■ Animal Collective ■ Gemma Hayes ■ Summer Flicks ■ Helen Cody
The art of war Exclusive Battles interview: Page 6
n e r i S the
t | Issue 11 15.04.08 en m le pp Su t en nm ai rt te En e un College Trib
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Music “We were just looking for the best way to put out our own records” Animal Collective: P4
Music “So then when I do hit it, it’s like a marker, it’s an event when I really crash into it” Battles: Page 6
Arts “It’s quite difficult to have a social life, but nobody is forcing me to do any of this” Mixing Acting and Education: P10
Books “Corny? Definitely. Thoroughly entertaining? Absolutely” The Writings of Joanne Harris: P12
Destruction eruption Texas post-rockers This Will Destroy You take time out from the Dublin leg of their ongoing European tour to speak to Lorcan Archer about the joys and trials of bringing their expansive sound to the masses This Will Destroy You guitarist Jeremy Galindo is in an upbeat mood, despite having just misplaced his jacket with his camera in the pocket. “It’s around here somewhere man,” he explains, casting a searching glance around the interiors of Whelan’s as the support bands for the U.S. group sound-check. “Luckily I managed to put most of the pictures of the tour onto my computer beforehand, but hopefully it’ll turn up somewhere.” The tour is proving to be a baptism of ﬁre for the group, with This Will Destroy You being two weeks into a two month long trek across Europe in support of their debut eponymous album, their ﬁrst venture of such a kind outside the States. “It’s been pretty incredible”, admits Galindo, as we abandon the chaos of the venue for a smoke and chat outside. “We started out in Belgium and we’ve been moving through Europe since then, playing some of the best shows we’ve done in years. The crowds over here seem really hungry for us, the turnouts have been really healthy and that’s been great to see. The real stand-outs so far have been Athens, London and Heidelburg, we had such a good time at each of them.” The reaction may have had something to do with the fact that the majority of European fans are only getting their ﬁrst chance to check out the group on this tour, despite the fact that the band have been pulling in critical acclaim aplenty since their ﬁrst release, the Young Mountain EP, which came out a whole four years ago. “Our Young Mountain release is really more of a gloriﬁed demo that our label wanted to put out, so we let them. Things have most deﬁnitely changed since then for us, it’s been a matter of us progressing onto new sounds and just ﬁnding out what way the music will go for us on the debut album.” The band’s sound could be described as a particularly emotive brand of swelling and moving postrock, grand soundscapes driing and melting through the long tracks that populate their releases. We’re soon joined by the group’s new bassist Donovan, who happily describes their sound as “ambient instrumental slow jams, with some sludge thrown in.” He’s keen to stress their independence from overly deﬁning inﬂuences, “I’m not such a big fan of the whole post-rock thing, but all our tastes are varied. I love a lot of hip-hop and electronic music. I’m a bassist so anything with a good rhythm section sounds good to me.” There’s certainly been something in the air that This Will Destroy You have tapped into, a hunger for something diﬀerent from fans worldwide, that is allowing them to prosper. “I think people are just hungry for some-
thing diﬀerent, something special that will speak to them in some way that mainstream music has failed to do in the past few years,” states Galindo.
“It looks like people are hungry for knowledge of different things and sounds that back in the day didn’t get much interest. Music certainly isn’t dumbing down at the moment.”
“It looks like people are hungry for knowledge of diﬀerent things and sounds that back in the day didn’t get much interest. Music certainly isn’t dumbing down at the moment.” This unique feel is audible in This Will Destroy You’s music, with the audience having no diﬃculty latching on to their mostly instrumental movements with enthusiasm. “People have come up to me aer shows and said that they’ve been moved or touched by what we put out, which is fantastic. The language barrier doesn’t exist over here with our music. I mean, we don’t want to shove sounds down anyone’s throat, so it’s good to just put the music out there and let people take it if they want.” The group’s shows have a reputation for their aﬀecting nature, as the forceful vibe of the band really
comes into its own. “It’s deﬁnitely a very emotional progress for us up on stage. You can tell what we’re feeling in regards to a song up there from our expressions and movement. And we feed oﬀ the audience so much as well. When we get oﬀ stage and we just crash. But we do love to get down and drink as well, have a good time. In the exhaustion there’s clarity, and I think with a long tour like this, it’ll pull out the truth of our music so much more. “You can understand that we don’t like being thrown into any category,” Galindo continues. “But inevitably it’s going to happen. I know I can speak for everyone in the band when I say that certain groups like Sigur Ros, Animal Collective and Stars of the Lid have had an inﬂuence on us, but it’s certainly not the be all and end of our sound. Just listen to the music.”
