‘New artists have it harder than we had it back then’ says Aslan star Billy McGuinness

With the return of live music and live performances, the iconic Dublin based band is making its nationwide comeback. The band have a sold-out show scheduled for the Olympia Theatre on the 1st of November this year.

The Liberty spoke to Aslan’s Billy McGuinness to see what the band had been up to since the pandemic began two years ago.  

Billy McGuinness of Aslan (@officalaslanireland)

McGuinness explained the difficulty rising artists have encountered due to the pandemic. He explained the importance of live gigs for young bands and how they can aid them in their success. 

“I think in some ways new artists have it harder than we had it back then” he began, 

“When we were starting out we went out, played a gig, if we were good we got signed by a record company. We knew which songs would be a hit due to the crowd’s reaction to live shows. New artists who started out in the past two years didn’t get that,” 

“Now you have to put a lot more work into it because you have to think of the social media and Spotify, it was way simpler in my day!” McGuinness continued to say.  

During the pandemic, many young artists began producing and streaming music across platforms such as Spotify or Apple music, many taking to the social media app TikTok to promote their songs in hopes the right person will end up seeing it.  

In pre-pandemic times, live gigs and public appearances could influence their rise in the music industry.  

The Aslan guitarist explains how gigs and live performances aided the band in their rise to fame. 

“The record companies were coming to Dublin every weekend looking for “the next U2, which obviously was not going to happen. We were one of the bands who got signed by EMI. But that’s really only when the hard work starts”, McGuinness said.

Aslan recorded their debut album after signing with EMI records, which went straight to number 1 in Ireland and resulted in Aslan opening for David Dowie in Slane. This then resulted in the band touring America before the band broke up. 

However, after their first show back from hiatus, held in Finglas, the band was signed by Sony BMG record company. 

There’s a strong emphasis on the importance of live shows in the music industry that younger artists have missed out on due to the pandemic. 

Billy’s son, Jake McGuinness, inherited his father’s musical talent. He is the guitarist of up and coming indie-pop band “Don’t tell mum”. The band will be scheduled as the supporting act for Aslan in the Olympia theatre.

“It’s great that they’re finally getting to a gig I’m very excited for them, it’s actually their first time playing to a live audience and that live audience is going to be the Olympia which is crazy.” 

You can check out don’t tell mums single “Simple things” on Spotify. The band also have a brand new single called “Lookin’ so Good” which will release on the 29th of October 2021. 

The pandemic, for Aslan as a band, was “extremely difficult”, according to McGuinness.  

McGuinness is a strong believer that the audience is a vital element of any band.

“Obviously all of our live shows got cancelled, so we did a few live-streamed shows instead but I just hate them, I think they’re awful,”  

 “There is no atmosphere, you finish a song and there’s just no reaction”, he continued to say.

Aslan will play two shows in vicar street on the 27th and 29th of December this year. Vicar Street is a venue of importance to Billy as it reminds him of the iconic five nights in Vicar Street in 1999. Each Christmas, Aslan would perform three gigs in vicar street, but last years shows were cancelled due to the pandemic.  

“I’m really looking forward to these gigs because it’s showing me that things are finally going back to normal,” McGuinness eagerly said.

“I’m really looking forward to these gigs because it’s showing me that things are finally going back to normal”


Vicar Street has a nostalgic hold on the band as it is where the band decided to record the iconic “Made in Dublin” live album and DVD.  

Album cover for “Made in Dublin”.  

 “I remember people telling us it was ridiculous and not to waste our money but we got the cameras and equipment in any way. We knew we’d get something good out of the 5 nights.” 

 He went on to say the album actually turned out to be their “best selling album of all time”. 

“It just shows you can have experts telling you to do one thing but you should always trust your gut feeling”  

You can find out more about Aslan’s up and coming shows on Ticketmaster or on the bands Instagram.  


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