When Power Of Dreams burst onto the scene with their debut record ‘Immigrants, Emigrants and Me’, they captured an early 90s zeitgeist, with young frontman Craig Walker briefly the voice of a generation of economically pressured Irish kids.
31 years later, Walker is still living away, though he’s now in Berlin instead of London, and together with original band members Ian Olney and Keith Walker, and his new writing partner Eric Alcock, Power Of Dreams’ new album ‘Auslander’ is a nod to his finest hour, and a return to the fray for Power Of Dreams 26 years after their last full-length album.
“It felt like the right time,” Walker explains. “The 30 year anniversary landed in the middle of last year, and we thought ‘what can we do, we can’t even play a gig’. We wanted to honour it, and originally the idea was to record an EP with new versions of the songs. I spoke to Eric Alcock, who I was working with on Craig Walker and The Cold, and I said I wanted to honour the album.”
“He said why don’t we do a new album, and I had the songs from working on various stuff over the years. A bunch of them I’d always thought would be perfect for Power Of Dreams, but I never thought it would be possible. But we did it.”
“I recorded acoustically, sent to Eric, and he mocked up a basic track to send to the guys, then he produced it, via the boys in Arizona and London. We assembled it, and luckily it still sounded alright. Eric is from Canada and in his late 30s, and he’d never even heard of Power Of Dreams before this, but he was really into the old stuff when he heard it, and he did a great job.”
‘Auslander’, naturally, is a product of its circumstance, but that’s been more positive than you might expect, according to Walker.
“We decided, because of the limitations, there wasn’t any room for rehearsal, and in a funny way, the limitation really worked to our advantage. It could have sounded much bigger, but we decided to keep it simple, in terms of what’s on the record, just myself, Eric, Keith and Ian.”
“It’s not a lockdown album, though Eric’s never met Keith or Ian, we’ve just all got on a Zoom call together.”
“The reference to ‘Immigrants, Emigrants and Me’ is intentional, of course,” Walker continues, acknowledging the story behind the album’s title ‘Auslander’, or ‘foreigner’ in German. “I’m in a similar situation to when that album came out. It’s funny how things are quite cyclical, the political climate is quite similar and there’s a lot of division in the world.”
“I think it takes 20 years to look back on a piece of work and look back on it and be kind to yourself,” Walker says of his classic record. “Circumstances take over with a release, and that’s still in your mind. 30 years later, it still sounds really good and fresh to me, which is a credit to the producer.”
“History repeats as they say, and we’re seeing that again, especially with refugees and the displacement of people, which is still occuring.”
Despite their pointed political angles and edgy style, however, Power Of Dreams have some surprising connections that still shine through years later.
“Louis Walsh was our original promoter,” Walker recalls. “He was like the enfant terrible at the time, doing the stuff that [big promoters] MCD and Aiken wouldn’t do, and he was really into us.”
“I remember in about 1989 or1990, we met him and he said he’d put together the Irish Take That, and we all took the piss out of him. But Louis took chances, and he did it, creating Boyzone. After that he was always telling me that Ronan Keating was a mad POD fan and was down the front at all our gigs.”
“When we tweeted about our new album, Ronan started tweeting about it too, and he was up for doing something on the record. It didn’t happen in the end, but we do have a track that we wrote specifically as a duet for me and him. It might come as a charity single at some point.” Watch this space.
Auslander by Power of Dreams is out now.