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Gem in a Hayes stack Irish songstress Gemma Hayes speaks to Eoin Boyle about writer’s block, her recent creative renaissance and returning to her roots
When Gemma Hayes appeared on the Irish scene six years ago with her debut album, Night On My Side, it’s safe to she made quite an impact. Hayes stood out amidst a sea of nondescript singersongwriters and managed to gain far more recognition than those around her. It may have been because she was one of few women in the scene or maybe there was something in her lyrics, but her arrangements just struck the right chord with the music-listening public. Upon the eve of the release of her third album, The Hollow of Morning, Hayes appears as conﬁdent as ever despite the setbacks that her writing process suﬀered in the early days of writing the new record. “Every album for me is sort of like my life’s work, and there was pressure to put out another album really quickly regardless of the quality. I didn’t want to do that. I ended up being my own worst enemy because every time that I would try to write I would start to become so self-critical that everything had to be perfect. Nothing was perfect, nothing was good enough.” According to Hayes, she also suﬀered from the dreaded artistic aﬄiction of writer’s block. “I couldn’t write for ages because I had toured so much. I put out my ﬁrst album and I didn’t think anything was going to happen and I just wasn’t prepared for the amount of work that was involved. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do this anymore.” The period of revaluation came during a somewhat chaotic period for Hayes in general. “There were a lot of things going on in the period between the ﬁrst and the second album. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay in music; I was being overly harsh on myself and couldn’t write for a while. It’s just part of growing up as well.” Heading across the Atlantic to America then became the escape for her, eventually proving a positive step in every sense. “It physically and mentally broadened my horizons, broadened my world, and I met people from completely diﬀerent backgrounds to myself. All that stuﬀ helped me to get excited about things again. I think everyone goes through a period of writer’s block and it’s really not that big a deal. I don’t know any songwriter who hasn’t gone through bouts of not being able to write, mine just lasted a little longer than I anticipated.” The rejuvenating trip was in fact not set to happen until fate intervened. “I had no interest in going to Los Angeles, because it was never a place that I thought I would like. I wanted to go to New York, but my manager happened to have an apartment in LA so I thought I’d go and see what I thought. When I got there I was lucky, I fell into a crowd of really wonderful people and of course the people make the place.” With Hayes’ second album, The Roads Don’t Love You, came an exploration of the various inﬂuences which helped her music form and take shape. “I’d say that all my inﬂuences bleed into what I do, and I think that the second album had a far more traditional approach to things. It was very much verse, chorus, verse, chorus, a lot more like the traditional songwriter stuﬀ. My idea was to have these traditional songs and throw diﬀerent attitudes at them, one might be a slightly indie approach, the other I would want to be really polished. With the second album you can really see how deﬁned each song is
and what inﬂuences each of them.” Hayes’ long love-aﬀair with music stems from her formative years. “When I started listening to music I was always torn between really folky acoustic stuﬀ and the big bands and I wanted to do it all. Nirvana was my coming of age band - they just completely changed my world. From listening to them I was introduced to their inﬂuences, and at the same time I was listening to John Martyn and Nick Drake. I wanted to see what all the fuss was
“When I started listening to music I was always torn between really folky acoustic stuff and the big bands and I wanted to do it all. Nirvana was my coming of age band” about and then I started getting into it and was like ‘Holy Cow!” An atmosphere familiar to most music fans pervaded during Hayes’ teenage years, with her friends proving instrumental to her exposure to diﬀerent genres. “When I was in school it was nearly like a competition, who knew the band that nobody else knew? I remember this guy had dEUS written on his bag in tip-ex and I was intrigued by the name and he told me I had to check them out. My ﬂat mate in college introduced me to Red House Painters and American Music Club, a lot of the Americana folk music. All I knew was Joni Mitchell and Neil Young but there was this whole other kind of music that I had never heard of. I always want to know what the bands I like are inﬂuenced by.” Having well and truly embarked upon a voyage of self-discovery, Hayes’ current release and third
album was to a certain extent a far more enjoyable aﬀair in almost every way. “This one is a funny old album; I decided I was going to make it in three weeks. So I rang up David Odlum and I asked if he had three weeks to spare, he said yeah and I told him that I was going to write and record an album in three weeks. I said I’d just write them and record them as we go along, I won’t be precious. I’ll throw them down and it’ll be really rough and raw. “Of course, a year later and I was still writing songs and putting them on the album. In my head I wanted this to be a really quick album but I kept writing songs and then scrapping the song or writing another one or merging two songs together. But the overall approach to this was so much freer because there’s no label and with the other two albums I constantly had to ﬁght for everything.” This lack of big label pressure means that this time around, Hayes was totally free in her choice of what would make it onto her own record. “There’s no stand-out singles on this album really, it’s a quiet little thing. I’ve no idea if people will take to it or not but it was just nice to record an album with nobody involved except for myself and David and whoever we chose to play on it. “A little bit of pressure is good though, because I know myself that if there was no pressure there then I would keep scrapping songs and rerecording. There was actually one time in the studio when David got up from his chair and went over to the wall and started hitting his head oﬀ it because I think I was changing the same song for the third time. Towards the end I needed someone to tell me I’ve got to ﬁnish this album or I’ll be at it forever.” The compulsion to write and perform is what keeps Hayes moving onwards, and she seems to have found her feet. “I kind of feel like I don’t have a choice, I just have to make music. Straight away I’m already thinking about the next album. This passion started when I was about eighteen and it just hasn’t stopped since. I will always make music, I don’t know whether it will always be my career but I’ll certainly always be giving it a go.”
