The Thin Air Magazine: Issue 6

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Feature Feel Unreal’s Steven Gannon // Track Record Sleep Thieves’ Sorcha Brennan
 Not Gospel Salutations To Mr. Spock // Column Feat. ASIWYFA Drummer Chris Wee

 ISSUE #006 | APRIL 2015 | FREE

– Villagers: An Act of Courage U






M U S I C M U S I C & &









M U S I C M U S I C & &










Foreword / Contents Editor Brian Coney @brianconey Deputy Editor/ Photo Editor Loreana Rushe @loreana Art Director Stuart Bell @stubell_ Reviews Editor Andrew Lemon @_andrewlemon_

Cover photo: Loreana Rushe

Guide Editor Stevie Lennox @stevieisms Contributors: Conor Callanan Brian Coldrick Brian Coney Aaron Corr Carlos Daly Abigail Denniston Aoife Dooley Liam Doyle Mark Earley Aidan Hanratty James Hendicott Aidan Kelly Murphy Joe Laverty Stevie Lennox Joe Madsen Sara Marsden Cathal McBride Sean McCormack Justin McDaid Mike McGrath-Bryan Colm Moore Joe Nawaz Brid O’Donovan Steven Rainey Loreana Rushe Conor Smyth Tara Thomas Dean Van Nguyen Jonathan Wallace Chris Wee @the_thin_air

Two Years Down Or Six Months In?


n Saturday, May 2, The Thin Air turns two at Dublin’s rather lovely Twisted Pepper with Rusangano Family, Night Trap, Robocobra Quartet, BATS and Little Gem DJs, as well as our headliners, Dublin cosmic heft overlords No Spill Blood. Unwise quantities of beer will be disappeared, questionable shapes will be thrown and – following the inevitable Kafkaesque hangover – life will indeed go on. Needless to say, your presence on the night would be very much appreciated. Obligatory plug aside, whilst we are still very much bambinos in

the journalistic ball-pool of life, as we approach this milestone in our musical and cultural traipse to date, reflecting upon the last 700 odd days of reviewing, previewing and shooting (with cameras, you understand) reveals some pretty rad highlights, not least launching this old rag six months ago. Yes, we’ve sprouted from dribbling newborns unsteady on our feet to heady, giddy toddlers, thirsting for challenges and new horizons. Roll on the next two years, I say – and, sure, another twenty-odd for good luck. Enjoy issue #006! Brian Coney

Contents Photo of the Month ����������������� 4 Projection ������������������������������� 5 Inbound ��������������������������������� 8 Chris Wee ������������������������������ 11 The First Time ���������������������� 12 Stacks On Deck ���������������������� 13 Feature: Shot Glass �����������������14 Track Record: Sleep Thieves �� 16 Feature: Villagers ������������������ 18

Primer: One Strong Arm ��������� 22 Reviews ��������������������������������24 Live ���������������������������������������26 Feature: Feel Unreal ���������������28 The Record: Sissy ������������������� 31 Not Gospel: Leonard Nimoy ���� 32 88mph ����������������������������������34 Agony Uncle �������������������������� 35

Grab an exclusive free download of M8 by Not Squares:

April 2015


– Photo of the Month

Photo of the Month Sean McCormack


Booka Brass Band, Roisin Dubh Image: Sean McCormack


ach month our photo editor Loreana Rushe selects one stand-out gig image from our fantastic team of hard working photographers. The photographer gets the opportunity to showcase their pic and share a few insights into how they captured it. Loreana: Since we’re launching our magazine in Galway this month I wanted to turn our attention to one of the best venues in the city and one of the best photographers working out of there presently who we’re lucky to call part of the TTA team: the Róisín Dubh

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and Sean McCormack. I’ll let Sean discuss in his own words. Sean: There’s been a lot of brass through the Róisín Dubh, from local bands like The Horny Devils and The Lewd Tunes, right through to the Hot 8 Brass Band and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. That’s a lot of musicians crammed on a small stage. I’m from Barcelona have managed it, but it’s still a tight fit for the Booka Brass Band in this shot. The shot is from the very start of the gig. I tend to begin the night on the stage right side, because from here the light is casting a shadowfrom the other side it’s a

bit flat, but you need that sometimes when the light is low. The Róisín Dubh is a fabulous venue, but the lights can be hit and miss. With such a large band, I knew the lighting would be fairly static. The band came onstage and I just had a feeling something was going to happen in front of me. Some of the band prepped to played, but the guys on the left didn’t so I focused on them. As soon as the band kicked off they grabbed the mic and roared into it. I fired a few shots and this is one of them.


Projection Blade Runner


EARS IN RAIN. These words uttered by Rutger Hauer from a speech he came up with at 3am in the morning on the last day of shooting sum up Blade Runner and its extraordinary genesis, demise and rebirth. Before the film’s initial release in 1982 disappointing initial test screenings caused Blade Runner’s backers to lose their nerve and they preceded to do a hatchet job on director Ridley Scott’s original vision to please audiences who couldn’t understand the film. They inserted a ‘happy’ ending- comprised of outtakes from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining if that isn’t ironic enough- and a nuts and bolts voice-over that allegedly Harrison Ford hated so much he deliberately tried to sabotage it by performing it as badly as possible. The film was savaged by the critics and barely scraped

back its at the time huge budget of $28 million (Star Wars had been made five years earlier for around $10 million). Blade Runner was a stunning failure, but it was a miracle it had got this far. Blade Runner was born out of coincidence, conflict and inspiration: Ridley Scott only took the job in the end due to a desire to throw himself into work after the death of his older brother; cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth was struggling with Parkinson’s; while the arduous shoot saw the director clash with his crew daily, resulting in the infamous ‘T-shirt war’; and even the film’s quintessential question- is Deckard a replicant?was the result of a misunderstanding between the film’s two writers due to them working separately on the script. The film’s eventual rebirth came about after

an ‘accidental’ screening of the film on 70mm in the early nineties, which eventually resulted in the 1992 director’s cut and a groundswell of interest in the film. The story behind Blade Runner is as fascinating as the film itself and in a way it has been this story that has transformed people’s perceptions of the film with documentaries such as On The Edge of Blade Runner (2000) as well as books such as Paul M. Sammon’s Future Noir (1996) delving into the film’s production and also adding to the seemingly endless debate about the film’s legacy and the nature of its protagonist. Finally with the 2007 version, Blade Runner: The Final Cut, signed off by Ridley Scott audiences were able to see the film in all its magnificence- a work of art and a collaboration between geniuses at their creative peaks and a film that is one-hundred-percent pure cinema and demands to be seen on the big screen. Altogether now, “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe...” Richard Davis Blade Runner: The Final Cut is showing at Queens Film Theatre from Friday 3 to Thursday April 9

– Projection

Blade Runner: The Final Cut
 With Queen’s Film Theatre’s resident cinephile Richard Davis

