Singer songwriter Chris Loughrey has brought together his passion for music and his admiration for motorcycle hero Joey Dunlop in a new song, which has been released to raise money for the Joey Dunlop Foundation.
Hailing from Mullingar, Chris has made Belfast his second home after signing a recording contract with Emerald Music in Templepatrick four years ago.
Since then, he has become a regular on the local music scene and next week he will be performing at the North West 200, where he will be promoting his latest single ‘King of the Road’, which has been written in memory of Joey Dunlop.
Chris was born into a musical family, and ever since he was a child, performing to friends in his back garden, he knew he wanted to be a singer.
“My parents were in the music industry,” explained Chris. “They were in a band called The Rangers and I remember as a kid they used to take me out on the road with them.
“I remember sitting on the side of the stage when they were gigging and I was fascinated by the whole thing, the glamour of it.
“I got my first guitar when I was 10 but it was more for show really.
“I was inspired by Bruce Springsteen and I used to sneak into my sister’s room and steal her Bruce Springsteen cassettes.”
When he was 15, Chris started taking his music more seriously and became accomplished at the guitar. After watching a BBC documentary on Elvis Presley when he was 16, Chris knew that all he wanted to do was become a singer.
“School wasn’t for me so I left when I was 16 and started working in a local factory. When I saw Elvis for the first time I was blown away. It was a big turn around for me. I bought an album with 40 Elvis songs on it and I played it all summer.”
Whilst still working in the factory, Chris started playing local gigs a few nights a week, and when he was in his mid-twenties he left the factory to be a full time musician.
“I started listening to a lot of Bob Dylan because I wanted to push myself into songwriting,” continued Chris.
“I suffer from anxiety, depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and I use that in my songwriting. When you meet someone in the street you never know what is going on in their head but I write about things that everyone experiences.
“I love coming up with characters for my songs and then finding parallels with my life and emotions,
“In my album ‘Long Day’ the character has anxiety, OCD and insomnia. Everyone doesn’t have the same experiences but everyone has been through ‘a long day’.”
In 2013 Chris signed a record deal with producer George Doherty and released his first album ‘Here for a Good Time’, which included a cover of a Tim McGraw song ‘Just to See You Smile’, which went to the number one spot in the iTunes chart.
Following that success, George encouraged Chris to put pen to paper and compose an original album. “This is what I wanted and have been working towards since I was a child,” continued Chris. “George is one of the best producers in the world. I have faith in him. I just write the songs and put them down, George makes them sound incredible.”
It was whilst he was working on his new album that Chris decided he wanted to write a song in tribute to motorcycle legend Joey Dunlop. “When I was a kid, I always wanted a motorbike but my parents were not keen on the idea so I would just watch the bike racing on TV and dream about owning my own dream machine,” he explained. “I was inspired to write King Of The Road as I was travelling the miles and miles of black tarmac of Ireland’s highways and byways when I was touring last year. Subconsciously, it was Joey’s own words that inspired me to write the song. His words are actually reflected in the song’s lyrics.
“I want this song to speak to people who are on a hard journey through life and to inspire them to keep travelling the road, in spite of adversity, grief or pain. I want them to draw strength from Joey’s example. The song is about believing in yourself even when you feel alone. I wanted to remind people they can draw on their inner spirit, reserve and the bravery they don’t even know they possess to get them through all of life’s troubles.”