By Charlie Swanson
How musician and songwriter Fionn O Lochlainn has remained undiscovered after two decades of masterful performances and acclaimed music is a mystery. Born and raised in London and taught by musician father Ruan to play guitars, drums, keys and more at a young age, O Lochlainn has spent most of his life in a recording studio or on the road as a touring musician.
He’s been living in America since 2000, and later this year plans to release his second album of original music, though music fans in Marin have the chance to discover O Lochlainn for themselves this week as he performs solo at Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley on Friday, January 29.
“Playing music and touring let me travel to many parts of the world,” says O Lochlainn by phone. “But America was my destination.”
After signing a major deal with Universal Records at the turn of the century, O Lochlainn moved all of his worldly possessions to New York City and began working there with producer Andy Wallace (Bruce Springsteen, Foo Fighters).
“I thought I was going to stay for a few months, then arriving here I developed an amazing resonance with, and still have a resonance with America,” he says.
“Growing up in England with my name was a challenging experience,” remembers O Lochlainn. “When I got to America, I immediately resonated with the social atmosphere and sense of culture.”
“I’ve always been inspired by American music,” O Lochlainn continues. Growing up on a steady diet of jazz, rock and soul courtesy of his father’s record collection, O Lochlainn has long held a special place in his heart for both the large and loud music of classic British rock bands like Led Zeppelin and the blues-inspired rock of American masters like B.B. King.
O Lochlainn also highlights the integral value of America’s First Amendment in allowing artists to say what they want. “It’s an amazing thing; any time freedom of speech is threatened we are vulnerable to totalitarianism, which is a diabolical concept.”
After living in New York for a few years and releasing his debut album, Spawn of the Beast, in 2007, O Lochlainn developed the traveling bug and has spent the last decade traversing the highways of America, performing recently in Nevada and on the West Coast, where he hopes to relocate permanently in the coming year. Also on the horizon is a new album, in the finishing stages right now.
“It’s very different sounding from my first album,” hints O Lochlainn, who is working with string and orchestral arrangements for a rock and soul sound that’s more akin to a religious experience. “It’s all about humanity, it’s all about the truth and it’s all a message.”
Fionn O Lochlainn performs on Friday, Jan. 29 at the Throckmorton Theatre, 142 Throckmorton Ave, Mill Valley; 8pm; $20-$35; 415/383-9600.