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Aural Examinations the polished assortment of their most identiﬁed 14 songs, while the second oﬀers the John Peel Sessions as well as a rare interview with Ian Curtis and Stephen Morris. The anthology traces the ominous melancholy of Curtis’ psyche, laid bare beneath his disheartening lyrics – “I feel it closing in, I feel it closing in, day in, day out...” layered with the murky, grime of their instrumental backdrop. From Morris’ pounding rhythmic drum sequences, to Hooky’s cadenced bass, the remaining nnnnp members’ melodic involvement is hardly discounted by CurWith all the recent hype surround- tis’ signature haunting vocals – a range ing Joy Division, the re-releases of the that leant a voice to the dejected crestband’s works in re-mastered deluxe fallen working class of the Manchurian editions of Closer, Still and Unknown Thatcher era. Pleasures, in company with the success It is, in an essence, a polished and reof Ian Curtis biopic Control, it was only ﬁned collection of the inspired works of a matter of time until the record com- a band who only ever released one album pany put their heads together to ﬁnd as Joy Division; an aural spring-clean of a new, albeit obvious means to cash in the raw, course grit that the band origion the reawakening amongst the new nally created. and older fans of Joy Divisions gloomy legacy. The album shines way above its asking Sophie O’Higgins price. A double disc CD, the ﬁrst contains
best of joy division
decrowning the irenarch nnnnp
Pioneers like Venom aside, high speed, blackened Death/Thrash Metal is not particularly well known as a very common export of the UK, lamentably languishing far behind both Tesco and various other slightly more powerful interests. However, with this solid sophomore effort and the aid of Ireland’s own Invictus label, Spearhead have established a morethan secure beach head, with a particularly strong and classic sounding Morbid Angel feel coming through as the album progresses. The group have managed to string together both a strong, militaristic feel through the use of some very eﬀective spoken word samples and choice ambient warfare sounds (think the sound of relentless marching and distant explosions) in combination with a tight, satisfying and punchy metal attack. Some very nicely placed guitar noodles and relentless drumming in tracks like When The Pillars Fall more than aid this. It’s also a nice touch to see a theme like the necessary proliferation of war and combat being robustly tackled in the lyrics department, with Road to Austerlitz prompting this reviewer to investigate the historic signiﬁcant of that Napoleonic victory ﬁst hand. However, when the shredding guitars do slow down, such as on In The Face Of The Absolute, there’s a meaty groove and thudding rhythm on display that rivals even the delivery of New York stalwarts Immolation. Showcasing a dexterousness that is to be applauded, a solid and ambitious release is assured, which most importantly possesses its own character rather than simply aping the greats of their genre that they are obviously inspired by. A very deﬁnite thumbs up.
