With sun streaming through the window, Pa Sheey is speaking to Goldenplec from the front seat of his car in a Dingle between rehearsal sessions for his upcoming tour. “We just went through the set once and it sounded good” he explains, as he gears up for a 10-day, six-show run which opens with a performance in De Barra’s in Clonakility before heading to London, Belfast, Dublin and, finally, Dingle itself where the three-piece band will perform in St. James’ Church as part of Féile na Bealtaine. “We’ll run it once more and if there’s no mistakes we’ll leave it at that but if there’s we find it tough we may run it a third time through”.

“I was adamant at the start of the year that I wanted to play a load of shows so at the start of the year I just started booking things” he smiles, “I did an unplugged run in December which was nice, we finished that off at Other Voices and then run finishes off in Dingle again at Feile Na Bealtaine so it’s nice to end the tour at home”.

It’s been two years since Sheehy released his debut solo single ‘I Saw You At The Funeral’ following the 2020 disbandment of Walking on Cars. A few months later, following a string of singles which included a remix of his song Roisin with production duo SUPER-HI, he released the award-winning project The Art of Disappearing. Ahead of this tour, he announced his brand new EP Lost In A ‘90s Arcade will be released on 9th June, with the first track just dropped in ‘Meet Me At The Record Store’.

“When I look at the last year and a half of writing the EP and where I was in my life I can see that I was a bit lost for a while” he recalls of the new projects origins,  “You know when you get lost and you don’t know where you’re going you tend to turn back to what you’re familiar with. For me, I went back and bought a Playstation and bought a load of games I used to play as a kid and I just went back to things that reminded me of that time. I played a load of soccer as well, I hadn’t played soccer in years and I was just going back to things that reminded me of growing up. That’s where I was at the time, a little bit unsure of where I was in my life so it’s great to get these songs ready and out into the world now”.

Growing up, Sheehy would spend hours at a time playing everything from NBA to Smackdown vs Raw, as well as FIFA: Road To The World Cup 98. As well as that, he would play Mario on his Nintendo and a friend nearby had gotten a SEGA, which allowed him to mess around with Sonic. Looking back, the time fills him with joy, but the EP’s lead single isn’t about games, rather his memories of visiting the local record store, where he was introduced to everything from Green Day’s 'Nimrod' and David Bowie’s 'Hunky Dory'.

“The song tries to consider what would happen if I had not been introduced to all that music," he explains, “I like to think I would have been a soccer player but truth be told I wasn’t special. I was decent, definitely, but not incredible so the truth is I don’t know”.

As for his penchant for grunge and punk growing up, Sheehy would love to give the heavier genres a go but probably not under his own name. “I don’t think it would suit me as an artist” he replies when asked, “but I would love to be maybe in another band making that sort of stuff because in m teenage years the likes of Greenday, Sum 41, Offspring, Metallica, they were all a huge part of my soul for so long and they re always songs I’ll go back to so I’d love to be involved in some way”.

Even if Lost In A ‘90s Arcade doesn’t contain a crunching guitar solo or screams of anger, it does mark a moment of departure in Sheehy’s career as for the first time he found himself falling out of love with his own voice. Unsure of how his normal, grovelly vocals would suit the new material, he set out redefining how he sang and the texture his voice normally took.

“I would sing a song and think that it just didn’t sound genuine so I tried to strip away everything and see what was there and to my surprise there was this soft tender shy sounding vocal that felt right” he recalls, “When I recorded my vocals it just didn’t feel right. When I was putting down these tunes with the way my voice sounded it just didn’t sound like it fit so then I stripped everything back, I tried to pretend I wasn’t Pa Sheehy and tried to see how it sounded and more importantly how it felt and what came out was a much softer, much gentler approach”. 

“The graveliness of my voice will come back” he adds quickly, “but for these songs it just needed something a little more sedate and a little different to what I’d done before to suit the music and to get the feelings of the tune across. I just want to see what feels genuine”.

As he prepares to head back into rehearsals, the question is asked of what to expect from these new tracks in the live setting. “It’s just myself and two others, Hannah and Rory” he replies of the set, “all the tunes are reinvented so it’s a softer approach to a live gig. It’s all about the words in the song and capturing the essence of the tunes rather than putting on a big bold production”.

“I feel like with the last couple of years there’s been a lot of loss in the world and peoples lives and a few songs on the project touch on that” he continues, “I suppose if some people could gain some sort of healing or some sort of solace that would remind them of people they lost it would make it worthy of this EP being out in the world”.

Pa Sheehy plays Dublin’s Pepper Cannister on Saturday 29th April. Tickets from €24.95 available here.