SEPTEM BER 2008
My my! free featuring the best new Irish sounds Oh yeah! The only guide you'll need to
electric picnic ALL for under a ﬁver! Winner.
I RELAN D’S N EW MUSIC PAYLOAD
thank you for the music is my radar: Do not adjust your magazine
russell brand moma mia:
sigur rós from Porn to Pop Perfection Tindersticks CSS Erykah Badu Tinariwen That Petrol Emotion
General Fiasco Little Boots BLK JKS and the best reviews in
albums, books, games & dvds 1
First Music Contact
issue 06 might well contain...
16 32 30
tinariwen Rebellion, revolution and electric guitars – are Tinariwen the last great rock ‘n’ roll band?
How Bodytonic set out to save Dublin clubland and their plans for the Picnic.
Back after five years, Stuart Staples on the reasons why the time was right for the elegiac Tindersticks to return to the stage.
Russell Brand on his frustration at not actually being born a rock star.
Meet Ireland’s most unlikely pop stars – two blokes from Belfast, a drum kit and some toys.
music is my radar
From zeros to heroes. Repeat to fade. Benny and Bjorn from the greatest pop band in the world ever talk porn soundtracks, superstardom and heartbreak with State.
The majesty of Iceland’s most ethereal sons live in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art.
Pleased to meet you General Fiasco, King Khan & The Shrines, Little Boots and BLK JKS; can Montreal survive the hype? Why do American rappers make such fools of themselves? The Cult – they were good once. Pivot in conversation; & more.
that petrol emotion Sinéad Gleeson on the rise and fall of a band ahead of their time.
Of mice and men.
holidays by mistake
Overlooked by the tourist brochures, the stunning Rwanda is breaking free of its terrible recent past and looking to the future.
Your essential six-page guide to State’s favourite music festival.
david holmes Tragedy, triumph, staying at home: David Holmes finds his voice.
Your complete guide to what’s out there. Albums: CSS make an ass of themselves, Primal Scream break out the polish, and some band called U2. DVD: Real girls, real people, really bad French cinema. TV: is bigger always better? Books: Chuck Palahniuk’s latest attempt at pulp friction. Games: going to war with Bad Company.
electric picnic preview
erykah badhu Olivia Mai has an audience with the queen.
illegal art New releases by Girl Talk and Steinski throw the great sampling debate into the limelight. We hear the case for the defence.
sa dingding Beijing, New York, Dun Laoghaire: the international life of China’s biggest musical export.
John Joe Worrall does it for the kids.
state versus the summer Your track-by-track guide to this month’s free CD.
Editors: John Walshe, Phil Udell (email@example.com) Art Director: Simon Roche
Publisher: Roger Woolman Assistant Editor/Web Editor: Niall Byrne (firstname.lastname@example.org) Advertising and Marketing Manager: Alan O’Dwyer Ofﬁce Assistant: Aoife McDonnell Contributors: Dan Hegarty, Tanya Sweeney, John Joe Worrall, Maia Dunphy, Saoirse Patterson, Dave Donnelly, Jennifer Gannon, Ciara O’Brien, Shane Galvin, Martin McIver, David O Mahony, Durell Connor, Ciarán Ryan, Tony Jessen, Jenna Wolf, David McLaughlin, Jeff Weiss, Kara Manning, Sinéad Gleeson, Johnnie Craig, Bobby Ahern, Cian Traynor, Louise Healy, Paul Byrne, Joe Crosby, Chris Russell, Tia Clarke, Sean Feeny, Elaine O’Neil, Shane Culloty, Pamela Halton, Paula Shields, Kate Rothwell, Hilary A. White, Darragh McCausland, Aoife McDonnell, Michael Dwyer, Patricia Danaher, Niall Crumlish, Olivia Mai, Aiden Fortune Photographers: Richard Gilligan, Lili Forberg, Marcelo Biglia, Scott ‘n’ Goulden, Zoran Orlic, Liam Sweeney, Loreana Rushe, Feargal Ward, State is published monthly by State Magazine Ltd, 4th Floor, Equity House, 16-17 Upper Ormond Quay, Dublin 7. Tel: (01) 888 0660 Email: email@example.com Website: www.state.ie Distributed in Ireland by EM News Distribution, Clonshaugh, Dublin 5, and RMG Chart Entertainment Ltd, 2 Carriglea, Naas Road, Dublin 12, and in Northern Ireland, by EM News Distribution (NI) Ltd. ISSN 2009-0897. All materials © State Magazine 2008. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any part of the magazine without the written permission of the publishers is strictly prohibited. Although State Magazine has endeavoured to ensure that all information is correct, prices and details may be subject to change. The opinions expressed are those of the individual contributors and do not necessarily reﬂect the views of State Magazine Ltd.
Olivia Mai Dublin born, Olivia Mai lived and worked in France and Spain before returning to sharpen her teeth at Totally Dublin magazine. Now freelancing, her features appear in national broadsheets and popular culture magazines.
Sinéad Gleeson Sinéad is an Arts Journalist, radio pundit, music reviewer for The Irish Times and columnist with The Herald. Formerly of The Sigla Blog, she now interviews bands over at http://musicalrooms. wordpress.com/.
The idea for the ﬁrst State CD begin life at last month’s Oxegen, when we were struck not only by the number of Irish bands playing over the weekend, but by the quality and diversity of what was on offer. That the home scene is in a healthy state should come as no surprise, yet it was still striking to see it gathered in one place. Which is what we have done, with 16 tracks that range from the confrontational pop of Fight Like Apes to the elegant electro of Halfset and the youthful genius of Heathers. We’re also proud to say that the majority of the bands have been featured in these pages already, marking us as the place to go for both the international and national stories. Enjoy. As for our cover story, well you don’t get many bands more iconic than Abba. Meeting the twin keepers of the ﬂame, Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, in London, Paul Byrne hears how they went from a chance meeting in a hotel car park to global superstars, followed by a prolonged period in the wilderness. That they are now as popular as they ever were, perhaps even more, is a tribute to the fact that they have written some of the ﬁnest pop music of the age. It was exactly the kind of story that we envisaged for State when we began this and it heralds a similarly on-the-button issue. Over the next 96 pages, you will ﬁnd a wealth of music from all over the world, from North Africa to China, Iceland to Belfast, presented, not because it ticks some sort of box, but because these are the bands and artists you simply need to know and read about. Given the month that’s in it, we bring you a healthy dose of Electric Picnic-related coverage – Sigur Rós live in New York, interviews with the extraordinary Tinariwen, Oppenheimer, David Holmes, Tindersticks and That Petrol Emotion, plus our detailed coverage of who to look out for at the festival. Away from Stradbally and all its delights, we bring you the most famous pop star you’ve never heard in the shape of China’s Sa Dingding, the majesty of Erykah Badu and an article on the sample-based Illegal Art label (home to Girl Talk) so good that you’ll want to cut and paste it for yourselves. As is now customary, Incoming offers you an introduction to the best new acts around and a critical eye on what has gone before. You also get an inside view on the city of Montreal, the nightmare of ﬂying halfway round the world to interview Creed and the nonsense of US hip-hop. Over and out: see you on September 4. ~ John Walshe and Phil Udell
Rock, paper or scissors? Paper
Rock, paper or scissors? Paper
Result: Draw (yawn)
my inspiration Tom Waits
You’re a weak little pony, Jim to pull big men like us Dylan Thomas A Visit To Grandpa’s
Photography by Anton Corbijn ‘A Visit To Grandpa’s’ by Dylan Thomas, from Miscellany Two, published by J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., London, 1966 Copyright © 1937, 1945, 1955, 1956, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1971, 1977 The Trustees for the Copyrights of Dylan Thomas.
Ease Yourself In
they might be giants:
King Khan & The Shrines
Sometimes all you need to know about a band is their names (sometimes just a press photo – A.D.). So please say hello to King Khan and his cohorts Mr Speedﬁnger, Dream Jeans, Boom Boom Jennes and, of course, Big Fred Roller on big sax. There are more but we only have 96 pages to play with. It may come as no 50 words on…
surprise that the Berlin 10-piece deal in garage rock and psychedelic soul. There’s also a two-man, doo-wop and punk side project called King Khan & The BBQ Show. Like we said... all you need to know. Listen: ”Welfare Bread’ (What Is It?, Hazlewood Vinyl Plastics) Click: www.king-khan.com
come in your time’s up: (just the) one time...?
Oxegen It may have taken a while, but this was the year Oxegen got it right at last. Big, big names, nicely balanced by the up and coming and the odd (in the case of Aphex Twin, very odd) curveball. If only they could just do something about those GAA jerseys...
When Lauryn Hill released her debut solo album 10 years ago, she looked set for a long career of superstardom, both on her own and with The Fugees. How wrong we were. It would be four years until she would make what even approached a follow-up in the shape of the half formed MTV Unplugged 2.0 album. Since then, she has withdrawn nearly completely, telling Esscene magazine that she “had to step away when I realised that for the sake of the machine, I was being way too compromised. I felt uncomfortable about having to smile in someone’s face when I really didn’t like them or even know them well enough to like them.” A Fugees reunion in 2004 promised some sort of
return, although this spluttered to a halt as Pras admitted that Ms. Hill had “some things she needs to deal with”. The silence has since been broken only once, as her website excitedly reported last year that she had contributed a (frankly poor) track to the kids movie Surf ’s Up. Whether that will be her swansong is anybody’s guess.
oxegen by kyran o’brien
Incoming dave donnelly
Pivot’s Star Turn “We actually considered changing our name, but alas, every MC and band alive has a MySpace so it was difﬁcult to ﬁnd one we actually liked before our ﬁrst single came out,” Pivot’s Dave Miller tells State. The rapid ascent of the Aussie instrumental rock trio, ignited by their signing to the can-do-no-wrong electronic hub Warp Records earlier this year, belies a history that stretches back almost a decade, encapsulating two very different line-ups. Formed as a ﬁve-piece by brothers Laurence and Richard Pike, drummer and guitarist respectively, in Sydney in 1999, Pivot released their debut LP Make Me Love You six years later on the Sensory Projects label. While the album was warmly received, inviting favourable comparisons with recent State stars Tortoise, the line-up soon fractured under the weight of creative differences. With the entire project teetering on the brink of collapse, destiny intervened in an unlikely form. Invited to perform an impromptu collaboration at a cultural event in Sydney’s Opera House, Laurence and Perth electronic artist Dave were originally scheduled as part of a threepiece with a trumpeter. When the brass
man was forced to cancel at the last moment, Richard Pike stepped into the breach. When ﬁve became two shortly afterwards, a whole new Pivot was born. As Miller explains, “most tracks came from loops/half tracks/ideas of mine; I’d send them over to the Pikes in Australia, and they would overdub, structure and record things using that as the impetus.” Pivot make their Warp Records bow on August 17 with the release of O Soundtrack My Heart. “It’s rock music, heavily inﬂuenced by electronica and synthesizer music,” he notes. “We like a huge variety of music: we digest it, and
spit it out in a variety of ways. I think we have slightly short attention spans as well, so things chop and change. We also like songs.” Recent single ‘In The Blood’ and album highlight ‘Sweet Memory’ are razor-sharp slices of bangin’, jump-outthe-speakers electro funk that highlight the skills of Richard Pike, while the trippy, atmospheric slow burner ‘Love Like This’ sees Miller and Laurence Pike trade telepathically off one another. They’ve been mentioned alongside noted inﬂuences Autechre and have toured with recent Warp success story Battles, with whom they were also initially compared “but those comparisons have stopped since people have started seeing us live and actually listening to the record”. Pivot make their debut appearance in Ireland at the end of this month at Electric Picnic in Stradbally, and Dave will be eager to check out the competition. “Grinderman. My Bloody Valentine. Dan Deacon. The Roots. DMZ. It looks like it going to be big!” O Soundtrack My Heart suggests it may not be the only mass of electronic sounds to raise eyebrows across Europe this summer.
Ministry After 27 years, 12 albums and what we estimate at 44 members, the great Ministry adventure ﬁnally came to an end in Dublin last month with the ﬁnal two shows of their C-U-La Tour bringing the curtain down on their career. Formed by the ever-present Al Jourgensen in 1981, the band moved from a synth pop sound into dark and twisted industrial that would leave them hugely inﬂuential but in the commercial wasteland. 1991’s Psalm 69 and their subsequent show stealing Lollapalooza slot threatened to propel them towards the mainstream at least, before they became derailed by problems with the law and the drugs. With side projects including the mighty Revolting Cocks (we still have our KY Jelly pack of their ‘D’Ya Think I’m Sexy’ single somewhere), Ministry was more a concept from the recesses of Jourgensen’s mind than a band, but at least they left us as they had always been: loud, scary and playing from behind a cage.