REM were in grave danger of being written oﬀ as rock relics. Even hardcore fans could be forgiven for approaching the album with a degree of scepticism, aer the mix run of recent albums. The band needed to convince fans that they are still relevant, still worth listening to, and they’ve succeeded, creating their best material in quite a while. Clocking in at just less than 34 minutes, the album has a breakneck urgency that the band had abandoned in recent years. Messrs Stipe, Buck and Mills have cut away all the fat and produced deliberately short and snappy songs, and from the opening bar they mean business. Album opener Living Well is the Best Revenge sets the tone, and the fast paced urgency continues, with crunching guitar and Stipe’s aggressive delivery, and never really lets up until track four, the standout Hollow Man, which builds from a standing start into a pop gem. Lead single Supernatural Superstitious is REM’s best eﬀort in years, catchy and clever. Make no mistake, this is the same band, but an urgency and focus gives the group a new lease of life aer several mediocre releases. Stipe memorably asserts, “If the storm doesn’t Kill me, the Government will.” in Hurricane Katrina inspired “Houston”. This is an album light on content but heavy on standout moments, being cut back to its core. On the title-track, Stipe cries, “No time to question the choices I have made”, and it is an ethos that has seen a return to the top.
Sebastian Clare speaks to acclaimed US group Ani their high-oc The New York-based Animal Collective have a sound that is nigh-on impossible to describe, with even band member Avey Tare having considerable diﬃculty in attempting to capture the essence of his own band’s principle genre. “It’s hard, but for me it’s like energy, it’s very energy-based. It’s like a rhythmic, melodic, trance, dance thing.” Such imperviousness to pigeon-holing reﬂects the group’s experimental nature, with their overall style varying sizably from album to album. The enigmatic four who would become the Animal Collective – Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Geologist and Deakin - met in high school, and began recording and sharing ideas soon aer. “We had all done a little bit of our own recording. Recording was always a big part of playing music to us because we didn’t really play live so much when we started out. “We were kind of young and there weren’t many bars in Baltimore where you could play. It took us a while to ﬁgure out that there were kids our age setting up shows in churches and stuﬀ like that.” Initially less a solid unit and more like a few disparate musicians helping each other out with their own records, the foursome did eventually take to the stage. “Finally we did get involved in performance and we played a few shows but we never really wanted to play live so much when we were younger. We were more into buying the latest pieces of recording equipment and stuﬀ like that.” Intent on releasing the multitude of recordings he had created over the previous years, Panda Bear established Soccer Star records in 1999. As the group became much more collaborative in nature over the following year, this label morphed into Animal records, from which the band takes its name. “At the time we were just looking for the best way to put out our own records. The label wasn’t really meant to do anything other than that at ﬁrst.” However, aer they moved to New York it became clear that the ﬁnancial strain and overbearing workload of running a label were too much for them to handle alone. In 2003 Todd Hyman of Carpark records stepped in to help the group. “He just came up with the idea of starting this label that was devoted
just to our taste or the way we make music. We could make so much out of it with diﬀerent projects, so the results have been pretty sweet.” This label was Paw Tracks, under which was released Here Comes The Indian, the ﬁrst album to feature
particularly true of their most recent oﬀering, the 2007 album Strawberry Jam, which received praise from critics and fans alike due to a much stronger emphasis on vocals than had been present in previous eﬀorts. Tare reveals that this will be built upon in future material, while remaining true to their reputation as an experimental outﬁt that is constantly seeking to break new ground. “I do think that it is very vocal and I think it’s a little bit diﬀerent to Strawberry Jam in that there’s a lot more collaborative singing between Noah and I, we wanted to be a little bit more elaborate with the vocals this time. With Strawberry Jam we just wanted to keep it really stripped-down and have it be more singular voice oriented but I think with this one there’s going be a lot more voices.” Recently the group have been focusing on working extensively on a visual project with their friend and ﬁlmmaker Danny Perez in New York. “He’s shot all this footage with us; all
“At the time we were just looking for the best way to put out our own records. The label wasn’t really meant to do anything other than that at first” all four of the band members. This was also their ﬁrst release under the moniker Animal Collective. Tare is full of praise for Hyman’s character; “He’s a good guy to work with, really easygoing, and he sees eye-to-eye with us on a lot of things.” Since then the Animal Collective have seemingly gone from strength to strength, achieving widespread critical acclaim with practically every commercial release. This was
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from the kingdom
imal Collection about the ins and outs of producing ctane sound
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the odd couple
yael naim and david donatien nnnpp
yael naim nnnpp
Following the massive success of 2006’s St. Elsewhere, from which the mental illness themed number-one hit Crazy was taken, it was always going to be a tough follow-up for the American “Neo-Soul” duo, Gnarls Barkley. Having achieved so much with that album (Crazy was the ﬁrst single to top the UK singles chart purely on downloads, and it stayed at number 1 for nine weeks), the pressure must have been on to try to repeat it. Unfortunately, that shows. The Odd Couple oen sounds like a succession of somewhat cynical attempts to write “Crazy 2”. The album opens with the track Charity Case, a slick R’n’B number, but with strangely threatening lyrics. There’s something disconcerting about vocalist Cee-Lo chanting menacingly, “Get get get horny. Now!” In this context, his then singing about how “You’re not doing good. I can help,” sounds frankly dirty. Still, the album’s immaculate production manages to compensate for the intermittent lapses of lyrical judgement that would otherwise mar many tracks. Strong, catchy beats power most of the songs, with CeeLo’s voice normally carrying the melody. This isn’t catchy guitar-riﬀ stuﬀ: these are songs for singing, with his distinctive soulful voice always foremost in the mix. The desire to showcase his considerable vocal skill is presumably what led Cee-Lo to try his skills at something approaching Gangsta rap in what is, probably unintentionally, the album’s funniest moment: the track Would-Be Killer. It opens with a sample of a gun loading, and then goes downhill from there. All in all, the album is competent, inoﬀensive background music that should not be particularly pleasing or displeasing for anyone.
This eﬀort from Yael Naim and David Donatien is best described as both sweet and diverse. Throughout the thirteen tracks of the collaboration, Yael Naim sings in not only English, but also French and Israeli. As her so, almost whining voice weaves in and out of the diﬀerent languages, it is hard to ignore the feeling of truth that is inscribed in every bend and break of her voice. It is not only the linguistic variety that supplies a refreshing sense of innovation as the mixture of instruments that dapple the background, though based around Donatein’s guitar, move from low quivering violins to humming synths in order to create a melting pot of atmospheric sounds. There is also a charming simplicity that inhabits the album. Track number ﬁve, Shelcha, begins with Naim’s pining voice and Donatien’s resonating guitar motif. Her voice echoing, light drums, swaying violins and soly played piano, then warm the texture. Their version of Toxic enters a realm in which Britney Spears and all that she stands for disintegrates. Naim’s vocals curve and explore wide ranges with her innate blues style, while the song Pachad, though sung in Israeli, also leans towards the blues style. As the pianist tumbles down the keys and the bass stirs in your chest, Naim’s voice both whispers and screams with sorrow. The lyrics for Too Long and Far Far, also oﬀer a few endearing one-liners, but a lack of depth (frustratingly) plagues the album. Repeating choruses and short verses fail to satisfy a curious mind. Naim could in fact heed her own advice and “dive, there’s a beautiful mess inside”. It’s an album of emotional sound and the bare-necessities.
Gig Guide these visual vignettes, or whatever they’re called. They don’t necessarily all work together on their own but with music will all be pieced together.” In addition the band has completed the assembly of a vinyl-only live box set purported to contain three LPs of unreleased material, and the release is only being delayed due to the intricate artwork being created for the packaging. “The guy that we’re putting it out with likes to do really handmade, personal stuﬀ so I think the box that it’ll come in will be really specialised and a little bit diﬃcult to cra. So it’ll maybe take a little while yet.” Animal Collective are on the line-up for the highly regarded ATP festival in Minehead on May 18th, the group ﬁnally managing to clear their schedules for the event. “We’ve never played ATP before, it’s always either not ﬁt in with our touring dates which can be weird sometimes or we’d just have taken a holiday and it would just not ﬁt in, so we’re psyched to be able to do it this year.” The group take to the stage at Tripod the following evening, a gig Tare in particular is looking forward to as he missed the band’s last performance there in November 2007 due to a throat infection. “I basically just had to stay in the hotel while we were there and I’ve never really been to Dublin that much, so I was bummed out man.”
Tuesday 15th April Down - Ambassador Theatre, €38.60, doors at 8pm Har Mar Superstar - Crawdaddy, €16, doors at 8pm
15.04.2008 doors at 8.00pm Divokej Bill - Button Factory, €30, 7.30pm Monday 21st April Elbow - Vicar St. , €28, doors at 8pm Jape - Crawdaddy, €14, doors at 8pm Violetta - Whelan’s, €11.50, doors at 8pm
Thursday 17th April Maria Doyle Kennedy - Whelan’s, €17.50, Maria Doyle Kennedy plays doors at 8pm Whelans on 17th April Tuesday 22nd April Wallis Bird + Aidan Alela Diane + Mariee Sioux - Craw- Crawdaddy, €15, doors at 8pm daddy, €17, doors at 8pm Dick Gaughan - Whelan’s, Friday 18th April €20, doors at 8pm Republic of Loose - The Academy, €20, doors at 8pm Wednesday 23rd April Dark Room Notes - The VilSebodah - Upstairs at Whelage, €14, doors at 8pm lan’s, €25, doors at 8.00pm The Jimmy Cake - The Button Factory, €17.45, doors at 7.30pm Thursday 24th April King Creosote - Crawdaddy, Saturday 19th April €14, doors at 8.00pm Alabama 3 - The Button FacThe Ex - Whelan’s, €16, doors at 8.00pm tory, €31.50, doors at 7.30pm Giveamanakick - Whelan’s, Friday 25th April €12.50, doors at 8.00pm The Amazing Few + More Tiny Giants Suffocation + supports - Fib- The Button Facory, €10, doors at 7.30pm bers, €22, doors at 7.30pm Mouse on Mars - The Button Factory, €17.50, doors at 11pm Sunday 20th April Foals - The Academy, €14, doors at 8.00pm Republic of Loose - The Academy, €20, doors at 8pm John Spillane - Whelan’s, €23,
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Let the battle Battles need no introduction to their Irish fans, as drummer John Stanier speaks to Lorcan Archer about the road ahead and the huge response the group have generated all over the world Imagine a long-since abandoned slate quarry in the middle of the Wales countryside. It’s the dead of night, and across the ﬂoor of the rocky expanse someone has erected a series of vertically lit tubes, each about eight feet tall and emitting a faint blue glow. The tubes cover the ﬂoor of the nocturnal scene, slowly lighting up to reﬂect thousands of facets of blue light on the millions of slate chips that litter the vast expanse, to the beat of a group of musicians playing in the centre of the forest of light. The group is Battles, the song they’re making a
video for is Tonto, and the masterminds in charge of the stunning visual display are none other than United Visual Artists, who’ve come together with the U.S. band to make a very special clip for a special song. “It really was a fantastic experience working with the guys from UVA for Tonto”, recalls Battles drummer John Stanier several months aer the completion of the video. “I can’t remember who approached who, but they basically went on location scouting for the video shoot, it being the second single, and they found this big abandoned quarry in Wales. “The last thing that’d actually been done there was the photo for the album cover of Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy. It’s really in the middle of nowhere, and they programmed these lights to react and ﬂash with the music of the song. The song is like eight minutes long, and we didn’t want to do an MTV edit or anything, so we
just did it justice, and presented it all in its entirety. The whole thing is almost like a short ﬁlm. ” The result was certainly one of the most stunning displays of music video inventiveness of the last year, a level of
just ingredients for the same musical cake of good songs. “As vague and uncommitted as that sounds, I think it’s truer than almost anything else to just leave it at a rock band”, explains Stanier. “We hate all that math-rock labelling that gets thrown around to describe us. It’s a really cheap way of explaining, like “Oh it’s really crazy and complex so it must be like math.” It’s a really 90s term as well, that has resurfaced for some reason. At the end of the day we’re just a rock band that’s using newer technology, saying otherwise would just be lying.” The group have been moving onto the global level since their formation in 2003, with last year’s Mirrored debut having instantly secured more rave reviews than can easily be counted. Stanier himself is no fresh amateur, still drumming for Mike Patton’s Tomahawk project and having beat the skins with cult hardcore/noise group Helmet for several years in the 90s, an experience he regards as good practise for the non-stop touring that Battles carry out, recently spending an entire year on the road since the album’s release. “I’ve been doing this for so long now so I’m sort of used to it”, reﬂects the sticksman. “But yeah, I mean a year is a year. This is what we do, but it’s a great thing. To complain about touring is ridiculous I think. Sometimes it can be easy to complain if you’re tired or miss home, but when you’re getting requests from people all over the world who want to see you, it’s amazing and obviously worth it. And I’m so happy with Battles, we’ve so much positivity. Ask me in eight years how things are going when we’re all sick of each other, but right now I feel very lucky to be part of this.” The following that Battles has fostered around the world has been considerable, demanding that the group expand and prolong tours constantly. “We’ve been to South America recently, The Big Day festival out in Australia, and we just seemed to explode in Europe. So it’s a labour of love of course, and we’re just very happy that people want to see us so much. We’re supposed to be on a break right now, but had a meeting last night and we’ve decided to do the Coachella and Lollapolooza festivals in the States, plus another upcoming European tour that seems to be getting bigger and bigger.” Such a gruelling schedule does not knock Stanier back at all, with the group being well aware of the need to gain the maximum amount of exposure in order to stay in the limelight and please their huge number of fans. “That’s deﬁnitely the way things work, you keep your proﬁle up, and people continually want to see you”, aﬃrms the drummer, “You need to do this kind of thing.” As is ﬁtting for the
“The cymbal being positioned so ridiculously started out as a joke. I keep it up there because it keeps it out of the way mainly. So then when I do hit it, it’s like a marker, it’s an event when I really crash into it” creativity that reﬂects the same ethic of innovation that has deﬁned Battles as something very special in the modern rock landscape. Simply labelling themselves as a modern rock band with extra technology, Stanier reiterates that the massive uses of organic and sampled rhythms, keyboards, synths, looping effects, hammered guitar eﬀects and countless other instruments that make up their catchy but bizarre tracks are
revolutionary approach that the band has taken, another appearance at the fabled All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in the UK is on the cards. For an event known for specialising in the diverse and innovative, it’s little wonder that Battles are treated as returning heroes whenever they make it back. “This will be our third time doing it. I love doing it; I think it’s such a cool festival. It’s really weird but I’ve had so much fun whenever I was there.” Having played twice in Dublin in the past two years, the demand for the group is also big on our own Irish turf. With such a bizarre sound oen ascribed to their name, and the interesting transformation of the tracks into a live setting, perhaps a more common denominator is called for. Do people dance to Battles? “Apparently they do,” replies Stanier. “I’m usually too busy myself to concentrate on the crowd too much.”
15th April 2008
The live reproduction of the material does seem to diﬀer very much from the studio environment that the band inhabits. “They’re two totally diﬀerent monsters. Inside the studio, it can be very monotonous and quite boring in the process of producing a record, but the end result is extremely satisfying. What you ﬁnish up with lasts forever, it’s a CD recording. But the memory of a great live show, the actual adrenaline rush, that doesn’t last as long. It’s just as intense, so it’s a weird Ying & Yang existence. But I can still access the album whenever I need to, and it gives me the same rush.” The recording process is obviously a vital one for a group that present such a layered sound to their material, with a good degree of precision being required in the exact layout of a record. Understandably, this does limit the group somewhat in terms of their productivity. “We won’t have a chance to put out anything by the end
of the year”, says Stanier. “Realistically, early next year is the earliest; it’s just not feasible to say otherwise. We don’t write on tour usually because we’re so tired and we’re cramped in a van. Actually I do believe on this tour we’ll have a bus. But it’s still too diﬃcult to write on tour.” In that respect the band’s strength is almost their weakness in the composition stakes. “Yeah, it’s much easier if you’re a pop/rock band, you can just do it with an acoustic guitar, with us you’ve got all the electronic stuﬀ to deal with, so it’s just far too much of an ordeal to go through on the road. “In regards to the composition process, certain aspects come oﬀ the cuﬀ immediately and other parts we agonise over for months. Half of it is really knowing when to stop. For example, that song Leyendecker (track 5 on Mirrored) was done in the studio on the spot. We just banged that one out in an hour, it was only a little tiny idea that
we forgot about and went back to, but it turned out to be pretty fantastic. I really couldn’t even choose a favourite song from the sessions.” The ﬁrst thing that potential fans encounter when the band arrives, to perform are the posters with the band’s name that appear in their home town. Stanier is quick to dismiss any potential reference to intensity or aggression that the band’s one-word name may suggest. “It was really the last thing on our minds to be honest. What we were going to call ourselves was the last thing we were concerned with. I think Ian thought of the word though. What I do like about it is that it’s quite generic, and you can’t instantly tell what we’re going sound like it. We could be, like, a Black Metal band with that name, and nobody would know unless they went out and listened to us.” The ﬁrst major taste that many people may have more recently got of Battles would more than likely be their live performance on BBC’s Later with Jools Holland, when the band seized their chance to perform their ﬁrst major single, Atlas, to several million viewers. A typically bombastic and unorthodox performance followed, one which the group were more than pleased with. “I knew it was a big deal but I didn’t realise it was that big,” laughs Stanier. “We got such great feedback from it. We got to meet Michael Stipe and ended up hanging out all night with Crowded House.” The song Atlas, perhaps one of the most recognizable cuts from Mirrored thanks to its distinctive pedal-eﬀected vocals, now holds an even more special place in its relation to the band that birthed it. “It has absolutely been our most successful song”, agrees Stanier. “But I’d hate to be deﬁned by it. On one hand it’s a little bit annoying, I don’t want to be known for that one song, but it’s helped to pull a lot of people in to hear our even more crazy stuﬀ. That’s what the job of a single is, and I think that it’s succeeded in that respect.” The centre piece of that performance, as with most Battles
