When my sister decided back in 2007 that she wanted to start learning drums as an additional instrument to the violin and clarinet that she already played, she was fortunate that the primary school that she was attending at the time had a resident drum teacher on the staff there. His name? Jeremy Hickey.
We would soon come to learn that Mr. Hickey was not simply a music teacher, we would soon come to learn that he was beginning to develop a reputation for himself in esteemed music circles. Working under the moniker, Rarely Seen Above Ground – stylised as R.S.A.G., Hickey has since developed a reputation as being one of the most exciting talents in Irish music, and as a truly incredible live act. Hickey initially gained notoriety as the drummer in the excellent Kilkenny band, Blue Ghost, before deciding that the time was right to embark on a solo career.
Hickey is one of the most talented multi-instrumentalists in Ireland at the moment and, although predominantly a drummer, records the majority of the instrumentation that can be heard on his works himself, while sometimes drafting in bonus performers to add to the overall sound being created. 2007 marked the year that Hickey made his first official music release with the release of the Rarely Seen Above Ground album, which was quickly followed in 2008 with the Organic Sampler LP. These two releases were met with universal critical acclaim and pushed Hickey further onto the radar of music fans across the country, with Organic Sampler being nominated for the Choice Music Prize Album of the Year for 2008. This album would contain the crowd favourite and first single, Stick to Your Line, which would help to further raise the profile of R.S.A.G..
What followed was the release of his third LP, Be It Right Or Wrong in 2010, an album that would contain the first single by Hickey to get any substantial mainstream radio play, The Roamer. However, the subsequent release of the Rotate EP in late 2013 would be the last major release that would we hear from Hickey who despite a scattering of singles in the intervening years, the most recent of which being Meet You There which was released in April of this year, has not released an album or EP since. But it is understood that there is another album in the works by Hickey, and there is no doubt that it will be worth the wait when it comes if the standard of the singles that we have been hearing lately are anything to go by.
But that’s not to say that Jeremy Hickey has not been busy since the release of Rotate. A regular performer at various music and arts festivals across the country, he is always a popular addition to any festival line up, with his sets at Electric Picnic always attracting a huge crowd in particular. A live show by R.S.A.G. often has to be experienced for the full extent of the spectacle to be appreciated. Hickey performs with a ferocity and an intensity on the drum kit that is extremely compelling. During his live shows he performs over a backing track of each song minus the drum track which Hickey performs live, this is all done in front of a projection of himself as different band members playing the different instruments that can be heard on the track, which have been created and arranged by long time R.S.A.G. collaborator Paul Mahon. It results in a truly mesmerizing audio and visual experience.
As well as doing solo shows, in recent years Hickey has taken up the role of drummer with esteemed Irish musician Jerry Fish on his Electric Sideshow tour. This writer would recommend that you get out to see this man perform if you can, you are sure not to be left disappointed.