April 2015



Belfast Film Festival Preview

– Projection



ime to dig out your best sitting-down trousers, as the Belfast Film Festival returns for its fifteenth year. With over one hundred films in ten days, it’s part celebration, part endurance test. Opening night duties fall to local legend Mark Cousins, premiering his I Am Belfast, a dream-like exploration of the city’s identity and history that promises to go beyond acrossthe-barricade clichés (Cousins’ meditation on D. H. Lawrence, 6 Desires, is also being screened). At the tail-end of the programme is Stephen Fingleton’s post-collapse drama The Survivalist, with Martin McCann as a loner living off the land amongst the Ballymoney and Bishopscourt greenery. The local flavour continues with Shooting for Socrates,

a comedy set against the 1986 World Cup, Spirit of ’58, Evan Marshall’s doc charting Northern Ireland’s improbable grab for a World Cup semi-final spot and mental illness love story Patrick’s Day from the Republic’s Terry McMahon. Pack your passport for some of international cinema’s finest: Roy Andersson’s absurdist and darkly comic A Pigeon Sat on A Branch Reflecting on Existence, Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s gang of deaf young offenders in The Tribe and new work from Portugese and German auteurs Pedro Costa and Christian Petzold. Religion and revolution come under the spotlight in Timbuktu’s story of fanaticism in the desert, John Stewart’s docudrama Rosewater, based on journalist Maziar Bahari’s arrest and interrogation in Iran, and documentaries on uprisings old and new. From the States there’s Jason Schwartzman’s tweedy, needy writer in Alex Ross Perry’s viscous Listen Up Philip and Michael Shannon’s characteristically intense real estate shark in 99 Homes.

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Probably the most highprofile horror is Ana Lily Amirpour’s hip vampire riff A Girl Walks Home at Night and Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer’s fameas-sickness parable Starry Eyes, but there’s a generous line-up with some ripe outrageousness: densely demonic ‘70s classics Don’t Deliver Us From Evil and Messiah of Evil, gory Italian homage The Editor and Irish ghost story The Canal. And don’t miss Tokyo Tribe, a hip-hop musical about warring street gangs in a futuristic Japan, as well as tributes to the late, great Gerry Anderson. A wide range of special events includes a Network screening at BBC’s Blackstaff Studio, Blazing Saddles and Spinal Tap at the Black Box, Holmes mystery Murder by Decree in The Masonic Lodge, Eraserhead with a live score at The MAC, counter-culture classic If… at QUB’s Great Hall and Wireless Mystery Theatre’s rendition of Hitchock’s Dial M for Murder in the Opera House. And the shorts! And the workshops! Get on it folks! Conor Smyth The Belfast Film Festival runs April 1625. Tickets available at

THE HOME OF INDEPENDENT CINEMA IN NORTHERN IRELAND Open 7 nights a week, QFT screens the very best in new and classic films from across the world.

QFT FILM CARD Get £2.70 off every film you see* plus invitations to special events, exclusive meal deals, free tea and coffee refills & much more.


Free parking in Queen’s University every night. *Certain exclusions may apply, check website for details.

April 2015

7 queensfilmtheatre QFTBelfast QFTBelfast

Everything Shook


eaturing Jessica Kennedy and Aine Stapleton, from You Can Call Me Frances, and Robyn Blomfield AKA Catscars – Dublin three-piece Everything Shook have managed to combine elements of these projects rather cursive on their debut EP, Argento Nights. Keyboards, synths and glockenspiel as well as a wide variety of sound effects courtesy of Blomfield’s Korg DS, are ever present throughout the EP and when you add in the girls’ haunting harmonising, Everything Shook’s opening chapter keeps you guessing. A countdown-like synth kicks off ‘I Walked Past


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Your House’, a track that reveals a particularly discerning observational account of one night, containing lines such as: “overwhelmed by the moonlight/I became a waterfall of fright” and “dread in my whole body”. As murky as those lyrics may be, the song also highlights the impressive vocal attributes of the trio, who harmonise effortlessly throughout. ‘Come Back To Mine’ is heavier on the synth and keyboard sounds and it also contains more of an electro-pop vibe to ‘I Walked Past Your House’. Vocal duties are a little harder to pin down however, with every other line having a seemingly different singer, though

the chorus of “cool ye/ boil ye/bake ye” sees all three back in sync. Final track ‘Misericord’ is the weakest of the three efforts, with some of the sound effects sounding forced and like they could accompany a cartoon villain’s entrance. There’s an eerie feel to Kennedy’s keyboard playing, while the bass is so low in the mix it’s easily missed so here it feels a little light weight.

 The band’s brand of minimal electro-pop may contain the odd dark lyrical theme or two, but by adding some rather quirky instrumentation to proceedings they have managed to bring a unique element to the genre. Conor Callanan

Photo: Abigail Denniston

– Inbound –

Inbound Everything Shook

Inbound Inni-K


The album release looks all set to lift her profile

still further, with the butterfly-subtle beauty of Irish language tracks like ‘Find Your Beat’ and ‘Ar Gor’ adding gorgeous depth to dreamy summer sunshine numbers like ‘Flower Relay’ and ‘DNA’. It’s a whole greater than its parts: a relaxing cumulative listen that drifts and transports. Inni-K’s a multiinstrumentalist. She layers her own performances on piano, ukulele and fiddle with the most subtle of electronic loops, giving a fairly traditional soundscape augmented by more modern techniques. It’s the vocal that gives her music its delicacy, the feel-good vibe delivered by the gentle construction of a low-key sonic backdrop.

Single ‘Come With Me’ stands out as a playful pop number, but there’s ample emotional and musical depth to be had throughout Inni-K’s work to date. For fans of Julie Feeney, Efterklang, Amiina and being in a good mood, this is playful, organic, beautiful indie-folk at its finest that belongs in a flowery glade somewhere surrounded by chirping birds. Televised mini-fest Other Voices recognised Inni-K’s class as far back as 2011 and featured her as an emerging artist. ‘The King Has Two Horse’s Ears’ is about to have the rest of Ireland wide awake to this startlingly mild-angled and deeply promising folk pop singer. James Hendicott

April 2015


– Inbound –

Photo: Tara Thomas


aving released her colourfullytitled debut album ‘The King Has Two Horse’s Ears’ in February, Inni-K’s quirky style emphasizes a dreamy, surrealist approach to music. The Kildare singer raised the funds for her debut through a successful Fund:It campaign last year, cashing in on a groundswell of local support that’s pushed her to some unusual highs. She’s toured the world with dance theatre troop Fabulous Beast, played with Wallis Bird and Malian folk legend Toumani Diabate, and turned up in many an Irish festival field.