Incoming they might be giants:
General Fiasco <h[[jWbaj[nj \ehb_\[ CWa[j^[ceije\dem
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Another product of Belfast’s Oh Yeah Centre, General Fiasco have been in existence for barely over a year, having made their debut at the 2007 Glasgowbury Festival. In that short space of time, however, they have racked up a series of big name supports, attracted the ear of the increasingly Irelandfriendly Steve Lamacq and ventured down south for an impressive Oxegen slot last month. Currently awaiting their A level results, expect their tight, power pop to make it into single form later in the year. Listen: ‘Something Sometime’ Click: www.myspace.com/generalﬁasco See: Belsonic Festival, Belfast, August 14
50 words on…
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The indie queen that’s made us go all Shakin’ Stevens at the knees is happily married and pregnant again. State is ﬁnally prepared to admit our chance is gone. A mate once tried to chat her up with the line “Jayne Middlemiss is shite compared to you”. She is too.
Incoming my roots are showing: martin mciver
The Cult EkhX[ij[l[h jWbaj[nje\\[h =[j\h[[YWbbiWdZj[njije [l[hoed[edLeZW\ed[\ehb_\[ m^[doekjefkfXoÏ(&Wcedj^ Jei_]dkfi[dZ<H;;je+&((( As a 16-year-old catching the tail-end of an erratic, transitional electro hip-hop scene, I was your average trainer junky, haplessly coerced by Run DMC, Melle Mel and the like. My ﬁrst gig experience came when a friend’s brother had a spare ticket to see The Cult. A recent name change from Death Cult ﬁlled my heart with dread and my mouth with lies about who I was actually going to see, but the excitement of my ﬁrst ofﬁcial gig was irresistible: musical taste discarded, I ran at it. I can still recall the smell of booze, sweat, joss sticks and strawberry oil in which every pseudo punk /goth was immersed, as I got my ﬁrst glimpse of Billy Duffy’s iconic 1964 white Gretsch Falcon guitar. Weeks later, DMs replaced trainers, a dad’s leather jacket was ruined, Tippexing ‘The Cult’ all over it, John Peel was god: I’d found rock and all its musical cousins. For the next year, I scoured all music press for the merest mention of my newfound heroes, even reading them in the newsagent and secretly ripping out any Cult orientated snippets for my bedroom collage...’the wall of rock’. Second album Love broke the band, producing ‘all time classic’ lead single ‘She Sells Sanctuary’, and millions of pretenders enlisted to The Cult’s goth-rock cause. The Cult were becoming ‘my precious’. Third album Electric, produced by Def Jam’s iconic dischelmer Rick Rubin, dealt me a musical sucker-punch of epic proportions. Rubin literally raped their existing sound back into the Stone Age, producing a record so raw that on arrival to my senses, it devastated and deluded my impressionable heart. The band had obviously ran through a second-hand denim store covered in glue, whilst Astbury only stopped his ‘jean sprint’ to change his name to ‘Wolfchild’ and declare his love for all things metal! Initially, this to me was a coup d’état of almost comic betrayal. Still, after real tears and my only ever ‘musical soul searching’ (a day that saw me give away my prized Billy Duffy autographed jacket to my then girlfriend and then dump her hours later for losing it), my obsession with The Cult emerged intact, as it has ever since. The Cult have consistently messed with me, frustratingly letting me down, winning me back over, destroying, then resurrecting my faith with every opus. But I will always ﬁnd forgiveness. The Cult changed my life, and I continue to stalk theirs.
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Incoming from our foreign correspondent: Sean Michaels in
Montreal’s not over. It’s four years since Arcade Fire’s Funeral, ﬁve since the Unicorns’ Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone, and more than a decade since Godspeed You! Black Emperor swaggered darkly into the world. But while cities’ musical halflives tend to be measured in seasons, not decades, indie rock is alive and well in this city of summers and snows. It wasn’t always this way. There’s an alchemy to Montreal’s musical wealth, equal parts magic and math. At the end of the ‘90s, the city was mired in a recession that was both economic and cultural. A resurgent Quebec sovereignty movement had scared away many businesses and English-speakers, and though its terrasses remained full in summertime, its coffeeshops packed in winter, Montreal was not known for its artistic ﬁreworks. Dance music and jam-bands reigned, and foreign groups often didn’t play here, choosing Toronto or Vancouver as their sole Canadian dates. Of course there are beneﬁts to cheap rent, and maybe even to low expectations. Quietly, in Montreal’s rundown Mile End neighbourhood, a gang of kids began to play music that was very loud. Nobody would have predicted that apocalyptic, orchestral folk-rock would be the international underground’s next big thing, but suddenly Godspeed You! Black Emperor were everywhere. They toured Europe to rave reviews, played the All Tomorrows Parties-inspiring Bowlie
Weekender, soundtracked ten thousand instances of break-up and thunderstorm and sex. And then they opened a venue. Or at least one of them did. In 2000, bassist Mauro Pezzente and his wife Kiva Stimac launched Casa del Popolo , an intimate, 100-person venue, dedicated to art, music and cheap beer. Casa was both a showcase and a beacon. Montreal artists now had somewhere to play, and with the help of audacious promoters Blue Skies Turn Black, out-of-towners began to ﬂock as well. Godspeed’s Efrim Menuck and Thierry Amar (both now of Silver Mt. Zion) joined with sound engineer Howard Bilerman to create the Hotel2Tango recording studio, named for the building’s Mile End postal code. Now Montreal’s underground didn’t just have a stage: it had a place to record. These are the things that give the
50 words on…
Counter Propaganda As the boundaries between entertainment sources continue to blur, Ireland streetwear label Counter Propaganda have teamed up with The Infomatics to design a T-shirt for each track on their new single. Launching at BT2 in Dublin on August 14, the struggle to reach the people just took a new turn.
city its musical vitality: shared spaces for like-minded artists. It’s Montreal’s dozens of small, inexpensive venues and studios that have laid the groundwork for the Arcade Fires, Wolf Parades, Stars, Chromeos and Miracle Fortresses. Or for the city’s next wave of wonders, acts like The Luyas, Sister Suvi, Orillia Opry, Adam & The Amethysts, Clues. If you want to turn a place into Montreal, give the community small places to gather: give the artists a reason to come. And that, of course, is what makes a scene vulnerable. Because although we can make our rackets outside, lighting bonﬁres by the train-tracks, the city can close venues. The past year has seen a spate of licensing crack-downs, with a view to centralising Montreal’s nightlife into a multi-million-dollar Quartier des Spectacles downtown. Reclaimed spaces like the old, breathtaking Ukrainian Federation building, the site for recent shows by Grizzly Bear, Joanna Newsom, Final Fantasy, have been forbidden from staging further gigs. The Main Hall is all but closed, and dancing banned at the Green Room. Even Casa is under new scrutiny, its liquor licence replaced with a restaurant licence that forces patrons to buy food with their pints. There’s a tremor running through the whole community: the sense that a storm might be looming, the city’s cultural leaders pitted against the ones with the ofﬁcial titles. No, Montreal’s not over. But if it’s not careful, this too shall pass.
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Incoming my favourite worst nightmare: michael dwyer
I confess. I hadn’t heard a Creed song before I accepted the free ﬂight to Washington DC. By virtue of nearly 10 million albums sold in 2000 alone, I guessed they were among the top 10 most horrible bands in America, but it wasn’t until I stopped by a CD store en route to the hotel that I realised I’d made a deal with Satan himself. The soft metal bombast was irritating. The evangelical Christian overtones were unsettling. Singer Scott Stapp’s Jim Morrison schtick was tasteless and his tone of perpetual anguish – imagine Eddie Vedder, Bono and Michael Bolton sobbing in time at a breast-beating convention – was nauseating. But nothing quite prepared me for the 10,000 Creed fans mustering along the highway as my chauffeured car neared the end of a long journey, deep into some forested corner of Maryland. As a tide of ﬂannel and denim engulfed the car, they looked to me like pre-zombie extras in Nightmare At Bible College II. But hey, it was just another job. I
had this getaway ride sorted. I had my tape recorder and the name of the road manager. I’d get backstage, let Stapp talk his leather pants off for 30 minutes, help myself to the rider, then endure just enough of the show to write a decent story. Then I had a weekend in DC, thanks to Sony Australia. Sweet. My ﬁrst truly sickening moment was watching my car burn rubber and vanish at the drop-off point. The second was when I met the aforementioned road manager. “So you’re from Australia?” he asked in a tone uncomfortably close to contempt. “Man, you guys hated us last time we were out there.” What? I’d only hated them for a few hours! But the die had been cast. Scott Stapp would not be gracing my Australian arse with his presence. Guitarist Mark Tremonti would do the interview. Stiﬂing a “Mark who?”, I was thrust into a peagreen dressing room with two plastic chairs and a tub of ice ﬁlled with a famous American soft drink. No beer. Nobeernobeernobeernobeerno . . .
Tremonti was a nice enough guy, though he was hard to hear over the din greeting a suitably diabolical warm-up band, 3 Doors Down. I remarked that the reception sounded curiously wholesome, quite unlike your average snotty, profane mosh of the new century. “Yeah, I think it’s cool to step into the rock’n’roll scene and be different, not to be somebody that’s here to spread the ‘let’s break stuff’ sort of attitude,” Tremonti replied. “I think that’s one thing that’s different about Creed. We’re very normal, your next-door-neighbour kinda band.” No fooling. I told him about the array of normal t-shirts I’d seen punters wearing on the way up the highway: more along the lines of ‘Have A Nice Day’ than ‘Rage Against The Machine’. “Yeah, everybody’s one big, loving family,” he said. “It’s like a Grateful Dead concert, but modern.” Like, without the dope? “Yeah, without the dope. Our fans are very intelligent. They read into all the lyrics and they know exactly what they are. They’re very into the band. It’s like a cult, kinda thing. It’s like a David Koresh concert, you know?” The glib comparison to the controversially deceased Waco Davidians’ sect leader would have been the most surreal moment of the day were it not for what happened shortly after I left the comically named ‘Creed hospitality area’. Not wishing to miss a beat of the show, I gave the long lavatory queue a miss and ducked instead into the darkness behind some bushes. Perhaps this is a heathen Australian custom. But the palpable disgust of the Howard County policemen who escorted me from the premises was nearly enough to make me piss myself. The good news was that I never heard a note of the Creed show. The bad news? No car, no phone, no story – and man, I still needed to pee. See, I hadn’t quite managed to unleash the offending article before being apprehended by the Maryland constabulary. Which probably made me the only man in America who felt more like Jim Morrison than Scott Stapp did.
Incoming average white band: not awful, just ordinary
FRIDAY 8TH AUGUST
JOAKIM (DJ SET) FRIDAY 15TH AUGUST
NIGHTFLIGHT RESIDENTS FRIDAY 22ND AUGUST
MATAGOURI EOIN CREGAN DAVE SALACIOUS
Born from the dubious Britpop legacy of Noelrock, where all ordinary white guitar bands were treated like the Second Coming, whose musical output had two speeds, plod and mid-tempo plod, most of Dovesâ€™ contemporaries had their day in the sun and were then rightfully tossed into obscurity, but the bearded Mancunians somehow clung to their guitars and weathered the storm, picking up a Mercury Prize nomination, number one albums and hit singles along the way. Their mind-boggling success boils down to their permanent place in the Indie Second Division league along with the faceless Elbowâ€Ś they are the unchallenging, non threatening, middle-of the-road â€œhonestâ€? guitar band for people who have given up on music and its rapid pace for the fanciful image conscious. Dovesâ€™ audience are made up of people whoâ€™ve dropped out of the race, for people who want the quiet life of the predictable and the solid. Therefore, they may not ďŹ ll stadiums and give good soundbite, like your Coldplays and your U2s, but they have an established, loyal audience who will buy all their albums: as dependable and innocuous as a pair of socks. Doves appeal to people who buy compilations instead of albums, compilations based on mundane tasks such as driving, or hooveringâ€Ś the kickabout dads who remember the glory days of the â€˜Roses and can still punch the air at the appropriate musical climax with the best of them. However, they rarely get the chance to perform such an act when listening to Doves, whose musical output is akin to a catatonic yawn. Never has the concept of fear been rendered so dull and less foreboding as when singer Jez Williams drones into your ear-holes about â€œcoming downâ€? and the aforementioned â€œfeaaaarrrrrrâ€? with all the passion of a drowsy student faced with the prospect of double Maths on a Wednesday afternoon. Itâ€™s hard to believe that they are the same people responsible for the divine dance ďŹ‚oor classic â€˜Ainâ€™t No Love (Ainâ€™t No Use)â€™, the same band whoâ€™s ďŹ nest hour was managing to suck all the verve and shimmy from the legendary Motown stomper â€˜Heatwaveâ€™ by turning it into a monotonous lumbering back-beat to their single â€˜Black And White Townâ€™. Unfortunately, this telling sample seems to be about as radical and experimental as the band will ever get, trapped in their successful workman-like form, soundtracking Sunday pub lunches, and never breaking free to compete with the big boys.
