Swindon singer/songwriter Rob Richings has recently completed a successful tour of Ireland which he says was splendid, except for mistakenly gatecrashing a church service.

One of the venues was in a church, but the musicians had turned up at the wrong church in the middle of a service.

“They weren’t impressed when the gear started coming through the door,’’ said Rob, who will have no trouble finding the venue for his next concert, as it is in his home town on Saturday, November 24 at 7.30pm.

“I only get to play a show in Swindon once a year so I always look forward to it. I get to play with a band too. I have an amazing line up of musicians for the Swindon Arts Centre show including Tom Jones and James Morrison’s guitarist Simon Johnson,’’ said Rob.

The tour was with singer/songwriter Tom Baxter, whose single Better was covered by Boyzone and reached number 22 in the Top 40 UK charts. Tom numbers Tom Waits and David Schwimmer among his celeb fans.

The two musicians headed out round Ireland stopping off in Limerick, Galway, Kilarney and De Barra. This was old stomping ground for Rob as part of his childhood was spent in County Wexford.

“We moved to the countryside and it was a very safe place to be. We lived down a country lane, just big enough for a car to fit. We didn’t have a phone. The closest phone box was a 30 minute walk away at the local shop (yes, this was in the 90s) and we spent all our spare time outside with very little TV.

“Yes, looking back it was some of the best years of my life,’’ said the singer. “We would move through the Waterford countryside setting up our tents in different locations (nearly always on farm land), we would wake up in the morning to the farmer cutting his field but they always just cut around us and let us be. I’m not so sure that would happen now!’’

Rob recorded his debut album Parkas and Boots down under in Sydney, Australia with Passenger producer Chris Vallejo, but for his latest EP, called Lately I’ve Been Wondering, he returned to Crescent Records in Swindon, run by his brother James.

“It’s a wonderful space with an amazing live room. It’s where I spend a lot of time writing. We have had some amazing musicians and producers through the door this year including John Leckie and Goldie,’’ said Rob.

The brothers are close with very little sibling rivalry. They both like similar styles of music and going to the same gigs and Rob says that even if they disagree they work it out over a pint.

“We get on great. We are both very passionate about music and as frustrating as this industry is at times we are working towards making it a better place for independent artists like us. The only competition was on the football pitch,’’ said Rob, who says growing up in a big musical family was a huge influence on him.

“Someone was always playing piano or guitar and singing. I got a classical guitar for Christmas and a chord book around the time we moved to Ireland and my brothers and I used to join in the jam sessions at the local bar whenever we could. ‘’

Along with James, Rob has another brother, Steve, who is a guitarist and a sister called Sophie.

“My sister is a wonderful vocal coach at Everybody Sing. Sophie will be joining me on stage at the Arts Centre,’’ he added.

BBC Radio 2 has given Rob airplay with his first EP Half Way Up and he says it it’s nice to hear his own songs on the radio.

“It’s great to get national play. Radio 2 have supported me on a few occasions now but it’s BBC Scotland who have really got behind me. My album and EPs have had a great run through these guys,’’ he said.

Another highlight to date for Rob was touring with Hazel O’Connor.

“Hazel was really cool, very down to earth and we all got on great. Some of the theatres we played were stunning including London’s West End Adelphi. She puts on a very energetic show.’’

Tickets to see Rob in Swindon are £13 from 01793 524481 or visit www.swindontheatres.co.uk - Flicky Harrison