Musician and MAC artist in residence, Tony Wright is 20 years into a remarkable career as a musician who is poised for a new show as well as the release of an accompanying memoir titled after his stage name VerseChorusVerse about a strange trip across America at the behest of his publishers.
From being courted by big labels at the age of 15 to conquering the DIY scene in his late twenties, to an increasingly compelling solo career with his latest acclaimed musical incarnation VerseChorusVerse, Tony has seen the world and can’t decide whether he is richer or poorer for it.
“The songs are really tied together by the stories. The readings are theatrical and I kind of act them out. Then there’s the music.
““I was the weirdo long-haired guy at school and music was all I wanted to do. My life is pretty weird because when I was 15 I was being flown forward and back to London when all my friends were doing GCSEs and things I was being courted by a big record company who loved a demo tape I and my band had made. It was a punky kind of grunge. That fell through when I was 17 but I kept doing music, forming a purely instrumental rock band called ASIWYFA.”
He once ended up at a musical festival alongside such rock gods as Green Day, Metallica and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. “There were awkward situations and odd encounters,” he says enigmatically, “But I don’t want to give too much away as it would spoil the show.”
With the keen eye of a documentary maker, Tony takes us through the highest of highs and the most despairing of lows that make up his inventive and eventful musical life so far.
“A lot of the time musically it’s like honest, introspective stuff, then it’s creating lyrics with characters and their own sentiments. Sometmes those characters are autobiographical and sometimes they’re completely made up. It’s just having fun, tapping into that different creative world.”
Musically he’s moved through different genres from folky-pop to blues to alternative rock.
“It’s important to write about things that people can empathise with. So sometimes that does involve writing about the dark night of the soul. Sometimes the lyrics can be very dark and then the melody can be very bright and uplifting.”
In an always honest show - told via his own inimitable performance of both song and story - full of warmth, human frailty and hilarity, we can join Tony on his journey, soul searching on the highways of the US as he encounters so many different people along the way. Tony asks himself the ultimate artistic question: “Why do any of us do this?”.
A thought provoking, funny and honest show with a killer soundtrack, the piece was described by The Irish Times as a “work of perfect joy”.
“I almost cried when I read that review,” says Tony. “It can be very lonely working as a solo musician and it was amazing to have that bit of validation.”
Tony Wright performs at the MAC Belfast tonight (October 17) and tomorrow. For tickets visit themaclive.com/.