For the latest in our WISE WORDS interview series - where stars from a whole range of fields share the important life lessons they’ve learned along the way - we’re posing some of the big questions to FEARGAL SHARKEY.
One of the most distinctive voices in pop, Feargal was most widely known throughout the 1970s and ‘80s as the frontman of The Undertones, whose song ‘Teenage Kicks’ became celebrated as the favourite of influential DJ John Peel.
Going solo, Feargal’s single ‘A Good Heart’ was a huge song in 1985, since when he has performed in different roles, always tirelessly supporting the music industry, winning several awards for his efforts.
His latest venture sees him working on a brand new digital music competition platform called Salute, which will give unsigned, aspiring musicians the chance to showcase their work, and hopefully win a massive financial shot in the arm.
To mark this brand new venture, Feargal shared with HuffPostUK some of the biggest lessons he’s learned himself along the way...
What do you do to switch off?
A very deep bath, Sunday evenings after supper, with lots of foamy stuff and hopefully a very good book. My family knows to leave me alone.
How do you deal with any negativity that comes your way?
It’s an evolving process, but I would say I TRY to: Examine it quickly, decide if the criticism is valid or invalid, and then try to learn, or ignore, accordingly.
When and where are you at your happiest?
Invariably in a community of loved ones, friends, normally involving food and other little pastimes, those moments we get to spend with those closest to each other, solving the world’s problems, teasing and telling tall tales.
What’s been the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
If it’s wrong, change it. This came fro my parents. They were very active politically in Northern Ireland in the 1960s and charged up my interest in civil rights. They always told me, “If there is an injustice in the world that needs changed, change it.” And they led by example.
What’s been the hardest lesson you’ve have to learn?
To stop saying “No” at the start of every sentence. During my period of teenage years and early manhood, in response to any question or statement, that would be my automatic response. My agent gently told me this was the case, and he added, “You don’t even know you’re doing this.” I was not in the least aware.
What would you like to tell your 13-year-old self?
I would not have listened to much advice, unless you were an immediate blood relative, but I would have liked to have heard the words, “Keep striving, keep working, do your absolute best at all times, and if it doesn’t work, that’s okay, but don’t take on anything else unless you’re prepared to commit.”
What three things are at the top of your to-do list?
Participate fully in the launch of Music Makers, our big new, no-strings-attached competition for young aspiring British musicians. The winner will get £50,000, which will hopefully help them on their way.
I’m also the chairman of the oldest fly fishing club in the UK, and we are about to oversee a restoration project which will environmentally change the River Lee in Hertfordshire. This will be a massive project over the next three months and will demand my attention.
Work towards the scrapping of Form 696, which demands that venues give notice all of the entertainers billed to appear at venues, 14 days before any event. It’s being branded as an attempt to reduce crime and disorder, but it’s divisive and unnecessary.
What do you think happens when we die?
What was it William Butler Yeats told us? “I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree.” It’s a little uninhabited island in the middle of Ireland. If my soul ends up there, all will be fine.
When and where have you felt in the presence of something bigger than ourselves?
Any number of situations - standing at the bottom of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park; meeting someone for the first time when you think, What an extraordinary human being and you hope to absorb something from that person.
What is the quality you most prize in relationships?
Unconditional love, that encompasses friendship, soulmates, lovers.
What keeps you grounded?
My upbringing. I was one of 10 children, my father was an electrician and my mother spent her time ensuring all the children grew up to be happy, good people. You start from humble beginnings, I think you stay humble.
What was the most recent act of kindness you received?
It wasn’t the most recent, but the biggest one is the extraordinary generosity of British tax payers to fund me an education, to give me those basic tools in life, teaching me how to learn and how to go out in the world, develop and achieve the things I want to achieve. May I always be grateful. There are good hearts out there, you just have to keep looking.
Feargal Sharkey is one of those supporting Salute Music Makers, which aims to discover fresh, unsigned talent within the UK - the pioneering enterprise that hopes to find the next generation of unsigned musicians.
The idea behind Salute Music Makers is to create an accessible and fair opportunity for unsigned music makers to showcase their talent with an independent competition where an artist can win a ‘no-strings attached’ cash prize of £50,000.