Cormac Cleary started writing songs at the age of eight, but it wasn’t until more than ten years later that his career in music really began. 

“When I was younger I focused more on football because I wanted to be a professional football player and I couldn’t get on stage, I was too nervous.  I couldn’t sing in front of people.  The first time I ever sang in front of anybody was my last year of high school when I was at 19, end of high school… It’s very strange.  I think if I’d gotten any other reaction I would’ve never done it again.  I sang Oasis’ “Wonderwall” just before that song broke, it wasn’t really out in Canada yet and I did it.  I got a standing ovation.  And I remember I was just so nervous I was shaking, but the feeling that I got from being up there and doing it, I thought  “okay, this is something that feels good”.

On June 24, 1976 Cormac became one of five sons born to what he describes as “mad Irish hippies”.  He spent the first 15 years of his life in a small town in Ireland called Ballingcollig, County Cork, before his father moved the family to Burlington, Ontario in Canada where more employment opportunities existed at the time.

“I’m working class.  I’ve always been working class.  I was working class in Ireland and working class in Canada.  I’m definitely working class in LA. When we moved to Canada it was such a huge culture shock, it took us a long time to adjust because it was so different.  We grew up in a three-bedroom house shared by five boys, and my mom and dad.  There were four of us boys in one bedroom.  We had bunk beds, and we shared everything.  That’s how we grew up but we had the best childhood because we never wanted for anything.  We didn’t have a lot of money, but our parents always made sure we were well looked after.  We never needed anything.  Then when we immigrated to Canada my dad rented out this huge house with a big garden and two garages.  All the houses in Burlington are like that, and everything looked big to us.  The school looked like a shopping mall with kids driving to school in cars  - which just didn’t happen where we grew up.  It just didn’t happen.  But that’s just what Burlington is.  The majority of it is upper middle class, but we weren’t.”

Although he names a variety of bands from U2 to Coldplay to Radiohead to Neil Young as having impacted him, Cormac cites his father as the biggest influence of all.

“I have his records, all these Irish traditional records.  He was a musician, traveled, lived in Hamburg.  He was in tons of bands.  He was a guitar player and a singer, so I guess he’s the first real influence.  He was always playing guitar at parties and around the house.  My mom would sing and my dad was always playing”…

Cormac formed and played in two bands before recording his own demo and answering classified ads looking for musicians or new songs.  Answering an ad for Blade TV Cormac sent his CD in not aware that it was for TNT’s original series “Witchblade” starring Yancy Butler.

“I thought it was a skateboarding show, something I don’t know anything about.  My initial reaction was “Blade TV” must have something to do with skateboarding, in-line skating and I almost didn’t send my CD.  I thought my music, which is quite mellow, couldn’t fit into a skateboarding, snowboarding thing.  But I did send it in and I just forgot about it because when you do that, you just forget about it, you can’t think about it - you just send it out.  About a week later I got a message on my phone.”

Cormac’s demo was sent to Ralph Hemecker, executive producer of the series.  When Coramc was called in to meet with Ralph, he began to understand the enormity of this opportunity.

“I was very surprised. I didn’t realize how big the show was till I actually GOT to the offices and met Ralph.  I saw all the posters and I started to realize, “well, okay, maybe this is NOT some little tiny TV. Show”.   I think it wasn’t until I was told I was going to Los Angeles to re-record the song “Phobia” for the show that I knew they were serious, and I was pretty amazed that they were going to use it.”

As millions of Blade fans already know, not only did Cormac’s unique sound become a part of the “Witchblade” lore, but he was also tagged to play the role of a rock musician murdered by a schizophrenic psychiatrist in the episode “Static”.  Soon after, Hemecker’s indy label  Sonic Voodoo signed an exclusive deal with Cormac as the flagship artist and set out to produce an entire CD of Cleary’s music with composer Joel Goldsmith producing.

“Ralph is the man with the mission, the man who believed in me.   When you play live, you get all these people who say “you should be this and you should be that” and that’s the stuff that keeps you going… but it takes that one person to really, say “okay, I’m gonna step-up and support you and get the album out, and take that chance” – and Ralph was that one person.  So I will always be indebted to Ralph for doing that.”

Cormac describes his music as “melodic rock”, but tries to steer away from labeling his work. “Everybody hears something different.  In Canada, I’ve heard everything from I sound like Morrissey, to a lady on the radio comparing me to Van Morrison; to Neil Finn to Radiohead, so many different people, so many different sounds… I don’t even bother to try and describe it.  It’s just me.  I would just call the genre, you know, pop rock… or melodic rock.  A lot of the stuff I do right now is acoustic, but I don’t think it will always BE acoustic.  Eventually I’ll start playing electric and piano and who knows what else.  I try not to limit the possibilities.”

When asked what he’d be doing if he weren’t playing music Cormac responded:   “I don’t know.  I can’t imagine what I would be doing if I wasn’t doing this.  Probably not a hell of a lot. I’d be lost without music.  Music has gotten me through so much.  And it will.  It always gets me through, if I’m having a bad day I can just pick up my guitar and nobody can ever take that away from me.  I’ve been blessed with something where I can sit and I can sing, even if it’s just for myself, and nobody can ever take that away from me.  I can’t imagine.  Honestly I can’t.”

Cormac’s deep connection with his music is apparent in the music and lyrics that he writes.  Evoking images of a modern romanticism and the ethereal, Cormac’s sound is so everlasting that it will remain with the listener long after the final track has played.


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