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Incoming jeff weiss
The Rapper Always Blings Twice earth for the oughts, they could reasonably ascertain the depth of hip-hop’s hair metal excess by watching the Miami contingent perform during this year’s BET (Black Entertainment) Awards. Rick Ross, Florida, T-Pain and peg-legged hype-man(atee) DJ Khaled, used a clichéd but apt circus motif to unwittingly illustrate the emphasis on spectacle above substance and style over being sentient; the sort of maxed-out, oblivious detour that both the genre and the nation have been on ever since a similarly swaggering ex-Texas oilman stumbled into the Oval Ofﬁce. In the ﬁve minutes of the aforementioned Miami medley, viewers were treated to the sight of midgets breathing ﬁre, dancing strippers on stilts, creepy clowns, pink unicorns, and glittering disco balls. T-Pain, pop music’s current overlord, rocked a suit of shiny silver sparkles that made him look like a cross between a Happy Hardcore Candy Raver
and The Wizard of Oz. For sheer entertainment value, few productions on earth can match the Awards’ high-octane fervour, as year-inand-year-out BET consistently draws every bold-faced name in contemporary urban music. From Kanye West, who aided hack crack-rapper Young Jeezy in a performance of hit single ‘Put It On’, to a shirtless Nelly,
100 albums to avoid before you die No. 6 Metallica: Metallica (The Black Album) (vertigo)
Oh, how the mighty have eaten. Once the leanest, tightest and most exciting metal band in the universe, Metallica’s ﬁrst album of the ‘90s was a big, bloated bag of blubber. James Hetﬁeld, Kirk Hammett, Lars Ulrich and Cliff Burton (and latterly Jason Newstead, following Burton’s tragic death in 1986) had proved themselves the most vital metal band of the ’80s, with the stunning quartet of Kill ‘Em All, Ride The Lightning, Master Of Puppets and And Justice For All. The Black
Album, however, saw Metallica swallow their own hype. Where previously, we had the ferocious ‘Whiplash’, the monumental ‘Seek And Destroy’, the bludgeoning of ‘Battery’ and the (literally) biblical rage of ‘Creeping Death’, now we were left with the inspiration-less ‘Wherever I May Roam’, the execrable ‘Of Wolf And Man’ and the godawful ‘Through The Never’. Only ‘Enter Sandman’ and the ballad ‘Nothing Else Matters’ hinted at past glories. Metallica had ballooned into the very swollen rawk behemoths they had been the antithesis of just a few short years before. Sad, but true. Don’t download: ‘Of Wolf And Man’ If you hate this, don’t listen to: Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, Megadeth’s Youthanasia, anything by Helloween.
who ostensibly hoped that showcasing his buff physique would cause fans to forget that his latest single, ‘Don’t Step on My J’s’ stole both its title and hook from a regional St. Louis club hit from earlier in the decade. Usher dropped in to lip-sync ‘Love In This Club’ and re-afﬁrm to the audience that the hundreds of millions he has stashed in the bank haven’t quelled his desire to engage in unsanitary and possibly nefarious nightclub fornication. While Lil Wayne closed out the show, in full victory lap mode, after selling a million copies of overrated opus, Tha Carter III, the week prior. Of course, not everything was an empty-calorie, sugar rush. An Al Green tribute, featuring Maxwell, Anthony Hamilton and Jill Scott, featured a denouement from the 62-year old Reverend, who taught the whipper-snappers a thing or two about performance, cooing goose bump-inducing renditions of ‘Love And Happiness’ and ‘Let’s Stay Together’. Meanwhile, a dull but tasteful Alicia Keys set turned into a homage to the girl-groups of the ‘90s, with appearances from TLC, En Vogue and SWV. Ultimately, the BET Awards captured the maddening jumble of the state of contemporary major-label hip-hop: the desperation to sell records that has forced an entire genre to jettison any quaint 20th Century notions of art over artiﬁce, in exchange for ﬂashing lights, shirtless cover poses and the occasional pink unicorn. What a bunch of clowns.
frank micelotta/getty images for bet
Had Y2K neuroses and psychic premonitions of a George Bush presidency led one to wisely orbit the
Incoming they might be giants:
BOOKING 01 872 1122
Friday 22nd Aug, The Loft at Purty Kitchen Doors: 9.30pm (on stage 10.30pm)
Seu jorge Saturday 23rd Aug The Loft at Purty Kitchen
Coming on like a South African Yeasayer/ The Mars Volta combo, these Afro art-rockers from Johannesburg were noticed by tastemaker DJ Diplo when he toured the continent. An appearance on the cover of US music bible The Fader and shows at SXSW led to the recording of the Mystery EP with Brandon Curtis of The Secret Machines, who secured studio time for them at New Yorkâ€™s Electric Lady Studios as he was so impressed. BLK JKS assert external inďŹ‚uences into a unique hybrid of African dub and US psychedelic rock. By the time you read this, the band will have played their ďŹ rst Irish gig at Mantua Festival in Roscommon but we donâ€™t expect it to be their last.
Doors: 9pm (on stage 10pm) Tickets: â‚Ź28 (incl Club)
Sunday 24th Aug, Pavilion Theatre Doors: 7.30pm (on stage 8pm) Tickets: â‚Ź29 (*â‚Ź27 concs.)
Listen: Mystery EP Click: http://www.myspace.com/blkjks
50 words onâ€Ś
5JDLFUT â‚Ź JODM$MVC
Sleevage For the nerdy designer in you who is interested as much in the sleeve design as the music contained within, check out Sleevage, a music blog about cover art. Dissect and learn the reasoning behind the artwork, like why Beck decided not to use the above covers for Modern Guilt.
22 23 24 AUGUST
DĂšN LAOGHAIRE IRELAND
Incoming they might be giants:
Victoria Hesketh has found a new outlet since the hiatus of her former pop-rock band Dead Disco and it certainly involves a danceﬂoor. The Blackpool native was already playing banging tunes from the DJ box, and now with the help of Joe Goddard from Hot Chip, her own electro pop tunes are ready for the ﬂoor (sorry). First single ‘Stuck On Repeat’ follows the same hit-making rules as Hot Chip; repetitious, heady, helicopter synth with an Italo-disco feel. It’s Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ for 2008, basically. Hesketh is also wicked with a Tenorion, a new-fangled LED-based digital music instrument by Yamaha. Check out the video of her rocking a cover of her mentors at http://url.ie/jgl Listen: ‘Stuck On Repeat’ Click: http://www.myspace.com/ littlebootsmusic
bring your daughter to the slaughter: great heavy metal lyrics of our time
50 words on…
No. 2: AC/DC “Some balls are held for charity/ And some for fancy dress/ But when they’re held for pleasure/ They’re the balls that I like best.” ‘Big Balls’ “Three ﬁfty arrests/ No bullet proof vests/ Now ain’t that a shame/ We wanted to play/ Play for the crowd/ ‘No’, said the wankers/ ‘You’re on your way out’.” ‘Bedlam In Belgium’ “I’ll give you black sensations up and down your spine/ If you’re into evil, you’re a friend of mine/ See my white light ﬂashing as I split the night/ ‘Cause if good’s on the left, then I’m stickin’ to the right.” ‘Hells Bells’
Phantom 105.2’s New Schedule Weekdays are changing for the better. Phantom 105.2 have announced their new morning/afternoon line-up, with Richie McCormick taking over the Pure Morning breakfast show, followed by Finest Worksongs, a two-hour music show presented by the State-approved Michelle Doherty, and Front Row, a music/magazine show with Sinéad Ní Mhorda. Magic darts.
Incoming dan hegarty
Don’t Look Back In Anger
The name Oasis is synonymous with many things - Britpop, the Gallagher brothers, ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’, hissy ﬁts, and as Dave Fanning once called them, “The best Irish band since The Smiths!” With their seventh studio album Dig Out Your Soul due in October, I’m glad they’re releasing a new album, but I can’t say I’m expecting a classic. Ever since they set themselves the task of following up Deﬁnitely Maybe and (What’s The Story) Morning Glory, we’ve been fed the same old crap in the months leading up to the subsequent album’s release - ‘they’re back to their best with this new album’. However, what we’re delivered has never measured above moderate. During the 1990s when they were at their peak, Oasis were untouchable: the walls of their European empire had no fear of any breaches. The enormity of their success rekindled the kind of excitement that was described so passionately in books about music in the ‘60s and ‘70s: the media (and seemingly everyone else) couldn’t get enough of them. At one stage, I would have considered myself a fan: some of their songs have had a lasting impact on me. My enthusiasm and patience ran out after being overexposed to the bragging, the posturing and the constant claims of being the best band in the world. Greatness never needs to announce itself: this subtle point was lost on these blokes. Between ‘Girl Power’ and what I dubbed the ‘Oasis epidemic’, life got pretty
predictable for a while. Buskers forgot how to play old staples like ‘Losing My Religion’ and ‘The Whole Of The Moon’ (maybe I should be thankful about the second one), and pubs, clubs and everywhere else were over-run with twats telling you that they were “Mad for it”. By the time Be Here Now dragged its cellulite ass out of the studio, the band that were once proclaimed as ‘the next Beatles’ were in danger of becoming the UK’s answer to Bon Jovi. Aside from this, there were other acts around making much more interesting music: Radiohead had created Ok Computer, Beck was touring Odelay, and Sonic Youth were working on a slightly mellower sound that turned out to be A Thousand Leaves. You can argue that their post Be Here Now albums have had a few great tracks, but surely ‘the best band in the world’ can do better than this? Some say Noel Gallagher’s hunger has dissipated, others that Liam has lost his swagger: I just think that the raw energy and brilliance that Oasis had was conﬁned to two albums. If Dig Out Your Soul turns out to a masterpiece of our time, I’ll happily stand corrected on these pages at a later date. I hope that they prove me wrong: it will only be a good thing for music. But the chances are slim. The single ‘The Shock Of The Lightning’ will be our ﬁrst taste of what Oasis 2008 can come up with: let’s hope that the lightning has reignited some sort of spark. Tune into Dan Hegarty’s Alternative To Sleep on RTÉ
Kilkenny Arts Festival August 8 - 17 An impressive line-up comes to the festival, which is expanding its horizons this year under the Wired 08 banner to include Mercury Rev, Spiritualized, Lisa Hannigan, Tenpastseven, Halves and 3epkano. Go on, you know you want to see Spiritualized in a church. An Taobh Tuathail Volume 2 gigs Roisin Dubh, Galway, August 8; Liquid Lounge, Cork, August 15; Trinity Rooms, Limerick, August 22 To celebrate the release of volume two in Cian Ó Ciobháin’s compilation series, he’s taking a few acts on tour with him. Expect appearances from the one-man drum band Rarely Seen Above Ground, Somadrone, Alphamono and Cian doing a DJ set at each night.
Thecocknbullkid The Button Factory, Dublin, August 21 The next big thing? There is loads of buzz around young Londoner Anita Blay at the moment after an impressive Glastonbury performance, by all accounts. Her Irish debut at Club NME will allow us to measure her up to the hype. Neutral Milk Hotel Tribute Night The Lower Deck, Portobello, Dublin, August 23 Local talents Ben Kritikos, Reader’s Wives, Robotnik and friends join forces to pay tribute to Jeff Magnum and his band Neutral Milk Hotel. Expect a celebratory atmosphere and renditions of songs from the cult 1998 indierock album In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. Lovebox Dublin Marlay Park, Dublin, August 23 An unusual mix of acts make the line-up this year, as MCD takeover the running of this Groove Armada conceived one-day festival. NERD, Maximo Park, Paolo Nutini, Kid Creole (with his Coconuts), Sam Sparro, Plain White Ts, Leon Jean Marie and intriguingly, Gorillaz Soundsystem wih a VJ/DJ set apparently.
2fm (90 - 92fm), weeknights from midnight to 2am.
Music is my Radar
Writer, comedian, movie star: Russell Brand is a lot of things. But he wishes he was a rock star. As told to Paul Byrne ~ Photography by Jude Edginton
It actually bothers me that I’m not a rock star. Look at me, I’ve certainly dressed like one for the last two decades. Actually, that’s possibly the purest form of rock’n’roll star: you’re just too lazy and disorganised to go and actually learn an instrument, go into a studio, get some songs together, put them out there, tour, promote. I’m just not interested in all that. I’ll just jump straight to the end product: rock star. That way, I can never get grief about my new stuff not being as good as my earlier albums.
Music’s always been important to me, despite the fact that I’ve worked on MTV.
jude edginton/camera press ireland
You can’t grow up and not have a soundtrack to your teenage years. And, naturally, those particular songs – because you were experiencing so many things for the ﬁrst time – they’re the most important songs ever written. Ever. Even if it’s ‘The Birdie Song’, or some godawful Bryan Adams hit, you’ll have this sense memory that this song soundtracked my ﬁrst snog, my ﬁrst shag, and therefore, it will always have a special place in my heart. That’s why it’s so important to have a Hendrix CD, or something by Otis Redding, with you at all times when you’re a virgin. When your time ﬁnally arrives, at least you’ll have something cool to spend the rest of your life using as a tool to get you in the mood…
I can’t really say that Infant Sorrow are my current favourite band, can I? Given that they don’t really exist, but I do front them in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. You see, those people knew I’d make a good rocker, and we even made a video, for ‘We’ve Got To Do Something’. Which kinda ruins my plans never, ever to release something. I guess I can always regard this as a side project, and my real opus is this big pile of blank CDs. I’ll have to make cool covers for them, though. Maybe I’ll base each cover on a Bowie album sleeve from the ‘70s. How cool would that be?