Inbound Guilty Optics / Naoise Roo

Guilty Optics rhythm guitar/drum duo and now on its second drummer and bassist, but beyond a couple of singles, namely ‘White Teeth’ and ‘Down to Business’, the lads need a jump start that will hurdle them beyond the Midnight Hour at Whelan’s. No doubt the Camden Street hall has helped them carve out a crowd of followers for their sultry, mood-imbued sound. It’s a helpful spot to be in, and comfortable at that. The turnout of

their upcoming full-length album will show if they’re ready and willing to break that comfort zone. In the meantime, the listening is solid, even if it’s limited. Joe Madsen

Naoise Roo


elf-described alternative rock artist Naoise Roo does herself a humble injustice with that label. It certainly fits the angsty desert grunge-lite of 2014 debut single ‘Oh Son’, but

followed this up with the darkly brooding Fiona Apple-esque electronicatinged indie of ‘For You’, which is, interestingly, the first of a two-part track taken from her debut album, Lilith, released this month. And Lilith, like everything we’ve been drip-fed thus far, pulls in a lot of directions. The gutsy eclecticism throughout Lilith recalls the nocompromise ethos of PJ Harvey, Nick Cave &


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Radiohead, but is always underpinned by Roo’s beguiling vocal and knack for a sardonic, self-aware witticism. Spacious, measured tension threads together her forthcoming full-length, recorded in just eight days with some of her most trusted collaborators – who’ve played in the likes of Friend?, Myles Manley and Stu Daly. 

 It seems Naoise Roo has arrived fully-formed from the onset. Stevie Lennox.

Guilty Optics: Loreana Rushe, Naoise Roo: Colm Moore

– Inbound –


aving garnered a regular spot in the Whelan’s Live circuit these past few years, Dublin rock trio Guilty Optics look poised to release their long-awaited album. The garage punk crew proudly steer clear of poppy trends and let their craft live in a world of fast-paced, downstroke rock. Their only obstacle is their limited exposure. Granted, the band is still finding itself, having started as a

Chris Wee

Fanboy & Long-Haired Guy And So I Watch You From Afar drummer Chris Wee met his all-time biggest influence. Hilarity ensued.


msterdam, June 2010. The last night of tour. Always a good time to unwind a bit and get chatting to anyone you haven’t got to know as well as you may have liked to. So tonight I’m choosing long-haired guy. I approach him in the corridor that joins our dressing rooms - it’s a little terrifying so I’m wearing two glasses of wine as armour.

millions of possible outcomes it chooses this: “Dave, I’d just like to say that you are the biggest inspiration to me as a drummer, you’re the reason I started playing (fanboy level: maximum) and I started out playing simple beats by listening along to you playing on ‘Dive’.

The guy staring back at me is the very reason I began playing drums, the reason I’m in bands, the reason why I hit hard when I play, thus explaining my trail of decimated cymbals over the years. So as I stand before this musical legend, my hero, my inspiration, with my one chance to properly converse with him, my brain is calculating the plethora of things to say and out of the

Mr Grohl accepted my ramblings kindly and after some more nonsense from me that I can’t recall, I had a picture taken with him then said our goodbyes. Fanboy level: life goal achieved. Fast forward two weeks, I’m at home and going about my day, with memories of that incredible tour with Them Crooked Vultures firmly embedded in my memories. I’d shared a stage with my biggest hero and I hadn’t disgraced myself. Then suddenly a freight trainload of monstrous realisation hits me. Chad Channing played on Dive. Chris Wee

Photo: Joe Laverty

We shake hands and exchange the usual pleasantries about the show that you would with any band you’ve shared a stage with. This would normally be a straightforward and relaxed encounter for me, however the current level of fanboy

that is coursing through my body at this very moment is, unfortunately for long haired guy, interfering with that part of my brain controlling rational thought. Long haired guy is Dave Grohl.

April April 2015 2015

11 11

The First Time R51

Melyssa Shannon – R51 –

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First album you bought? Embarrassingly enough, I think it was a Wheatus album. Got it in the big Virgin Megastore (RIP) in Belfast. First single you bought? Ha, em, ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ (on tape). Then I saved all my pocket money up for the album from the previous question! First gig? My dad used to take me to gigs all the time when I was a kid, but the first gig I went to without a parent was Jimmy Eat World in the Ulster Hall in 2005. First album you properly loved? Placebo’s 1998 album Without You I’m Nothing. My dad bought it for himself and I sneaked it from him and played it to death! First artist/band to change your life? Marilyn Manson was probably the first artist I totally obsessed over. I guess I

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probably should have ‘outgrown’ him by now, but I just haven’t! First band t-shirt? A men’s XL Slipknot t-shirt when I was going through my ‘baggy clothes’ stage of life. First song you learnt from start to finish? I once learned one of my old bands crazy instrumental tracks on my keytar. Never played it live with them though, probably for good reason! First original song you wrote? I wrote a song with a friend when we were like fourteen. It was a typical ‘teenage romantic tragedy’ and it shall never see the light of day! First musical hero/idol you ever met? Not a musical hero or idol of mine, but Van Morrison told me to fuck off when I asked for his autograph once.

Photo: Joe Laverty

– The First Time

Photographer Joe Laverty shoots and delves into the music-making, listening and loving firsts of R51 frontwoman Melyssa Shannon.

From Belfast to the Bay


Illustration: Aoife Dooley

hen assembling the instrumentals for his recentlyreleased mixtape Thurlian, A-1 cast his gaze far beyond his native San Francisco. So wide, in fact, that the eclectic rapper caught sight of a piece that originally appeared on Belfast electronic musician Bear//Face’s 2012 release Beat_Tape. Jacking the track ‘Taste My Sad’ and flipping it into his woozy single ‘Good People’, A-1 – whose Facebook profile describes his sound as ‘Cerebral Western Outlaw Music’ – crafted a blissful slice of frosty cloud rap. For Bear//Face, it must have been a thrill. The twinkling Beat_Tape was reactive to the early noughties proliferation of cloud rap – a hip-hop sub-genre that inverses the traditional ethos of fat bass lines and crackling jazz samples, trading them in for hollowed-

out instrumentals with a focus on lots of dead space, ethereal textures, and chopped ‘n’ screwed vocal loops lifted straight from the Dirty South. It’s proved the philosophy of choice these last few years for artists like Cities Aviv, SpaceGhostPurrp, Lil B and Cloud Casino, but got pushed way into the mainstream by the fashionable Harlemite, A$AP Rocky. Bear//Face himself even put out unauthorised remixes of the rappers’ ‘Long Live A$AP’ and ‘PMW (All I Really Need)’ a couple years back. If Bear//Face has been seeking to work with an elite rapper like Rocky, he could do a lot worse than A-1. The half-Italian, half-Senegalese MC’s voice has a mild but definitely noticeable rasp to it, giving his flow a razor sharp edge. On ‘Good People’, he allows himself to lean into the laid-back track, before

shifting up a gear and rapping in double quick time as the Irishman’s beat picks up pace. Elsewhere on Thurlian, A-1 proudly bares his Bay Area roots on the hyphy dance floor banger ‘There I Go’. While on ‘Sunday Disco’, he attempts to tackle another pinched instrumental – this time it’s the sparking keyboard riffs of producer Kaytranada’s ‘Seeu Enni Way’. The music is so eccentrically fantastic that the rapper can barely stay on beat, but he keeps his vocal loose enough that the whole thing works. How the ‘Taste My Sad’ instrumental made to A-1, or whether the duo have ever had any real contact, I do not know. But the unlikely team-up highlights how killer a long-form project in that vein could be for Bear// Face. If, of course, he pinpoints a rapper who is worthy of his cuts. Dean Van Nguyen

April 2015


– Stacks on Deck

Belfast producer Bear//Face and San Francisco rapper A-1 combine to make a blissful slice of cloud rap, writes Dean Van Nguyen.

