In Conversation • Daniel Nash

Daniel Nash and his brother Patrick Nash are The Nash Brothers, a guitar-driven, Blues Rock band from Waterford, Ireland. The subtle Celtic tones found in The Nash Brothers music stem from Ireland and Scotland’s rich artistic culture, where the brothers were born and raised, beginning their collaboration while still children. 

The Nash Brothers band was formed with collaborations from Ireland and Brazil: Darren Jennings (drummer) and Fintan McKahey (bassist) — both from the wilds of West Cork — and by the Brazilian Latin Grammy-winning production team of Gabriel Pinheiro and Luiz Tornaghi, who recorded and produced the album.

Their debut EP, “The Nash Brothers,” was recorded in the summer of 2015 in Brazil, where Daniel went only to visit but decided to stay. The Nash Brothers had concerts, television, and radio appearances and showcased at The Miss Universe Brazil 2015. 

In our conversation, he talks about The Nash Brothers, his story with Brazil, and how Brazilian music inspired him to his next project that will be released soon. Join us!

“Well I’ve seen faces in the mountain,
An old wise man shuffling, throwing blinds in.
Counting the days he’s lost.”

Daniel, where are you originally from?

I am from Waterford but based in Cork.

I can see you are wearing a jumper, so you are definitely in Ireland now, right?

Right, I am in Ireland right now, I came back from Brazil after the first lockdown, and I already miss Brazilian summertime!

What is your story with Brazil? What did you do there?

For the last seven years, I have been living between Cork-Brazil. My father has lived in Brazil for 10 years, 8 in Rio and the last 2 in Bahia.  When I went to visit him for the first time in 2013, I immediately fell in love with Brazil, the energy, the vibe of the people and the weather!  (and the amazing mangos!)

My brother and I (The Nash Brothers) played with different rhythm sessions (drummers and bassists) in Brazil but always coming back to our roots and home in Ireland. In 2015 or 2016, I had to get out of winter Ireland and went to Rio de Janeiro for a month’s holiday to play some shows, try to surf and get some vitamin D. I ended up staying for three years there, where I found my girlfriend, my wife, today. My brother found his love there, too.

It was not too difficult for me to work there, as I worked in an English school and played shows in bars in Rio, Lapa, Santa Tereza ect. But getting the documents, like the CPF [sort of PPS for Irish], was difficult; without this number, I couldn’t open a bank account.

Have you visited many places in Brazil? What was your favourite one?

I have been lucky to visit some amazing places in Brazil by playing in shows, We have played in Floripa, Sao Paulo Rio and Minas Gerais. 

Aside from Rio which is my 2nd home, I especially loved Minas Gerais and South of Bahia.

What place in Ireland do you recommend Brazilians to visit?

I would probably be biased towards the South West Coast: Galway, Clare Kerry and Cork. The landscape is wonderful and relaxing with many rolling hills and beaches, there are also lots of castles and ruins dating to the 17th Century. West Cork where I live has some amazing music venues where we will be organising shows when the world starts to return to normal. (check out: Connollys of Leap)  The spirit of people from the West I think is pretty open minded and always up for the craic. ( like Brazilians)  

“Shake off your bowler hat, give me a minute to read that map, I need an alibi to sail the 7 seas.”

Tell us about The Nash Brothers.

It’s been ten years since we created The Nash Brothers. Our first album, “Faces in the Mountain,” and our debut EP was released in Rio in 2015. I am a songwriter and guitar player, and my brother is the lead singer; he is great, though he can be a handful sometimes! [laughs] But I say this with the love of a brother, of course! 

Your lyrics are said to recall Tom Waits and Jim Morrison’s songs. Are they based on real stories?

I guess, they are based with reference to reality and different stories I have heard or read, also things that have happened in my life. But in general, I tend to try to use metaphors, imagery and create characters within the stories, I find it helps removing myself from the songs. Although all the characters are generally an extension of my characteristics.  Guys like Tom and Jim take the listener on a journey with their stories, you can feel like you are in the setting of the song.  

How Brazilian music inspired you?

The Portuguese language touches our feelings in a way that we feel like crying sometimes. English is not as vigorous as Portuguese. The music is vast and open; it lifts your spirit!

The most amazing thing I found with Brazilian music is how, one song can mix many genres but always maintain that Brazilian essence. Bands like Nação Zumbi mix maracatu rhythms with Rock, creating such a heavy almost meditative trance.

Of course the energy and music of Carnaval is something that is hugely unique and inspirational. 

What would be a good duo with one Irish singer and a Brazilian one? Who else would be playing in this band?

Well actually, Seu Jorge did an interpretation of an Irish song by Damian Rice ‘The Blowers Daughter’, which Seu Jorge interpreting is in the song ‘Isso Ai’. They actually performed it together in Sao Paulo.  