I realise I haven’t actually answered your question yet about my favourite music. I love all the people you’d expect me to love, really. Morrissey, of course. I use ‘Last Of The International Playboys’ and ‘Sister, I’m A Poet’ for when I’m doing any readings from my incredible tome, My Booky Wook. The Beatles would have to be in there too, Syd Barret, Daniel Johnston, The Libertines, Moldy Peaches, ‘Islands In The Stream’ by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. All the really, really cool stuff, along with one or two naff choices, just to show I’m not a snob about these things. Russell Brand is currently working on his second book, shooting a movie with Adam Sandler, and preparing to front another Channel 4 show. When he’s not busy shagging lots of women, that is.
Sigur Rós have amassed more strained similes than any other band. Period. However, their recent show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art hints that the notoriously enigmatic quartet may be about to embrace their shiny pop hearts.
When The Ice Melts… Words by Kara Manning
â€Śat Electric Picnic, Aug 29-31
An electric fan, attached to a thin wire cable, sweeps across the length of the second level atrium in New Yorkâ€™s Museum of Modern Art in lazy, everaltering arcs. The mesmerising and vaguely next 19
threatening airborne appliance, part of MoMA’s exhibit, Take Your Time, showcasing the eclectic works of Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, buzzes like a petulant dragonﬂy over the heads of patrons who are sprawled on benches or reclining on the ﬂoor, as if transported to a Hvalfjördur meadow. Others are drawn to a third ﬂoor hallway, where Eliasson’s use of monochromatic bulbs wildly mucks up your colour perception, creating an unfamiliar world painted in sepia tones, as if you’ve been dropped mid-scene into Woody Allen’s Manhattan. The visually haunting and even vertigo-inducing Eliasson installations seen by State on this breezy June evening – which also happened to be Iceland’s Independence Day, celebrating the country’s formal break from Denmark in 1944 – were accompanied by an equally enigmatic partner; the Icelandic band Sigur Rós playing a live, sold-out concert downstairs. As challenging as it is to explain the kaleidoscopic wonder of Eliasson’s 360° Room For All Colours without stumbling into starry clichés, the same can be said when lassoing the essence of Sigur Rós’ resplendent, keening and near-orchestral music. Throughout their 14-year career
and albums like Ágætis Byrjun (1999) and Takk (2005), rhapsodic and slightly daft descriptions abound when speaking about the quartet’s music, comparing it to the thrashing sea or the dense stratus clouds hovering over the volcanic terrain of Sigur Rós’ homeland. But like Eliasson’s art, there has always been something subversively urban – and lonely – lurking below the glacial ice of Sigur Rós’ songs. That is, until the release of the band’s handsome, upbeat new album Með Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust (With A Buzz In Our Ears, We Play Endlessly) in June. It would seem unlikely that singer/guitarist Jón Pór ‘Jónsi’ Birgisson, keyboardist Kjartan ‘Kjarri’ Sveinsson, bassist Georg Hólm and drummer Orri Páll Dýrason would care about mainstream radio or penning the perfect three-minute pop confection. But tracks like the sunny, percussive ‘Gobbledigook’ (which is a perfect 3:08 pop single) the equally robust ‘Við Spilum Endalaust’ and the thrilling, sing-a-long-if-you-know-Icelandic ‘Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur’ are surprisingly accessible. While the lyrics are mostly written in Icelandic or spun from the gossamer of ‘Vonlenska,’ the gibberish that Birgisson conﬁgures as an alternate vocal choice, there is even one song sung in English, ‘All Alright.’
DJ Gideon Coe of BBC Radio 6, the UK digital and online station, told State via email that while he doesn’t think Með Suð.. is a sudden gear shift for the band, it does mark a steady progression from their last album, Takk. “Hearing ‘Gobbledigook’ for the ﬁrst time was quite arresting,” enthuses Coe. “This is their ﬁfth record and if a band isn’t exploring different sounds and techniques and ways of writing and performing music by the time they get to album ﬁve, then they really should be thinking about calling it a day.” Sigur Rós have acknowledged – albeit vaguely, as is their wont – that there were crucial changes marking the evolution of Með Suð…, notably the speed of its studio execution. The album was recorded last spring in New York and London, not just in Iceland, in a fast gallop of 11 days under the guidance of UK producer Mark ‘Flood’ Ellis, who has also nudged U2, PJ Harvey and Nine Inch Nails to new sonic heights. Coe feels that a band like Sigur Rós beneﬁted from their collaboration with a producer who challenged their well-worn recording habits. “Flood has made the sound a little simpler in places, instruments have more space to be heard,” he asserts. “This may appeal to those who may have found a
lot of the previous material overblown and even pompous. But they’ve managed to do this without losing the emotion and melody, which makes this band so special. They may well have squared the circle of expanding their appeal while not alienating their existing fan base, but there’s absolutely no indication that it was done as cynically as that may suggest.”
While interviews with Sigur Rós can disintegrate into monosyllabic shambles – the band’s notorious YouTube clip of their US interview with National Public Radio (NPR) host Luke Burbank is downright excruciating to watch – the positive energy surrounding the new album has prompted a few convivial conversations with the press. The reticent Birgisson even acquiesced to the New York Times that the recording was exciting and “almost too fast,” allowing the band to “feel like we were losing control”. The risk has seemed to pay off with what has become Sigur Rós’ highestcharting album to date. Með Suð... debuted at No. 4 on the Irish album chart, No. 5 on the UK chart, and a respectable No. 15 on the US Billboard Album Chart. At the MoMA show, the contrast
between the exuberant Með Suð... selections and the ruminative temperament of older songs was striking. Tempestuous tracks like Takk’s ‘Glósóli’ or even the elﬁsh waltz of ‘Sé Lest,’ with its spirited brass band entrance, still adhered to the duskier corners of Sigur Rós’ repertoire. Under the watchful eye of Auguste Rodin’s sculpture of Balzac In A Frock Coat, which sat mid-stage like a bemused French Buddha, Birgisson, also elegantly cloaked, violently drew his cello bow across his Les Paul in the noisy thick of ‘Ny Batteri,’ face contorted in concentration as if casting a huldufólk spell. But the shift to ‘Vid Spilum Endalaust,’ from Með Suð…, was seismic as the song strutted into the set via Hólm’s thrumming bass line. The track’s pugnacious hook leapt into the air with brassy conﬁdence from a real versechorus-verse structure, as if after years of ﬁnding their songs’ destinations via lichen-covered mountain passages, Sigur Rós decided to take the M50 motorway instead. The usually inscrutable Birgisson even broke into a broad smile for the ﬁrst time this night and the entire band grinned back at him, bobbing their heads happily. The new and catchy ‘Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur’, driven by drummer Dýrason’s rollicking pace, followed on the
heels of the delicate fury of ‘Sæglópur’ and again drew attention to the quicksilver shifts between the fresh material and the older, more labyrinthine songs. A gust of confetti fell like snow over the audience during set-ender ‘Gobbledigook’. It proved an intoxicating moment, in which Sigur Rós, their brass band compadres and the women of string quartet Amiina banged on drums and vigorously clapped their hands at the crowd, while Birgisson wailed away on his acoustic guitar, cooing throughout like a deranged dove. It was an exhilarating three minutes and more gentle evidence that Sigur Rós are reaching for a balance between their dark, sea-lashed sojourns and more effervescent pop, as if suddenly Reykjavík’s own version of The Cure. No matter if it’s the polar night persona of Sigur Rós or its midnight sun counterpart, Coe believes the band are consistently compelling. “Their records sound great on the radio,” he concludes. “In the mix of other tracks [6 Music] plays, they work really well. I really like them, they make beautiful, affecting music. And some tracks are long enough to play while making a cup of tea. Of course, if they make it big, I will be dropping them like a stone.” Sigur Rós play the Electric Picnic.
Heimer Republic Words by John Joe Worrall ~ Photography by Sam Lare
Sitting in a diner in the middle of a seven-hour journey between US cities, Shaun Robinson and Rocky O’Reilly took stock. Their brief history as a band had seen ringing endorsements from Ugly Betty, Gary Lightbody and a seven yearold from Virginia; they were about to release a spanking second album full of lightning quick anthems. But in amongst all the good stuff, there was something missing. All they could think about was a packet of Tayto Cheese & Onion. “Sometimes you just get the urge,” offers Robinson. Such was life on the road for Belfast pop/electronica/ tubthumping synth and guitar ﬁends, Oppenheimer. Fast forward a few months and the duo’s second album , Take The Whole Midrange And Boost It, has been released to great acclaim. Shaun and Rocky, though, are angsty already and an album that is new to the outside world is old hat to them: already they’re back in the studio. “Rocky’s got a high idea that some of his songs may be rap on the new album,” says Robinson, “I highly suspect that none of it will make it there, though his alter ego may have something to say about that.” The alter ego in question is Der Papst, whose tragic-hero history consists of a deluded mind (he thinks he’s the Pope), a very minor one hit wonder (entitled ‘The Pope Loves The Twelfth’) and issues over his vocal delivery. “Yeah, he’s a German sort of… dude, he raps in English for the purposes of his UK fanbase though,” notes O’Reilly, “with somewhat of a Northern twang about him too. He could become an important artist if he hadn’t already retired. “To be honest,” interjects Robinson, “I don’t think it’s even anywhere near the calibre of ‘The Wham Rap’.” Another offshoot of the band – Doppleheimer – is also explained as “the evil German techno Oppenheimer who hate pop music”.
Sauerkraut-eating pseudonyms aside, the real Oppenheimer are enjoying a stint in the limelight with some of the ﬁner, radio-friendly moments of Take The Whole Mid Range… (such as ‘Support Our Truths’ and ‘Look Up’) receiving sizeable airplay round these parts. O’Reilly even confesses to nodding his head to one of their tunes in HMV in Belfast the other day before realising who he was listening to and leaving hurriedly before anyone spotted him. Having only met in 2003, via the now-defunct indie outﬁt Torgas Valley Reds (Robinson was the drummer, O’Reilly mixed their sound live) they began writing together through having “little else to do” and were soon, in their own words “forced” into being a band. “We were never going to be a band but we got bullied by a friend into playing a gig,” explains Robinson. “He gave us a fourmonth deadline to be ready for a gig of his that he’d signed us up
…at Electric Picnic, Aug 29-31
for. At ﬁrst, we thought about doing two guys with keyboards, Kraftwerk style, then two guitars, but that didn’t work either as we’re not amazing guitarists.” This led to the logic of Robinson sitting behind drums singing, while O’Reilly makes his way through a variety of synths and guitars with abandon. “The thing is, while it looks odd with me sitting at the drums, I think it gives a live power,” says Shaun. “I mean, you can go see enormous electronic acts with drum beats and I always think I’d love to see a drummer in the middle of it all.”
With those four months of writing and the ﬁrst gig out of the way, they began to record their eponymous debut, Robinson arriving over at O’Reilly’s house after ﬁnishing the day job (as a teacher) and slowly working their way through hooks and melodies from Robinson’s acoustic guitar and O’Reilly’s various gadgets. A three-song demo led to deals in the US, Australia, Japan and the UK. Which led to the appearances of their tunes on US TV shows (such as the aforementioned and, let’s be honest, way past its prime, Ugly Betty). This in turn led to the release of Oppenheimer in 2006, touring across Europe and the US, the release of the layered beauty of the second album, more touring and Tayto-cravings. “Going across the US in a van, playing all those gigs and the nights out after was very inspiring,” says O’Reilly. “A lot of nights you kind of just shake your head and say ‘shit, I’m having the time of my life, how am I getting away with this?’ “I mean, we got to go to the Moog factory to hang out for fuck’s sake!,” he continues. “It’s in this little industrial estate and then there are these shitty steps at one building and a little sign saying ‘Moog Music’. You open this really normal ofﬁce and then there’s this big room with 20 people all making synths. It’s incredible.” O’Reilly then begins to tell the tale of that seven-year-old from Virginia who insists her entire family go and see the band play every time they arrive in the area. “She’s this really musically talented kid and she writes poems and draws as well,” he grins. “She even drew pictures for us, which her dad printed up on their t-shirts. I think when you’re driving around the place, not eating the best, not paying your bills, meeting people like that family makes you think you’re doing something decent that people get.” With recording of the third album getting into gear, Robinson notes that he only recently took stock and was amazed that, while they were busy being swept away by the tide that started as a bedroom project ﬁve years ago, Oppenheimer have quietly become a living, breathing band. He sighs, “We’ll concentrate on the nonrap alter egos for a while yet though.” Oppenheimer play the Electric Picnic.
…at Electric Picnic, Aug 29-31
The Staples Singer Words by John Walshe ~ Photography by Richard Dumas
When Tindersticks’ seventh studio album, The Hungry Saw arrived into the State ofﬁce earlier this year next 25
we were well surprised.