Feature Shot Glass

– Shot Glass –


Joe Nawaz on his theatrical venture with a difference.

ike theatre, but in a pub. In a pub, with theatre. Pub theatre. What better environment to stage (or rather unstage) little shots of performance than the arena where so many little performances are enacted night after night? That was almost certainly the original line of thinking behind Shot Glass when myself and several likeminded - that is mutually


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tipsy – comrades first loudly extolled our declaration of intent. 

 Unlike my bladder, in the cold light of morning, the notion still ably held water. Really, the origins of Shot Glass were seeded in a shared and growing sense of disaffection with the processes of local theatre, the permissions required, the hands to be gladded and the cross-eyed teeing up of

various stakeholder interests. We wanted to show – like punk and Cliff in the Young Ones before us – that it is possible to do the show “here and now”, without the aching prog-like formality and time-and-space devouring demands that “conventional” theatre often demands.
 Which leads me to the real raison d’etre of Shot Glass. Yes, we have a raison d’etre. Although my Shot Glass

Feature Shot Glass

Photo: Sara Marsden

partner, John Higgins, insists it’s a terrible name for a health food store, he agrees that they are terribly useful for explaining oneself beyond hubris and naivety. In our case, Shot Glass is a reaction to the Cathedrals of Culture notion of theatre. The hushed reverence, the chasm between stage and audience. The wilful mystique of the writing, directing, acting processes. What could be more democratic than plays produced in a pub? People can talk, walk, drink - heck … even think out loud if they so choose. We also wanted Shot Glass to be about more than the writing, the acting, the direction. The play wasn’t necessarily “the thing”; Shot Glass was. A couple of hits of performance, a good old catch up and a bitch and maybe a dance along to John ‘n’ Joe’s achingly immobile disco afterwards – a little Can always engenders the postmatch analytic juices we find.
 Our first Shot Glass in the Sunflower – the finest public house in Belfast incidentally – felt like taking a running jump into the fog on the strength of a mad-man’s assertion that we weren’t at a cliff edge. Were we vainglorious buffoons to even think this was “a goer”? Would it be just us the actors and a smattering of relatively sympathetic kinfolk to

“Shot Glass is a reaction to the Cathedrals of Culture notion of theatre. The hushed reverence, the chasm between stage and audience.” ineffectually balm the gaping wound of embarrassment?
 Na. We’re still vainglorious buffoons, but fortunately, it turns out people really enjoy hanging out in a convivial cultural environment with great performances and company, where going to the toilet or unwrapping a Werthers original doesn’t earn you the scorn of your fellows. Nor did people talk, yawn or check their phones – it also turns out, if you treat audiences like grownups they’ll treat your efforts accordingly. But I guess it also helps to be good.
 Two sold-out shows in the Sunflower, and our recent sold-out Christmas special on All Fools Day (but that my friends is another story…) later, and Shot Glass is still standing. Better than that, it’s doing star jumps whist

sporting a ruck sack weighted with boulders. And it doesn’t look in danger of doing its back in just yet. With a run at the forthcoming Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival and more Shots later this year in The Sunflower and even a film in the offing, the future is looking remarkably rosy from the bottom of our glass.
 To writers, directors, actors and audiences who haven’t imbibed yet – come join us. We think we may have just the tipple. Joe Nawaz To get involved or find out more about Shot Glass contact them via shotglasstheatre@gmail. com or join their Facebook page. Shot Glass returns with Three Strikes at the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival on May 4 and 5 in the Dark Horse Pub.

April April 2015 2015

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– Sleep Thieves –

These are the top eight albums that I own on vinyl. There’s a bit of a gap post 1989 and pre 2010ish where I mainly bought tapes - and later CDs - and haven’t yet managed to replace my favourites on vinyl. I think this list probably gives away the fact that I like big, atmospheric, cinematic and moody music. There’s a mix of the happy and the melancholy. I listen to music in just about every spare minute of my time, whether online or radio but I like the ritual of sitting down and taking time to put on a record and actively listening the most. In no particular order:

Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night 
 I’ve cheated with this one, but I have a tape deck in my car and whenever


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the band drive to any gigs this is the soundtrack. We have listened to it as many as five times in a row. It’s a sing-a-long classic, but it’s also an inspiration to us.

Why? Eskimo Snow
 One of my favourite bands and favourite songwriters (Yoni Wolf). With his juxtaposition of gritty images, perfect melodies, hip hop, rapping and off beat rhythms I love all of Why?’s albums. I love how the band and show change with each tour and release.

Metronomy The English Riveria
 The soundtrack to a particularly good holiday in the French Riveria. Four of us had brought numerous methods of listening to music but it turned out the hire car only took CDs. We had this album and Sebastien Tellier. The perfect soundtrack. I thought they were a breath of fresh air at Electric Picnic last year where they had the entire crowd smiling and dancing in equal measures.

Casper the cat ‘japes’ around. Photo: Aaron Corr

Sorcha Brennan from Dublin electro-pop threesome Sleep Thieves handpicks a selection of records that have left an indelible imprint on her music and life.

Track Record Sleep Thieves

Kate Bush Director’s Cut
 I’d like to own every Kate Bush release on vinyl, but I don’t… yet. This was a present and I love it. I have always been a massive Kate Bush fan, and have everything on tape or cd and I don’t think I will ever tire of her voice. I love that she continues to make music and the song “This Woman’s Work’, for me, sums up her passion and integrity as a musician and songwriter.

M83 Hurry Up We’re Dreaming
 M83 were like a bolt of lightning when I first discovered them. Always soaring, pulsing, dramatic and atmospheric their music has an identity of its own whilst drawing lots of inspiration the past. Seeing them in Vicar Street 2008 remains one of my favourite live gigs, and although the line-up has changed since I’m still enjoying their dramatic and grand take on synth/guitar music.

Austra Feel It Break
 I found Austra because Niall Byrne (AKA Nialler9) posted a video of their gig in Austin at SXSW some years ago. They were almost unknown

then and this performance seemed to spark a lot of press and interest. The music resonated with me. I love how Katie Stelmanis’s voice was unapologetically trained and almost operatic, not something I would normally like but it worked perfectly as the music swirled in and around each note. I love how it is so danceable without the need for high BPMs. It maintains moodiness while still drawing you in to dance.

Jape Ocean of Frequency What can I say about Richie Egan’s musical output? I’ve loved every album. I think Richie is a master of the perfect turn of phrase paired with the most singable melody. I’ll never get bored of ‘Scorpio’.

