The marketing tag line that accompanies Dream Catcher’s press blurb is “raggle taggle folk”. This is a fair description, but a more fitting slogan for the band – who this week make their live debut in Abu Dhabi and Dubai – might be “big in Luxembourg”.
That is the home country (population: 543,000) of the band – the long-standing solo project of veteran songwriter John Rech – and they or their leader have been called on to support a host of superstars, including Sting, Bon Jovi, Train, Counting Crows – even Michael Jackson.
“That was a nightmare from beginning to end,” says Rech, as he recalls supporting the Jacko in front of 47,000 people in 1997.
“The audience weren’t interested, the production crew was not supportive and we were not even allowed to use the bridge used by artists – so we had to walk through mud to the stage and change our clothes in the cold.”
Such treatment was a shock to 46-year-old Rech, who found fame in the early 1990s as the lead singer of T42, a group of teenage schoolmates who broke out of their tiny country to become one of Luxembourg’s biggest musical exports.
But Rech initially had a very different career in mind.
“I was seriously trying to qualify for the Olympics in the 400-metres sprint and the long jump, and then I was injured,” he says. “My life was turned upside down, so I decided to form a band. I didn’t play any instrument, and because I was jumping a lot, I became the lead singer. We had a lot of energy back then.”
After scoring success and becoming celebrities in their homeland, and extensively touring neighbouring European countries, the band slowly dissolved. They officially called it a day in 2005, after 15 years, with the greatest hits collection From Schoolband to Nowhere ( Least Worst Of), which racked up record-breaking, five-times platinum sales in Luxembourg.
“I had changed my whole view of music,” says Rech. “For some people [in the band], it was a fun time, at that time – and for me it had become serious. I wanted to get better every day.”
Long before the plug was finally pulled on T42, Rech had branched out with his solo vehicle Dream Catcher. The group solidified their reputation post-split with 2006’s Sunny Days album.
Soon after, the band assumed their current form – a wilfully ramshackle, largely acoustic outfit who blur Celtic folk music with pop singalongs.
“We’ve spent the past eight years touring intensively, and it’s become a different thing,” says Rech. “Suddenly people were interested in what we were doing – and at the same time we were finding our own sound.
“It’s a lot more democratic this time. It’s always been my solo project, but it makes it more pleasant when we all work together.”
The six-piece band arrive in the UAE in the run-up to the unveiling of Vagabonds, a new album that captures the band live and raw in the studio. It was released in Luxembourg on Friday and will be available worldwide from January 27.
“The title really sums it up,” says Rech. “We’ve been working so long in so many studios – like vagabonds. We found we had much more energy this way, which you can really hear. It was like meeting friends for a drink, but making music.
“It’s the first album I’ve made, that I would actually put on and listen to.”
Dream Catcher will perform live at The Music Room, Majestic Hotel Tower, Bur Dubai on Wednesday, November 16 in partnership with Alliance Française Dubai. Doors open at 6pm, tickets are Dh50, including one drink, from www.platinumlist.net; and at Novotel Abu Dhabi Al Bustan on Thursday, November 17, from 8pm, tickets are Dh180, including dinner and refreshments