NOVEM BER 2008
That's right, State is now
€ free / £ free / $ free / dkr free / ¥ free
free! music is my radar:
scarlett johansson I RELAN D’S MUSIC PAYLOAD
Why the Nashville sons hate their ﬁrst two albums but love stadiums The Blizzards Messiah J & The Expert The Roots Oasis
Living On Borrowed Time? circuit breakers:
fight like apes
Juana Molina V.V. Brown Beijing and the best reviews in
albums, downloads, games & dvds 1
The Virgin Prunes Lisa Hannigan Brendan Canning
issue 07 might well contain...
Bid hello to Talulah Does The Hula and Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head; Juana Molina talks turkey, well, vegetarian cooking actually; Johnnie Craig’s brush with the far right; Phil Udell’s funk-metal roots; and a postcard from Beijing. That’s enough to be getting along with.
music is my radar
holidays by mistake
the streets messiah j and the expert Ahead of the release of their stellar third album, the duo talk clichés, culture and politics.
the virgin prunes Innovative visionaries, art punks or ‘80s antichrists: Gavin Friday spills the beans on Ireland’s most incendiary band ever.
The great, the good and the just plain awful from the worlds of music, DVD and games: will Lisa Hannigan’s debut live up to its promise? Can Mogwai roll back the years? Cracking debuts from Rarely Seen Above Ground and One Day International, while Mercury Rev and Fujiya and Miyagi turn in career best performances. The last word on I’m Not There and The Wire, plus Microsoft take on Sony at their own game.
new irish music photography
Mike Skinner reveals just what makes him tick, and why he’ll never turn into Girls Aloud.
Queen of Lyon: France’s second city thinks State is pregnant (ok, we’re late but it’s nothing to worry about).
Every image from the State-curated photographic exhibition at this year’s Hard Working Class Heroes Festival.
Clicking the light fantastic.
fight like apes
Questlove provides a different perspective on hip-hop, hype and why Obama is “the first ray of light and hope in any American figure since the ‘60s”.
Niall Byrne talks past, present and future with the organisers of the forthcoming Dublin Electronic Arts Festival, taking place in the capital from October 23-26.
The clan Followill’s new album, Only By The Night, sees the quartet unashamedly coveting U2’s stadium rock crown. Niall Byrne hears their confessions on why they don’t like their first two albums any more.
State’s Phil Udell spent much of the summer with Fight Like Apes and lived to tell the tale. From London’s Somerset House to a storming special guest slot at Hard Working Class Heroes, he reports from the frontline on a band about to go supernova.
Bona fide Hollywood A-lister Scarlett Johansson shares her thoughts on Tom Waits, Styx and reveals how she almost starred in a remake of The Sound Of Music.
kings of leon
the blizzards Niall Breslin, The Blizzards’ frontman on pop versus indie, fitting in and having to “cop the fuck on”.
brendan canning The Broken Social Scene stalwart finds his voice, stars in a documentary and salutes Ireland’s plastic bag tax.
Restaurant rage, State style.
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 (email@example.com) 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, Warren Jones, 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, Miles Stewart, Kate Rothwell, Hilary A. White, Darragh McCausland, Aoife McDonnell, Michael Dwyer, Patricia Danaher, Niall Crumlish, Olivia Mai, Aiden Fortune, Alexandra Donald, Jack Higgin, Anna Forbes, Paula Shields. Photographers: Richard Gilligan, Lili Forberg, Marcelo Biglia, Scott ‘n’ Goulden, Zoran Orlic, Liam Sweeney, Loreana Rushe, Feargal Ward Illustrators: BRENB, Nathalie Nysted, Christian Kirkegaard State is published monthly by State Magazine Ltd, 4th Floor, Equity House, 16-17 Upper Ormond Quay, Dublin 7. Tel: (01) 888 0660 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.state.ie 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.
Niall Byrne The ﬁrst song Niall can remember hearing is ‘Solid As A Rock’ by Ashford and Simpson. He currently runs the popular music blog nialler9.com and the State.ie website. He is partial to hummus and other spreadable foods, making visuals and has a healthy distrust for people who say they don’t like music. Rock, paper or scissors? Rock
John Joe Worrall A fan of Elvis and Carlos Valderrama t-shirts since he was knee-high to a radio, John Joe is a State regular, ridiculously busy freelancer and hugely disappointed with Bloc Party’s new album.
~ John Walshe and Phil Udell State Editors Rock, paper or scissors? Scissors
Result: Niall wins!
Hello and welcome to Issue 7 of State Magazine. There’s every chance, of course, that this could be your ﬁrst experience of the magazine and if so, come on in. For six months now, we’ve been doing this sort of thing, offering a mix of the biggest names in music alongside the most exciting new artists from both home and abroad. Having gone down the traditional route of selling the magazine, we came to a decision that we wanted as many people as possible across Ireland to read us, hence here we are in your local café, venue, bar, shop or whatever for free and gratis. We hope you enjoy it. If you’re coming back to us after our short break, we trust that you’ll spend that extra ﬁver wisely. And so onto matters more pressing, the contents of the latest State. Our cover stars Kings Of Leon have been on a steady career trajectory ever since their debut album, but this year has seen them soar. With a new record just with us and their blink-andyou-missed-a-ticket shows in Belfast and Dublin to come, our assistant editor Niall Byrne travelled to London to witness how this band of brothers are coping. Just ﬁne, it would seem. Fight Like Apes are just starting out on that path but they too are experiencing a rapid ascent, from fancied newcomers to seemingly carrying the expectations of a musical nation. State spent time with them over the summer as they prepared for the release of their ﬁne debut album and the probable change of life that would follow. The Blizzards have done the ﬁrst hit record and lived to tell the tale. John Joe Worrall reports back from the Meath frontline on a band attempting to grow up in public. The Virgin Prunes faced their own problems as a young band, but they often involved just staying in one piece. Gavin Friday joins us to look back on a career that took then to the extremes of music, art and public decency. Elsewhere amongst these pages you will ﬁnd Messiah J & The Expert on what makes them angry, Mike Skinner of The Streets on what makes him happy and the Roots on what makes them tick. We look forward to the DEAF festival and back at the State sponsored Hard Working Class Heroes photography exhibition. Our new names for you to consider include Talulah Does The Hula (don’t ask), V.V. Brown and Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head (again...). Plus the verdict on the new Oasis album, Brendan Canning, the music of Beijing, Scarlett Johansson and, as they always say, much, much more. Read, digest, enjoy: see you next month.
The next episode is a remix of a remix. The Nokia N95 8GB gives you a back stage pass to as much music as you can handle. 8GB of memory means that the extended mix is no problem and the advanced sound quality makes everywhere you are feel like a sound system. And with a high resolution, bigger screen you donâ€™t have to watch from the cheap seats. If you feel like an intermission, intuitive control of your entertainment means flipping from music to gaming to video is as easy as 5,6,7,8. Time to choose your DJ name. Play music. Play movies. Play games. The next episode in entertainment is about to begin.
For more information please see www.nokia.ie
ÂŠ 2007 Nokia. 3
Ease Yourself In
they might be giants:
Talulah Does The Hula
It was with great sadness that we reported on the untimely demise of The Chalets in the very ﬁrst issue of State. Since then, precious little has been seen of the various members, not least vocalists Pee Pee and Pony. However, Talulah Does The Hula (perhaps the only band ever to be named after a New Zealand court case) does feature two very familiar characters by the names of Cash Bingo and Ceeva Las Vegas. Together with cohorts Jessie
50 words on…
Loveaction, Lauren Lizzy and Mike, they combine a love of The Shangri La’s, The Ramones and Carmen Miranda. Unique ain’t the word. Listen: ‘Order’ Click: http://www.myspace.com/talulahdoesthehula See: Andrew’s Lane, Dublin, October 18 (with Messiah J); Whelans, Dublin, October 31.
come in your time’s up: forgettable fire
Simian Mobile Disco get Fitted Up The worlds of rock ‘n’ roll and light exercise used to be mutually exclusive but not any more. SMD are the latest act to contribute to Nike’s Original Run series, putting together a 30-minute original workout mix. If you see State looking purple and breathless, you’ll know we downloaded it.
Dre should have kept his trap shut from the word go. Hip-hop’s most venerated producer told MTV News waaaaaaaay back in 2002 (when Eminem was popular – yes, that long ago) that he was soon to release his third and ﬁnal album entitled Detox and it would be a hip-hop musical, thereby predating R Kelly’s hip-hopera by a good three years. Work on Detox got waylaid by his production work for the likes of 50 Cent and The Game. The album had a number of release dates which duly passed, ﬁrst in 2005, and is now slated for this year. “I’m just now, over the last couple of months, starting to feel that it’s going to be right and it’s something I can be proud of, and everybody is going to love it,” Dre told USA Today earlier this year. “In a perfect world, I’m shooting for a November or December release.” Ever the entrepreneur, the now
buffed-up Dre is looking to accompany the album release with the release of a drink called ‘Aftermath Cognac’ as part of an integrated marketing plan around the album. We still haven’t forgotten about Dre yet, but we’re getting there, if he doesn’t hurry up.
tdth by feargal ward
Incoming hilary a. white
Girls Juana Have Fun “I’m good at mixing vegetables with fruits and cereal. Many different separate ﬂavours, but then you put them together and you choose. I’m not very much into this over-elaborated cuisine.” Juana Molina is discussing her culinary skills, but she might as well be telling State her artistic manifesto. La dama from Buenos Aires is gradually shedding her reputation as a Latin TV sketch-show comic, and is now revealing a musical skin that is getting critics in a lather. Her ﬁfth album Un Día is yet another intriguing collection of multilayered sounds and earthy acoustic delicacy. It looks set to free her from the ‘world music’ pigeonhole she’s usually squashed into and place her, rightfully, among the Bjorks and Joanna Newsoms of this world. She’s anxious to explain the role of lyrics in her craft, and in doing so, gives some insight into the lengthy writing process. “I ﬁt all these musical rhythm moments with words that really make sense to me,” she notes. “Not silly, but not too serious either. That’s why it takes so
long after I ﬁnish the songs.” Is Spanish a particularly musical language to use then? “Sometimes,” she muses. “It can be unmusical as well. If you need to add another syllable in English, you can add a word: that’s more difﬁcult to do with Spanish. I grew up listening to
If you hate this, don’t listen to: Cleopatra,
songs in English so in a way it’s strange for me, but I have no choice.” Listening to Juana speak is fascinating. Not being a native English speaker, she tends not to dress up her descriptions, instead relying on a sincere and pleasantly straight-forward discourse. “I listened to no other music during the making of this record. I don’t know if it’s because I listened to so much music when I was young, but I feel like all my nutritional needs are already ﬁlled with musical information,” she informs us. She is due for a highly anticipated return to Europe, but is adamant to keep the ﬂying to a minimum: “That wears you out. You’ve gained 15 years when you get home. I like my roots in the soil wherever I am.” After one of the standout Electric Picnic sets this year, is she looking forward to seeing us again? “I think the show I had at the Crawdaddy last year was one of the best shows I ever had. Really fun. I got in a very good mood.” So what’s next? “When I ﬁnish a record, I always think maybe this is the last one, but then I can’t help it and I make another. Maybe I might do something else.” Like what, State wonders? “Grow potatoes!”
Juana Molina plays Crawdaddy, Dublin, on
100 albums to avoid before you die No. 7 Spice Girls: Forever (vertigo)
By the time The Spice Girls came to release their third album, it seemed as if they were bullet proof. Geri Halliwell may have departed but the classy ‘Goodbye’ had notched up their third Christmas number one and there
seemed to be no sign of their career heading anywhere but up. Oops. Perhaps with their heads turned by US success, the girls adopted an ill-advised R’n’B direction, with producers...take a deep breath... Richard Stannard, Matt Rowe, Darkchild, Fred Jerkins III, Harvey Mason Jr., Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis at the helm. It stunk up the place and duly bombed. No further singles saw the light of day after the tepid ‘Holler’ and soon the remaining four Spices announced that ‘forever’ in fact meant ‘see you later’. Solo careers beckoned, and we all know how well that went. Don’t download: ‘Right Back At Ya’
October 9. Un Día is out on October 3.
Incoming they might be giants:
V.V. Brown At a time when previously feisty British artists (Sway, Estelle) seem only too willing to churn out identikit US R‘n’B, thank heavens for Londoner V.V. Brown. Having held her own on a live Jools Holland debut, alongside Kings Of Leon and Metallica, Brown – who boasts Sugababes writing credits on her CV – is starting to look like an unstoppable force of nature. The indie dowop movement starts here: remember where you heard it ﬁrst. Listen: ‘Crying Blood’ Click: www.vvbrown.com
my roots are showing: phil udell
Faith No More
perfect. Funk metal was the order of the day, spearheaded by Red Hot Chili Peppers and, while FNM were an altogether darker concern, they rode the wave. The hit singles started to rack up, as did the TV appearances. I saw them twice on that ‘Real Thing’ tour – once at the Astoria in
London when the crowd barriers broke and then at Reading Festival, where I set ﬁre to myself with a ﬂare afterwards. Good times. Next album Angel Dust was just as popular but personally, the singles aside, I wasn’t buying it. I mean, I did buy it it but found it too self-indulgent for my tastes. Patton was starting to gain control of the group from founder member Jim Martin and the cracks were beginning to show. Martin would jump soon after and that, in reality, was it. Diminishing returns, more inﬁghting and then, in 1998, they called it quits, leaving us two and a half great albums to remember them by. Was it fun while it lasted? Not all of the time. Do I miss them? More than you’ll ever know.