Five years after Waiting For The Moon, we weren’t alone in thinking that the cinematically gorgeous Nottingham outﬁt would never record together again. Thankfully, we were wrong. “Five years ago we’d reached a point where there was a dry space between us and we had to take a break from it,” recalls vocalist Stuart Staples, who recorded two solo albums during the band’s half-decade hiatus. “For me, I needed to ﬁnd out who I was again, what I wanted: if it was music, what was it about music, what was I looking for. It’s been a gradual process.” According to Staples, the six-piece as they were had “ended up in a cycle of writing, recording and touring, and having very speciﬁc roles in the band, certain jobs. By the last album, I thought I was writing to fulﬁl this need for this thing to happen....” So it stopped being fun? “The fun in music comes with adventure, playfulness, new ground. If you ignore something that’s important, it will come and ﬁnd you, and on touring Waiting For The Moon, it came and found us. The feeling wasn’t there between us and by the end of it, I thought ‘I’m never going to go on a stage again’.”
For Stuart, singing in Tindersticks was never about a great desire to be a frontman. Instead it was “this thing that I was desperate to get out of me”. According to the singer, when he lost that need, he was “just a guy singing songs on stage and I had lost a sense of who I was”. Thankfully, Stuart refound
his sense of self and of his band, Tindersticks, alongside longtime members David Boulter (piano, organ and accordion) and Neil Fraser (guitar). “The last ﬁve years has been about looking, talking, making things, gradually ﬁnding out who we are individually,” he continues. “For somebody like Dickon [Hinchcliffe, former member who is now a composer of ﬁlm scores], I think he’s found what he needs to do is to work on ﬁlm soundtracks. For myself, David and Neil, there’s something between us that we really needed to do this. But we didn’t make a decision that we were going to make a Tindersticks record. It was more about ‘let’s just get together for a weekend and see what happens’. It was good so we did it a few times, the energy grew and a real belief grew in what we were doing that we should record it, that it was important and this is what we believe a band should be, making this music.” To State’s ears, The Hungry Saw is the ﬁnest Tindersticks album since their eponymous second release back in 1995 and sounds like a creative rebirth. “Maybe a reconnection,” Staples corrects us. “When we ﬁrst started playing, it felt as though we could touch our music. A certain essence of what’s important to us, what we believe in, the people we are, what we need in music, at the beginning, I was able to touch that and for myself, I got to a point where I couldn’t feel it. I didn’t know what it was about. Making this record has been about some kind of conﬁdence, a trust in people and their ideas, giving yourself up to a moment and just not being afraid to experiment, to take things in different directions, just feeling
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free and easy with it. There’s a new kind of playfulness and a new kind of adventure about making music.” Did his two solo albums change Stuart’s idea of the band dynamic and how that works? “Deﬁnitely,” he agrees. “One thing it really gave me a sense of is what is important. By the time we got to this album, I was ready for everybody to have an effect: the more they did, the happier I was. But also, after going through that journey of making the solo albums, which I really enjoyed – everything I’ve done has been new – but actually getting back to the point of making this record, I felt that this is where I belong, working with people who excite me, that are all pushing at something: this is where I belong, in the middle of this. It’s just nice to be in a space that feels good, after a long time. It feels like a bit of a second chance.”
So were they victims of their own success, due to the rapturous response to their ﬁrst two albums? Did their success ultimately put pressure on them to enter that non-stop circle of writing, recording, touring that seemed to burn them out creatively? According to Stuart, the turning point came after their third album, when their record label, This Way Up (a subsidiary of Universal) ceased to exist, and Tindersticks suddenly found themselves dealing with the vagaries of their label’s parent company. Up until that point, the band felt very much at home with their record label. “We signed to a small record label to make the ﬁrst album, because we wanted to work with those people,” he remembers. “We had almost every record label trying to sign us at that point but we just wanted to work with these people: we had a lot of respect for them. They asked us how much money we wanted and we didn’t need money at the time: we were all working and we just wanted to make an album. So we signed for almost nothing and it shocked everybody. But for us, we made this album, it cost nothing [to make] and it sold. Nobody could tell us what to do. We just did exactly what we wanted to do and it worked. So when we made the second album, we made it with totally that spirit again.” However, when This Way Up went that way down, Tindersticks found themselves renegotiating their deal. “By that point, we were all full-time musicians, so we needed an advance to pay for everybody to do stuff. Before you know it, it’s like a job. That’s why I trust those ﬁrst two albums because nothing affected them: they’re very pure records. I’m not saying that this album is the same, but there is a freedom to it. It’s in this space and time that’s not really affected by anything: it’s just, ‘this is what we need to do, get rid of everything and just do this’.”
It has been noted that the band’s creative ‘reconnection’ was kindled in London’s Barbican Centre in September, 2006, where they played their entire second album, alongside a string and brass section. Did it bring a sense of closure to what had gone before? “Yeah, but in a nice way,” Stuart opines. “We were playing our second album, which I think to all of us was our most creative time between the six of us, so it was really nice to revisit that and to be together again. Along with that, it was almost as if we were never going to make this music again with this kind of vibrancy
between the six of us. I think it provided us with a space to move on from. It was like closing a chapter, I suppose. It was tinged with sadness but we played great and there was a really great feeling in the room.” Indeed, Stuart remains in contact with all the former Tindersticks members and doesn’t rule out working together again. “Not at all,” he muses. “It’s about getting into the right space. If that was possible, I’d be really open to it. I think the feeling that came from that Barbican gig was that at this moment in time, this isn’t possible. People can think differently about something, and it’s really important for a group to think differently about an idea or a song, but everybody has to want the same thing for it, and if you haven’t got that feeling between you, it’s not something I could embrace, really. I’ve always thought about Tindersticks as being a progressive band. With the last album, Waiting For The Moon, maybe I lost that feeling. It’s always been about looking for new ways of doing things. I think I felt that in the room when we were making The Hungry Saw.” So what is The Hungry Saw of the title? “’The Hungry Saw’ is the song I had the most fun writing on the record. It’s about being here now, the need to make things: that’s the thing that drives me and David, the need to express something. With that creativity, the other side of it is that it brings a destructiveness, a kind of restlessness that once I’ve made something, I want to break it down and almost make it into pieces. With the song, and the sleeve, I was able to enjoy romanticising the destructive side of it. It’s almost one of the most serene moments on the record, that feeling of destruction, loving that moment. I think that’s what The Hungry Saw is, moving backwards and forwards through something.”
The album’s stunning artwork is actually scratched into the wall of Stuart’s house in France, where the album was recorded (“when you’re giving three coats of varnish to a hundred square metres, it gives you a chance to dream about when this is done”). “I had this idea and over a period of a month, I was looking at this spot on the kitchen wall where I knew it was going to happen,” he grins. “Then it got to the point where the record company were saying ‘we really gotta have the artwork’, so I got up one morning and started experimenting. Then, a day and a half later of standing on a stool with a screwdriver, I ﬁnished the sleeve. After I ﬁnished it, my hand was like a claw for two days.” Is it a permanent ﬁxture on the kitchen wall? “We’re trying to ﬁgure out what to do about it,” he smiles. “Our house in France is about 300 years old and nobody’s done any work on it in around 40 years so it’s kind of... grim. But gradually, it’s growing around us. So we were wondering what to do with this part of the kitchen wall. I think we’re going to frame it and renovate around it,” he laughs. “Suzanne, my wife, is a painter, so it’s good when we’re both working. It’s a good sign for the house when we’re together, scratching at walls, experimenting.” What about when the kids walk in and their dad is deconstructing the wall with a screwdriver? “My daughter will have a deﬁnite opinion about it, whether it’s good or bad,” he laughs, “but my son will just walk in and shake his head.” Tindersticks play the Electric Picnic.
FOGGY NOTIONS FOREVER PRESENTS
s g n i le W
FOGGY NOTIONS PRESENTS:
Litotdtime John Go
Upstairs@Whelans 8pm August 13 | Tickets €10
(plus booking fee)
Tickets : WAV ( Lo-call 1890 200 078) | City Discs | Tickets.ie | Road Records
+ guests: woodpigeon & Guests Moutpiece
THUR AUG 21st
WHELAN’S, DUBLIN TICKETS: 14.50 WAV TICKETS [LO-CALL 1890 200 078] TICKETS.IE TICKETMASTER.IE ROAD RECORDS/ CITY DISCS [DUBLIN] PLUG’D RECORDS [CORK]
TRIPOD, DUBLIN TICKETS: 28 WAV TICKETS [LO-CALL 1890 200 078] TICKETS.IE TICKETMASTER.IE ROAD RECORDS/ CITY DISCS [DUBLIN] PLUG’D RECORDS [CORK]
…at Electric Picnic, Aug 29-31
Words by Phil Udell
Spoonful Of Sugar Bodytonic have grown from organising parties for mates into one of the most innovative music promoters in the country. who’d had it so good for 10 years were able to react. We started playing in pubs to 20 of our mates.”
With an approach reminiscent of the hugely inﬂuential Heavenly
Sitting in the front bar of his own pub, a set of busy ofﬁces upstairs, one wanted to be a DJ,” he admits. “It seemed could forgive Bodytonic’s founder Trevor O’Shea a moment of quiet satisfaction. He has overseen the growth of his organisation into one of Dublin’s main players of any genre. Its roots, however, where not so auspicious. “It started in Meath ﬁve or six years ago,” he remembers, “running clubs in every little town we could ﬁnd. It failed miserably. I don’t think what we do could work in anywhere without a high population. I realised that it was a waste of time and moved to Dublin. I was working in The Kitchen nightclub and getting into the scene: that was how it all really started.” Did he feel that there was a gap in the Dublin clubbing scene that needed plugging? “Looking back, there probably was something wrong but at the time, I just
like the scene was sewn up, but pretty healthy at its peak. It’s always the same, though: if you sail too close to the sun, you become Icarus. It really just started because I wanted to play more and was reading in magazines about people who had started their own nights up, their own labels. The punk DIY ethos was a large part of that. Looking back on it, Dublin clubbing was in a serious bind and it was the exact wrong time to do it.” How come? “Late bars had a big effect,” he says ﬁrmly, ignoring the continually ringing phones in the background. “Clubs thrived on the fact that they were the only place where you could ﬁnd a DJ who was the centre of attention. Suddenly all these late bars had DJs – Billy Scurry, Johnny Moy – and it took that away. The dance scene in general started to suffer and the guys
Social, Bodytonic set out on a mission to change things, one step at a time. “Across all types of music, that pattern developed. You start something small for a bunch of mates,” agrees Trevor. “It took a year for people to really get it, I guess. We ran beach parties, roof-top parties, parties on boats. People could see we were trying something different. It was about doing our own thing and if people notice you, it’s a good thing. At the time, it was totally miserable but it was probably the best thing that ever happened to us.” They still do the odd one-off, even though Bodytonic is far more legit. “They are a headache,” he smiles, “but you do them because it’s fun and because I’m always wary of getting into a trap. We have Pogo, which is our version of the superclub, and is great, but we still need to do things that make us realise what we’re about. We just did a warehouse party on the Quays which got shut down early but was an adventure. We’re always planning. There’s always going to be an appetite for doing something different. If it’s exciting and different, then there will always be an appetite for it. There could be a school of thought that we’re in a similar situation that we were ﬁve years ago.” But Bodytonic has come a long way since those early days, building through a series of regular nights to the point where it can attract the biggest names in the business, although Trevor sees keeping the balance as key. “It can be quite addictive to book the big acts and people do talk about it if you have Laurent Garnier or DJ Yoda coming in, but we do try and keep what we do based here,” he asserts. “I love booking
Village People What to expect at The Bodytonic Village at this year’s Electric Picnic. The Bodytonic Village at Electric Picnic incorporates three different tents, each one promising “that small cozy intimate vibe we know and love”. With a mainly Irish line-up, the Bodytonic people reckon they’re gonna be tipping their cap to the best clubs, DJs and live acts from across the country. Bodytonic Main Stage A 2,000 capacity tent, the Bodytonic Main Stage will host the majority of the international names featured on their bill. Visuals will be run by the Digitonic Crew, plus some artists the acts themselves will bring over especially for the festival. This year marks a dubstep debut, with Benga making an appearance, as well as a 20+ piece Samba band, a really special ‘20 years of Fish Go Deep’ party on the Friday and a techno showstopper with Rob Hood on the Saturday.
acts but it doesn’t give me the same satisfaction that it would if one of our own guys made it big abroad. The big names come in, go out, they’re gone. That’s it.”
