halle that you’ve been touring with. We heard it took two years to create.
The music took me about a year to write, sitting in my bedroom in Germany. Then we recorded it over about eight months in studios in Germany and New Zealand. We picked some of the top reggae musicians in town and tried to fuse Irish music and reggae and world, and people seem to like it so we know it works. (Smiles)
What is the origin of the name ALDOC?
It was a name that was given to me years ago by my father as an email address, when I was moving to Australia for the first time. Then, because it’s short for Alan Doherty, friends would just start using it as a nickname like ‘Hey ALDOC, how’s it going?’ Since then, it just sort of stuck.
If time weren’t a constraint, what would you like to do in Chennai, apart from hit the stage?
Go look for music shops, visit a temple. We’ve been playing so much, we haven’t seen one yet. And then, find the best butterchicken in town.
And are you able to handle our chilli levels here?
Back home if you order butterchicken, the guy asks, ‘Do you want Irish spice, American spice or Indian spice?’ But in India, it’s either Indian spice or...you’re dead! (Laughs)