50 words on…
Johnny Cash Remixed It was probably inevitable but news of the forthcoming Cash remix album is still worrying. Thankfully, the Rubin revival period has been avoided but the thought of ‘I Walk The Line’ featuring Snoop Dogg is horriﬁc. The fact that his son has overseen the project only adds to the misery.
vv by alex lake
It was a t-shirt and a 7” single that did it. The t-shirt belonged to James Hetﬁeld, who seemed to wear it in every possible late ‘80s photo shoot. That endorsement was enough for me and I picked up the ‘We Care A Lot’ single, replete with that distinctive logo. The music contained inside the sleeve was equally striking. By this stage, I had got used to bands dragging me out of my metal obsessed youth into new and interesting areas but this, this was something new altogether. A deﬁantly atonal singer rapping in an equally roughshod manner, loud guitars mixing with funk basslines and lyrics that dealt with everything from war and disease to Rock Hudson and Transformers. Bon Jovi it wasn’t. As would ever be the case in this particular band’s career, they managed to implode just as they were starting to attract attention. Singer Chuck Mosley (himself only the latest in a long line of vocalists, including Courtney Love) was given his cards and the band ploughed on recording their second album while they searched for a replacement. They would ﬁnd him in the shape of Mike Patton, singer with the largely awful Mr Bungle, who dropped out of college and wrote a complete set of album lyrics in two weeks. The timing couldn’t have been more
Incoming my favourite worst nightmare: johnnie craig
In retrospect, it had all the makings of catastrophe about it. London ska-pop legends Madness had reformed for a “one off” weekend reunion in North London, and elected to turn it into something of a ‘Best of British’ showcase. On the bill were newcomers Gallon Drunk and Flowered Up, followed by Ian Dury and Morrissey. 75,000 fans ﬂocked to Finsbury Park on August 8, 1992, for fun and frolics - what could possibly go wrong? Well, putting Morrissey on the bill, apparently. In some ways, it was only natural that Madness should ask him to take part: their producers, Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, had helmed several Morrissey singles and his 1991 album Kill Uncle (Madness’ Bedders played bass on the record), while Suggs himself had provided guest vocals on Moz’s 1990 single ‘Piccadilly Palare’. Moreover, Morrissey had enthused at length about the essential ‘Englishness’ of both acts, making many (this writer included) believe that Madstock was going to be a quaint garden party. It turned out to be anything but. Morrissey’s 1992 album Your Arsenal had been somewhat of a watershed in his solo renaissance; with his new songwriting partners Alain Whyte and Boz Boorer coming from a rockabilly background, he was quiffed up and rocking out like never before. One particular track had, however, got up the noses of NME, ‘The National Front Disco’, which appeared to empathise with a young Englishman who felt his country was no longer his. This came in the wake of previously controversial songs of racially-tinged urban alienation, ‘Bengali In Platforms’ and ‘Asian Rut’. Come Madstock, this combined explosively with Madness’ long-ignored, dark secret: the presence of a far-right skinhead element in their audience. Morrissey fans are, by nature and reputation, a peaceable breed – and even more so when they’re being antagonised. I have to confess my utter naïveté in this regard; if I’d had Trinny and Susannah to hand to ask what not to wear to Madstock, they’d probably have frowned upon my choice of a bright red polka-dot shirt, worn open over a t-shirt bearing the somewhat homoerotic sleeve image from Your Arsenal. Of course, I was only through the Park gates for a few moments when a lager-swilling huddle of bovver-booted neo-Nazis spotted my quiff and garb and blew poisoned kisses in my direction, tweeting, “ooh, Morrissey, Morrissey!” Still, the ﬁrst three acts passed through peacefully from my position at the back. Then, as a swell of scattered quiffs converged into a sea ﬂowing towards the front, the stage backdrop was revealed: two giant, Fred Perry-adorned skinhead girls. Automatic seething ensued from the swastika’d necks of bald giants who’d refused to budge from their positions at the stage front; the wailing strains of Klaus Nomi’s ‘Wayward Sisters’ only inﬂamed them further. All of which reached a hate-ﬁlled crescendo as the gold lamé-clad Morrissey and his rockabilly boys took to the stage and launched into a growlingly prophetic ‘You’re Gonna Need Someone On Your Side’. In any mosh-pit, you expect at least a degree of jostling; but try being jostled into the back of one of these human Rottweilers for a stomach-churning, never-to-be-forgotten experience. The
grimace, the ﬁsts like a tiger’s dinner, the threatening eyes, the sudden reminder of a young Paul Weller’s experience down in the tube station at midnight: they all ﬂash before your eyes in an instant. I allowed the jostlers to carry me elsewhere, while hateﬁlled missiles (oranges and plastic bottles) rained onstage. Meanwhile, Morrissey, a Liberace shirt slung over his skinny frame, is waving these fascist-spawned monsters’ Union Jack at them while relating the experience of Davey, the young man who went to the ‘National Front Disco’; if ever there was a sudden irony failure at NME, who’d slated Morrissey’s solo work for not ‘treading on the taboos of old’, it was right here. Only a couple of years later, they would laud Britpop and the reclaiming of the British ﬂag, yet here, it was Morrissey, and not this foul minority in Madness’ audience, who they cast as the racist. Morrissey ﬁnished his otherwise triumphant set early and failed to show for day two; Suggs never mentioned, nor was he ever quizzed upon, his band’s neo-fascist supporters’ behaviour that day. Meanwhile, me and my fellow Moz-heads made our tremulous way to the tube station, well before midnight, in blissful ignorance of just how this story was about to be spun by the popular music press we’d supported for years; so long as we remember exactly what took place that day, the chroniclers and revisionists can simply get on with glossing over the inconvenient truth.
Morrissey, Madstock 1992
Incoming from our foreign correspondent: Matt Yanchyshyn in
Zhang Weiwei – number 1
they might be giants:
The Japanese Popstars
Hailing from Derry, this team of DJs (consisting of Gary Curran, Decky Hedrock and Gareth Donoghue) are the best dance DJs this island has to offer right now. Their tour schedule is already heaving with dates booked up until February 2009, including shows in the UK, Ibiza, Australia, Japan and Spain. Their sound is akin to the biggest names in dance at the moment like Simian Mobile Disco, Justice and Digitalism and they share the same epic beat histrionics as stadium dance pioneers like Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk and Underworld, as the reaction to their Oxegen set showed this summer. This is the sound of open-air festivals next year. Grab their debut albumWe Just Are now to ﬁnd out why. Listen: ‘Sample Whore’ Click: http://www.myspace.com/thejapanesepopstars
ww by rasmus wallin
If you were to read articles about Beijing’s music scene in the major western dailies prior to visiting, as I did, you’d think that this city was all about classical music. Sure, I’d heard some rumours about a budding rock sound but it seemed from the outside like your typical imitation scene, where groups try their hardest to sound like Radiohead or Foo Fighters. It only takes a few days with visits to local venues like Mao Live, D-22, 2 Kolegas, Yugong Yishan, 13 Club and Jiangjinjiu to expose a different reality. This city has scores of small but vibrant and original music scenes, with fans who seemingly couldn’t care less about classical, or the rest of the world. Many of the best bands playing contemporary rock, folk, electro and other styles in Beijing don’t seem too interested in appealing to the European or American market, but rather do their thing for packed houses of local Beijinger fans. Many of them sing only in Chinese and the few label owners I’ve met here are mostly keen to develop a local sound with a local fan base, ﬁrst and foremost. What makes this exciting is that this kind of atmosphere – music rooted in a local following, sung in the local language – is what moves a scene and its sound in new and unique directions. It’s also something that will insulate it from your average passer-by, maybe in a good way. Once you’re in Beijing, a few reads of local listings mags like City Weekend or The Beijinger will quickly turn you on to the more hyped bands like Subs, Re-tros and Lonely China Day. Dig a little deeper and you might stumble across the wonderful alt-folk scene that fuses Chinese, Mongolian and other minority traditional music with modern sounds. Groups like Zhang Weiwei, IZ, Hanggai and many others are producing a fusion of regional sounds that have little to do with what I’ve heard elsewhere. But this isn’t “world music” as we’ve come to understand it: these are Chinese contemporary sounds for a
Chinese audience. Music piracy is rampant here, making it difﬁcult if not impossible to sell many records. This is maybe what’s scaring off the majors. It also means that many local label owners are producing music out of a genuine love for the sounds and for the local market: the few I’ve met all have day jobs. Admittedly a number of Chinese bands have started to breakout of the Chinese scene. Wang Wen, a popular post-rock group who could be compared to Mogwai, are on tour in Europe at the moment. Post-punk groups Re-tros and Lonely China Day, who both kind of remind me of a revamped, Chinese Joy Division, got good reviews when they played at the SXSW festival last year. But that doesn’t seem to be the end goal of any musician or label I’ve encountered here. If you want to hear the future of Chinese youth music culture, you have to come here to ﬁnd it yourself. Concert goers won’t stare at you and wonder why you’re at their shows, either: they know that they have a good thing already, and if non-Chinese are into it as well, that’s all good with them.
Incoming average white female: not awful, just ordinary
It may seem somewhat hyperbolic to state that Madonna is solely responsible for the current drastic state of the music industry but we are nothing if not prone to exaggeration. Before Madonna, there existed a music industry ﬁlled with artists who wrote their own material, for whom the concept of “image” was condensed into a hurried ﬁve-minute conversation over a spliff in the back of a tour bus, who got into music precisely because they hated working 18-hour days and dealing with corporate suits. Then along came Madonna. She’s that KitKat ad come to life: she can’t sing, she can’t dance, she looks awful, she’ll go a long way. In fact that KitKat ad would never have aired if Madonna hadn’t been the prime inspiration at the time. She blatantly cannot sing, as evinced by her endless attempts at same, warbling her way incompetently through three chord pop tunes with the expression of a woman who is trying to perform open heart surgery, whilst simultaneously receiving a high colonic. She couldn’t carry a tune if it had handles, and when you think of Madonna singing live, the words “passion” and “heartfelt” are probably the last that come to mind. She is an average dancer, hooﬁng it around the stage with the grace of a bodybuilder. And as for beauty? She increasingly looks like Iggy Pop’s older, more strung-out sister, and we have yet to meet a man who names her as one of his top ﬁve all-time celebrity crushes. So how has she sustained a career that spans three decades? It seems that she has managed it because she is a saleswoman who just won’t take no for an answer. Apparently this is something that we are now rewarding in the music business. We laud Madonna and endow her with iconic status, purely for surviving in the music business and still releasing albums. Come on, does this not make her the musical virus of our time? And if her creative kiss of death weren’t hard enough to bear when applied to music, let’s not forget Shanghai Surprise or Swept Away. Enough is enough. Put the lycra-encased sweaty crotch away, stop bothering cash-poor credible music producers, and leave us all the fuck alone. The musical landscape would be a better place without Madonna. Case closed.
alexandra donald 11
Incoming they might be giants:
Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head What a day it was when Natalie Portman turned up to the premiere of Revenge Of The Sith in 2005 with a newly-shorn head! Had she been listening to too much Sinéad O’Connor? As it turns out, the slaphead look was for the ﬁlm V For Vendetta. She still managed to predate and maybe even inspire Britney’s new look by a whole two years and without being batshit crazy to boot. Clearly inspired themselves, this ﬁve-piece took the name from that tabloid brouhaha for their synth-pop band. After their ﬁrst gig in Seattle garnered attention in three major local publications, they set their sights even further. Still only teenagers, their enthusiastic live shows continue to raise the roof in the US, with thrusting, fun performances. Their debut album Glistening Pleasure dropped in July in the US and contains future hits ‘Me + YR Daughter’ and ‘Iceage Babeland’ and the best adolescent song about facial hair ever, ‘Beard Lust’ . With CSS jadedly exploring their rock roots, the time is ripe for these new takers to the electro-pop crown. Listen: ‘Beard Lust’ Click: http://www.myspace.com/ natalieportmansshavedhead
bring your daughter to the slaughter: great heavy metal lyrics of our time
50 words on…
No. 3: Manowar “Manowar Manowar living on the road, When we’re in town speakers explode, We don’t attract wimps cause we’re too loud, Just true metal people that’s Manowar’s crowd.” ‘Kings Of Metal’ “A dark march lies ahead, Together we will ride like thunder from the sky, May your sword stay wet like a young girl in her pride, Hold your hammers high.” ‘Hail & Kill’ “The gods made heavy metal and they saw that it was good, They said to play it louder than hell, We promised that we would, When losers say it’s over with you know that it’s a lie, The gods made heavy metal and it’s never gonna die.” ‘The Gods Made Heavy Metal’
Avril Lavigne nets $$$s from Youtube With 97 million views on Youtube, Lavigne’s video for ‘Girlfriend’ has netted her a cool $2 million from ad revenue. Avril’s triumph was largely and inexplicably aided by Avril fans who ﬁgured she needed extra cash, via a Youtube video refreshing tool ‘Hey! Hey! You! You! No Way! No Way!’
Incoming dan hegarty
Does This Count As Hype?
Super Extra Bonus Party Launch Party Andrew’s Lane Theatre, Dublin, October 10 To launch their free digital download album Appetite For Reconstruction, Choice Music Prize winners Super Extra Bonus Party host a gig in Andrew’s Lane Theatre from 8 ‘til late on the same night. It will be jammed with DJ sets from !Kaboogie and T-Woc and live performances from The Vinny Club, RSAG, Ikeaboy and Capirinha Sound, and of course, the Super Extra Bonus Party lads themselves. DragonForce Ambassador Theatre, Dublin, October 12 Savoy, Cork, October 13 Following their extensive UK tour, powermetal outﬁt Dragon Force bring their sound to Ireland. Even if you’re not a metal fan, this is still show worth checking out for the sheer fret-wankery on display. Be prepared for twin guitar solos, double kick drumming and electronic sound effects - all at a mind numbing speed.
It never ceases to amaze me how we build things up, only to smash them to the ground. This happens with all sorts of things: celebrities, ﬁlms, TV shows, and of course music. That’s not to say that it’s always a bad thing when you consider that you can get famous these days for having big knockers (there’s a retro term!) or shagging some z-list celebrity. I’ve never been someone that gets too embroiled in hype: on the contrary I’ve almost felt pity for new bands getting lauded over by music’s tastemakers. At times, you can nearly see the backlash following these accolades and compliments like a shadow. Over the past few years, there has been a substantial concentration of talented acts coming from our wee island. Four of the best of these are Dinky Loop (from Cork), Portadown’s Foamboy, Robotnik from Dublin, and Waterford duo, Ugly Megan. Ugly Megan have put together some of the most brilliantly unorthodox pop tunes I’ve heard in ages. While so many bands conform, Ugly Megan’s second release ‘The Gavin, Megan & Oisin EP’ operates on a different frequency to just about everything else. It’s rare that you can ﬁnd sweetness and sleaze coexisting so happily in songs, but their track ‘One Night In My House’ has it in near perfect measure. Cork collective Dinky Loop share
their tunes with their alter ego Sunday Morning. It’s pretty difﬁcult to give a musical reference point for them, but if you can imagine what the offspring of Joy Division and Stereolab would sound like, then you’ll have a vague idea. In 2004, Sunday Morning put together a single called ‘Avenues Lined With You’, which opens with a quote about Sid Vicious. “Sid Vicious was once asked whether when he made his music, he thought about the man on the street, and Sid answered, ‘no, I’ve met the man on the street and he’s a...’” - just the kind of thing that will get my attention! Dinky/Sunday have released singles with alarming regularity since 2004 (initially through their www.lastserenade. com, but more recently through www. myspace.com/dinkyloop) - most brilliant, others averaging at being just very good. Robotnik’s (AKA Chris Morrin – pictured) debut album Pleasant Square has been one of my highlights of 2008. While he might look like a villain from the old Inspector Gadget cartoons, the bloke has talent oozing from every oriﬁce. If that doesn’t convince you then perhaps this will: party animal John Walshe (yes, the editor of this publication) was once spotted leaving a party to go to a Robotnik gig - a titanium seal of approval if ever I’ve heard of one! Tune into Dan Hegarty’s Alternative To Sleep on RTE
Skinny Wolves Presents... Various Venues, Dublin Skinny Wolves present a plethora of gigs in various Dublin venues including Lovvers, Bats, Weil Rats, The Creeping Nobodies, Anni Rossi, The Thread Pulls, Mahjongg, Not Squares and Brooklyn’s innovative three piece Telepathe (66% are pictured). They’ll also be releasing the limited vinyl only pressing of Indian Jewelry’s Sangles Redux with a gig on October 18. See www.skinnywolves.com for full listings. Holy Fuck Speakeasy Bar, Belfast, October 19 The Academy, Dublin, October 20 Canadian purveyors of non-electronic produced music which still sounds electronic return after their superb showing earlier in the year. Imagine, Waterford Arts Festival October 24-November 2 The festival boasts an eclectic mix of music, ﬁlm, theatre, comedy, literature, dance and visual arts, with plenty of workshops and storytelling to keep the kiddies happy. The music line up includes Dark Room Notes, Nina Hynes, acclaimed Jazz musician Martin Taylor and former member of Dae-Kim, Katie Kim.
2fm (90 - 92fm), weeknights from midnight to 2am.