Far more than just standard club promoters, Bodytonic now oversee a range of nights, a record label, grafﬁti art projects and a website, all from the upstairs ofﬁces of their Bernard Shaw pub in Dublin’s Portobello. Was that always part of the plan? “It was and it wasn’t,” Trevor muses. “We were always ambitious, but I couldn’t put a deﬁnite thing on what that ambition was. I never would have thought we’d be running a pub. I want people to be producing as much as possible, whether it be writing or making a tune or working on decor for a party. That’s making a statement on what we’re about, rather than just a depot for acts coming in and out. This and the website are things that we have 100% control over. At festivals or clubs, we don’t, but with this and the label, we do. The pub is good but upstairs is where it’s all happening.” Bodytonic’s latest venture is hosting their own village at The Electric Picnic, which for Trevor is a logical step. “Ever since it started, we were the underdogs of the festival, and quite
rightly so in my opinion,” he notes. “In year one, we were this little tent in the corner but it was rammed. We were just a dance tent, getting bigger each time, but this year we’re doing a whole village. We hope to showcase what we actually do, where people thought we were just a bunch of ravers, which essentially we are. Something like the Electric Picnic appeals far more than Creamﬁelds or Planet Love: it just wouldn’t make sense there.” Finally, he can ignore the ringing phones no longer and rises to leave. “In the ‘90s, there was the idea that you had to belong to one tribe or another. Everything was a micro-genre,” he sums up. “These days, people go out of their way to tell you that they listen to a bit of everything. Being part of a festival that reﬂects that gives us a freedom.”
The Bernard Shaw This should have the same hedonistic vibe as their pub of the same name in Portobello, Dublin. What to expect? Scribble, Antics, bands, art, exhibitions, grafﬁti, Thumped. com, a mental all-day Sunday disco-funk session. “Overall, it will be messy, dirty and sweaty, and the toilets probably won’t work. Perfect BS vibe”: and that’s according to their website. The Twisted Pepper The Twisted Pepper will feature a varied combination of reggae, dubstep, techno, breaks, Miami bass, drum ‘n’ bass, world beats & hip-hop. Toddla T and Red Shape might not be familiar names as yet, but give it six months and you’ll be wishing you’d seen them.
…at Electric Picnic, Aug 29-31
Out Of Africa Words by Olivia Mai ~ Photography by Feargal Ward
When tarmac turns to dirt track, and dirt track turns to desert, Tinariwen know they are almost home. Across interminable sand and scrub, 1,700km from the Malian capital Bamako, and 400km to the Algerian border, lies the isolated city of Kidal. Known as the gateway to the Sahara, this is where Tinariwen call home. In their songs they call the area “Tamesna”, referring to the vast North African territory that spans Mali, Niger and Algeria. For Tinariwen are Tuaregs, a nomadic, tribal people who have roamed the Sahara Desert since their ancient forefathers, the Berbers. They are also one of the most popular bands to come out of Africa in recent years. Before they ﬁrst came to Europe as a group in 2001, Tinariwen had already existed for well over 20 years, mostly by a musical grapevine. In a territory about the size of Wales, where people are widely dispersed and speak different dialects of Tamashek, cassettes were made, passed on, copied, and passed on again. Prior to Tinariwen, there was very little cultural output through the media in their own language. They listened to French programmes on BBC World Service, but even then, the only people who understood French, let alone listened to the radio, were an educated minority of society. Traditional Tuareg music was almost exclusively played to old melodies with poetic, but generic lyrics about love, the beauty of the desert, the bravery of the men etc. Then along came Tinariwen, with their electric guitars, singing “Brothers wake up and rise out of the ancient slumber and realise what is happening to you/ I am in exile…” That they were playing electric guitars was revolutionary in itself, but it was their lyrics that touched a chord. They sang about poverty, drought, political unrest and government oppression, about exile and loneliness. They sang about the reality their people were, and in many cases still are, experiencing. “We were in exile,” Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni, singer, musician and spokesman for the group explains. “We were in Libya, we were in Algeria, it was a very hot (turbulent) time for us, very difﬁcult. The government sold a large territory to the
Chinese, Tuareg territory, so that they could mine uranium. They killed the people, the animals... this was the Tuareg problem. In Libya, the Tuareg were okay, but in Mali and Algeria, they suffered.” Poverty and violence led to many Tuareg ﬂeeing their homeland and for most, it meant decades of exile. One of the songs, ‘Soixante Trois’ (63), which features on their most recent album, was inspired by that time. It was written to teach us about what happened and to prevent amnesia. The lyrics are chilling. “’63 has gone, but will return/ That time has left us memories/ It murdered the old folk and a child just born/ It swooped down to the pastures and wiped out the cattle/…My sisters were hunted down without mercy/ Those who I would exchange for nothing on this earth/ Because love is powerful and strong/ It penetrates the soul and blisters.” Blisters and scars, it would seem.
Tinariwen’s formal naissance at Colonel Gaddaﬁ’s training camps in Libya has been widely reported throughout European and North American media. Gaddaﬁ had funded a series of camps, allying himself with a wide range of resistance movements with a then undisclosed intention of furthering his own imperialist agenda. “This period had a huge inﬂuence on the music of Tinariwen,” says Abdallah. By their own admission, some of the older band members participated in military operations and rebellions. Recognising the power of music as a way of informing and disseminating information, Tuareg rebel leaders running these camps set the founding members of the group up with amps and guitars. Their popularity grew steadily through North Africa and could have, in some ways, been measured by the heavy censure of the Malian authorities. To even possess one of their tapes was a serious offence. Andy Morgan, the group’s manager, recounts one of singer-
“If you were caught with a cassette or were a member of the band, the Malian authorities associated you with the rebels. Ibrahim went back home in 1989, the ﬁrst time since leaving in 1969... and initially he was under surveillance. Four of his friends were arrested and one of them was killed.”
songwriter and founding member, Ibrahim Ag Alhabib’s close calls. “If you were caught with a cassette or were a member of the band, the Malian authorities associated you with the rebels,” Morgan recalls. “Ibrahim went back home in 1989, the ﬁrst time since leaving in 1969. He went back to Tessalit, where he was from, and initially he was under surveillance. Four of his friends were arrested and one of them was killed. Ibrahim had to escape: basically, he had to get out of town quickly.”
Tinariwen, however, do not like the media to become too distracted by the band’s formative years in these camps. They have stressed in previous interviews that it was a difﬁcult time and should not be romanticised in any way. Their message is not one of war, State is told, and their songs are not a call to arms: “The music is by the people, for the people. It is to inspire hope, to tell of the bravery of living in the desert.” This “raising of awareness” is still very much part of Tinariwen’s objectives and is something Abdallah speaks of emphatically. He describes how the lyrics of their songs attempted to make people aware of the changes happening around them, in their villages and in the desert. It is also, he explains, to protect the Tuareg culture and prevent the people from being forgotten. Indeed, this fear of being over-looked seems to be foremost in their minds. “When a Tuareg sings, it is about his family, the desert, the Tuareg situation,” explains Abdallah. “We are a minority people, dispersed in Libya, Algeria, in Mali: we are all nomads who have been completely forgotten.” With the ongoing unrest in Mali, the band still see themselves as a voice for the people. “The music of Tinariwen still speaks out for problems in the desert,” Abdallah notes. “Before, we had to educate the Tuareg community but today, we must raise awareness for the Irish and the English and the French… we must raise awareness as to who the Tuareg are. Therefore, the music still
plays a role of educating: it still brings a message.”
That Tinariwen sing in their native language, Tamashek and occasionally in Arabic, but not in French or English, may seem something of an obstacle for them. “For an African band, they’ve done very well” Morgan says, explaining the difﬁculties they have faced abroad. “They are ﬁrmly within what an African band could expect, but not anything like what a rock band could expect. Journalists love the story, but radio are frightened of playing the music because it’s not English language and so are terriﬁed that people will switch off. The press has been very successful but with very little radio play, which means that people can’t connect to the music.” For Tinariwen, however, this is a not a barrier to their audience. It is a question of “melody and attitude”, according to Abdallah, who believes music works on more levels than simply a matter of linguistic comprehension. “Music is universal,” he explains. He believes that people learn about the band “little by little;” that we discover the music ﬁrst and perhaps are curious about their appearance (which, in the ﬂowing blue robes and full headscarves, is admittedly very distinctive). They have translated their lyrics on their recent CD into English, as well as written them in tiﬁnar, the Tuareg alphabet, and phonetically in Tamashek. Three albums, several world tours, and numerous awards attest to the appeal of the band, their music and their ability to communicate. These nomads have wandered far from the desert to deliver their message, to inform us of their culture and in so doing, keep it alive. Despite what must be for them a vastly different setting, Tinariwen are popular in Ireland and they are happy to return. Described by their tour manager Bastien Gsell as modern nomads: “they are used to travelling and looking for water”. Well, they’ve deﬁnitely come to the right place then. Tinariwen play the Electric Picnic.
STATE THE SUMMER VERSUS
So by now you may have spotted the first of your free State covermount CDs* (glued there on the front covering those ludicrous karate suits). It ’s the first in what we wish to be a probing collection of the finest music out there (eventually from North America to Cambodia we hope - and anything good inbetween) created and compiled for you, dear State reader. Because, while we love sunny weather, we feel we can rely on joyous music more and if you can’t be with the one you love, honey, love the one you’re with. Here’s what ’s on State versus… No. 1:
1: Fight Like Apes Knucklehead
9: Adebisi Shank You Me
With debut album Fight Like Apes And The Mystery Of The Golden Medallion due next month, the four-piece are facing the prospect of suddenly becoming very liked indeed. Taken from: ‘Something Global’ single (Model Citizen) Interact: www.ﬁghtlikeapesmusic.com As seen in: State Issue 2
Last year’s four-track EP showcased their ability to make loud music stunning again. This September, the three-piece will display their considerable talent for riffage on a debut longplayer recorded in Baltimore. This is your exclusive heads-up. Taken from: Forthcoming album (September ‘08) Interact: www.myspace.com/adebisishank
2: Jape vs Delorentos Stop (What A Comedown! Never Been A Better Remix) Two Dublin indie heavyweights in a remix ﬁght instigated by Jape but ﬁnished by Delorentos’ vocals. The Malahide boys go from strength to strength with each passing month. Roll on album number two. Taken from: ‘Stop’ single (Cottage Records) Interact: www.delorentos.net As seen in: State Issue 2
10: Super Extra Bonus Party Drone Rock (Decal Remix) The Boners prepare for to follow up their Choice Music Prize winning debut with an album of remixes from Jape, Ikeaboy, Deep Burial, Ambulance and T-Woc, amongst others. Also included is this stonkin’ track by Alan O’ Boyle, aka Decal. Taken from: Forthcoming remix album (October 08) Interact: www.myspace.com/superextrabonusparty As heard on: State.ie Podcast 02
3: Heathers Remember When?
11: The Vinny Club Inﬁnite Smokebombs
Barely out of school they may be, but Heathers (aka twin sisters Louise and Ellie) have already become one of the year’s most interesting stories and released one of its most exciting debuts. Taken from: Here, Not There (Hideaway Records) Interact: www.myspace.com/heatherswhatsyourdamage As seen in: State Issue 4
Mixing vintage synth sounds, drum machines and video game samples, The Vinny Club is a one man band – homemade electronic style. Taken from: Rocky IV Reckyrd (Richter Collective) Interact: www.myspace.com/thevinnyclub As seen in: State Issue 3
4: The Jimmy Cake Haunted Candle
12: Halfset A Place To Stay
Nine-strong instrumentalists produce a glorious, thriving racket on their third album which nails the ﬁne line between orchestral arrangement and sturdy melody. Taken from: Spectre & Crown (Pilatus) Interact: www.thejimmycake.org As seen in: State Issue 1
Listening to Another Way of Being There, it’s obvious that the already impressive arrangements on 2005’s Dramanalog have reached profound levels of lushness. Taken from: Forthcoming album Another Way Of Being There (Casino Gravity) Interact: www.myspace.com/halfset
5: Carly Sings GOD and the GIRL
13: Mumblin’ Deaf Ro Drowning Man
Like the woman herself, Carly Sings’ debut album is a meeting of inﬂuences and backgrounds, European and Irish, with a dash of electronic thrown in for good measure. Taken from: The Glove Thief (Carly Sings Recordings) Interact: www.myspace.com/carlysings As seen in: State Issue 1
Many said he was robbed a Choice Music Prize nomination this year and State would agree. His simple but clever folk style is accentuated by the most original lyrics on an Irish album in recent times. Taken from: The Herring & The Brine Interact: www.myspace.com/mumblindeafro
6: Ham Sandwich Sleep
14: Oliver Cole We Albatri
Ham Sandwich’s year got off to a ﬂier with the release of their debut album and a Meteor Award. Following this up with continued touring, things don’t look like slowing down. Taken from: Carry The Meek (Route 109) Interact: www.myspace.com/eathamsandwich As seen in: State Issue 1
Having put the trials and tribulations of Turn behind him, Oliver Cole is ready to set out on his own solo path. See him Upstairs at Whelans on August 14. Taken from: Forthcoming album We Albatri Interact: www.myspace.com/olivercole
7: General Fiasco Maybe I’m A Little Bit Strange (demo)
15: Fred Fear
After the breakthrough success of Oppenheimer, all eyes are out for the next Belfast band to make the jump. General Fiasco are still at an early stage but, as this track proves, are developing nicely. Taken from: Unreleased Interact: www.myspace.com/generalﬁasco As seen in: State Issue 6
While bands from the People’s Republic have always chosen a unique approach to making music, Fred have taken those obscure inﬂuences and put them through the pop blender. It works. Taken from: Go God Go (RCM Records) Interact: www.fredtheband.com As seen in: State Issue 4
8: Giveamanakick Spring Break!