Glasser Ring
 Released in 2010 this album had the mix of beats, synths, sounds and female vocals that we have become accustomed to hearing on the radio and online in the last few years but at the time Cameron Mesirow’s set up was more unusual. She had written and produced the songs and then worked alongside other technologically-skilled musicians to recreate the songs as a live entity. I like the tribal sounding beats, gutsy basses and her amazing vocal range.

April 2015




n a revealing tête-à-tête, Villagers’ Conor O’Brien talks to Brian Coney about siding with his heart over his head on his highlyanticipated third album, Darling Arithmetic.

 “I don’t think I could have written this album a few years ago. I really didn’t want to put stuff out there


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then, you know? Whereas this time I was just putting it all out there.” So says thirty-two-year-old Conor O’Brien, equally earnest and enthusiastic, sat in a spacious upstairs room in Dublin’s Workman’s Club frozen in time with plush vintage furniture and bounding retro wallpaper. On the eve of the release of his forthcoming,

altogether exceptional album, Darling Arithmetic, he’s touching upon the pain and upheaval that, following a period of considerable reflection, has ensured his latest record is as positively indispensable as the last.

 Whilst his critically-acclaimed second album {Awayland} was only released in January

Feature Villagers

2013, the deliberately lo-fi – not to mention exceedingly intimate – nature of Darling Arithmetic feels many more years removed. Was the album’s almost voyeuristic intimacy intended? “In some ways, I guess it was. I started in the same way as the other two albums in that I sat down to do the demos,” reveals O’Brien. “I had intended to bring those to the studio but about half-way through the process I was like, “Shit, these are actually quite intimate songs” and liked how they sounded like they were recorded at home. I guess I didn’t really want them to sound too guarded either because they’re quite open and personal, so it made sense to keep the performances that I thought were just going to be demos. I think the whole thing took around eight months.”

 Bearing a certain candid likeness to his sparse and sublime 2010 debut album, Becoming a Jackal, it takes just one full listen of Darling Arithmetic to sense just how astute O’Brien’s decision to resist the desire to layer the initial foundation of the record was. Written, recorded, produced and mixed in the loft of a converted farmhouse that he shares in the coastal town of Malahide, North Dublin, he opted very much in favour of stripping things

back to their very core. “I recorded on an old Akai 16-track that I got when I was 19,” he says, with an air of pride. “So it wasn’t very professional at all. The only thing that made it relatively posh was that I was using a really nice pre-amp - the only good piece of equipment on it. But everything else is just my demo equipment really. For ‘Courage’ - the first song on the album - I had literally just finished writing it. The version that I initially got down is the version that’s on the album.”

 And what an opener the album’s lead single is. Uncomplicated and breathtakingly beautiful, it betrays a depth of honesty and an air of self-acceptance that permeates the entire album. “The song is self-explanatory, really,” says O’Brien. “It’s about the end of a relationship and accepting that and moving on. It’s about quite literally having courage and using things that could get you down to try to strengthen you.” Indeed, with those words very much in mind, there is a definite sense that O’Brien has passed through a cold and stormy night, only to quietly wield his forthright tales and gently-strummed

songs in the pale sanctity of the early morning light. “I’d done metaphor to death,” he adds. “I thought that with the last album I couldn’t go any further with that, nor with lots of instrumentation and filling songs up. That was the peak of having loads of ideas and trying to fill them all into one song. Sure, it was fun and an interesting project but this time it was much more a case of having one idea and going with it; trying to let the listener finish off the song themselves by leaving some space for a bit of contemplation.”

 Not unlike his previous fulllength effort, the album’s title also has a curious significance all of its own – in this case, a formulaic approach directly stemming from the deepest well of love. “It’s named after the song on the album,


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Feature Villagers

which was actually written before {Awayland},” reveals O’Brien. “It’s the earliest song that features on the album. Beforehand, I couldn’t really see myself performing or putting it out there because it’s about bereavement and missing someone who’s died and I wrote it for myself completely for myself. I think the fact that it was such a personal song and all the words are so direct, I was able to write it in code, almost. Like, the word “arithmetic” is such a non-human thing, so every time I got to the end of a verse I was like, “My darling…” instead of the person’s name. I just wanted a completely non-human “thing”. I was reading about the idea of arithmetic being the basis of all mathematics and everything and I saw some symbolic value with that and seeing your loved ones as being the base of everything.”

 The personal quality of the album also extended further into the recording process; O’Brien deciding to record all the instruments himself. It became much less a case of “Villagers, fronted by Conor O’Brien” and more one of “Villagers AKA Conor O’Brien”. “Initially, I thought it was going to be a real orchestrated album,” O’Brien says. “Cormac (Curran)


The Thin Air Magazine

came out and wrote loads of complex string arrangements for each song and almost the day he finished, I said, “Actually, I don’t think I want to use any of this. It was really tough but we’ve still got those so we might use them in the future if we play an orchestral show so it’s kind of cool to have it in the background. James (Byrne) and others came out and played during the process but I was still writing the songs. They’d do something and I’d change it so I just ended up doing it myself. They played brilliantly and it was beautiful but it was a different sort of process this time, I suppose.”

 Whilst that tough decision was likely a battle between his heart and head, the songwriting process that O’Brien opted for on Darling Arithmetic was very much the former. “I think before I used more of my head and this time I tried to use much more of my heart,” says O’Brien. “The only thing I wanted to do was write something emotional that would affect someone else. After about four or five songs I realised that this was becoming an album about love and relationships, and all aspects and shades of that, but I was also aware of the danger of it becoming just writing for me - like a diary entry. I wanted

it to be quite universal, whilst balancing that intimate quality at the same time. I always want people to put their own experiences into it as well.”

 “I get really zoned out of life in general when I’m making music,” O’Brien continues. “There was a couple of weeks where I had nothing and I was really frustrated. Every day I was sitting down and nothing was coming. I thought it was going to last forever and I was getting worried and then suddenly, one day, something clicked. If you’re really working that hard, in the moment, you’re not really concerned with anything that comes after that. I just write until something clicks and try to trust that if it affects me, it’ll affect someone else.” Brian Coney

 Darling Arithmetic is released via Domino on April 12

Feature Villagers





Tickets from £15 - £24.50. Concessions available 028 9038 1081

April April 2015 2015

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Primer One Strong Arm


ark Earley talks to graphic designer, letterpress printer and owner of Dublin-based letterpress print studio One Strong Arm, Dave Darcy.

 Hi Dave. Tell us about what you do for a living and how you first became interested in design.
 Like a lot of people who work in this area my initial exposure to design was through things like album covers, books and comics. I don’t think I was quite sure what the role of a designer actually was at that time, though - it was more a general interest in art and creativity. It really wasn’t until mid-point through a portfolio year that graphic design, and more specifically print, became clear as career or a direction of its own.


