The Boomtown Rats singer talks new music, going to space and why he keeps on coming back to Dubai.
You come to Dubai almost every year. Do you remember the first trip?
My first trip was in the ’70s, I was on my way to Australia with the [Boomtown] Rats and Dubai was a sort of white, corrugated iron free-trade zone – that was it. There was really nothing in the city. There was the market, which was very local, where you could buy gold, but that was it. We used to laugh about coming when it was developing – we’d come on these annual trips, and we’d stay in a hotel, but that hotel would be destroyed the next year.
You’ve been quite exclusive to The Irish Village. Does it feel like home?
I’m not sure we’ve ever been asked to perform anywhere else. I think it’s just because now I always associate St. Patrick’s Day with The Irish Village. The band just like doing the gig because it’s a bit mad, and everybody’s sort of used to us. We don’t play the kind of things we normally play, but that’s just because it’s such a loose atmosphere.
Are you still writing new music?
I’m playing guitar more and more at home, which means there’s something going on in my head. It’s not something voluntary, I reach for it all the time. That means that there’s really something kicking off inside me. But it’s not coherent yet – it’ll come together as a song at some point.
It started raining at last year’s gig, and you ended up playing a pretty epic, intimate indoor set. Why did you decide to play on?
We’re Irish, so St. Patrick’s Day isn’t complete without rain – we felt at home. People had paid, we’d come a long way just to play, and we love playing. Rain – so what? There’s a sort of spontaneity about it; I loved it. Not because it was raining and it was fun, but because it’s music, you know?
What do you think of young artists today such as Justin Bieber?
I’ve just done Band Aid 30 with Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran and Rita Ora, and Jessie Ware, Ellie Goulding and One Direction – they’re amazing. 1D had one day off in three months, and they spent it doing Band Aid. These guys are making it; I respect people like that. Bieber’s been a big teen star for years, and I just think it’s got to him, you know? It’s just endless. You get a distorted perspective because everything is at your beck and call. He just needs to watch himself. Because he could go down that very short road that many people have gone down before. He must love music, he just needs to put that back into him.
You’re set to be the first Irish person in space – what made you want to go?
Who wouldn’t want to be a human being and look back at their own planet? You just think, “Wow. It’s so tiny, so precious. We’re in grave danger of losing it.” But besides that, I just want to step outside everything. I just want to look. And then if it blows up on the way up, I’m not going to know, am I? It’s just going to happen. So what else have I got left to do? I’ve done enough. I won’t go with any regrets.