16: Doris Will I Ever Learn?
Noisy Limerick duo Giveamanakick are ﬁnally discovering their more melodic, if not sensitive side on their new album. They still kick out the jams big time though. Taken from: Welcome To The Cusp (Monkey Heart) Interact: www.myspace.com/giveamanakick As seen in: State Issue 2
On the back of two Top 30 singles comes Doris’ debut album, a classy exercise in adapting alternative inﬂuences for a wider audience. Taken from: Working Title Interact: www.myspace.com/dorismusic
*If your free cd did not come with this magazine, someone with extremely good taste in music may have stolen it. Fear not – just write to us (contact info on page 2) with your address and we’ll post one out.
That Petrol Emotion
…at Electric Picnic, Aug 29-31
Perhaps the most under-rated band ever to hail from this island, That Petrol Emotion had it all: indie credibility, poptastic tunes, a stunning live show and a great frontman. So why did they never cross over? Could they still?
Heard A Secret! Saw You Smiling! Words by Sinéad Gleeson
In the annals of music, there are countless bands that in their heyday were criminally under-rated. Bands that did ‘Does anyone know someone who wants everything right who failed to bag the kind of acclaim they really deserved. The reasons for their under-championing are as broad as they are inexplicable: from being innovative or ahead of your time (Devo), falling between the stools of several genres (various ‘80s bands) or extricating yourself from what other bands around you were doing at the time (American Music Club). Some of this rationale applies to That Petrol Emotion, who sprang from the ashes of The Undertones, drafting in a dreadlocked singer from Seattle who’d never been in a band before. The Undertones, so beloved of John Peel, were one of the ﬁrst alternative Irish bands to have major chart success in the UK. After they disbanded, John O’Neill, one of the song-writing lynchpins, met Reamann O’Gormain who played in a band called Bam Bam and The Calling. Along with drummer Ciarán McLaughlin, they upped sticks to London in the early ‘80s. After hooking up with John’s brother Damien, another ex-Undertone, they began the hunt for a singer. Steve Mack was a postcollege kid from Seattle working in a pizza restaurant. “A colleague was going out with a guy from Derry, and one day casually asked:
to be a singer?’ I of course replied, ‘yep, me’. It was only later on, she mentioned that some of the guys had been in The Undertones,” Mack smiles. “I couldn’t believe it, as I was fan and had bought their records.” Up ‘til that point, Mack’s musical collaborations had consisted of basement jams with friends. Little did he know that a one-year sabbatical in London would turn into an 11-year music career. According to Reamann O’Gormain, Steve had his work cut out for him, in more ways than one. “God love him, he had to put up with us constantly talking about Ireland so he had to swot up a lot on history,” O’Gormain laughs. “In retrospect, I felt bad for him.”
Despite The Undertones’ past fame, it didn’t do the band a lot of favours in getting That Petrol Emotion off the ground. Steve admits that while they weren’t starting from scratch, a huge amount of graft was required to get noticed. “For the ﬁrst six to nine months of the band, I was still working in the restaurant,” he remembers. “The guys would drop me
off after gigs and I’d work cleaning ﬂoors as the night janitor. The Undertones name meant that pubs would book us, but then we still had to play a lot of pubs. It was hard work and everybody was still on the dole too.” Reamann agrees that there were no PR or media leg-ups: “The Undertones didn’t really open any doors for us. Alan McGee in Creation was interested but they were only starting out and broke, so were focusing on The Jesus and Mary Chain. We had to go with another label and in a way it kick-started a chain of us jumping from label to label.” The band played every weekend and eventually started getting offered decent support slots. In the early days, John and Reamann had written the bulk of the Petrols’ songs back in Derry, but with Steve on board, more of the writing was worked out in the rehearsal room. “I wasn’t involved in writing the lyrics, as much as people would think,” says Mack. “A lot of the lyrics had a political undercurrent to them, which was a conscious decision made by the band. People used to ask me ‘how can you sing this stuff when you’re not even Irish?’, and I’d always reply that the things we were singing about were
/////Little Fingers Stiff
That Petrol Emotion
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say that we should have been bigger, particularly because Chemicrazy and Fireproof contained singles that were as strong, if not stronger, than anything in the charts... Then came Ecstasy and The Happy Mondays and it was nuts. It’s also a classic timing thing. Had we patched up our differences and lasted another three to ﬁve years, we could have broken through. Look at some of the Britpop singles.”
universal themes.” Ex-NME Editor Stuart Bailie feels that like My Bloody Valentine, “the Petrols were completely beyond Irish music. They were looking for some universal challenge out there.” The band saw themselves as more of an ‘information service’ for what was happening in Northern Ireland in the ‘80s, and never wanted to be political poster boys. Bands from the North were invariably asked for their views and were expected to trot out political soundbytes in interviews that often took place in pubs, interviews that consisted of more than a handful of loaded questions. One tabloid even dubbed them ‘the musical wing of the IRA’. “As far as we were concerned, we were talking about civil rights,” says Reamann. “I regret what happened with the ‘Genius Move’ sleevenotes [a quote was used that had appeared in Gerry Adams’ book, but wasn’t actually by Adams]. It was stupid, especially as Radio 1 refused to play the
song and we had felt that ‘Genius Move’ was our best chance to break the Top 40.”
Despite politics often threatening to overshadow the music, the band felt outside of the mainstream in many ways, not least when compared to some of their Irish contemporaries of the time. “There was a perception that we wanted to be recognised as people who cared deeply about the future of Ireland, but without getting lumped in with some of the bombastic ‘Irish’ bands,” offers Mack. “We were just doing what we thought sounded good and had much more of an afﬁnity with American bands like Sonic Youth. There was a lot of Irishness in our DNA: it just wasn’t out there on our music.” In the ‘80s, the band frequently spoke about feeling outside of Irish music/rock cliques, but this seems to have been more of an issue for some members than others.
“After John [O’Neill] left the band, it took us a while to realise that we didn’t have to come out with very strong statements all the time,” says Steve. “Most of our best gigs have been in Ireland, and we’ve always been embraced by Irish fans.” These strong opinions have left an occasional residue of regret – the band were asked to support U2 on tour and said no – something Mack says is “the stupidest thing we ever did. It was at a time when everyone in the band had strong views, and everyone was right about everything, but ask anyone from the ﬁnal line-up and all now think it was a mistake saying no.” Reamann agrees. “We were asked twice, and saying no once was bad, but twice… it was quite ungracious, and I’d do it now at the drop of a hat.” At the time, U2 were one of the biggest bands in the world, and Steve admits the Petrols felt Bono et al could have been more vocal about what was going on in the North. This outspokenness was a major factor in them being well-
liked and admired critically, according to Jim Carroll, music journalist with The Irish Times: “It had as much to do with Mack’s mouth and their polemic as the music. They were a band whose quasi-subversive bent ﬁtted those times and journalists loved the fact that they could talk the talk.” The crux of the band’s musical appeal was the blending of styles, the crisscrossing of indie, dance and rock. Carroll admits to loving their energy. “They were doing something few other acts were doing at the time,” he notes. “I can still remember hearing ‘Big Decision’ for the ﬁrst time. It was just so smart. Live, they were on another planet, always aiming for the stars. And Steve Mack was a star.” Stuart Bailie was similarly taken with the band. “At the start, I was very curious, because they were so different from The Undertones. The Petrols were darker, the music was more challenging and they had a stronger indie ideology. They were very sophisticated musically, at a time when most Ulster bands wanted to sound like The Smiths or Joy Division.” The band’s hook-heavy guitar pop was infused with inﬂuences from Television to Captain Beefheart, artists Reamann had spun when he DJ’d at the Left Bank in Derry. “After the Undertones, John didn’t want to be in a band anymore but hearing this kind of music and people like Afrika Bambaata really energised him,” says Steve. “He and Reamann started writing, so we had these great songwriters, limitless energy and very loud guitars, in an era when people weren’t listening to a lot of guitars. John wanted things to be noisier and more abrasive, not too poppy, which is essentially the sound of the last two albums.” Reamann isn’t sure if the music he introduced John to “did him any good,” but admits that himself and Ciarán brought an intensity to the band’s sound.
In the second half of the TPE’s life, Steve confesses they listened to stuff like Curtis Mayﬁeld and Kool & The Gang. “We were like sponges: we’d listen to so much stuff and absorb it.” He’s particularly proud of Chemicrazy and Fireproof, which he believes is their best work. “There were certain things that
That Petrol Emotion
we did, as a group of ﬁve musicians that we did better than we did anything else,” he claims. “When we wrote stuff like that, it was the sound of the band ﬁring on all cylinders.” John Peel’s support certainly elevated their proﬁle in the UK, but the albums spoke for themselves. Despite the fact that the nearest they came to UK Top 40 success was when ‘Big Decision’ skimmed the charts at No. 41, albums Manic Pop Thrill and Fireproof went to the top of the UK indie charts. That Petrol Emotion always seemed like a band on the verge of a major breakthrough. Was this something the band felt too? “I’d be lying if I didn’t say that we should have been bigger,” admits Steve, “particularly because Chemicrazy and Fireproof contained singles that were as strong, if not stronger, than anything in the charts. But we hampered ourselves with that the awkward third album [End Of The Millennium Psychosis Blues] and we lost momentum. Then came Ecstasy and The Happy Mondays and it was nuts. It’s also a classic timing thing. Had we patched up our differences and lasted another three to ﬁve years, we could have broken through. Look at some of the Britpop singles.” Stuart Bailie also thinks they were unlucky with timing. “The big change in indie music happened when The Stone Roses released ‘Fool’s Gold’. Suddenly it was ok to dance to indie music, and the availability of Ecstasy probably helped. But the Petrols had the groove long before that, and songs like ‘Big Decision’ would have been massive in this later era.”
“By the time the band came to an end, it was harder to do,” says Mack. “People were married, had families
and everyone had grown up. It was part slow-decline, part abrupt full stop. There’s a great book quote [from Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises] when one character asks another, ‘How did you go broke?’ and gets the reply, ‘Gradually and then suddenly’. For us, there was a gradual erosion. Some band members were rallying the ﬂag to keep going, and eventually they just gave up.” Reamann recalls how he felt they were writing great songs but getting nowhere, and he just couldn’t keep going. “Fireproof had gotten great reviews, but didn’t sell. Every band member except Damien had a dramatic ‘I’m leaving the band’ moment, so when Damien said ‘that’s it’, we knew that really was it.” Despite the frustration near the end, he has no shortage of good memories. “We never had as much fun as we did making Manic Pop Thrill, and we always had a lot of fun on tour.” Steve also veers towards rosetintedness, although he believes that the band should have played every gig they were offered and worked a bit harder. “Looking back, you tend to forget about the bad stuff, and just remember the good parts. Playing Féile was one of our greatest gigs ever and we also played in Russia to 80,000 people. Playing live was so fantastic because going to see bands always meant so much to me, and I hope that we were able to make our fans feel the same way when we played.” Jim Carroll is adamant the band aren’t remembered in the way they deserve. “Most people prefer The Undertones, and That Petrol Emotion are a band most people have forgotten, and the new kids on the block know nothing about, which is a huge shame. Maybe the reunion will change that. The 12” mixes of ‘Big Decision’, ‘Swamp’ and ‘Sensitize’ were amazing and Chemicrazy was a great album. I think a Best Of/Retrospective is long overdue.” Stuart Bailie is equally wistful, but full of praise. “They were an underground band who didn’t make a bad record. The guitars were awesome and Steve Mack willed himself to become a vital frontman. I recall a gig at The Forum in London when they were at their best and it was like a religious convention.” That Petrol Emotion play The Spirit Store in Drogheda on Thursday August 28 and The Electric Picnic in Stradbally on Saturday August 30.
Electric Picnic Preview
The only guide you need to the greatest weekend of your musical life.
Electric Picnic 2008 Words by John Walshe, Phil Udell, Niall Byrne, Tanya Sweeney Ireland’s most eclectic music festival, Electric Picnic takes place from August 29-31. Deciding who to see can be the toughest task of all. State makes it easy for you, however, with your indispensible six-page guide to this year’s must-see acts.
Franz Ferdinand You know how it is: you’re in various bands, kicking about doing crappy gigs, when suddenly you strike gold and achieve the success you’ve always dreamed of. Suddenly there you are on the album / tour / album treadmill and it’s very hard to get off. Just ask Franz Ferdinand. With an impressive debut album under their belt and audiences requesting their presence around the world, ﬁnding time to come up with an equally beguiling second record proved difﬁcult. And it showed. You Could Have It So Much Better proved to be an apt title, the record essentially a less interesting re-run of the ﬁrst. Since then, however, Franz Ferdinand have thrown on the brakes, taken stock and gone off to get interesting again. So far, the signs are all good, from hanging out with LCD Soundsystem, Gorillaz and Girls Aloud, to covering everything from Gwen Stefani to Air and David Bowie. A rake of secret gigs have been taking place, including the Park Stage at Glastonbury, where they debuted a handful of new songs. The greatest indicator of the way forward, however, was their appearance at the Africa Express gig in Liverpool, where they performed ‘Why Can’t You Let Me Stay The Night’ with musicians from Mali and Senegal, as well as UK rapper Kano. For once, the thought of a festival headliner abandoning the traditional greatest hits set is very appealing.
state picks The ones you won’t want to miss.
