Brian Houston – The life of Brian

Brian Houston
By Andrea Clarke
Photo by Fabrizio Belluschi

BELFAST singer/songwriter Brian Houston is a genre onto himself.
And a very interesting and talented genre at that.
With his soothing voice and rock star air, he is one of few Northern Ireland singers who sing in their natural accent.
Brian is also known as one of the country’s hardest working independent local artists selling thousands of records each year while touring the UK, Ireland, America and Europe.
His new single The Days of Pearly Spencer, originally released by David McWilliams and covered in the 80s by Marc Almond, was released last month to buy and download.
Brian released the song at the request of Mandy Bingham, David’s daughter and long-term Brian Houston fan.
Later this month the timeless classic will be on the set list at his forthcoming gigs at The Waterfront Hall on August 31 and Belfast’s Empire Music Hall on September 26.
Brian’s big break came in 2003 when, after touring with Elvis Costello and van Morrison he released his abum Mea Culpa.
Radio 2 DJ Bob Harris became an instant fan and gave the singer his national radio debut.
“He began to play my music from time to time and more doors opened to tour the length and breadth of England in 100 seat venues”, said Brian.
Calling him “the very, very excellent Brian Houston”, Bob Harris still continues to champion his unique style of music.
“I suppose they have coined this phrase indie folk”, Brian said of his music. “I would describe it as short, fat and ugly”!
A mix of folk music with touches of rock ‘n’ roll thrown in for good measure, Brian’s indie vibe stands out from the crowd because of his strong accent.
“It was a conscious decision to sing with my accent”, he said.
“The producer I worked with in England had worked with a lot of other acts and a lot of them sang in a similar genre of music that I had played in but they all sang in American accents. It always came across as if they were American and people were confused about their identity.
“I suppose in England they kind of treated that as less than credible. He was very keen for me to sing in my accent, that at least would have authenticity about it and would actually stand out in the genre because nobody else sounds like us”.
For his last album Sugar Queen, Brian enlisted the producing skills of multitalented singer/songwriter Nigel Stonier.
He decided to release Sugar Queen nationally and it did fantastically, so much so that Brian is working with the same team on his next album, A Man Like Me.
“I’ve got tonnes and tonnes of ideas”, he said.
“My experiences actually in England last year fuelled that a great deal.
“I get my inspiration from real life. Things that happen, things around, not always my experience but even when something happens to someone else it touches me I’ll write about that. But it’s never detached”.
Like so many other acts, Brian feels it is vital to write your own material.
“These days, ever since The Beatles, it’s definitely important to write your own material.
“There’s very, very few interpreters of other people’s songs who can actually succeed in the music business. To have any kudos or credibility there’s got to be a writing side to what you do and even the performing side as well.
“The whole area I come from is from people who did their own thing, obviously not Elvis he didn’t write much but I’ve always been inspired by people who perform their own material and I think the industry looks to that, it’s kind of like the minimum standard.
“What I find interesting about music is that albums become different because you’re life changes and so long as you’re life keeps changing you’re work keeps growing, and in my case I’m fortunate in that my life is constantly taking a different track”.
Such is the success of Sugar Queen that it has already sold out of it’s first print run and Brian is currently in the process of re-releasing it to include the single the Days Of Pearly Spencer later this month.

The Days of Pearly Spencer is out now and Sugar Queen will be re-released later this month.

September 26, Empire Music Hall, Belfast

All tickets are £13.50 (inc booking fee), and are available across the counter from all Ticketmaster outlets, online, and on their 24 hour booking line on 0870 243 4455. (sales may be subject to credit card charges and the commissions of Ticketmaster agents).

For further information on tour dates visit

    Last week Brian told Class newspaper: “Things have been so busy lately I’ve not had time to work on the new record but I’ve been writing songs and the plan is to not tour for a while after the September dates so that I can get a chance to finish it. I hope to have it out early next year.
    In the meantime we’ll release a limited edition Single/EP featuring a remix of Oranges which will knock your socks off.”

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