Music is my Radar
From Tom Waits to Styx, and a not-so-secret love of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Hollywood’s leading lady on the sounds that rock her world. As told to Patricia Danaher
Music is so personal. It’s how we all connect: it’s the way we relate to one another. I think a lot of times through music. You know, we’ve listened to songs that make us feel melancholic or joyful, all of these different emotions, and that’s how we empathise, sympathise with the lyricist and the vocalist and the musicians. It’s such a wonderful and vital form of expression, you know, for the ages. I would love to continue to do music in the future: I think the possibilities with it are endless. The album, Anywhere I Lay My Head came out a couple of months ago and it was a total passion project for me. It was a labour of love and it was a creative collaboration. It was inspired and it was incredibly fulﬁlling. It really was. I love to sing and I love music and I love Tom Waits, of course, and to be able to re-imagine those songs, it was almost as if you were reimagining Alice In Wonderland or something, like an old tale that you kind of re-spin in your head. It was a lot of fun and it’s been kinda crazy to have it out and for people to listen to. It’s funny, something that feels so intimate and then, it’s like, released. I’ve never really had that before, so it’s been exciting. I am lucky enough to have a lot of friends that are so talented at song writing and I would love to be able to collaborate with them and in the future, I hope to. I’d love to work with David Sitek again, who produced the record: we’ve become good friends. He’s like a magician, a wizard. You know, he’s so talented and we wrote an original track together, which is on the album as well. I would love to pursue that again in the future, it would be a lot of fun.
Musicians I admire are in the same vein as Tom Waits. I love Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen and Chet Baker: I even love Nine Inch Nails. If I could be in any band in the world, I’d be in Styx.
I would love to ﬁnd a new musical to do, but it’s hard because a lot of musicals are not contemporary and it’s hard to make them contemporary. Obviously, they did a wonderful job with Chicago. It’s not the same as Oklahoma, which is kind of idealistic. It would be exciting to ﬁnd a new musical to do. I love Andrew Lloyd Webber. I could sing the whole score of Sunset Boulevard for you, right here. I would do a musical for free if it were the right one. I was in talks to do a remake of The Sound of Music, but I realised if I was going to do a musical, I wanted it to be one I was incredibly passionate about. You get just one shot to debut, so you’re very vulnerable. It’s wonderful and it’s exciting and obviously it’s a lot of work and in the end, it was simply that this was not the right musical for me. It was purely a creative decision. Scarlett Johanssen will appear in Woody Allen’s forthcoming ‘Vicky Christina Barcelona’ which our Art Director has seen and says that it’s brilliant and that she kisses Penelope Cruz in it.
RHESUS POSITIVE Fight Like Apes.
~ PHIL UDELL RICHARD GILLIGAN
Words by Photography by
the dublin private members club that state ďŹ nds itself in on a typical, grey irish summer day is used to turning a blind eye to the more eccentric behaviour of its clients. the four next 16
…at Oxegen, Friday, July 11
youngsters sat here today aren’t exactly wrecking the joint but, in their distinctly downbeat dress, they do stick out a tad. And it would appear that the young lady amongst them is wearing mud-caked boots. To Mary Kate Geraghty, however, that is not just any old mud. It’s Glastonbury mud and a reminder that, just a few days before we meet, she and Fight Like Apes had been experiencing one of the weekends of their lives. There’s a lot of that happening to Fight Like Apes at the moment. Having spent their ﬁrst year in the public eye developing at insane pace, they have taken themselves out of circulation somewhat: ﬁrstly to Seattle to record a debut album; secondly, by playing anywhere that would have them. Now back home for an increasingly rare breather, does this feel like a surreal calm before the approaching storm? “It’s becoming more and more overwhelming,” says Jamie (aka synth boy Pockets). “When it was just Ireland, it was OK: I know what Mullingar looks like, I’ve been to Galway a few times and know where to get a good batter burger, but when you go to towns you’ve never heard of and there are people there to see you, and some of them are singing the words, it’s a bit weird really. How do these people even know we exist? We’re just four eejits from Ireland.” Mary laughs: “My mum asked me what’s it’s been like and I said it was like the ﬁrst time I went on a giant teacup ride. It’s been the most exciting time we’ve had as a band, coinciding with the most nerve-wracking time too. People are getting a bit more opinionated but that’s what we want.” Does she feel the pressure of the situation? “I think we’re very lucky because none of us put any pressure on ourselves,” she avows. “You have to realise that there are certain things you have control over and after that, well... We’re delighted with the album, we’ve done the best that we can do. If people hate us, we can’t complain: I hate lots of bands. If you don’t love what you do then you’re in trouble. You have to learn to rely on yourselves. We had to up our game but the way we work together has never changed.” “The pressure has never been a negative thing”, says drummer Adrian,” it’s inspired us to keep moving forward. It’s exhilarating.”
If we were to take a look in the teenage Apes’ record collections (and, at an average age of 23, we’re not going that far back), would we get a sense of the band they became? “No,” Mary Kate insists. “Well, yes in some sense maybe. In my video collection, there would be. I loved those Now... albums but I never got that fever, that obsession with music. I reckon I’d have a hugely embarrassing CD collection but I’m not going to tell you any more.” So pop played a part? “I’ve always been pop, always,” she admits. “I never really opened my ears to the heavier, more extreme stuff. We’ve all got such vastly different musical tastes but our common ground lies in pop.” While Adrian loved his metal and bassist Tom his US punk, Jamie had his own crosses to bear. “I was a big fan of Technotronic, Kriss Kross, maybe a bit of Snap. All the hip bands. I had terrible taste in music: then the grunge thing came along. I remember the ﬁrst time I saw Henry Rollins on Beavis And Butthead and I went, ‘what is this?’ This is so much better than Haddaway. It spiralled me into a world of punk and grunge.”
Fight Like Apes
Part of their musical development was the ‘Brave New Bands’ game, as Mary Kate explains. “One of us would go and buy nine CDs, maximum of a euro each, and do three rounds of three songs. No-one was allowed to know the name of the song, the band, anything. There was no quality control, you just picked them up at random. That’s where the shoegazy stuff, the Heavenly stuff came from.”
Odd as it may sound now, those unlikely inﬂuences did manifest themselves in the earliest incarnation of the band, or at least in Mary Kate’s vocals. “I tried out the whole wailing, hair blowing, ethereal singing thing. I wasn’t too shit at it but it never really worked. When we started, I was singing like that over what the band is still playing now. They had to make me angry. We knew there was something missing and I thought, ‘shit, they’re going to have to get someone else’.” “We knew what she could do”, says Adrian,” what noise she was capable of making, so we kept pushing her. Then one day she just blew us all away. We played ‘Jake Summers’ and went, ‘Jesus’.” Mary remembers the moment well: “Jamie said, ‘Mary, it’s all very well, we get that you’re nervous blah blah blah but this song is not sweet and nice, it’s really fucking angry’. I thought, ‘Stop telling me what to do, I’m singing like this and that’s the end of it’. I went outside for a big dirty cigarette, came back in and went, ‘right, I’m going to do this now and if you don’t like it you can all just fuck off’. They liked it. After the song, Adrian was going, ‘Jesus, simmer down’. I’d like to think it unlocked something in the band. As much it sounds like a cliché, it felt right. It sounded right. We didn’t know exactly what we wanted to sound like but we knew we were left of the mark. There’s a lot to be said for a really sweet song over heavy music but it just wouldn’t work for us. Take a song like ‘Digifucker’,” she starts singing in a quiet voice, then laughs. “That just sounds really creepy. I felt instantly more comfortable.” And so Mary Kate became May Kay and Fight Like Apes were properly born, ready to annoy the hell out of people. “This was more an experiment in trying to make people leave venues, which worked really well”, admits Jamie. “None of us could play guitar so we just put everything through a distortion pedal. People would generally just run. We’re an extremely Marmite band. We never expected to be as liked as we are: we expected pure hatred from the start.” “Right from the beginning”, says Mary Kate, “we knew how obnoxious and how opinion dividing this band would be. We never wanted to impress anybody apart from ourselves.” However, they did start to impress people, not least FIFA Records, the label run by the Frank & Walters’ Ashley Keating, who liked the band’s demos so much that he released them as their debut EP. “That was the ﬁrst milestone for the band,” enthuses Mary Kate, “to have a real record label that wanted to release our songs. And to be connected to someone who had been in the Frank & Walters was incredible. Ashley was amazing: he’s a real music fan with no bullshit.” The band were to stay with FIFA for a second EP before moving on to Model Citizen for their debut album. Inevitably, there were those looking for a hint of scandal in the comings and goings. According to Mary, they won’t ﬁnd it. “It sounds like I’m
Fight Like Apes
Fight Like Apes
“I understand how bands get so comfortable with the cosy future they have at home, the nice crowds. Then you go to the UK, you go to London and you either play to noone or a crowd just staring at you. God, you’d love it if someone even just tapped their foot.” ~
being political, but we really did just move on. We told them that Model Citizen were interested in us and they said, ‘go for it’. The deal was only ever for two EPs. I’m sure we could have done more but it was all very natural. We still talk to Ashley and Colleen: they’re always there for us.”
As the summer of 2007 slid into autumn, the band were on the crest of a wave. Audiences were getting bigger, the media response more ecstatic and a forthcoming Electric Picnic slot promised much. Suddenly, though, the band who could do no wrong managed to blow it. Looking back now on a fairly disastrous performance, Adrian and Mary Kate are quite sanguine. “The Electric Picnic was a good lesson”, Mary Kate notes. “I wish it hadn’t happened but I’m glad it did. I needed to learn my boundaries as a singer. I can’t go to a festival for two days and have fun and then play on the third. The sound was bad, Tom wasn’t able to play [having broken his ﬁnger in a bout of horseplay], the circumstances were difﬁcult but to be fair, I just couldn’t sing. It was just inexperience, I was like a woman possessed for two days, no excuses. At the time, if someone had said that I shouldn’t have gone till the day of our show I’d have thought they were mad. Now there’d be no question about it. I don’t see it as a sacriﬁce. I’d have a much better time playing half an hour to a crowd like that than three days of partying.” In the grand scheme of things, this was just one show by one band, but the effect and disappointment that the four felt is still evident a year later. They recovered, of course, not least with an impressive Hard Working Class Heroes slot and an end of year Whelan’s show that saw them up for a gong at the Meteors. But Ireland has only ever been a part of what Fight Like Apes have done, what they have wanted to achieve. For them, the main prize has been nestling on the other side of the Irish Sea. Unlike the majority of Irish bands in recent years, the Apes have given the UK live circuit a serious pounding. For Mary, it was a much a question of getting out of their comfort zone as any sort of grand plan: “I understand how bands get so comfortable with the cosy future they have at home, the nice crowds. Then you go to the UK, you go to London and you either play to no-one or a crowd just staring at you. God, you’d love it if someone even just tapped their foot.” Jamie sees it almost as a rite of passage. “There’s only so many places you can play before you get very bored. You’re always told to build your home following ﬁrst but if you do that without
having to spend the night in an airport or scrounge the cash to get a bus while carrying your gear, playing to 500 people at home really won’t prepare you for that when you have to do it. You’ll just want to go back to the comforts of home. We’ve always been prepared to sleep in Stansted to catch the one penny ﬂight in the morning: it’s been embedded in us that if you can get comfortable in the UK, then you’re really comfortable.” Yet the more they (didn’t really) ignored us, the closer we got. Come the turn of the year and the annual scramble for new bands to champion, Fight Like Apes seemed to be everywhere – regardless of whether the band were talking to a magazine or not. Unavoidably, much of the attention would focus on the band’s singer. “I totally understand that and the band do too,” Mary Kate says. “If someone wants to go and put me in a magazine or in an article, there’s nothing I can do about it but people are going to get sick of the sight of you. We were lucky that we had very good guidance. I got on a bus into town and opened two papers and we were in both of them. My mum was delighted but I was like, ‘oh no’. That wouldn’t make people want us anymore.” Jamie agrees: “We all kind of felt it. People seem to blame bands for the hype: it’s everybody else’s fault really. The very people who complain about the hype are the ones who were doing it in the ﬁrst place. I ﬁnd that very amusing.” Perhaps fortuitously, the opportunity presented itself for a little time away. After a search for a suitable producer, they settled upon John Goodmanson (Sleater-Kinney, Los Campesinos!, Wu Tang Clan, amongst others). His studio happened to be in Seattle and so, for 28 days this spring, Fight Like Apes were out of here. Decamped to a rented apartment (where they ‘bonded’ with their strange neighbour Matt, a man who liked to glue live mice to car mudﬂaps), they set about recording Fight Like Apes And The Mystery Of The Gold Medallion. Goodmanson had said two things to convince them he was the right man for the job – “I have 150 distortion pedals” and “I make records sound good by default.” As with many bands before them, they faced the question of how to approach their old songs. For Jamie, the decision was easy. “There was so much more we wanted to do with those songs and we never wanted to be restricted by the fact that we went in, recorded demos and then released them as EPs. There have been bands who I’ve loved who have left tracks off albums and I’ve been thoroughly disappointed. I really didn’t want petty people being disappointed with us because they loved a song and it wasn’t on our album.”
“But we had to re-record them too”, says Tom. “It would have been really cheap to release an album with the original versions on. We recorded 11 songs in two days that ﬁrst time.”
Their hard work in the UK is certainly beginning to pay off, with not only higher proﬁle gigs such as Glastonbury and Reading / Leeds, but also through the radio patronage of huge fan Steve Lamacq and also Jonathan Ross. Sorry, let’s read that again. Jonathan Ross? Jamie grins: “He played us between Bruce Springsteen and Abba. It was a very odd thing to happen. We were getting ready to go on at Glastonbury and someone sent us a text saying it was on. It was quite a moment. The weird thing is that all these things happen together: it would be brilliant if you could have one a day, but you get two weeks where it’s just getting boring and you want to go home, then ﬁve things happen in one day and you won’t be able to register them till you get home and think about it.” A couple of weeks later and State is enjoying a cold beer on a terrace overlooking the Thames, the water twinkling in the golden light of early evening. Somerset House is a far cry from the mud and chaos of Oxegen but in reality, this is the kind of gigging leap that Fight Like Apes make these days. On Sunday, they were playing to a packed tent of converts: here, they will face a crowd of We Are Scientists fans that will include men in suits drinking pear cider. The beauty is you can’t see the join, aside from a more reserved crowd reaction and Jamie not diving head ﬁrst into the audience at the end. To watch Fight Like Apes at work here is to get a measure on
Fight Like Apes
what they are potentially about to achieve. Lamacq, supposedly on holiday, still cannot bear to miss them. Important promoters and strange journalists come up to them to shake their hands. There are radio pluggers and booking agents ﬂoating around, as well as girls wanting to have their photo taken with Mary Kate. Tom’s opera loving father is here to see his son play for the ﬁrst time. Amongst it all, the four young people who make up Fight Like Apes are having a ball. Playing the game, doing the right things, but having a ball nonetheless. “Nothing’s happened that we didn’t want to happen”, said Mary Kate when we ﬁrst met. “I feel 100% because we’re all so comfortable with what we’ve done. Someone could say that the album is a piece of shit, that’s ﬁne. I don’t think it is. If I didn’t believe in this, that kind of stuff would hit hard but it isn’t.” The last time we see Fight Like Apes, summer has rolled into autumn and winter is occasionally banging at the door. Not so today, thankfully, as a beautiful golden day has slipped into a balmy night. This time last year, they were one of the buzz bands at the Hard Working Class Heroes festival. This year, they’re back as special guest headliners, drawing a sizeable crowd through the streets of hen parties and drunken idiots to the sanctuary of Meeting House Square. Truth be told, they’ll play a lot better shows this year, but even a below par Fight Like Apes are still head and shoulders above most of the live bands here this weekend. Their album is about to be released and they’ll return to a sold out Whelan’s. It was recently announced that they’d be supporting Ting Tings on their next UK tour. Last year is now this year and the scene is set for FLA to become the most exciting Irish band of their generation. Next year? Who can tell but one thing’s for sure, it’ll be some ride.
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Circuit Breakers Words by Niall Byrne
DEAF JAM The seventh Dublin Electronic Arts Festival takes place from October 23-26 in various venues around the capital, and it’s more eclectic and all-embracing than ever. there’s only one or two main players. And on that level, you want to be coming in with ideas like Heineken Green Energy or Bud Rising. That’s not what we’re about. So it was just natural for us to be independent. We ran the festival with no sponsorship the ﬁrst year: I think we got €5,000 total sponsorship.” A reliance on such sponsorship also means those deals are temporary and need to be chased up year by year. “For years, we’ve worked on it ourselves for nothing, to try and build it up,” says Karen Walshe. “Any money we got from ticket sales or sponsorship, we put it back in. Every year, you have to get back out and look for new sponsors, because things change in those industries, it ﬂuctuates all the time. It depends who is the Marketing Manager and what they fancy doing at the time. So we’ve had Tiger, Budvar and now this year, Becks.”
late october sees the dublin electronic arts festival take place around Dublin City for its seventh year of electronic music programming. This year’s festival has 52 events running the gamut of electronic artists and beyond, with experimental forefathers Nurse with Wound and White Noise rubbing synths and laptops with the likes of M83, Daedelus, Trans Am and Luke Vibert. It’s probably the most mainstreamleaning line-up since its inception after forays into Irish-only and Asian music in the last two years. State sat down with DEAF organisers Eamonn Doyle and Karen Walshe to talk about the past, present and future of a festival which is looking forward to 10 years of original programming. The pair run the festival from a noisy ofﬁce on Dame Street, the walls of which are decorated with the unique artwork from previous years’ brochures, a unique feature which has become a cornerstone of DEAF and helps the festival stand out amongst its peers. They ﬁrst established
DEAF to give a platform to electronic music artists who were largely ignored by other festival organisers. “The big dance festivals like Homelands and Creamﬁelds were on at the time and basically, we were just never asked to play at those festivals,” remembers Eamonn Doyle, who also runs D1 recordings. “So it was just to set up a platform for ourselves and our peers here, and that’s pretty much the format it took for the ﬁrst few years.”
The main difference between DEAF and a lot of other festivals is that all funding and sponsorship is received through independent means rather than through corporate channels. “It was the only option for us,” explains Eamonn. “To qualify for Arts Council funding, you have to be a non-proﬁt anyway. The only other route is to go down a corporate route and it’s not even an option in Ireland, as
Away from the ﬁckle nature of sponsorship, DEAF has beneﬁted greatly since 2002 from the help of local promoters, all of whom are happy to organise gigs under the DEAF banner. This year, many types of promoters are represented, from the dance names like Bodytonic, Nightﬂight and Clampdown, to those who favour dubstep and glitch, like !Kaboogie and Stasis, as well as the more alternative-focused Foggy Notions, Maximum Joy, and Forever, or hip-hop via Choice Cuts, and, in a more traditional vein, Note Productions and Improvised Music Company. “We’ve always kind of wanted to open it up like this, but there were just two of us, and it takes a while,” explains Eamonn. “And we’ve changed the shape of the festival over the years. So two years ago, it was all Irish. Last year it was all Asian. Again, we pretty much did all of the events ourselves. So we’ve kind of shifted it around and opened it up.
Nutshell Thursday, October 23 Nurse With Wound with support from Stephen O’Malley SUNN O))). Now based in Clare, British-born Steven Stapleton’s forthcoming Irish debut has attracted an audience from abroad, keen to witness his experimental live show. Andrews Lane Theatre, 7.30pm, €22.50. Sweet Talk with Steinski, Maser and John Gilsenan Copyright enthusiast and pioneering cutup DJ Steinski joins street artist Maser and Gilsenan of I Want Design for a nice ‘aul chinwag. The Sugar Club, 7.30pm, €5.
“This is closer to the format that we’re going to stick with. It makes it a lot more interesting, and you know, when we did focus and narrow it down with a theme, some people felt a bit alienated from it, and it was quite restricted as to what other promoters could do. There was a great feeling of ownership of the festival by a lot of the artists and promoters, and that started to change a little bit when we started to theme it. It’s much more interesting for us this way.”
This year’s festival culminates in a closing party on Sunday October 26, which takes over The Village and Whelan’s venues completely, with sets from legendary Detroit electro pioneers Model 500, house from Laurent Garnier, ambient guitar music from Chequerboard, the grimey Bass Clef, the ambient drones of Fuck Buttons, German techno outﬁt Mortiz Van Oswald Trio and a whole load more. Many people remember the DEAF events which took place in the Guinness Storehouse in 2003 (“People still think they’re going on up there,” quips Karen) and this is another ambitious multi-stage event. The closing party is an eclectic statement on the diversity of the many strands of electronica happening today. It’s something which is reﬂected locally too, though Eamonn is keen to point out some important changes which he noticed while picking the artists for the DEAF CD, which is sadly unique to Ireland.
(L-R) Boredoms playing a previous DEAF, and upcoming acts in ’08 Steinski, Trans Am and Model 500
“This time, the club music was a lot weaker than I thought it was going to be, and the electronica and leftﬁeld stuff was a lot stronger. It’s just come on a lot more. I put it directly down to our licensing laws. The environment for club music is just terrible. I think it’s ﬁnally killed the scene over here because it is still alive and kicking when you go travelling and you see it’s there,” he notes, rather agitatedly. “When we started the festival, it was pretty much a club festival and it had already become really difﬁcult because licensing laws had changed, bars got extensions, so for clubs to run it was really, really difﬁcult. And that’s one of the reasons why I think labels have a club: I mean, most labels that I know from around the world run their labels from their clubs. So I think one of the big changes is that the club scene has ﬁnally been smothered by licensing laws.” “I think, seven years later, there’s a lot of people that are still here who have really grown up, developed a lot, and are a lot more professional,” adds Karen more optimistically. “The electronic arts and music scene is not as underground as it used to be, so I think it’s a bit more accessible. In the mainstream, more people are listening to it, so DEAF isn’t as scary to people as it could have been seven years ago.”
Friday, October 24 Poets of Rhythm, Daedelus, Tukia and DJ Scope Solid hip-hop line-up includes the amazing showmanship of Daedelus. Andrews Lane Theatre, 7.30pm, €20.50. M83 and Channel One French electronic-popsters will wrap you in warm synths and ‘80s melodies. Vicar Street, 7.30pm, €23. DJ Sandrinho, Tchicky Al Dente, Lex Woo and Sansao Rio’s favourite Baile Funk DJ will be reminding snooty Brazilians about their country’s crass but hugely entertaining music. It helps if you can’t understand the words. South William Bar, 8.30pm-2.30am, Free. Saturday, October 25 DEAF Workshops and Screenings Including the BBC Radiophonic workshop and Irish premiere of Totally Wired. Andrews Lane Theatre, 7.30pm, Tickets €20.50. Sunday, October 26 Model 500, Laurent Garnier, Fuck Buttons, Moritz Von Oswald Trio, Americhord, Chequerboard, Rollers/Sparkers, Bass Clef and loads more The ultimate DEAF event of this year and the festival closing party. Whelans and The Village, 7.30pm -3am, Tickets €35. White Noise, Broadcast DJ set, Andy Votel, Polly Fibre and An Electric Storm The Sugar Club, 7.30pm- 2:30am, €15/10 after 11pm.
A TRIBE CALLED QUESTTLOVE The Roots.
~ Words by
in a genre where bling, braggadocio and the dollar bill rule the roost, the legendary roots crew have always been notable for offering a next 26
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
different perspective on hip-hop. 15 years and running from their ﬁrst release and the Philadelphia group still stand out from the pack. Where most artists rely upon the now-standard two turntables and a microphone, The Roots see those elements of hip-hop as merely a foundation and raise it with live drums, guitar, bass, keyboard, percussion and a sousaphone. Yes, a sousaphone: that wearable tuba instrument more readily associated with marching bands gets a prominent place at their reputable live show these days, played by a man affectionately known as Tuba Gooding Junior. In their MC, Tariq ‘Black Thought’ Trotter, they have one of the most consistently underrated voices in rap. Yet no-one embodies the spirit of The Roots more than the multifaceted ﬁgure of Ahmir Thompson aka Questlove (or ?uestlove) whose many hats include drummer, producer, studio engineer, journalist and DJ. He is the cerebrum of the entire operation: the man who knows where the band are heading to next and where they would like to be. He can talk at length about the machinations of the music industry, politics and the state of hip-hop. Questlove has got his shit so together that although the group only released their 10th LP, Rising Down, in April, they are already planning 2009’s live show. “Usually when we do the summer European festivals, that’s when we are ﬁshing for a new shell,” explains Questlove. “New songs are tried out, new ideas are tried out in Europe. August is when we start constructing the show for next year.” As primarily a live band, he explains that The Roots carefully map out their touring season each year by continent to ensure they hit the summer festivals in each country. In any year which they release an album, The Roots will tour for approximately 225 days. By the time you read this, the band will have played a show at Electric Picnic after travelling to play in the ‘Eastern Bloc’, including the Czech Republic, Poland and Russia, with possible dates in South Africa before the end of the year. Back in the US however, it’s a different story. In a recent interview with Seattle radio station KUBE 93’s Sunday Night Sound Session, Questlove talked about “leaving room” for other artists in the same hiphop/R&B demographic on their American tour, who are rolling in town with expensive shows in tow. He mentions tours from Kanye West, N*E*R*D and Jay-Z as examples. “Because of the weird nature of the United States, most urban artists aren’t even encouraged to actually tour. Here [The US], the only people that get to tour are mega-mega-mega-mega platinum acts and the two or three acts that they choose to open for them. There’s really not a steady live venue structure in the United States of America,“ he elaborates. “So that’s what we did: we took advantage of other artists not touring. Now that the economy in America is really messed up, artists are ﬁnding that they now have to tour.”
It wasn’t always that way, of course. With doom and gloom permeating every music industry news article these days, the halycon days of the ‘90s for many black urban artists are long gone. “The problem is, back in the day, you get someone doing moderately well, say Foxy Brown or Lil Kim, you could probably survive off your label,” Questlove opines. “Get a nice little advance, do a few club dates and then, life is hunky dory.”
The Roots never rested on their laurels in such a way. It’s an interesting fact that the band got their ﬁrst break in Europe in 1993 when they rented a ﬂat in London and played live around Europe for about a year. On their ﬁrst night in England, they witnessed the debut UK club performance from then ﬂedgling singer Mary J. Blige who had just released her ﬁrst album What’s the 411?, which saw Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs in his ﬁrst major production role. They learned a lot that night: “I’ve had the misfortune of seeing probably the very best and very worst Mary J. Blige show. She even remembers this story. I think a lot of the mentality of the American artists was ‘We don’t have to try as hard in Europe because they’ll take just about anything we do’. She came over with just a DJ and really didn’t have the stage-savvy or experience she has now. The audience was none too pleased with it. There was a barrage of boos,” he recounts. “That was my ﬁrst night in Europe so that stuck with me forever. I was like ‘Oh ma god!’ They’re gonna eat us alive! This is Mary J. Blige! One of the biggest singing sensations ever!’ After we talked to a few fans, I realised they know when they feel someone is short-changing them. So, ever since I saw that show, I was like ‘maaan, got to do good’.” Though the band learned from that night, there was still a stigma in Europe in ‘93 about rap shows, and the misconception that violence would be encouraged was common. In order to combat this, The Roots’ tour manager came up with an ingenious plan. “There really was no booking of a hip-hop act from the US at European festivals without some sort of press from America,” says Questlove. “But the ﬁrst thing our agent told us was like, ‘Yo, let me embellish your presentation a little bit’. We were like ‘What do you mean by embellish?’ Next thing we know he got us like 40 gigs! We were like ‘How did you do this? Our album isn’t even out yet!’ He’s like ‘Y’know I said you guys did jazz and poetry!’ Cos if they hear rap they’ll be like ‘it’s too much of a risk’, especially in the early ‘90s,” he laughs. “Everyone thought they had to get extra police and security. I forget what country we were in, the promoter got four times the police force and was mad as hell mid-show. He was mad he wasted his money. He had an Onyx show over there and ﬁghts broke out so....we had to embellish a little bit.” It worked. During their time in Europe, the band released their debut Organix in order to sustain their touring funds. That album eventually sold 150,000 copies.
1995 saw the release of Do You Want More?!!!??! and the seminal video for ‘What They Do?’ which ripped on rap video clichés. 1999 was their most successful year to date thanks to the reaction to Things Fall Apart and the hit single ‘You Got Me’, featuring Erykah Badu. The album went gold. The band have toured constantly in the intervening years and Questlove remembers their Irish show at the last Witnness in 2003 before the festival became Oxegen. “That was deﬁnitely one of our most ass-kicking shows ever,” he enthuses. “Actually, it was kinda funny because the plane had lost all of our equipment. We cancelled the show but the promoter was like ‘Nah, just do it anyway’. So even with half the members present, we got on the tour bus. We couldn’t ﬁnd our bass player (Hub), we had no equipment, we were missing members and we wound up probably
doing a top ten Roots show of all time.” Their latest album, Rising Down, sees them very much in the ascendant once again – matching Game Theory’s political and social themes with plenty of synth-led bangers, which was important for the band to talk about in such a crucial election year. And it’s all down to one man – Obama. “He literally is the ﬁrst ray of light and hope in any American ﬁgure since the ‘60s,” Questlove rationalises, “back when leaders were real leaders and you actually looked up to your leaders to solve a problem. After 1968, American government has really not meant that much to the poor and disenchanted, the voiceless... people. Government has been only serving the corporations.” State asks whether Questlove thinks Obama can change that. “Absolutely,” he enthuses. “Really, if anything, he’s exposing the fact that America still has some ugly sides to its character.” We dig a little deeper about political issues and the topic turns to Katrina, which prompts Questlove to declare bluntly, “Katrina exposed what black America always knew. This election is exposing all types of creases and wrinkles inside of the environment of America that people don’t normally like to talk about and I think it’s actually necessary. It’s necessary to talk and deal with our shortcomings.”
Beyond politics and The Roots, Questlove’s production CV is equally impressive and as important to the canon of hip-hop and R&B. He has had an executive production role in revered albums such as Erykah Badu’s Baduizm, Common’s Like Water For Chocolate, D’Angelo’s groundbreaking Voodoo (“Nothing will ever replace that period”) and counts Jay-Z as his favourite artist to work with. He recently had the honour of producing the legendary Al Green, a role he claims he got “on a dare”. “I told the label, ‘I know you guys are often thinking that the only way to work with anybody over the age of 60 is either do a duets record with Norah Jones on it, or do a standards album’. That’s cool and all but Herbie Hancock got a Grammy for a Joni Mitchell tribute record, Smokey Robinson and Natalie Cole similarly. It’s like maaaan. The Rolling Stones are still rockin’ out at 60, Natalie Cole still has to be singing jazz standards in order to get a gig? I wanna change that. If hip-hop is dead and I can’t sample those artists, then I might as well go to those artists and get my jones off that way.” For nearly two decades, Questlove has been making music, playing, producing and DJing. It’s not something he takes for granted: “If we can have 20 years in this business without a spot nor a wrinkle, then that’s a beautiful thing.”
NEW IRISH MUSIC PHOTOGRAPHY State Magazine’s innagural exhibition of new Irish music photography at the Hard Working Class Heroes festival was a ﬁne example of the creative and talented folks trailing cameras around the music scene of the country. It was genuinely tough narrowing down the selection to ﬁt on the walls of The Button Factory but we tried to get the most varied, unusual and wish-I-was-there live moments, combined with some damn smart portraiture. Here, for your pleasure, are the exhibition images in full, including the a full page of the so-good-it-was-nicked-on-the-ﬁrst-night shot of Peaches at HWCH 06. It’s not wrong to wish you were that Flying V…
New Irish Music Photography
New Irish Music Photography
27 1. Peaches by John Sherlock / 2. Sunn O))) by Agnieszka Zwara / 3. Jape by Loreana Rushe / 4. Robbie by Niall Marshall / 5. Elvis fan by Barry Delaney / 6. Hooky by Shane Oâ€™Neill / 7. Melt-Banana by Yan Bourke / 8. Marva Whitney by Dolan / 9. Disconnect The Dots by Cait Fahey / 10. The Aftermath by Darren Kirwan / 11. Ham Sandwich by Enda Casey / 12. REM by James Goulden / 13. Girl Talk by Mark Duggan / 14. Electric Eye by Martini / 15. Crystal Castles by Farzad Qasim / 16. Sweet Jane by Johnny Savage / 17. Morning Hush by Shawna Scott / 18. Cage The Elephant by George Coppock / 19. Skunk Anansie by Luke Danniells / 20. Duke Special by Alan Maguire / 21. Ciaran Dwyer by Martina McDonald / 22. Papier Tigre by Sinead McDonald / 23. The Zutons by Darren Kirwan / 24. Crystal Castles by Farzad Qasim / 25. Warlords Of Pez by Richard Topham / 26. Peasant by Gene Smirnov / 27. Le Galaxie by Mark Duggan / 28. Buckcherry by Richard Topham / 29. Blaithin by Paul Marconi / 30. Crystal Castles (yes, them again) by Shane Serrano
BOULEVARD OF BROKEN SCHEMES ~ Words by
it’s not easy being a genius. ask mike skinner, although he probably wouldn’t consider himself in that category. His ﬁrst two records as The Streets, though, suggested he was heading in that direction. His extravagant rise, however, was followed by an equally spectacular fall as his third album, 2006’s Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living met with critical and consumer disinterest. If State is wary of bringing up the topic early in the interview, Skinner has no such qualms. “I felt like I was in a good place on the last album, I thought I was really on a roll,” he opines. “I was smashing things down, smashing things up. I had a lot of subject matter. That’s what I mean by being in a good place creatively, having a lot to talk about. I’ve always had that. When you start repeating yourself, that’s when you dry up.” Stretched out on the corner seat of a hotel bar, he cuts a relaxed ﬁgure, considering his words before he speaks. It’s those words that have really marked Skinner out as a genuine talent, with each album enjoying a very distinct character: from the roots of his debut to the pop star hell of his last release. “Each time I do an album, people think it’s the end of the line: they’re doing that now, but it’s not – it’s just another album,” he stresses. “Some artists get too caught up in who they are and who people think they are. The fact that I compartmentalise those different things that I am is just a different way of doing things, really. You owe it to your audience to be excited by what you’re doing.” Skinner didn’t exactly sound excited by the world he pictured on that album, more driven to despair and the edge of insanity. It had its moments but was a worrying listen. He nods. “People assess creativity by what they get from it, they’re doing it with everything. A wasp isn’t very good because it stings you: well is it
intrinsically bad because it stings human beings?” he asks. “It’s the same with music: people are very positive about how they feel. If something speaks to people, then they love you: if you talk about something that they don’t understand, they don’t.” Which was the main problem with that last album, it spoke to no-one apart from pop stars having a shit time. “Pete Doherty loved that album”, he interjects, fully aware of the irony of that comment.
Everything Is Borrowed, the new album, is a different kettle of ﬁsh on many levels. Not that its creation was any easier. “It was difﬁcult because I’d always used the ﬁne details to propel the stories along and people usually connect with those details, because they hold emotions for them too,” he states. “This time, I decided that i wasn’t going to reference modern life on this album, so I didn’t have any of those references for people. It’s gone up in the sky and has become a bit more philosophical. I had to redesign my formula a bit, which took me two and a half years.” Did he hit a personal block? “It wasn’t so much personal as creative” he admits, “the methods I was using. My personal life never affects my work rate, although it absolutely affects the songs that I write. The formula and methods that I was using to employ drama had to change. The type of drama changed a lot on the last album: it was high risk rather than humble emotion.” Emotion seems to be something that he’s never had a problem with in his music. “I’ve always been open, I don’t ﬁnd it difﬁcult. It’s the best way. You never get attacked for being honest,” he argues. “I’ve never had a bad word said to me really, which is strange considering that I’ve done some pretty maverick
~ “If you take it to the nth degree of doing songs that people like, then you end up like Girls Aloud, or maybe something a bit better. Then you realise that it’s about making the music that you want and be honest about that: that’s when people will appreciate your journey.” ~
things with my career. People can’t question them really because it’s not like I’m pandering to anything. When you lie to people, that’s when you’re at risk.”
Like fellow individualist Tricky, Skinner branched out into the label business with the now defunct Beats imprint, something he considers a good learning experience. “You grow up a lot when you manage other artists,” he explains. “You learn a lot about yourself. Before I did the Beats, I was constantly pushing against the boundaries, testing the water. When you’re working with someone else, you have to draw your boundaries out so you don’t get the piss taken out of you. Every aspect of normal life is making and testing boundaries, but when you’re a musician, they aren’t always there. That’s a lot of fun but they never get to see what it’s like without those boundaries: it’s scary.” So what boundaries exist for him as The Streets? “For me, the only boundary is making good music,” he ﬁres back. “That controls everything else in my life and it works well because I want to do myself justice as an artist. That’s what gets me up in the morning.” How, we wonder, does this process work? “It’s ramshackle. I have a lovely little studio in my house and an engineer that I work with all the time. Apart from that, anything goes,” he notes. “I’ve written songs in every environment that you could possibly imagine. Every element that you can hear in my music has been a starting point and an end point. It’s completely random but it’s the whole of my life.” Is it a solitary experience? “It is in the most fundamental sense, making the ﬁnal decision. That’s quite scary: you have to get used to the idea that nothing is right or wrong. You decide on a vision and go with it and all these people around you either agree
or disagree. Everyone has their opinion but making that ﬁnal decision is the solitary thing, but having said that, there are a lot of people around me who I trust.” “I handed in an album and it wasn’t very good”, he continues, “so I spent the next year and a half writing more songs. This stuff people seem to like, it’s getting great reviews, so people are now wanting to hear the stuff that I threw away. Trust me, you don’t: they’re not very good. They’re not as good as the ones that you’ve got. Not all the songs I write sound as good as the ones I put out there.” So it was his decision to pull the record? He shakes his head: “I could have bullied it through: it wasn’t me saying that the songs were shit. I don’t write shit songs. It was everyone else who didn’t like them. My mum was a big voice in that. That was quite terrifying. No matter how long you do this, every new song is as hard as the ﬁrst one, harder maybe. That’s why artists don’t hang around forever: you don’t often get better at it.” Rumours abound that the next Streets record will be the last, rumours that Skinner is happy to conﬁrm. “It won’t be in a sense that I’ll always make music and it was me before The Streets and will be after it, but I want to get away from the name, I want to get away from those ﬁve albums. If I sit down and I haven’t got a record deal and I haven’t got the name The Streets, it’ll be exciting and people will appreciate the new directions that I take. “When I was younger I used to believe that my songs were written for other people,” he concludes. “I never had that much opinion about art. Songs were either good or they weren’t. As I’ve got older, I realise it’s about taste. If you take it to the nth degree of doing songs that people like, then you end up like Girls Aloud, or maybe something a bit better. Then you realise that it’s about making the music that you want and be honest about that: that’s when people will appreciate your journey. It’s not about making things that sound nice, it’s about making statements.”
Blog Standard The tracks and artists being noticed online this month by Niall Byrne
Pendulum: Coldplay Covers? As with Oxegen in July, this Australian drum and bass juggernaut continue to slay every festival going with their raucous, pounding live set. A banging, beat-heavy cover version of ‘Violet Hill’ is a collectors’ item only perhaps, but if you’ve ever wondered what Coldplay would sound like if they went drum and bass, this is some kind of indication.
Soulwax: Belgians Remix MGMT MGMT prove once again that their tracks are perfect for electro workouts in front of thousands. This time around, it’s Belgian mavericks Soulwax taking on the mighty ‘Kids’.
Kanye West: Love Lockdown The only musical performance of note from this year’s MTV Video Music Awards was the closing song from Kanye where he debuted ‘Love Lockdown’, a minimal, drum-heavy croon with autotune. It was so strange and so markedly different from his usual “I’m the world’s greatest” that DJs and producers around the world are going nuts to make remixes and edits of the track.
Passion Pit: US Electro Poppers get State all of a tizzy State is very excited about Passion Pit, an electro-pop outﬁt from Boston whose debut EP Chunk of Change is out on French Kiss Records. Their sound is somewhere between The Avalanches, The Postal Service and the kind of stuff usually found on Modular Records. Plus, it’s ﬁlled with warm, happy melodies. Watch out!
Air France: Balearic Calling Hold on, haven’t we got past all the never-ending chillout compilations by now? If Gothenburg’s Air France didn’t make so music so goddamn beguiling then we wouldn’t care and neither would the world’s music bloggers. Their primary sound is some kind of Balearic pop utopia. To quote their song, ‘Collapsing At Your Doorstep’, “It’s more like a dream! No.... better.”
blog of the month
Stereogum http://stereogum.com The most inﬂuential indie music blogger in the US?
on videotape Glen Danzig on his book collection Very strange three-minute video with the Misﬁts’ frontman explaining how his favourite read is The Occult, Roots and Nazism and how “every school child should have this book”. http://url.ie/jjd
La Blogotheque concert La Blogotheque put on a gig in Paris with The Dodos, Noah and The Whale, Fleet Foxes, Essie Jain and Vandaveer. Not surprisingly, the footage is brilliant and the performances are even more captivating. http://url.ie/psa
MUZU Hard Working Class Heroes channel Irish music video upstarts shot live sessions of bands playing at this year’s Hard Working Class Heroes festival, including great videos from Little Xs for Eyes, Heathers, Spook of the Thirteenth Lock, Robotnik, Carly Sings, The Hot Sprockets and tonnes more. http://www.muzu.tv/hwch
A front-runner in the MP3 blogging stakes, Stereogum was started by New Yorker Scott Lapatine in 2003 and is probably the most successful music blog out there. It has gone from a pop culture/indie obsessed journal to a full-on blogging powerhouse. Stereogum is usually the ﬁrst place to ﬁnd the ﬁrst song from that soon-to-be-huge band and is usually the originator of that band’s buzz. The site has gone fully legal with all MP3s it posts, but that doesn’t stop it posting “premature evaluations” of leaked albums alongside other frequent features like weekly newsletters, ‘Quit Your Day Job’ - a series examining the jobs musicians do to make ends meet, New York gig reviews and has even launched a sister site called Videogum. Essential.
WORDY WINNERS ~
Messiah J and The Expert.
Words by Photography by
NIALL BYRNE ROGER WOOLMAN
messiah j and the expert have things to get off their chest. while our time together takes in such topics as The Lisbon Treaty, Steve Staunton, their favourite lyricists, old Nuggets music, MTV and America, nothing gets them more animated when discussing how the word “hip-hop” is used by Irish media. State understands, having heard elders describe the genre (which is one the best selling musical styles in the world, as The Expert points out) like it’s some unfathomable, unbreakable hieroglyphic code thought up by the Egyptians in 3,000 BC. Thankfully, it’s getting better and MJEX are doing their bit to spread the message that hip-hop (as The Roots prove in this issue elsewhere) doesn’t have to be crass and well, stupid, with their third album From The Word Go which is released this month. Coupling a strong lyrical bent with some eclectic musical arrangements, the album picks up where the previous Choicenominated Now This I Have to Hear left off. The duo’s remit continues to include shattering people’s expectations of what hip-hop can be as they explained one recent autumn evening in central Dublin. “Having the hip-hop tag automatically means 25-35% of people are just going to go ‘I don’t want to hear it’. To say Irish people can’t rap is ludicrous,” says The Expert, the band’s main musical producer. “Look at other things – be it football or golf, we can do whatever. It shouldn’t matter where you’re from or who you are.” “Somebody said, around the time of the last album, when we sent them a song... In this day and age it just makes my bloody skin crawl,” adds frontman Messiah J who gets visibly angry. “They said there’s too much talking on it. Probably someone who goes home and watches Live At Three every day and doesn’t care about whatever. What’s embarrassing is that these people are heads of radio stations and what not.”
While attempting to “buck the trend” (to quote ‘Tomorrow is Too Late’ from the new album) since 1999, they are understandably a little annoyed at how they are perceived, especially in the media. Messiah J takes the theme and runs with it. “The amount of sloppy articles I’ve read where people go ‘The words Irish and hip-hop are an oxymoron but...’ Can you not think of something more interesting? It’s the lowest common denominator in journalism. It’s almost like it’s written for a mammy in Mayo who calls it ‘thumpy thumpy music’.” The album is far from that. Musically, From The Word Go is laced with the touch of many musical oeuvres, from the frantic, Bernard Hermann-esque ‘Geography’, featuring a star turn from Ro and Kieran from Delorentos to the R&B twist of ‘Amnesia Comes
Messiah J and The Expert
Easily’, with vocals from Joanne Daly. Then there’s the funky ‘Turn The Magic On’, with another album appearance from Leda Egri, or the synth-based ‘Jean is Planning An Escape’. With the help of their live band, G-Bone and The Twiddler, they have produced a rich tapestry of music using guitar, bass, brass and strings, blurred with hip-hop elements, that stays away from the formula. “It’s called hip-hop but this record has [everything from] opera, funk, soul to reggae to indie to electronica to classical,” The Expert elaborates. “It crosses every musical genre. You’re going to hear ﬁve other records max as eclectic this year and if you do, I want to hear them ‘cos that’s the kind of shit I’m into. Unless The Avalanches release ﬁve records, then good luck!”
The duo are equally proud of their lyrical achievements with this album which forgoes the personal monologues of Now This I Have to Hear, for real-world and global issues. A common strand throughout is the urgency of youth to make a mark on the world. “In your late 20s, there’s a certain feeling of responsibility, not wanting to have any ties and sometimes wanting to run away from all that,” Messiah J tells State. “Not dealing with having to grow up and be a man. There’s a kind of a confused fear factor on the record. Wanting to do the right thing, wanting to make a difference but not quite knowing how to. ‘Megaphone Man’ will illustrate that. Wanting to be a leader, a voice for people but not pulling it off. It’s quite human, things that people can relate to.“ One subset of society that J can’t relate to is politicians: “You’re looking at someone who doesn’t have the same brain. People talking about things you don’t care about. For me, voting is very much pot luck or a quick pick. You just hope for the best.” The Expert, who had more of a say in the lyrics this time around, clearly relishes the opportunity to explain ‘Year Of The Genie’, the album’s opening track: “It sums up what an awful lot of young people feel, as far as I’m concerned. My favourite line is ‘Knock Knock / Can I see your mother a sec please? / She’s not here but guess who’s OK to vote?’” It’s no surprise that the main lyricist, Messiah J, favours bands like The Specials, The Smiths and The Clash, artists who also had a lot of things to get off their chest. “I feel I have a duty to actually say something,” says J. “What do kids listen to? Music. None of my friends go to plays. I’m not trying to say I’m a massive authority on anything but why not actually try and say something? Most of my favourite lyricists have something vulnerable about them. They’re not perfect, they’re not overtly-preachy, they don’t have all of the answers but they pose interesting questions.” With thanks to Sub City, Exchequer Street, Dublin
Defecating on plates, urinating in wine glasses, getting bottled off stage supporting The Clash, getting right up the noses of 1980s’ Ireland. Ladies and gentlemen, The Virgin Prunes.
WHEN ANARCHY AND ART COLLIDE ~ Words by
of all the bands to come out of ireland in the past 30 years, few have been shrouded in skirt and I had a plastic suit made out such myth as The Virgin
of raincoats, no jocks underneath, and a pair of Docs. We’d only played two little gigs before that. Steve Averill from The Radiators From Space played synthesizer with us. The crowd just went apeshit. They thought Guggi was a chick. “The adrenaline of all these people pogoing kicked in and I started jumping around, the next thing this plastic suit that my ma had made me split completely. I was standing there totally bollock naked, except for a pair of Doc Martins. I turned around and Guggi’s skirt had come off and you could see that he was a bloke. All hell broke loose, there were bottles ﬂying, they were setting the curtains on ﬁre. We were reefed off the stage by The Clash’s tour manager and fucked out the door. We had no money and had to walk with all our gear, back from Dun Laoghaire to Ballymun.”
Such was the world of The Virgin Prunes, a world where art and chaos collided, a world where you would do anything to break the boredom of living in mid-‘70s Ireland.
The very ﬁrst photo of The Virgin Prunes, 1978
“We were like a Third World country”, Friday remembers. “If you go back to parts of the Eastern bloc of Europe now, that’s what Dublin was like in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Grey, dull, mass unemployment and complete poverty. Music became a lifeline to escape for kids. Punk gave you a licence to form a band with just an attitude. I turned 16 when punk kicked in and had plenty of attitude.” There was a fair bit of attitude kicking around Ballymun in those days, as a group of teenage friends formed their own strange society (Lypton Village) and gave each other nicknames – Guggi, Gavin Friday, Bono, The Edge. These guys were a band before they’d even picked up
photographs courtesy of mute records
Prunes. Much of it may have built up outside of their control but, as Gavin Friday would be the ﬁrst to admit, they were also responsible for much of the whirlwind themselves. Tucking into a plate of ﬁsh and chips in a Dublin hotel, he acknowledges that the band never made it easy for either themselves or their audience. “The second gig we ever did was just me and Guggi,” he recalls, “with U2 as our band, when they were The Hype. I worked in a slaughterhouse and I got a load of white coats and mesh which we used to cover them up. We did a 20-minute version of ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’, slowed right down so that it would take a minute and a half to get one sentence out. It was totally provocative. After that gig, Dik Evans, who was Edge’s older brother, left The Hype and came to work with us.” No matter how inauspicious it might sound, that gig led to a third live outing for the Prunes and a slightly more high proﬁle one at that – supporting The Clash at The Top Hat in Dun Laoghaire in October 1978. For Friday, it was a memorable night. “We came on: Guggi was wearing a tiny
/////Little Fingers Stiff
The Virgin Prunes
~ “We set up a big dining table and each one of us did a shit on a plate and pissed in a glass, then we left it there and turned up the heat. The smell would kill the audience then we walked in: then we locked them in.” ~
an instrument. “The name Virgin Prunes had been hanging around for a while”, says Gavin, “since the early ‘70s. You’d see odd people walking around and we’d call them prunes. Virgin prunes were quite innocent. We always said if we ever had a band, we’d be called that. The name was there. I was a big, big music fan. Guggi was more a visuals person. When punk happened, it was a godsend. It was like we were two bands just waiting to pick up an instrument. We weren’t really into football, we lived in a wasteland, the only release was music.” That release would lead to the formation of not one but two bands, as has been well documented. Were the Prunes and U2 two sides of the same coin? Friday takes a sip of tea. “U2 formed at the same time but there were no similarities whatsoever,” he muses. “There was a link between the two and still is but because they’ve become so successful, the myth has got bigger. There’s nothing weird about a group of mates hanging out together, forming bands, having ideas. It’s when all the ideas become reality, that’s when the myth gets bigger.” So the story that they made some sort of commercial vs artistic pact isn’t true? He laughs. “We didn’t have a fucking clue. It’s down to what people are. Bono’s far more
diplomatic, I was far more angry and using music as a way to get through that anger, getting rid of it.” Plan or no plan, it can’t be denied that The Virgin Prunes were as artistic as they were musical. “Guggi painted, I painted; one of the few things I was good at was art. We were always called pretentious pricks simply because we were into the avant garde. I remember when we were 16, it used to be a big deal to come into town and hang out at McDonald’s. One day we walked in and saw the performance artist Nigel Wolf naked with paint all over him and a huge stream coming off his mickey pulling these rocks. We were going, ‘What the fuck was that?’”
Perhaps unexpectedly, The Prunes did start to attract record company interest, although more predictably, they weren’t prepared to play ball. “Rough Trade’s Geoff Travis said it was time we made an album but we said no,” grins Gavin. “He said it was time we worked with a producer, we said no. We told him that we wanted to do a 7”, 10”, 12”, cassette, do a gig, release a ﬁlm and publish a book (the ‘New Form Of Beauty’ project). This was in 1981 and we had no money. We almost did it. We have the ﬁlm
but it was never released and the book never happened, but we did it. We released something on the ﬁrst of each month: it was quite a strategy.” Surprisingly, Rough Trade weren’t put off and still The Virgin Prunes continued to lead them a merry dance. “They gave us £10,000 for an overall budget for the album – producers, studio, everything. We went out and spent £6,000 on photographs and they went fucking insane. We were saying, ‘But it’s really important’. There was a certain amount of shooting ourselves in the foot going on.” How did the band get on with their Dublin contemporaries? “Not particularly well,” admits Friday. “We were very arrogant. I was, certainly. There was that cockiness you have when you’re 17 or 18. A lot of bands were just playing jazzed up r’n’b. Everyone talks about The Boomtown Rats: they were a great pop band but they were never fucking punk. The Atrix were, Stiff Little Fingers were, The Radiators were. The Virgin Prunes were fucking punk. We were arty, we were visual, we were avant garde, but when it came down to it, we were punk. U2 were a new wave rock band. We were there from the start. We never would play and never did play The Baggot Inn ’cos it was for old hippies. That element of arrogance was allowed.”
Somehow, though, this bunch of cross dressing, make-up wearing punks found themselves appearing on The Late Late Show, the epicentre of traditional Irish values at the time. How the hell, we wonder, did that happen? “They asked us on”, says Friday simply. “We were never afraid of publicity but I think we were set up in a naive way. Gay Byrne knew what he was doing, I mean it was the same weekend that the Pope was in town. We were banned from RTÉ after that, although it didn’t help that we were robbing costumes from the dressing room. When we went in to soundcheck in the afternoon, we didn’t wear the make-up, I didn’t scream. I just read the Oscar Wilde poem and that was it, we didn’t even bring the chicks in. Then when we came back that night, we went hell for leather. They weren’t expecting it but we were deﬁnitely set up. Gay Byrne had a massive response on his radio show and we had massive queues at our next show. The song basically said ‘why should I be like you, be yourself’. That was our whole stance.” A huge element of their visual style was the cross dressing element, guaranteed to cause a stir in early ’80s Ireland. Gavin laughs. “It was fun. When people say The Virgin Prunes wore dresses, it was never
The Virgin Prunes
like Boy George wore dresses. I remember going to the Blitz Club in London in 1981, where the whole Steve Strange /Boy George movement was kicking off, and they wouldn’t let us in. We looked more like Rasputin: you weren’t sure if we were going to kiss you or kill you. It wasn’t like we were trying to look like girls.” Or indeed, lock you in a room full of faeces? “We did some extraordinary shows in Dublin, they were more like art exhibitions. We set up a big dining table and each one of us did a shit on a plate and pissed in a glass, then we left it there and turned up the heat. The smell would kill the audience then we walked in: then we locked them in. There were pieces about abortion, one saying all women were pigs, stuff just to provoke people. We were called anti-feminist so we did that to wind them up. It was childish and it wasn’t thought out but we wanted to provoke a reaction.”
Despite their image, the hassle, the music industry, despite everything the Virgin Prunes enjoyed a level of success with their If I Die, I Die debut and soon found themselves caught up in the traditional method of promoting a band at that time –
constant touring. It wasn’t a good move. “It basically killed the band. Without even knowing it, we became this machine. We started getting freaked when we would play gigs and you’d see all these Gavin and Guggi clones in the front. That was happening everywhere. There was nothing solid in the band. My brain was jumping around, Guggi was into the visuals, Dik was quite avant garde. The rhythm section wanted to be in a straight rock ‘n’ roll band and Davey was from Mars. Things like girlfriends started to become an issue. People got people pregnant. We were drinking too much, there was too much shit going on. It just imploded.” The end was nigh. Guggi and Dik Evans were the ﬁrst to go and although Friday would keep it going long enough to release a second album, The Moon Looked Down And Laughed, by this point he too had had enough. By 1986, The Virgin Prunes were no more. Regrets? Not for Gavin Friday. “It always had to be a short lived thing,” he admits. “There was a total purity there, which often was construed as arrogance. We were always shooting from the hip, blindfolded to reality, just going for it. I love that. I think we were one of the purest bands ever to come out of this country.”
Holidays By Mistake Fake being a local around the world
Words by Louise Healy
LY O N From phantom pregnancies to fast trains, mulled wine to sweet house clubs, France’s second city has it all.
“j’ai plein,” were the only words of broken french that could be uttered as State plump little restauranteur piped up, “If you rubbed its belly, indicating it had more than eloquent sufﬁciency in the food stakes as the Frenchman tried to shove another camembert soaked-baguette onto the plate. Saying no was not an option but this stab in the dark at the belle langue seemed to be a huge hit with the Lyonnaise restauranteur who let out a gasp and said in his best English,” ah ha! well zen you should take ze next helping if you ah eating for two, non?”. State was more than slightly confused at this and couldn’t really tell whether it was the impending food hangover or this big French beast which it was more afraid of, but before anything more could be said, an unhealthy dollop of potato gratins, steak haché and fried onions landed onto our plate. This was followed by a sharp look that said “eat ze food or you insult me, my mother and ze goldﬁsh.” So we ploughed on, meat sweats galore and with one last morsel to go and feeling like there was no end in sight, the
can’t do it for yourself, do it for ze baby”. Now State knew it’s French was bad, but this misinterpretation had just gone too far. With child we was not. Accepting defeat and reverting to being a silly tourist was the only action required. Look Around. Lyon is France’s second largest city and is just a three hour train ride from Paris on the swifty French rail network, the TGV. Next to the capital, it is a refreshing place to visit, with all the perks of a large city but with the intimate atmosphere usually associated with southern French cities. Divided by the river Rhône, Lyon remains separated into north and south, with an old quarter and a cosmopolitan hub side by side. Walking around old (vieux) Lyon is an experience in itself. The winding cobble-stoned streets and latticed roof tops make it feel like you are being
thrown back in time to the heart of 18th century France. Stroll by the arts and crafts shops and if feeling energetic, take the walk up to the famous Fourviére, perched on the hilltop overlooking the city, for some quality views, past the famous Parc de Tête D’or. The main esplanade, the Place de Bellecour, is surrounded by quaint outdoor cafés and in winter time is transformed into an ice rink bordered by stalls selling every sort of French cheese, mulled wine and arts and crafts. For something different, check out the Gallo Roman, the old amphitheatre nestled beside the grand Fourviére above the city where concerts, Shakespearean plays and operas are held. Here you can sit outdoors on the tiered original stone seats nursing some Beaujolais and local cheese whilst being entertained under the stars. But check out the listings well in advance: gigs for Leonard Cohen and the Manic Street Preachers sold out within minutes when the summer festival programme came out last April. For something with a bit more get up and go, less than two hours away is Lac Annecy and Lac d’Aiguebelette for beautiful sunbathing and outdoor adventure spots such as paragliding, kayaking and river surﬁng. Nestled in the heart of the countryside at the base of the Alps, these two spots are surrounded by towering cliff edges with a beautiful perfect ruggedness synonymous with the French countryside. Similarly, Lac Mirabel is just a 15 minute drive or a 40 minute cycle away, and is extremely popular with locals and tourists alike for both swimming and horse riding. Eat. After an energetic day out, there is nothing better than to sit down and savour a French meal that can go on for hours. Lyon is
Making time Get in the mood or simply be an armchair traveller
Get this Album Moon Safari, the acclaimed 1998 album by AIR (an acronym for Amor, Imigination, Reve by French duo Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel) is considered a classic of the chillout genre. Download this single Diam’s: ‘Ma France A Moi’. Diam’s (Melanie Georgiades) is France’s most famous female rapper. Born in Cyprus but brought up in Paris, most of her songs are about her immigrant roots and resonate with a huge percentage of the young immigrant population.
the gastronomical capital of France and the cuisine is simply amazing. For a real culinary experience, sample one of Paul Bocuse’s (the famous French three-star Michelin chef) brasseries in Lyon—Le Nord, Le Sud, L’Ouest or L’est. State recommends heading to Bocuse’ s L’est in Gare de l’Est for some of the ﬁnest ﬁsh dishes, followed by an after-dinner tipple in the swanky ‘First’ nightclub next door. For something a little less extravagant on the pocket, try out Johnny’s Café on Rue Saint George in vieux Lyon for the best plat du jour (meal of the day) served between 12-3pm along with the best of French, American and European dishes. Drink. Wine tasting is a must if you are in the heart of Beaujolais country. Head to the Rhône Valley: Saint Joseph is probably the best option as you can walk around the vineyards as part of the wine tasting tour. Similarly Cave de Tain L’Hermitage is also a famous hot-spot for wine lovers who want the quintessential French wine experience or for those who just want a day of getting merry in the vineyards. Due to its being the second largest city in France, Lyon is home to a number of universities that provide exchange or Erasmus programmes for young university students who like to frequent the Australian and American bars dotted around Rue San Catherine and embark on a spree of drunken debauchery. Need we say more: these areas should be avoided at all costs. The pub experience in France is a little different to Ireland’s ‘get the drinks in and let’s get absolutely obliterated’ pub
culture. Here, the emphasis is on the cafébar, where people sit around smoking and sipping beers and wine, before heading out for a night on the tiles. State recommends you follow suit and do not embark on a binge drinking spree. The gendarmerie will have no qualms about locking you up for the night if you get drunkenly out of control. Party Party. Nightclubbing in France was once synonymous with men with ﬂoppy hair and tight jeans and women wearing the most god-awful rig-outs shufﬂing along to some cheesy MC Solaar wannabe. Today, thankfully, things have changed and the French clubbing scene has taken a 180 and is actually quite a cool experience. Due to the fact that French radio is required to play a mandatory 80% French home-grown music, French rap and dance music is quite popular in late bars and clubs. So throw away your misconceptions and immerse yourself in the French way of partying. Lyon’s waterfront has been transformed into a bar/club hub, so check out any of the clubs here but remember to get there early at the weekend as queues can be long and tedious. State highly recommends ‘Cube’, opposite the Parc de T’êté D’or, for some funky house beats. Some clubs stay open until the wee hours of the morning and there is nothing better than to stroll out onto the quiet streets of Lyon at the break of day and head to a boulangerie to devour some Lyonnaise croissants and pain au chocolats or sit in a cafe and have a full French breakfast of strong black coffee.
Watch this music video Vanessa Paradis ‘Joe le Taxi’: purely for the cheese factor.
Rent this ﬁlm La Vie En Rose: Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard plays the legendary French actress Edith Piaf, who rose to international fame from her beginnings on the streets of Paris. Read this The Little Prince or Le Petit Prince by Lyonnaise author Antoine de Saint Exupéry. The children’s fairy tale is also a popular read for adults, drawn to Exupéry’s profound philosophical and idealistic points about life and human nature. Eat this Lyonnaise salad, comprising frisée lettuce, bacon, croutons, poached egg and Dijon vinaigrette, is a must have when in the region. Drink this Kir Royale: the quintessential French aperitif made of white wine, usually sauvignon blanc or a chardonnay, and mixed with creme de cassis, blackcurrant liqueur. Also try out a demipêche: beer with a light dose of peach syrup.
BREWING UP A STORM
~ Words by
JOHN JOE WORRALL GRAHAM SMITH
with ﬁve minutes to go before they go on stage, the blizzards buzz around the apartment that doubles as their changing room tonight. Keyboardist Aidan Lynch, up the stairs straining vocal chords with various exercises, is soon joined by lead guitarist, the Trilby-wearing Justin Ryan. “You just know they wouldn’t look like the Brazilians,” says Niall Breslin, or Bressie as everyone calls the band’s six-foot plus frontman. He’s talking about the possibility of an Irish beach volleyball team in the next Olympics with Cowboy’s X’s John Hanley. “I can see it now, two of them standing there, pale as, ‘Spike it up there Tina!’” Pre gig there’s not so much tension as a build-up of energy with The Blizzards: the band’s engine, Dec Murphy whacks his drumsticks off anything suitable; the curtains, the couch, the table, himself. Meanwhile, manager Justin Moffat (Moff to everyone but his kids) describes the band’s new record Domino Effect as “just huge, amazing stuff,” his head coming in and out of the door as he smokes a cigarette. Breslin takes up the last few minutes before going on-stage on the couch, trying to distract himself by ﬂicking through magazine articles (“Amanda Brunker… she’d destroy ya”) and watching the weather. “I’d love to go on the piss with Martin King,” he says to no one in particular. Murphy chats away about not wanting to hear the new songs again on record until they’re done properly. “I ﬁnd, recording it, that you’re just intensely trying to get the performance out, that by the time you ﬁnish, you don’t want anything to do with it. Even when it comes back from mixing, it can be a surprise…” “Ready lads,” interrupts the promoter, peering in through the door. After a collective deep breath, they begin the march through the hotel courtyard, down an alleyway and into the back door of the tiny venue that hosts the Le Chéile Festival in Oldcastle, Co Meath. “They’re very driven,” says Moff, while leading State towards
the side of the stage, as the clapping of a baying crowd gets louder and louder. The ﬁve of them shufﬂe together for a last few words. “Ye can go for it now lads if ye want” shouts a roadie, and on they walk…
A few hours earlier, Breslin sits at the kitchen table in his manager’s Mullingar home (which acts as mission control for the band), playing with the toy gun of Moffat’s nine year-old son, pulling the trigger repeatedly. Moff had earlier told State that the new record had “nearly broken them”, something which Breslin doesn’t deny. In the months leading up to recording, he had been writing what he terms as “bitchy” songs about the music scene, tunes that are “embarrassing, looking back”. “I needed someone to tell me to cop the fuck on,” he says, and thankfully someone did. Michael Beinhorn, who had produced the band’s ﬁrst record – 2006’s A Public Display of Affection – as well as previously working with Red Hot Chili Peppers and taking on the desk duties for Soundgarden’s Superunknown, had no intentions of recording a second album with the group until Breslin sent a batch of these “bitchy” heavier than usual tunes to him via email. “He said the best thing to do if you want to write this stuff is break up the band and do this with someone else, and he was right,” Breslin admits. “He said people don’t want to hear us bitching: they want stories, true life stories. Then we went back and wrote a particular tune – ‘Postcards’ – then sent it to him, and he said ‘now you’re a songwriter, it’s the most honest thing you’ve ever written’. If that didn’t happen, I don’t know would we have done a second album.” The lyrics to ‘Postcards’ – which concern the death of someone close to the band – are typical of what’s to be found on Domino Effect. Breslin’s trademark storytelling is still evident in abundance, and tracks like the country-tinged ‘Money Doesn’t
~ “Being indie is incredibly mainstream now, incredibly safe. At least we know we mean it, we mean everything we put out there: a lot of bands, there’s just nothing, no intent; the words don’t mean a thing.” ~
Buy You Class’ (concerning a “rich bitch” who “frankly sickened” Breslin during a meal they shared) or the enormous opening track ‘Buy It Sell It’ have the type of chorus hooks which fans will know off by heart before the closing chords of the ﬁrst listen. But it’s a more expansive, coherent record than their previous outing by some distance. Breslin mentions Rumours as an inﬂuence, if not for sound, merely because every song “has truth about it”.
Going into its release, the Mullingar natives are aware that The Blizzards occupy a unique place in the Irish musical landscape: by no means an indie band, they are, Breslin admits, “proud as punch to be pop”. The fact that they ﬁnd their way onto Phantom and Tom Dunne playlists, while giving slick interviews to candyﬂoss TV shows with ease, has left many not knowing what to make of them. Their fanbase too – often predominantly female and with barely an indie kid to be seen – leaves them an easy target for some cross-armed gig goers. As do articles that focus more on Breslin’s clean cut rugger bugger looks than the band’s tunes. “Come on, sure being indie is incredibly mainstream now, incredibly safe,” Breslin says, making a fair point while sipping his coffee. “At least we know we mean it, we mean everything we put out there: a lot of bands, there’s just nothing, no intent; the words don’t mean a thing.” Driving to the gig that night in his new car, Breslin plays asyet-unmastered versions of most of the album, excitedly skipping forward to his favourite bits in many of the tracks. When other topics like his rugby days with Leinster or the sex symbol status come up, he swats them away with simple sentences like “ah sure, it was cool, but this is what I want to do” for the rugby and “listen, anyone saying anything nice about ya is great in life, so the sex symbol thing, it’s not even an awkward question now,” for the other. The “not awkward” question does lead to a few moments’ silence though, only punctured by the old reliable Irish male conversation saver: “ﬁerce bad road this,” he says. State nods in agreement and before you know it, Breslin’s off again, playing excellent newbies such as ‘Silence Is Violence’ and hidden track ‘Regarding Carla Bruni’, which, after getting clearance from Universal’s lawyers, comments on Bruni’s talents for “tempting French presidents”.
“They were only going out with each other when we wrote it,” says Breslin, adding that himself and Ryan spent two days looking up the proper third person form of saying ‘you broke my heart’ in French to top off the backing vocals. “I honestly can’t wait for it to come out and people to hear it,” he says.
A few hours later and predictably enough, when they start proceedings off with the unfamiliar ‘Buy It Sell It’, the festival crowd fall for it hook line and sinker. A temporary problem with an amp seems to throw off bass player, Anthony Doran, along with Ryan, but no-one in the audience seems to care that much. ‘Fantasy’ and ‘Trouble’ – the two songs that “made us”, according to Breslin – bring on full scale euphoria. A sweaty encore later and the band are back in the apartment, Murphy throwing his soaking shirt on the ground, which thuds against the stone ﬂoor like a knockout punch. Doran and Lynch sip on cans of Coke and politely say the night was “grand” without going into any more details, the former eventually offering a simple “sorry man, we’re fucked”. As each of them drinks either soft drinks or health shakes (all are driving home tonight), State is handed a beer by Moffat and asked to leave while he, the band’s sound engineer and the ﬁve lads, conduct their ritual 15-minute dissection of every night’s performance. Afterwards, as they chat away before heading back on the short journey to Mullingar, they each talk about the album but, nearly to a man, they simply say “best talk to Bressie about that” whenever a little more detail is required. “Every album is a journey, a part of your life,” offers Ryan, while loading up the band’s van. So what does this chapter mean we inquire? Before you can say ‘snap’ he says “Bressie’s probably best to talk about that.” The man himself is knackered and not too crazy about how small the stage was, but with the “always important” meeting out of the way, it’s all about looking forward not back. “It was very obvious a few years ago that we didn’t ﬁt in, as it were,” he confesses. “Whereas now, I think a lot of people want to listen to big fuck off pop songs. The world is a shit enough place at the moment and maybe they don’t want to hear about it on the radio as well.”
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Preachers, piss-ups and the Pixies to Skinny boys, Skinny ties and mojitos.
london, mid-august and the pavements in westminster are heaving with tourists of all ages and sizes. thereâ€™s a frantic summer pace next 51
to the area around westminster bridge, where hundreds congregate, encouraged by the bridge’s closure to vehicles. With Big Ben as a backdrop, pictures are taken, ice cream is consumed, queues are formed, children bawl and Japanese tourists uphold their country stereotype by documenting every moment of it all, including the busking bagpiper’s performance, with the latest micro-range of video cameras. Nearby, earlier that sunny day in a Soho hotel room, and some familiar tourists to this side of the Atlantic are recovering from the previous night’s triumph in an equally frazzled state. “Oh god. I’m so hungover right now,” blurts Jared Followill during our time with Kings of Leon’s bass player and his older brother and drummer, Nathan. The previous night, the band played a sold-out gig at the near 5,000 capacity Brixton Academy. The band are enthusiastic about their performance and in good mood, despite their obvious headspace. Both are dressed in all black. Nathan wears a black wifebeater showing his many tattoos while Jared slurps on a Coke, all the while stroking his black glittery skinny tie. There’s no denying he’s the pretty boy of the group and if State was that way inclined, we would totally be swooning right now. It’s Northern European press day for the Kings and an inﬁltration of journalists drawn from Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Poland have assembled in the hotel to pose questions to the band. The reason for such a gathering is the imminent release of their fourth album Only By The Night. Before we are granted time in the presence of the Nashville rockers, there’s an album playback in a hotel room on the second ﬂoor. Disconcertingly, it’s played from TV speakers while an unnamed Englishman chats up an Austrian radio presenter on the nearby bed, oblivious to the others in the room, listening for the ﬁrst time. Another young man natters on his oversized phone about a pair of jeans he just bought, while the young male press ofﬁcer looks up the latest news on Pitchfork, before a ﬁre alarm amusingly startles him into thinking the high-pitched sound is emanating from his laptop. This side entourage is a long way from the relatively simple collective upbringings of the Followill brothers. Caleb (26, vocals/ guitar), Nathan (29, drums), Jared (21, bass) and cousin Matthew (24, lead guitar), who make up Kings of Leon.
The band ﬁrst arrived on the international scene in 2003, four youthful, straggly, long-haired boys from the Bible Belt. The three brothers spent their youth travelling around the Deep South with their mother, Betty-Ann, and their Pentecostal preacher father, staying in one place for a week at a time. While their father Leon preached at churches and tent revivals, their mother would home-school the boys. All the while, the family moved around nomadically, laying the groundwork for their future profession on the road. Born into the lifestyle of the Lord, the band soon became magnetised to the Devil’s music and a chance meeting with Angelo Petraglia, a Nashville producer and songwriter, helped the ﬂedgling Kings establish their initial garage-rock sound. extending as far as assisting the band write the songs, elevating him to “ﬁfth member” status in the eyes of many. “He’s our drug dealer,” jokes eldest brother Nathan. “Nah, he was the guy that really introduced to us cool, old music. We went
Kings Of Leon
and wrote with him back when we ﬁrst moved to Nashville – me and Caleb. His house is like a museum, with every guitar you can imagine, old drum sets. We really just started jamming out and he introduced us to The Rolling Stones, television and all this cool music.” Their time spent travelling with their parents had sheltered them from good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll and Angelo opened up a whole new world, fulﬁlling the much-needed musical mentor role. “We were just kinda young and getting into that stuff,” explains Jared. “He was there from the very beginning. When I decided to start playing the bass, he was there. He took me to the music store and played every bass in there to ﬁnd the best one for me. He was always like a guru.” Buoyed by the uncharted musical territory, they consumed music with a vivacious appetite, trying to learn everything they could. “This kid at high school gave me Surfer Rosa [by the Pixies] and it changed everything,” says Jared. “Once I heard that, it was like the beginning of a completely new view of music.”
The band’s peripatetic Deep South background stood out to the UK press so much, that it threatened to overshadow the music when their ﬁrst album, the Petraglia-produced Youth And Young Manhood was released in 2003. “I think they were more interested in our story at ﬁrst. Then luckily, when that story got old and people were tired talking about it, then they realised ‘Y’know, they make decent music too’,” explains Nathan. “The story kept their attention long enough for the music to catch up. Since then, they’ve felt like they’ve discovered us, so they always want to be one step ahead of America or anywhere else. We’re their darlings, I guess.” You really can’t underestimate the gulf in the band’s popularity in Europe compared to the US, especially the UK and Ireland, where their third album, Because Of The Times, went to number one. Though the band have been recently making inroads in the US by touring with acts like U2, Pearl Jam, Bob Dylan and most recently, headlining the Saturday night main stage at the All Points West festival in Jersey City, they still have a long way to go in America. There is hope in the camp as the new single, ‘Sex on Fire’, is being received positively across the country. “America is so tied in to Top 40 radio and MTV,“ notes Nathan. “The biggest acts in America right now are on Disney, y’know: High School Musical and The Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus. It’s all this little kiddie-pop. But it’s been that way forever in America. Before that it was N*Sync and the Backstreet Boys. Before that it was New Kids On The Block.” “Bands from other countries can get famous much more easily than American bands right now,” adds Jared. “Bands will just blow up and then go away like Jet did. They were huge in America. HUGE! Wolfmother too. Maybe just Australian bands actually,” he laughs. It’s no surprise then, that they consider the UK and Ireland to be their musical home. “In a career sense, it feels like home over here, with all the success we’ve had,” says Jared, looking to his brother for conﬁrmation which is swiftly given. “On days like this really, it feels like home,” continues Nathan, pointing out the window. “Blue skies, nice weather and...“ On cue, a member of the crew places a mixed alcoholic drink on the table in front of him. “....and mojitos!”.
Kings Of Leon
~ “A lot of people loved our ﬁrst two records and they liked it maybe more than what we do now, and they’re sad that we’re changing our sound and stuff, but to us, we had to, we had no choice. As musicians, going back and listening to the things we did on the ﬁrst record and the second record, I can’t listen to it now. It makes me wanna die. It’s so bad. I just wish we’d kept it to ourselves.” ~
If things had gone according to plan, State shouldn’t even be talking to the Followills right now. After a lengthy tour for Because Of The Times, the band sequestered home to Nashville for some time off. “At ﬁrst, we all lived together. We were either on a bus together, in a dressing room together, on stage, an after-party, at home, a bar...”. “A woman,” interjects Jared mischievously, before retracting the statement in jest. “It’s the ﬁrst break we had, where we could buy houses, buy cars and actually be normal, live a normal life outside of the band,” continues Nathan. “We’re starting to enjoy life at home a little more, just because this is the ﬁrst time we got to experience being normal and grocery shopping, all that stuff.” When they got the call asking them to headline Glastonbury
earlier this year, the band ﬁgured they should prepare some new material, so they cut their break short. “A week off to us feels like three months,” claims Nathan. They hit the studio with producers Angelo Petraglia and Jacquire King on April 2 for six weeks to record the album that was to become Only By The Night. After each day recording, the band would retire to a nearby bar to hang out. Finding that the pressures of being in such close quarters all the time were gone, they began to enjoy each other’s company again, as well as the relative novelty of recording on familiar territory. “It’s such a big difference when you’re coming into the studio and you just slept in your own bed and your woman cooked you breakfast and you sat there and had a normal morning, as opposed to waking up in a hotel in LA, poppin’ in your rental car
Kings Of Leon
~ “A lot of drinks were consumed. Malibu and pineapple, mojitos, vodka, soda and lime. Anything that would get you drunk after drinking three or less! I can honestly say there wasn’t one song on this record where all four of us were sober. Not one single song.” ~
and driving 45 minutes in trafﬁc to the studio,” Nathan extols. “The thing about recording in LA is that you’ll ﬁnd yourself trying to get through the day so you can go out that night to whichever new club or restaurant is open.” That’s not to say the band’s now characteristic penchant for alcohol-fuelled good times didn’t play a part in the recording. “A lot of drinks were consumed. Malibu and pineapple, mojitos, vodka, soda and lime,” Nathan remembers. ”Anything that would get you drunk after drinking three or less! I can honestly say there wasn’t one song on this record where all four of us were sober. Not one single song.” “When we do a record,” he elaborates, “it’s more like drinking buddies getting together and strapping on your instruments and you just play. Some of our best recordings have been us in there, fuckin’ around. Just trying to get the pattern – like the verse, chorus and the bridge. We’ll go in there and run through it. Our producers said ‘That’s it. Great. Good job’. We had no idea they were even recording it. We’ll go back and listen to it and there’s no way we’re gonna outdo that. There are a good three or four songs on this record that we had no idea they were recording, like ‘Cold Desert’, ‘Seventeen’, a couple of b-sides.” So they didn’t take advantage of the studio environment and re-record mistakes? “The recreation of inspiration is very difﬁcult for us,” he answers. “We’re an ‘in-the-moment’ kind of a band. It might even be a case that someone fucked up but it was a good fuck-up, like a scar. It humanises you, makes you a cool band. Like anyone can go in there and use Pro Tools and cut a song up. Just listen to the radio. Every song out there nowadays is cut and pasted in this perfect little fashion. I think that’s one of the things that attracted people to us.”
Only By The Night is the band’s ﬁrst record not to feature the mixing, engineering and production work of Ethan Johns, who had been with the band as long as Petraglia: in other words, since the beginning. His departure was politely and amicably inﬂicted by the band. It seems the relationship had become strained and inhibited, as Nathan explains: “At the end of the last record, we knew it [the relationship] had run its course. We wanted to be a little bit more experimental and I think because Ethan did the very ﬁrst record with us, in his mind, we would always just be these young guys that need mentoring and tutoring. Like ‘You stick to the music and I’ll stick to the producing’. “With this record, we knew we wanted a more pro-active role as far as producing goes,” he continues. “We wanted our voices to be heard and wanted to make the record we wanted to make and not feel silly because we wanted to try something in the studio. I mean, making a record, you should never feel guilty or silly about trying anything because at the end of the day, you’re paying for it. You don’t want to feel like you’re wasting someone’s time ‘cos you’re not. That time was paid for. If we wanted to go in there and record us playing ping-pong for four days straight, we can do that. Why? Cos we’re paying for it. Angelo and Jacuire were so openminded and cool.” There’s certainly a shift happening on Only By The Night, albeit a slight one. While not as expansive or experimental as initial reports suggested, it deﬁnitely sounds like a band growing in conﬁdence; a natural progression from Because Of The Times, which embraced studio trickery with heavy reverb and a gargantuan, anthemic sound, a statement of their naked ambition. While it seems to the cynical amongst us, that the Kings got a taste for popularity, cut their hair, hired stylists and started to sound more like U2, the truth is simply a case of an absorption
of outside inﬂuences, from the resulting years of stepping outside their somewhat blinkered existence. The band count My Morning Jacket, Radiohead’s In Rainbows, MGMT and M83 as the music which is doin’ it for them these days. “Only By The Night is basically a continuation,” explains Nathan. “Because Of The Times is deﬁnitely different from any record we had made and I think that was kind of an insight into the direction we were going as a band. Towards the end of that album, it really opened our eyes. OK, you can make a record with songs other than a two and a half minute sweaty tune... like, boom. Because that’s what we were for the ﬁrst two records. “Y’know, this is the ﬁrst band any of us have ever been in, so it’s only natural to ﬁnd yourself, musically,” he elaborates. “This is the end result of touring non-stop for seven and a half, eight years and making four records. This is where we’ve gone naturally. I don’t think we ever sat down like, ‘OK the ﬁrst two sounded like this, we need to make this one sound like that’.” Jared follows that statement with a startling confession when State broaches him on their newly-acknowledged conﬁdence: “Just getting better and listening to yourself. With any walk of life, as a TV presenter or something like that, you’re going to feel pretty cringe-worthy about it but once you get the hang of it, you don’t have to think about it anymore and that’s us with music. I know a lot of people loved our ﬁrst two records and they liked it maybe more than what we do now and they’re sad that we’re changing our sound and stuff, but to us, we had to, we had no choice. As musicians, going back and listening to the things we did on the ﬁrst record and the second record, I can’t listen to it now. It makes me wanna die. It’s so bad. I just wish we’d kept it to ourselves.” It’s an unequivocal statement and one which should raise eyebrows, even to fans, but it does demonstrate where this band see themselves in the future and it’s not performing short, sharp archaic, classic rock songs. Musically, Only By The Night cements the band as Kings of Leon MK II. They have created their own unique brand of rock ‘n’ roll, informed by outside inﬂuences, and the album reﬂects that in its self-belief and assured musicianship. In particular, Caleb’s voice is stronger and clearer than ever and the album contains some of his best lyrics. “If you listen back to the recordings on the ﬁrst record, he sounds like a gremlin, a little demon or something,” laughs Jared.
Reports that the album was political in tone turn out to be exaggerated: the focus here is as it always was, apart from the odd diversion –girls and apocryphal tales of rock ‘n’ roll excess. Certainly, the myriad of femme fatales met on the road in years past has informed much of their work, with the Kings (or Caleb particularly) never coming out in a dominant position. With Nathan happily married and the others testing out relationships, nowadays, lyrics about the object of their affections are a little more heartfelt. New song ‘Use Somebody’, an album highlight, ﬁnds Caleb yearning for love (“I hope this will make you notice / someone like me”), while the piano ballad ‘Revelry’ is an ode to a girl who kept him sane in times of bacchanalian excess: “The time we shared was precious to me / All the while I was dealing in revelry”. Elsewhere, like the album’s opener, ‘Closer’, Caleb embodies the spirit of a vampire who rues an almost
Kings Of Leon
banshee-like female: “She took my heart / Then she took my soul”, so maybe he’s not quite ready to settle down just yet. ‘Revelry’ also contains the album’s most obvious reference to their rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and appears to be Caleb apologising for Rooster, the name given to his drunken alter-ego - “What a night for a dance / You know I’m a dancing machine / With ﬁre in my bones / And the sweet taste of kerosene / I get lost in life / So much I don’t want to come down”. It’s obvious Kings of Leon are a band with momentum and determination. When they talk of crowd numbers, they talk about playing to at least 3,000-5,000 “kids” a night, yet won’t be content until they are playing shows in the US to at least 15,000. At Glastonbury, the band played to an estimated 100,000 people. The three brothers in the band, Caleb, Nathan and Jared, brought their mother (now divorced from their father) along for the experience. “There were more people at that show than in the town where she lives in Tennessee, so I think it was pretty mindblowing for her,” says Nathan. “There were more people that saw us play that show than an entire American tour,” adds Jared. Coincidentally, that morning, their Dublin and Belfast shows, scheduled for December, sold out 23,000 tickets in minutes. State has the privilege of sharing that information with them, to which, Jared honestly sounds delighted: “Jesus, that’s awesome! I love Ireland”.
From their humble beginnings in the Deep South, the Followill brothers and cousin have conquered plenty and are well aware how lucky they are to have matured musically under the hand of a major label. “From day one, we’ve always said we want to box that career,” explains Nathan. “Even if that means taking our time, like U2. Joshua Tree was the record that did it for them. That was their fourth, ﬁfth record? [ﬁfth – Ed] Nowadays, you don’t get that opportunity to grow. If you’re not a hit, then boom: ‘We’ve got ﬁve bands who come in and will dress the way we tell them to dress, sing the songs we tell them to sing.’ I think we’re really fortunate that we are on our fourth record right now and people are still interested in us, still critically acclaimed.” “It’s so cool, ‘cos yesterday, it was made reality for me,” he tells State “I was in the shop and this girl came up and was like ‘Oh my god, I’m a huge fan. I came to your show on my 13th birthday: my dad brought me’. This girl was 19 years old, almost 20 and now a woman and it was really cool. That’s how our fanbase is. From day one, they were so intrigued and interested that we came across as a band that they wanted to grow with. They were interested in where we were gonna go next.” Even in the situation they are in, they claim not to be fazed by external forces. “The only thing we feel pressure with now is... keeping up with ourselves,” says Jared. “Because our last record was number one over here, it was our biggest record by far. It sold more than any other. Internally, you feel like if this doesn’t go to number one, it’s gonna feel weird for us because we’ve done it already.” Once you’re on the mountain-top,“ Nathan adds, “there’s nowhere to go.. unless you’ve got a helicopter. And we’re thinking of buying one of those. ”
Broken Social Scene Presents Brendan Canning
BRENDAN’S GRACE ~ Words by
toronto’s brendan canning has spent almost two decades in bands, from by divine right to hhead, before founding the massively successful and inﬂuential Canadian indie supergroup, Broken Social Scene. After almost 20 years playing bass, with just the occasional foray into singing, Canning has ﬁnally decided to step into the spotlight with his debut solo album, Something For All Of Us, under the Broken Social Scene Presents tag, like that of fellow BSS founder Kevin Drew last year. “The timing was good for me,” drawls Canning down the phone from his Toronto home. “It wasn’t necessarily me saying, ‘Right, it’s time to make a solo record’. It was more a case of my next-door neighbour, who had been asking me for a couple of years to come up to his studio, so I ﬁnally did. When we ﬁrst started recording, slowly but surely we realised that maybe we had a Brendan Canning solo record, as it were, on our hands. That was how it evolved.” State wondered if he had any nerves about stepping up to the microphone. “No,” he muses. “I was more looking forward to the opportunity and the challenge. It took a little while for me to ﬁnd out how best I ﬁt in vocally to tunes. To that date, I had only had a song per record with Broken Social Scene, but near the end of it, I was deﬁnitely comfortable enough to stand behind everything I’d done. But I also wanted to get different vocalists involved too, to even out the album, with Lisa Lobsinger on a tune; my bandmate Sam Goldberg takes a verse; Liz Powell from a band called Land Of Talk takes a verse; Kevin Drew and myself do a duet on ‘Churches Under The Stairs’.”
Like Drew’s Spirit If, Something For All Of Us isn’t really a ‘solo’ album in the traditional sense. The album credits list 20 musicians, as well as Canning himself, including fellow BSS
members Drew, Lisa Lobsinger and Sam Goldberg, as well as a host of friends and musical bedfellows. Canning’s girlfriend, Sarah Haywood, was the art director for the project, with artist Juliana Neufeld providing the stunning caricatures that make up the album sleeve – incidentally, the house in the background on the album cover is actually Canning’s Toronto home. As well as a stellar line-up of musicians, Something For All Of Us also takes in a wealth of styles and inﬂuences, from folk to punk, house to disco, funk to pop. Is that reﬂective of Canning’s own musical tastes? “Well, I’ve got my record collection here, all divided into categories: hip-hop, funk, soul, r‘n’b, reggae, African, Latin, classical, house, jazz, jazz vocal, jazz ‘60s and ‘70s, Kraftwerk have their own section. So, yeah, I like it all.” Was it important to him to get that mix of inﬂuences across on the album? “I think the mix is just gonna come out in the music I write,” he opines. “It’s not something where I say, ‘Oh, have I got the African bass-line covered?’ The more music I work on in this lifetime, hopefully, I’ll be able to explore all the avenues I want to explore.”
While he was recording, Canning was also the subject of a forthcoming documentary by Canadian ﬁlm director Bruce McDonald, which involved Canning’s studio being invaded by a full camera crew, but “just on one of the last days, when we were recording ‘Churches Under The Stairs’,” Canning sighs. “I don’t think I’d be able to make a record if I had a camera crew there all the time, even though they were a very mellow crew that he had working with him; they’re great guys. But it was ﬁne for one day. When I look back at the documentary and see the studio footage,
Broken Social Scene Presents Brendan Canning
~ “It’s a privilege to be doing what we’re doing and you don’t want to be saying, ‘Oh no, I can’t do that’. You’re being given great opportunities so you might as well take advantage of them while you can.” ~
it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s why I don’t want camera crews in the studio’.” The documentary wasn’t Canning’s ﬁrst encounter with the director. The BSS man, along with some fellow musicians, scored McDonald’s most recent movie, The Tracey Fragments, which stars Ellen Page of Juno fame, a creative process very different to his usual musical work. “It’s a case of just watching the faces up on the screen and trying to nail down some moods and some sort of emotional elements that you feel is going on on screen and trying not to overshadow that,” he states, “trying to be part of the ﬁlm-making process without being too heavy handed.” He enjoyed the process immensely. “It’s quite a dark little ﬁlm, but despite that, I really enjoyed it. It’s deﬁnitely not a ﬁlm for everyone and it’s quite the antithesis of Juno.”
Aside from scoring art-house movies, Canning has more side projects than a self-employed tradesman. As well as this solo work and his ongoing BSS commitments, Canning is also involved in a band with Spiral Stairs of Pavement fame. “He curated a festival in Alberta, Canada, called the Sled Island Festival, and we put a band together for a one-off gig and we had such a good time, we’re thinking about recording some of that in September. There’s lots of stuff in the works.” The bearded bassist is planning to tour Something For All Of Us in Europe in early 2009 (“Ireland is in our sights for touring because it’s one of our favourite stops on the European touring circuit”), and also hopes to start work on a new Broken Social Scene album. “I’m hoping for next summer,” he avows. “I can’t say with any sort of deﬁnitive yes or no statement but the plan is to get writing near the end of this year. We were going to get writing in November but we just got offered some dates with REM. I saw REM up here with The National and Modest Mouse, and that was really good: I hadn’t seen REM since 1987. I thought this time they
were maybe a little better than the previous time, a little more engaging. It’s funny what the years do to a band, make you forget why you thought it was such a hassle in the ﬁrst place,” he laughs. With so many creative projects going on, you could accuse the affable Canuck of being a workaholic. “I’m deﬁnitely not a workaholic,” he chuckles. “I’m working right now to get out of town so I can get a couple of days vacation. But I think, often there are things that come up and at this stage in the game, you can’t really be turning down good opportunities. It’s a privilege to be doing what we’re doing and you don’t want to be saying, ‘Oh no, I can’t do that’. You’re being given great opportunities so you might as well take advantage of them while you can.”
Canning is certainly not going to let opportunities pass him by. He uses a short space at the end of the album credits to advise people to “exercise your right to refuse plastic bags when you shop”. “It’s drives me around the bend, people going to the store, getting a pack of chewing gum and a small carton of milk and needing a bag for it,” he opines. “I think a lot of people don’t even think about it and it’s a serious waste problem we got going on up here.” When State informs Canning of Ireland’s plastic bag tax, he mumbles appreciatively. As well as being an uber-busy musician, ﬁlm scorer, documentary star and committed environmentalist, Canning is also a conﬁrmed football fanatic. Indeed, his homepage on the Arts & Crafts website shows Canning on his couch, wearing a Barcelona jersey (complete with his name on the back) watching last season’s Champions League semi ﬁnal between Man United and Barcelona. “I’m actually a Liverpool fan,” he chuckles. “But I don’t know how many of their games I’ll get to see. I don’t have Setanta. I guess if I got that channel, I’d never leave the house.”
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State reviews & previews
Oasis return to the fray with arguably their finest hour since (What’s The Story) Morning Glory; the long-awaited debuts from Lisa Hannigan and Fight Like Apes; Kings Of Leon go global; Mercury Rev go digital; and introductions to Rarely Seen Above Ground, The Hedge Schools and One Day International. Phew!
★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★ ★★ ★
NYC’s finest MC, Derry’s punk past and the meeting of minds between Brian Eno and David Byrne.
Why do most US-made re-interpretations of British shows suck? Maia Dunphy has a theory and she wants you to hear it.
Todd Hayne’s quasi-biopic of Dylan comes under the State microscope; The Wire calls it a day and David Duchovny tries to shag his way through the whole of LA.
Viking legends and big fuck-off lasers: too good to be true? Too Human reviewed. Plus, the latest in the Brothers In Arms series and a dungeon crawler that will drive you insane.
When former Ten Speed Racer, Pat Barrett was recovering from a near-fatal brain aneurism, he penned a host of beautiful, uplifting songs, which he then set about recording, with old mucker Joe Chester on board. The result is the sublime, heart-felt, life-affirming Never Leave Anywhere, from The Hedge Schools.
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