Whether you love their otherworldly space-rock or think they’re the devil incarnate, there’s no denying that the Sigur Rós live experience is phenomenally powerful and moving. See page 18 for more on Sigur Rós.
Having left the Damien Rice fold to pursue her own muse, the honey-tonsilled Lisa Hannigan has been quietly brewing up her own musical storm with a series of low-key gigs around the country. With an album to follow later this year, this should be a showcase to savour.
When Saint Nick and most of his Bad Seeds released the eponymous Grinderman album in March 2007, it signalled a return to Cave’s raw punk roots, epitomised perfectly on the feral ‘No Pussy Blues’. Those of a nervous disposition should probably steer clear.
At his last Dublin show, Deacon had the audience literally running circles around the venue, forming human tunnels and participating in a dance contest. Since then, he has started playing material from his forthcoming album Bromst. He recently told State he was hoping to add a band to the live equation, so expect a switch-up.
Hip-hop’s best live band are always a must-see, especially at a festival. This year’s Rising Down, their eight studio album, saw ?uestlove, Black Thought et al return to form with help from the stellar cast of Common, Mos Def, Styles P, Talib Kweli, and recent State They Might Be Giant Wale.
Electric Picnic Preview
My Bloody Valentine Much like Nirvana’s at the Top Hat in Dun Laoghaire, The National’s in Whelan’s and Interpol’s in The Village, My Bloody Valentine’s 1991 gigs have taken on a rather fetishised and fabled quality. Thousands profess to have been there in the ﬂesh, yet actually ﬁnding a bona ﬁde attendee remains no mean feat. Over the years, and despite many reports that a third album from the camp was “three-quarters done”, we came to believe that the likelihood of Shields resurrecting his erstwhile outﬁt was as likely as Elvis headlining this year’s Electric Picnic. And then, unexpectedly and delightedly, came the news last year that most fans couldn’t bring themselves to even dare wish for. My Bloody Valentine are one of those bands whose reputation has burgeoned afresh over the years, despite nary a peep from their camp. The weight of acclaim famously proved too much for frontman Kevin Shields: seemingly beleaguered by his own brilliance, he became a reported megalomaniac-slash-recluse, only serving to fuel the myth further. To say that there was an air of expectation around their recent headliner at London’s Roundhouse is no small understatement – the air was positively crackling with electricity. And then, as though the last 17 years hadn’t happened, the four original members took to the stage behind a gargantuan backline teeming with various amps and stacks. Even Shields, surrounded by his various sonic accoutrements, appeared more promisingly vital and less jowly than in recent times. If you’ve spent the majority of 17 years obsessing and poring over the exquisite layers on MBV’s records in the privacy of your own quarters, hearing the songs in a live and ear-shattering setting is nothing short of a complete, heavenly shock. Drowning in Shield’s overpowering guitars, ‘Only Shallow’ and ‘Nothing Much To Lose’ were discombobulating, foggy and breakneck, while the rarely-aired ‘Thorn’ proved joyously jarring. ‘Feed Me With Your Kiss’ and’ I Only Said’ were deliciously airtight, although the band lost their way during a riotous rendition of ‘(When You’re Awake) You’re Still In A Dream’. Momentarily abandoning the song, Shields simply laughed off the gaffe: given that he has fashioned quite the reputation as one of rock’s most impassioned control freaks, this is certainly a sight to behold. Yet for the most part, the
foursome were austere and ascetic, seemingly cognisant of the sense of legend writ large. No review of My Bloody Valentine’s show would be complete without a mention of the so-called ‘Holocaust’ white-noise moment during ‘You Made Me Realise’. Clocking in at a monstrous 25 minutes, it’s a moment that certainly separates the wheat from the chaff. With the band treading a divinely ﬁne line between transcendence and torment, the crowd are forced to either enjoy the sonic torture (and worry about tinnitus later), or take the moment for what it really is...a load of pretentious, nonsensical crap. Let’s just say that a 2000-strong crowd embroiled in a proverbial dick-measuring contest is never a pretty sight and leave it at that. Alan McGee, no doubt still smarting from those infamous Loveless studio bills (emotionally if not ﬁnancially), recently claimed that “MBV were my joke band, my way of seeing how far I could push hype.” He may have had a point, but Shields – quite rightly – is ﬁnally having the last laugh. See you up the front.
back from the dead
jakob bekker/300 dpi
Artists we never thought we’d see on a stage again.
That Petrol Emotion
A genuine coup for the festival, Ms Jones returns to the fray, following rave reviews for her recent Meltdown Festival show. Expect costume changes, big hats, a lot of lights and the buffest 60-year-old rear-end on the planet.
As detailed elsewhere in these pages (Page 36-39), That Petrol Emotion were the right band at the wrong time. Emerging from the demise of The Undertones, they delved headﬁrst into the kind of indie dance that others would make their own years later. See them now or forever miss your chance.
Formed in New York in 1967, Silver Apples’ short twoyear career was a precursor to the electronic music scene. Indeed, such was the interest that they reformed in 1996 and have continued to tour since, albeit in the solo form of Simeon Coxe III since the death of drummer Danny Taylor.
Born into the Southern US gospel tradition in the ‘40s, Candi Staton moved into the public consciousness with her 1976 hit ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ and later the Source track ‘You Got The Love’. Recently recording with Groove Armada, expect a master class in blues and soul.
The latest band to join the ‘here’s one we prepared earlier’ brigade, Gomez are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their Bring It On debut album by playing it from start to ﬁnish. All of which means no embarrassing silences after the new stuff.
Electric Picnic Preview
Last year’s stunning Tales Of Silversleeve album saw Cathy Davey come of age, transforming the raw potential of her debut, Something Ilk into a perfect skewed pop whole. Critical acclaim, signiﬁcant radio play and a host of award nominations duly followed, and Davey honed her live show through constant touring (including a weekly residency in Whelan’s and the Róisín Dubh), with a stellar live band, which included Conor O’Brien (formerly of The Immediate), Keith Farrell (Mundy) and various members of the great One Day International. She has since ran away with the Best Female award at the Meteor Awards, wowed all and sundry at South By South West and been all over the telly, with ‘Moving’ soundtracking the latest Vodafone campaign. She is, quite simply, the ﬁnest female artist operating in the country at the moment.
What can you say about Christy? Folk legend, political animal, Planxty founder and one of the sharpest lyricists ever to come out of this country, rumours that the Kildare man was about to decommission his guitar a couple of years ago proved greatly exaggerated. If anything, Christy has been busier than ever of late, playing a host of rapturously received dates throughout the country. By times cranky on-stage when audiences deign to sing along with his most famous tunes, how he’ll deal with a ﬁeld-full of people hollering along with ‘Delerium Tremens’ is anybody’s guess.
state stonkers Guaranteed to have you leppin’ like a 16-year-old.
Super Extra Bonus Party
While not exactly dividing the nation a la Wham!/ Duran Duran, the aligned appearance of Adele and Duffy did throw up two ‘60s-inﬂuenced soul sisters for the price of one. Of the two, Duffy seems the more dynamic, especially live.
Following her recent Dublin cancellation, this is an opportunity for one of the year’s most exciting new artists to make amends. Two dancers, one DJ, but still amazing.
We had them marked down as just another NME wannabe band but, boy, were we wrong. Foals’ debut album hinted at a willingness to expand their sound to include brass and this year’s essential Afrobeat inﬂuence. Look out for round two of the great Sex Pistols rumble too.
Quite simply the most fun you can have on stage with your clothes on, SEBP’s Choice Music Prize win showed that their recorded output is no slouch either. Last year’s legendary Sunday morning slot was an almost religious experience: as ever, expect the unexpected.
Having ﬁnally managed to extricate his album from record company hell, Richie Egan is enjoying the fruits of the summer all over Europe. His live show has developed too into a full band, featuring members of One Day International and Redneck Manifesto. A sort of homecoming.
jape by richard gilligan
Electric Picnic Preview
Sex Pistols Now that the 30th anniversary of punk has come and gone, we can perhaps allow ourselves some respite from the nostalgia merchants and their rose tinted, phlegm-covered glasses. What has been astounding, though, is that, for what was essentially a two-year ﬂash in the pan, the main protagonists have proved to have such longevity. Some have managed their legacy well (The Clash, Siouxsie), others have kept ploughing on regardless (The Stranglers, The Damned), while some, like Johnny Thunders, never stood a chance. The Sex Pistols, as ever, have remained a conundrum. Always destined to burn brightly before reaching a swift, chaotic and ultimately tragic conclusion, they were never a band who were going to develop musically in the way of Strummer & Co. Their legacy may have been huge but it is ultimately based on one album and perhaps in reality, two or three songs. But what songs they were: a glorious combination of menace, melody and the realisation that a genuine cultural shift was on the horizon. Watch the old video footage now and they were mesmerising, especially the young John Lydon, his eyes burning bright with conviction and rage. Having imploded on that fateful night in 1978, that should have been it, yet 18 years later, they were back, ostensibly for the money but perhaps also with a sense of unﬁnished business. Their infrequent appearances since have proved that, while age has not withered the Lydon tongue (including a recent unsavoury clash with Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke), it has rather taken its toll on their energy levels. If you’re looking for a life-changing experience, stay away and remember them the way they were, but if you take your nostalgia with a dash of pantomime and a bit of swearing, roll up.
ones to watch This time next year, they’ll be massive.
Hercules & Love Affair
Emmy The Great
State caught their Roskilde slot in July and we were very impressed. Based in Los Angeles, these six-strong psychedelic rockers are led by Cambodian vocalist Chhom Nimol and are exactly the kind of thing you’d expect to ﬁnd on a Tarantino soundtrack.
New Yorkers re-assert their city’s love of disco and house in 2008. Their self-titled album came out on ultra-cool DFA Records In March. Listen to their calling card ‘Blind’, featuring Antony Hegarty.
If you’ve caught Lightspeed Champion recently, you’ll already be familiar with the sound of Emma-Lee Moss who has been touring with Dev Hynes’ band. A singersongwriter in her own right, she comes to the Picnic for a full-band set.
Brooklyn’s off-kilter Afrobeat orchestra take in an awful lot more than African inﬂuences, extending their skill-set to dub and American funk. With 12 members utilising trumpets, sax, guitar, trombone and percussion, they could be the perfect festival pick-me-up.
If Battles decided to cover John Carpenter soundtracks, it might well sound like these Aussies. See page 5 for an interview with the band.
Electric Picnic Preview
Certain bands were born to play certain festivals: it’s the way of it. The Electric Picnic has that kind of draw for Goldfrapp, a place where dance music gets to co-exist with all sorts of other elements and inﬂuences. That approach has been a shorthand to Goldfrapp’s career over the years, moving from the lush acoustic sounds of Felt Mountain, through the shimmering disco of Supernature, and back to the more organic Seventh Tree this year. Always a spectacle live, Goldfrapp are coming home.
Jeff Tweedy & Co. have ﬂirted with alt. country, experimental rock and pure pop over the course of their 14 years. Whether they’ve been promoting the weirder edge of the musical spectrum (2002’sYankee Hotel Foxtrot) or 2006’s Eagles-loving, Byrds-aping Sky Blue Sky, however, they’ve always enjoyed a reputation as a stunning live act. Dubbed “one of America’s most consistently interesting bands” by Rolling Stone, expect to see the diehards worshipping at the altar of Tweedy: this could well be the highlight of the entire weekend.
These German boys slayed the crowd on Sunday night in 2006, covering the audience in banging techno beats and a bottle of champagne. Since then, the live show has been bolstered by the release of last year’s Happy Birthday! and live visuals.
He may be known as Kanye West’s DJ now, but A-Trak was a one-time 15-year-old DMC world champion. He’s also one of the best party DJs on the planet: check out his remix of Kanye’s ‘Stronger’ for a taste.
Wesley Pentz is responsible for so much in the last few years, including helping to bring MIA and Santogold into public consciousness. He’s renowned for shining a spotlight on global music subcultures from Brazil’s baile funk to Baltimore’s club bass.
Where the anonymous Burial aimed for head-grazing atmospheric dubstep, Benga’s take on the genre is ﬁrmly rooted in the electrosonic camp. London born with Nigerian parentage, Benga combines menacing spectral synth lines, characteristic deep bass frequencies with ﬂourishes of soul and jazz samples.
Belfast’s ﬁnest soundtrack supplier returns with a new album and a fresh sound. We’re curious as to how this one goes down. See page 48 for an interview with the man known as Holmer. wilco by chris strong
This beat is... This beat is... This beat is... Bodytonic.
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