The Thin Air Magazine

Recently you’ve started a new studio called One Strong Arm. What is it? Where did the idea come from?
 One Strong Arm is a letterpress studio which I started setting up almost three years ago. It ended up being quite a long process and I only really got it to a point where I was happy to launch it last November. It all started with the National Print Museum’s volunteer program and an introduction to their collection. It was that crash course in typesetting and letterpress in the museum that got me hooked. Soon after that I tracked down a small table-top press,

but quickly realised that if I was to keep this interesting and turn the project into a functioning studio I needed something bigger. So, with that in mind, I started looking about for a proofing press, I finally sourced one in Vienna; I got very lucky, they can be hard to track down, and that turned One Strong Arm into something much more serious in my mind. Your first exhibition, First Things First was a joint project with artist Mick Minogue. What was the project about? Were you pleased with the results?
 The project was based on the opening lines of 20th century literature. It was initially a small personal project and just Orwell’s 1984 - as much about me getting some material on the press as anything else, and it kind of just started to grow into a set from that.

Photos: Mark Earley

Primer: One Strong Arm

Who/what were the early influences on your career? And, do they still resonate with you today?

 While I was studying I was big into early European modernist art and design as well as the Swiss designers that followed it, people like Jan Tschichold, Joseph Müller-Brockmann and Herb Lubalin. With all their lovely strict grids and controlled typography and seemingly simple layouts — it seemed to me like they had figured everything out.

Primer One Strong Arm

That’s when I started chatting to Mick - he’s a good friend and a superstar illustrator, I’d been secretly hatching plans to rope him in into a project… thankfully he was really interested. In mid-March you hung your second exhibition. Where did it take place? And, what was the focus of the project? 
 That’s right - it was commissioned by the St. Patrick’s Day Festival as part of their ‘I Love My City’ program - and it’s in Marsh’s Library on Patrick’s Close in Dublin 8. It’s a really stunning space and I’m delighted to have the work hanging there. It’s all work inspired by Dubliners speaking fondly about the city. It’s a kind of small glimpse of the city told through the words, thoughts and musing of the folks Dublin has produced. It’s all typographic, and a

combination of wood and metal type, hand cut type, and some illustrated typographic pieces. Lastly, you’ve included a piece of your work (right). What is it? What was it for and why have you chosen to include this particular piece?
 It’s a print I made to raise some money for Marriage Equality’s YES campaign. I actually revisited an idea which was half-formed in a notebook for almost a year. It takes it’s lead from the fact that the Beatles mention ‘love’ a total of 613 times in their recordings. So once I started thinking about doing something for Marriage Equality, it popped back into my head - and they seemed like a perfect fit. I didn’t actually have enough type to set l.o.v.e 613 times so I had a plate made for the

small blue text. The large pink text is antique wooden type which, like a lot of the material in the studio, was donated to One Strong Arm by an ex-printer. This tray came from a gentleman in County Claire. I really like that this type is back in use again - the last message it had any say in was back in the 70’s. There’s something nice about that.

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Reviews Releases

– Reviews

Ciaran Lavery & Ryan Vail Sea Legs While people will continue to argue tirelessly about whether the internet has been a good or a bad thing for music, here comes another argument for ‘good’. Derry minimal electronic musician Ryan Vail and Aghagallon alt-folkster Ciaran Lavery first became friends online before finally meeting up at a festival they were both appearing at and decided to collaborate on this mini-album. Regardless of whether or not you think streaming music is as bad as killing elephants like Tom DeLonge claims, the sense of community that the internet affords to bring together musicians from different musical backgrounds to try out collaborations like this one is an undeniable positive. Lavery


The Thin Air Magazine

and Vail manage to breathe some new life into each other’s work here – Lavery’s solo work is enjoyable but hardly radical, yet Vail adds a new lease of life with moody, ocean-like atmospherics underpinning everything and strange spoken word segments from fishermen of the Donegal coast where the album was recorded. ‘The Sea At Night’s droning synths add a sinister edge to an already brooding track, and there are echoes of King Creosote & Jon Hopkins’ 2011 collaboration Diamond Mine throughout all 7 tracks. An unlikely pairing that adds up to more than the sum of its parts. Cathal McBride

Skelocrats Bella Bella

 Dublin’s Skelocrats are not messing around. Every song on this album is between two and three minutes long, bar the perfectly-titled final

track ‘Skelocrats Nights’. It’s breezy and accomplished and has a great number of songs that could lay claim to being the standout. This is the very opposite of a difficult second album. Things start extremely brightly and stay there, with recent single ‘Zirconium Heart’, self-described as a ‘late 70s Eurovision castoff’, zipping along like Moroderera ‘Sparks’, led by the flat-out astounding vocals of Bronwyn Murphy-White. The songs where she takes lead cannot help but be highlights, from the Tallulah Gosh-like sugar rush of ‘Tennis Aberration’ to the really quite beautiful ‘Lyin’ Eyes’. There is strength in depth however, with each Skelocrat getting their time to shine. Paddy Hanna’s ‘Laura Dolan’ mentions Australia in the first line, presumably to make my comparison to The Lucksmiths’ major-chord melancholia all the easier, while ‘Raise A Cup Of Tea’ is yet more proof that there is no more rousing a singer on this island than Mike Stevens. If there is a bandleader, it’s Padraig Cooney, also of Land Lovers, whose ‘Permanent House Painter’ is pure, joyful, noisy pop economy.

 All in all, superb. Brian Kelly

Reviews Releases

Lantern For A Gale From Adversity Rarely do melody and aggression enjoy such a coefficient marriage as they do on Belfast five-piece Lantern for a Gale’s debut full-length From Adversity. Recorded in band members’ living rooms and even their work offices, it almost beggars belief that an album of such ecstatic performance and production could come from purely DIY extraction. Moments of shoegazing gentleness and Hardcore onslaught are netted as opposed to stitched together, slinging up a cacophony of moods and tones that carries on from the moment album opener “Into The Fray” rattles to life to the meanspirited and apocalyptic

Hero and GODHATESDISCO, Andy Walsh has been concocting his own inimitable, solo sonic wizardry as White Sage. The first manifestation of that is the perfectly phantasmal Way Beyond our Means, a Kraut-echoing release hinting at something special in the works for the project. Unravelling via a submerged flurry of piano notes, the opening title track is a Motorik-driven mesh of smothered vocal refrains and layered piano noise.

riffs of album closer “From Adversity”. Vocalist Paul Michael coughs up the kind of venom throughout that sounds every bit as intimate as it does impassioned and antagonized, and this performance frames perfectly an album characterized by its emotive duplexity. Describing themselves as having carved their own path through Hardcore, it’s hard to argue otherwise when faced with evidence such as From Adversity, a release that engages in combat with itself as much as it does a listener. Liam Doyle

Evoking the likes of Neu! and Fujima and Miyagi, ‘Parnell Street June 1955’ swaggers forth with its chugging groove, broad synth shapes and twinkling notes marrying in a swirl of blissed-out haze. Elsewhere, the Dustin Wong-summoning, delayheavy guitar instrumental ‘Will o’ The Wisp’ delicately enamours before closer, the wanderlust-woven ‘There’s No Black Hair Dye Left In Dublin’ proves a fitting expiration of disembodied effects and sounds, calling to mind the likes of Labradford and Eluvium. Very impressive, in all. Brian Coney