Ok, great question, an Irish Brazilian super group. Ok can they be dead?  I think we have to start with Phil Lynot from Thin Lizzy on Bass and vocals, the drummer has to be Brazilian (sorry Ireland). There are so many to choose from but I would go for Igor Cavelera, But that was a tough choice. Rory Gallagher (Ireland) would be one of the guitarists’ and let me see, Vocals either Jorge Ben Jor or Chico Science. I would be another guitarist, because it would be an amazing band to play in. 

If you could play with one Brazilian musician, who would that be?

Jorge Ben Jor, I think you could just learn so much by just being in the room, his approach to music is fascinating (or Annita rsrs) 

What are your musical influences?

Brazilian influences are Jorge Ben Jor, Nação Zumbi, Tom Jobim, Seu Jorge, Tim Maia. Now, an Irish musician’s I like are Rob Gallagher, Christy Moore and Thin Lizzy. I love guys like Neil Young, John Martin, Led Zeppelin, Tom Waits, Jackson Brown. My favourite guitarist (changes everyday) today is Mark Knopfler.

What is music for you? 

É vida.

“Stuck in a game of Aces, unsuspicious, unsuspected, unfamiliar faces, speaking forgive tongues, holding loaded guns, throwing out bum deals, just for fun.”

How long did you take to learn Portuguese, how was the process? 

It took me about a year. Music was a useful tool, Roberto Carlos, for instance, his lyrics are romantic and the slower songs are easier to follow! It was difficult at the beginning, though. At the beginning of 2020 I went back to Brazil,I was stopped by the Police [Polícia Federal], saying that I had to pay R$ 10,000 for overstaying my VISA for 765 days… As I didn’t have a Brazilian bank account, they couldn’t accept my card’s payment. I explained my father lived there, and I was engaged with a Brazilian woman, so they let me go and handed me a paper bill (boleto) to be paid within one month. 

I also remember having doubts with the pronunciation of words like bread, which is ‘pão,’ and being always afraid of asking for coconut water, which you say “coco,”  both words are similar to another thing, which would be pretty funny if you ask the guy at the paderia or kiosk. 

I know your feelings! It is like my fear of saying English words like “sheet” and “beach.” 

Yeah, it is tricky! But I find with Portuguese there are ways of describing and explaining things that wouldn’t have the same effect in English, for example, to explain ‘What is Bahia like’ in English, we would say well, it is ‘warm,’ ‘interesting,’ ‘different.’ Still, these words don’t convey the place’s true image and feeling, but it is different if we can explain using the Portuguese’s language emotion. 

Daniel, how has the pandemic affected you?

Like most artists, I am using this time to practice, write, and create and I am lucky enough to have access to a state of the art recording studio that my band have built during this pandemic. To make my living, I teach English online, and at the moment, all my students are Brazilians, and I also teach Portuguese for ‘gringos’ [nickname Brazilians give to foreigners].

I think the pandemic has forced everyone to look inside themselves and actually have time to work on personal things that we might have not otherwise had the time to do. 

“Part of a one man travelling band, rusty steel toed boots.
Life on the road looking for his roots.
Banging blackened blues upon the badge he salutes.”

Now, tell me about your plans for the future?

I am currently working as a  guitarist, singer/songwriter on a new EP with a new band. The band is actually made of my best friends that I have been playing with for the last 10/15 years years, so we are a very tight unit and understand each other very well. The band is made up of myself (Guitars Vocals), Fintan McKahey (Bass, Vocal) (check him out: fantastic singer/songwriter) Fintan and Darren Jennings (Drums). This project is in evolution in terms of band name and brand ect. But luckily the music seems like the easy part and we are very happy and excited with the quality of songs we are writing.  Brazil has influenced our music, and we will be trying to mix it with our Celtic Rock roots. Hopefully, we will have it ready in March 2021 to launch in Ireland, Portugal, and Brazil.

I hope I will be able to listen to your new EP in a pub in Dublin drinking Guinness, maybe in Portugal with their excellent wines, or even in Brazil drinking a caipirinha!

I hope so too! Wouldn’t that be great?! When the world opens back to us, we will be ready!

“Serving time in a tidal wave, inside a bottled ship.
Hanging from the crows nest.
An old wise man sitting counting.
The coins building up and the Faces that he see in the Mountain.”

Featured Photo: Kate Bean | The fragments on this interview are from The Nash Brother’s music “Faces in the Mountain” • listen to it on Spotify. | The Portuguese version of this is interview was translated by Paola Benevides.

Interested in more music? Check our conversation with Leonardo Ramos, from the band HARMUNDI: