After performing in a variety of bands over the past 14 years ranging from metal, grunge, rock, funk and reggae, Niall McGuigan, a musician and music therapist from Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, is embarking on his first album as a solo artist.
His debut album 'Awareness' is a collection of songs written over a period of six years expressing experiences of travel, education and self-discovery. It incorporates many musical styles including reggae, folk, rock, and Khoomii (Mongolian throat singing). This is fused with a variety of cross-cultural influences ranging from South American shamanism to eastern meditation practices. Similar to the idea of 'songlines', a term used in Aboriginal culture to describe songs that create a map, each song on the album is in sequential order providing the listener with a map that points attention within, towards self-discovery, awareness and an opening of the heart.
The album’s title, Awareness, is a term which Niall feels communicates the common thread linking the variety introspective practices that he has experienced and also the songs he has written. Through the development of awareness true freedom, authenticity and compassion can be achieved as it dissolves illusion and uncovers the endless depth to our human experience.
Ben Reel Talks About Niall McGuigan
"I have watched Niall McGuigan grow as an artist and performer since he was fifteen years old when his first band Speedking played a few songs at my wedding back in 1999. That was their first ever public performance and even then, you could see that the potential was there.
As they matured Speedking became a much respected band developing a loyal following in Ireland. They released two EP's and a great album (Cause & Effect) along the way. Like so many others, I was a fan of the band and felt they were like the next Thin Lizzy to emerge out of Ireland.
They where courted by record companies but sadly it didn't happen with the same old excuse of not knowing how to market them in the modern heavy rock genre.
So I was delighted to see his old band mates , Gerry Black Jnr, Paul McCabe & Ronan Morgan join Niall for his first solo project which is completely different to the heavy rock they played in their Speedking days.
I recall that I used to say to them, 'you guys won't be playing this music when you are in your 30's' and I was proven right.
It was a pleasure to work on the album 'Awareness' and to hear how Niall's songwriting and musicianship has developed into this creative, original and eclectic kind of world music style.
For Niall I know It was a spiritual journey in the making of this record and I felt some of that spirit too while we were producing Awareness." Ben Reel
Niall McGuigan Timeline
Speedking – 1999 – 2012
When Speedking were formed back in 1999, little did they know that a path of success lay ahead of them. By 2003 the results of this commitment began to appear as the first glimpses of original brilliance emerged. That summer, Speedking recorded their first demo EP; “Welcome To My Head”. This successful recording is a symbol in itself of Speedking’s progression, from their musical inception on the local scene through to a breakthrough stint on US rock station Zeta 7, where the EP stayed in the top 5 of their request play list for 13 weeks.
Their Second E.P ‘Change of Scenery’ also resulted in critical acclaim for the band with Rock Sound magazine stating “riffs that Megadeth or early Metallica would have played if they had Layne Staley(Alice In Chains) singing for them”. On the back of the EP's success Speedking made two appearances on TG4 performing the title track ‘Change Of Scenery’ and new acoustic song ‘Tired Of Waiting’ with the help of Ruth O'Leary from the band Sephira on violin.
Speedking released Cause & Effect in 2010, their much anticipated debut album. Recorded in Attic studios Monaghan the album was produced and mixed by Ronan Morgan and mastered by Jon Astley (Led Zeppelin, The Who, Jools Holland, Sex Pistols) at Close to the Edge Studios in London.
The Trampz 2012 -2015
Niall played tenor saxophone with The Trampz an 11 -piece funk and soul outfit from Ireland. With a revivalist approach to funk/soul that has its roots in music of the 60s and 70s, The Trampz fuse superb musicianship with ball bouncingly funny lyrics to create one hell of a funky, feel-good show. The tight-knit bass, drums and guitar section is complemented by percussion, organs/keys and The Raging Horns brass section; all of which is commanded by the slightly manic/always entertaining frontman, Kevin Johnston.
The Brown Notes 2011-2017
In addition to his solo work Niall is currently performing with reggae group “The Brown Notes” on vocals & tenor saxophone. In 2014 they released one EP “Typical Jah.” He is also involved in Ireland's only tribute act to Faith No More “Fiach Nó Mór”