White Sage Way Beyond Our Means EP Aside from running Dublin’s Little Gem Records and performing as part of both I Heart The Monster

April 2015


Reviews Live

– The Thin Air Cork Launch: The Vincent(s), Hope Is Noise & Jonny Rep CRANE LANE, CORK

Hope is Noise take to stage and immediately proceed about a set predominantly composed of brand new material. In bullish form tonight, the veteran posthardcore quarter deliver with intensity and a seldomseen snarl, putting an edge on new songs ‘Born-Again Friend’ and ‘Psycho Bitch’. ‘Official Party Line’ and ‘No Stretchmarks’ get airings, but tonight sees the band put


The The Thin ThinAir AirMagazine Magazine

that new material, alternately venturing between spacey noise and spiky post-punk. A portent of things to come for the new record, due this year. The Vincent(s) take to stage and open with ‘Song for the Sea’, one of their strongest songs. A bold move from a seemingly-unassuming bunch of lads, it sets the tone for a series of sonic broadsides mined from their Valley of the Sun EP and assorted singles. Tight, precisionfocused and showered in a hail of noise, the Vincent(s)’ brand of ‘death-pop’, a genre/ moniker that becomes less about humour and more apt as the set progresses, is quite an experience live, one that everyone needs to take in. One of Cork’s premier exports, delivering as only they can. Mike McGrath Bryan

The Vincent(s) Photo: Brid O’Donovan

Photo: Joe Laverty


t’s a Saturday night at the Crane Lane Theatre, and a wide variety of music heads and general revellers begin to assemble as Cork indie-pop quartet Jonny Rep give a spirited show for themselves, airing new single ‘Continental Shelf’ among a set of strident, short, sharp shocks of pop-rock goodness.

Reviews Live



he Body & Soul arena at Electric Picnic 2014 saw tUnE-yArDs cement one of the festival’s highlights with their eclectic hybrid of folk, rap, rock and African rhythms, all helmed by Merrill Garbus’ astonishing vocal fluctuations. “This is the warmest I’ve been in five days, in more ways than one,” she tells us on tonight’s visit to Vicar Street, one that also marks the occasion of the singer’s birthday.

that begin ‘Sink-O’, the set starts as it comes to be typified; a deeply percussive treat where sticks or hands constantly strike flesh or object at any given point.

upon by her colleagues. She and Brenner go it alone for ‘Es-So’ and its clanging ukulele chords, an intensely focused performance with Garbus doubled over almost embracing her instrument.

The band gradually peels away from the core of Garbus and Brenner as the set progresses. ‘Gangsta’, performed as a three-piece, erupts from the embers of ‘Hey Life’ - a banging version that collapses into crashing drum punctuations, restructuring itself before once again disintegrating into techno abrasion. Layering up drum tracks from the hi-hat, kick and snare she has in front of her with a loop pedal, Garbus assembles the cores to be expanded

The band re-joins for ‘Stop That Man’, a suddenly heavier, techno-inflected beast that morphs into a glitchy dance track, while ‘Water Fountain’ is equally dynamic, moving from African rhythms and vocal stylings into pure dance beats. Vocals and drums coalesce and augment one another throughout tUnEyArDs’ seamless blending of styles - it’s a celebratory live experience; tribal and intuitive, and absolutely body moving. Justin McDaid

Photo: Kelly Murphy

The band encircle Garbus in rhythmic harmony - everpresent bassist Nate Brenner to her right, a percussionist to her left, and two backing singers to the rear - tropically matching in dayglo colours. From the looped handclaps


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Feature Feel Unreal

– Feel Unreal

Good Times with Steve Gannon


hen current Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal was working at Bayern Munich, to prove to his players that every decision he made was for the good of the team, he dropped his trousers. It was as if the Dutchman wanted to say I’ve got balls, and here’s the proof. This anecdote pops up when speaking to Steven Gannon, drummer with Kid Karate, about his new project Feel Unreal. Loosely speaking, it’s a mental health awareness community. A lot is often said about “awareness”


The Thin Air Magazine

and “talking about” mental health, but Steven decided to show the world his balls (as it were) by writing a post on Facebook detailing his struggles with anxiety and depression. “I want to encourage people to talk and to talk openly, to be aware that there are lots of other people going through the same stuff. It affects everybody differently, but the results are always the same. Covering it up is not an option. So I couldn’t exactly not talk about how I felt if I want to encourage people to talk. My hope is that people will follow suit.”

Following some heavy touring, and despite being told to take time to decompress, Gannon found himself spiralling further and further into a state of anxiety,

Photo: Carlos Daly, Illustrations: Fatti Burke.

Feature Feel Unreal

with insomnia, panic attacks and intense feelings of guilt all part of his everyday life. A visit to his long-term GP helped him on the road to getting back on his feet, with a willingness to face his demons. “Depression is the worst kept secret in the world,” Gannon says. He believes that we’re all convinced that everyone else has life figured out, when in fact, the opposite is the case. “If we all just go ‘I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing’, it’ll be like ‘I feel the same’. You don’t have to have it all figured out, you just have to look after yourself and look after each other.” With this in mind, Feel Unreal came to life. The venture was launched with a low-key event in Dublin’s Ink Factory, where friends brought cakes, the venue provided free coffee, and

“We’re all convinced that everyone else has life figured out, when in fact, the opposite is the case.”

everyone had the chance to chat on a Wednesday evening while listening to some upbeat tunes. “We’re supposed to be big strong lads, and we can talk about football and tits, but it takes a stronger person to admit that something’s wrong.”

avowed proponent of the physical approach to battling depression. To that end, he hopes to set up a jogging group as soon as the weather improves. “It’s going to encourage community and a team element – people getting together and naturally they’ll talk.” He is in no way competing with the likes of Aware and Headstrong with these activities, but rather wants to offer a potentially more approachable alternative.

Despite the pummelling workout he gives his drum kit, Gannon also makes time for exercise – for him the most powerful way to ‘feel unreal’. “People put everything into their appearance, their wardrobe, their career, but if you don’t put the effort into yourself, you’re not going to reap the benefits.” Core work, jogging, jumping jacks, even a walk to clear his head, Gannon is an

From stickers and posters to events like the launch and future mooted ideas like speed mating – a play on the dating approach that’s just another of Gannon’s ways to facilitating conversation – Feel Unreal is on the road to providing a safe and welcoming space for anyone who just wants to talk. Aidan Hanratty

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The Thin Air Magazine

The Record Sissy

Dublin lo-fi three-piece Sissy reveal details of a forthcoming 7” release. Michelle (bass/vocals): This EP will have four songs. One of them is a cover of a Blitz song, ‘Attack’. The lyrics include “Freedom to fight/Your freedom to choose”. It probably wasn’t a prochoice song to begin with but we’ve appropriated it into our repertoire. You can’t beat a catchy song.

