A WELL known face on Ireland’s entertainment scene, Tallaght resident Luke Thomas is now the lead singer with one of the country’s most in demand bands, The Swing Cats – a six piece collective which has sang for President Micheal D Higgins, appeared on The Late Late Show and enjoyed two number 1 iTunes albums.
Originally from Walkinstown, Luke Thomas has been living in Tallaght for the past eight years after he bought a home here in his early twenties.
Breaking onto the Irish music scene at the tender age of 15, Luke was a R n’ B and pop performer for a number of years before becoming the lead singer of The Swing Cats five years ago.
One of Ireland’s most in demand bands, The Swing Cats are a swing band with a difference, focusing on more up-tempo hits from the swing dance era of the 1940s and 1950s – with Luke being accompanied by his fellow band members on the double bass, piano, drums, saxophone and trumpet.
Despite a busy schedule, and an upcoming gig in Vicar Street on November 26, Luke Thomas took five to speak with his local paper.
When and how did Swings Cats meet?
I got a call nearly 5 years ago from a musician call Simon McVeigh who said his band The Swing Cats were looking for a new lead singer. I had been working previously with The Irish Rat Pack so I had a good amount of experience performing this style of music. Obviously I accepted Simon's offer and agreed to meet the band. From the first meeting I felt very comfortable and we have grown as a band ever since.
Were you always musical?
I've always loved performing and when I was younger I actually wanted to be an actor. I got into singing and performing when I was a teenager and have always loved writing songs. I have written eight songs that have charted and been played on Irish radio which I'm very proud of, including The Swing Cats new single Dance with Me - available on iTunes now!
What veered you in the direction of swing?
As a teenager and in my early 20's I was performing mostly pop stuff playing big shows like Childline concerts, O2 in the Park and TV work. I was asked to take part in a charity ball which had a Rat Pack theme and was asked to sing a few numbers so I did. It kind of snowballed from there with the band asking me to do more and more work with them until we became one of the busiest wedding bands in the country.
What have you done to date? What was appearing on the Late Late like?
The Swing Cats are now one of the most in demand bands in the country and we are constantly evolving. In the last 12 months alone 2 number 1 iTunes albums, a sold out tour, played for a German billionaire's 50th birthday party in Austria, performed for and met the Irish President and of course performed on The Late Late Show!
The band was voted the ‘number 1’ album by RTE in Jan 2015, how did this endorsement impact on the band?
It was huge, particularly to be acknowledged by your national broadcaster was massive. We really put everything into the album and it was a great feeling and sense of achievement when we found out.
You do a lot of wedding events, what’s the most popular song you’re asked to perform?
This is a funny one... Classics like The Way you Look Tonight, At Last, and Have I Told you Lately are among the most popular requests but more and more couples are starting to request quirkier songs. It's such a special moment when you see two people genuinely giddy and excited and we try our best to make sure they have the best possible time on their wedding day.
Swing is definitely a genre of music that appeals to the masses, why do you think swing is so universal?
Yes it really does have mass appeal, we see it at every show we do. Whether is a black tie ball, a wedding, a festival or one of our own headline show people young and old dance away and sing along. Swing music is well written and played with real instruments that's why its lasted so long and sounds just as good today as it did in the 1930's and 40's.
Growing up did you listen to swing?
I only started getting in to swing in my late teens and early 20's. Before that I was into American pop and dance music so when I started listening to swing it was a serious eye opener. Listening to song arrangements and lyrical content that was just so well put together was so new to me at the time and really immersed myself in it at the time.
Do you have any musical heroes?
There are so many, Elvis and Michael Jackson were the first two musical memories for me. I have always been drawn to strong performer.
What can people expect from the gig on November 26th?
It's our biggest show yet and we plan on bringing our Story of Swing show to life like never before. The Story of Swing is a musical timeline of swing classics from the 1920's to the modern day. We are really excited to bring this show to Vicar Street and the stage production and show itself will be world class! Think Westend or Broadway production levels and you will get the idea of what we have in store you people.
The Swing Cats is bringing The Story of Swing to Vicar Street this November 26. Featuring classics from the 1920’s right up to modern day, tickets to The Story of Swing cost €22 and are available from Ticketmaster.ie. Visit The Swing Cats Facebook for more.
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