Eoin (drums): We also mixed everything ourselves which was a nice learning process; lack of funds have dictated having more control over our sound. As the recording process was as simple as playing through each song as we would live, it sounds as

Photo: Carlos Daly

Leigh (guitar/vocals): It’s the best music you haven’t heard. We recorded our first EP ourselves in our practice space. So it was rough and ready but we were excited to do it and get it out there. This time we recorded with

our friend Robbie Brady of Exploding Eyes which was great. Not only is the recording quality a lot better but it was a lot less stressful for us on the day with him there to set things up. It’s good sometimes to have another person outside of the band there to help things go smoothly.

Leigh: The songs on the new record have all been played live before recording so we were able to get a solid idea of how we wanted them to sound. We’ve just been together a year now so it’s nice to have time to flesh things out live. I want to play songs that I can get into and mean every word I say every time I play them, so playing live is one way to carve that out. The spontaneity of coming up with ideas when recording is definitely enjoyable, too. If me and Michelle are working on a riff and trying to figure out where we want to go with the lyrics, we can end up stopping to discuss the surrounding politics of a theme to figure out how we want to say what we’re trying to say instead. That’s really stimulating for me.


April 2015


– The Record

The Record: Sissy

live as is possible. Not that I’d have a problem straying away from a live sound it’d be great in future to have time to work more fully on recording. It’s always a good challenge to flesh things out and add more depth but to try and retain the energy and passion of a live show.

Not Gospel Leonard Nimoy

Salutations to Mr. Spock


My story is the same as many others: I was young, alienated, lonely, and confused, and on the threshold of having to face up to what I was going to have to become. And weirdly enough, I found solace in this fictional character, this coldly logical, but strangely passionate being who could rationalise away hot-headed situations, whilst simultaneously exhibiting the most sincere form of brotherly love that has ever been captured on television. Spock – and, by default, Leonard Nimoy – was a beacon shining in the darkness, a glimpse of hope for the

The Thin Air Magazine

outcasts in life who knew they had more to give than what was being credited to them. We attach a great deal of significance to fictional characters, perhaps more than we should. We invest ourselves in the likes of soap stars, detectives, doctors and nurses, and Morrissey, without spending a second’s thought as to who the person behind the outfit is. And whilst that is problematic for the actor in the role, sometimes the power of such a position can touch the person in the shadow of the character we idolise. So, if Leonard Nimoy could see the outpouring of love that has followed in his passing, I’m sure he’d be touched by the teachers, scientists, astronauts, explorers, pioneers, and regular folks like me who have been helped along the way by those pointed ears, and green blooded heart. It might not be logical, Jim, but it’s a damn fine epitaph. Steven Rainey

Illustration: Brian Coldrick

– Not Gospel


eonard Nimoy spent a large part of his life railing against something that everyone else knew to be true. And really, you can’t blame him. After all, who would want to be perpetually thought of as a pointed eared, emotionally stunted alien, with a green skin tint? But in the end, the late actor came to accept what most of us knew all along – being Mr Spock was a powerful and important thing, regardless of the ears.

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88mph Bitches Brew

(NOVEMBER, 1974)

Miles Davis Bitches Brew

– 88mph (APRIL, 1970) by the time of Bitches Brew, Miles had electric instruments everywhere.


iles Davis made Bitches Brew at 44, 26 years into his career. He had played with the who’s who of jazz, pioneered at least two new styles of jazz, and released a remarkable string of albums. He had nothing to prove anymore; except to himself. As Rock ‘n’ Roll grew through the 60s, the jazz world generally scoffed. Miles became fascinated. His second wife introduced him to Hendrix, Sly Stone, P-Funk and more. It was a revelation and his music changed immeasurably and irrevocably. First up was the introduction of electricity. Phased in over a few albums,


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He wanted to imbue his music with the powerful force he heard in rock. He assembled a lineup who would build an unprecedented drive to his new sound. Two drummers, two percussionists, two bassists, three electric pianos and an electric guitar. On top of all that would be Miles himself, Wayne Shorter on saxophone and finally, a spooky, serpent-like bass clarinet. The players were all astonishing. Some were established and renowned, others, new blood as young as 21. And what a clamour this mob produced. Often after only sketched direction from the Grand Sorcerer, the 13-strong throng built up monumental grooves. The rhythms were African, Latin, Indian, rock, jazz; they were like nothing, and yet everything before. The bass drove relentlessly

and the three keyboardists vied with one another; who can be the most inventive, the most avant-garde? Not taking it in turns though, all at once. Meanwhile John McLaughlin tried to outdo all of them with his off-kilter funk licks. Miles was more aggressive than he had ever sounded. To cut through this cacophony, he had to be. Producer Teo Macero was just as revolutionary. For some tracks he became Dr Frankenstein assembling vast constructs from multiple takes using tape editing and effects. Opener ‘Pharaoh’s Dance’ (all of side one of the double LP) spans 20 minutes and 18 edits. This was radical. Miles was prepared to take any risks necessary to capture what was in his head. 45 years on, Bitches Brew remains one of the most challenging albums ever recorded. In 1970 Miles simply moved on to his next challenge. Jonathan Wallace

Agony Uncle Bono

Agony Uncle Agonising? Le Galaxie mainman Michael Pope is here to help.


This Month...Bon

Summer 1996. I worked in Bono’s house. In his bedroom, in fact. Myself and my father were fitting a walk-in wardrobe. He had a cowboy hat on the bedpost. The room smelled like muesli. His hair was thinning aggressively. The Edge got chased in the front gate by Spanish students. Summer 1996.

Illustration: Loreana Rushe

Pretty straightforward: Bono. Why? David, Limerick Because we have to chase him. Because he’s the hero Ireland deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we’ll hunt him. Because he can take it, because he’s not a hero. He’s a silent guardian... a watchful protector... BONO. In the highly unlikely event that a Bono sextape was leaked, would you watch it? Michael, Derry Depends. Does he do reverse cowgirl? Where does he finish?

Can you remember a time before Bono. If so, what was it like? Sarah, Dublin For a glorious time we had Bono and Phillo, who were kind of like the Riggs & Murtaugh for 80s Ireland. Getting in adventures, jumping off buildings – fighting apartheid. “I’M TOO OLD FOR THIS SHITE!” What’s your favourite Bono era and/or haircut? Louise, Cork He’s been rocking that ‘badger-hair-Pritt-Stickedto-his-skull’ look for nigh on a decade now, which is a tragedy. So I guess it would be when he really looked liked Bobcat Goldthwait from Police Academy III: Back In Training.

Michelle, Dublin Humanity. If Le Galaxie were personally asked to support U2 Croke Park, would you do it? Good money, rider, etc. Melissa, Athlone Are you legitimately asking me if Le Galaxie would play the greatest stadium on planet earth for cash money and free scoops? Is Bono a knob? David, Belfast Of course he is, but Eire is clogged with knobs. He’s still better than Hector fucking O’hEochagain.

What would you do if you caught Bono - mid-burglary - sniffing your underwear? Niall, Belfast Insist that I sniff his. Who do you think would win a fight between Jeremy Clarkson and Bono?


April 2015

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