shows, was Stanier’s distinctively minimal drum kit, with its eye-grabbing sole crash-cymbal elevated to some feet above the busy drummer’s head. The story behind its position is more practical than may be supposed. “The cymbal being positioned so ridiculously started out as a joke. I keep it up there though because it keeps it out of the way mainly. I didn’t want too many cymbals, so I thought, “Right, I’ll just have one then”. So then when I do hit it, it’s like a marker, it’s an event when I really crash into it”. Back in Ireland in May of this year, it promises to be a busier than ever summer for the New York band. That being said, old allegiances and an earned fondness won’t be forgotten
as the band take to the road. “We do love Ireland. For whatever reason, it’s been very good to us since day one of the group taking oﬀ. Ireland is the ﬁrst country from which we had travelling fans”, explains Stanier with an appreciative tone. “This clique of Irish kids would just show up all over the UK – they also came to Europe. They just jumped on an Aer Lingus or Ryanair ﬂight and followed us, and we always felt very honoured whenever they showed up. We’ll probably see them again when we make it over back there.” Battles play Vicar Street on 15th May
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15th April 2008
Panic in needle park Cathy Buckmaster pays a trip to the D’Olier Street Blood Donor Clinic to give blood, discovering that it’s not even close to the ordeal it’s hyped up to be
Every year thousands of patients require blood transfusions in hospitals around Ireland for many reasons. Some may need a transfusion because they are undergoing surgery; others because they are recovering from cancer or some have been in a serious accident. Giving blood is something that we can all do to help alleviate the demand, and for students who fear that it is a painful experience, it can be helpful to look past the various myths that surround the process.
Upon my entry into the clinic, I was almost immediately seen to by a member of staﬀ in the waiting area. The staﬀ members were extremely warm and friendly and there was no lengthy (and fear-inducing period) wait for my turn to donate. The area where donations are taken is out of sight from the waiting area so anyone who is fearful of the sight of blood or needles need not worry about an agonising wait watching others donate. The ﬁrst order of business is to read
a leaﬂet about donating blood and to ﬁll in a very straightforward health and lifestyle questionnaire with tickthe-box answers. It involves simple questions such as whether you have a cold, whether you’ve had a piercing recently or whether you’ve been out of the country The information given is treated in the strictest conﬁdence. If you are unsure as to whether you can give blood due to personal matters, you can request to be seen by a doctor or nurse in a private room and they will
One, two, three… now breathe As the pink blossoms dot the trees of UCD, Fiona Redmond tries to control the rising levels of panic while she talks to students and counsellors about how to manage exam stress Thanks to modularisation and continuous assessment, most subjects are broken up into presentations, essays and attendance, all of which helps to alleviate the pressure to perform well in the end of term exam. However, when exams are looming, it is quite easy to slip into a state of panic. “I only have four exams this year,” explains Final Year student Karina Bracken, “but with only a month to go, I still have 10,000 words of essay work to hand in before I can even think of studying.” The continuous demands placed on students to hand in assignments regularly, leaves some students unable to focus on the big picture. “We have so much to hand up at the end of term and it’s worth so much, that it leaves very little time for actual study,” explains another Final Year student Sarah Toland. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and there are various techniques employed by students to make the load easier. “I ﬁnd that the hardest thing to do is to start studying now and not put it oﬀ,” explains Bracken “It really helps me when I make up a detailed timetable before I begin. Then once I get stuck in, it’s not so bad.”
Making a timetable is both a logical and necessary step towards conquering your stress. Even taking a minute to put your pen to paper will make you feel better because you are starting to put the ball in motion. For those of you who are tempted to leave everything to the last minute and stay up all night, Arts Student Advisor Aisling O’Grady, warns against the tactic. “Pulling all-nighters is such a bad idea. If you feel you need more study, go to bed and get up early. Every year there are students that we worry about because their papers are gibberish and it transpires that they’ve stayed up all night before the exam. And even when you think you’re doing brilliantly, you’re usually not.” According to health experts, when students cram into the early hours, not only will they be exhausted the next day but it will seriously impact on the work submitted. O’Grady is keen to dispel the myth surrounding energy drinks and tablets. “Using false stimulants like red bull or glucose tablets are not good for you either. They will not help your academic performance; you’re better oﬀ going to bed early, eating properly and looking
WHAT’S IN: CORAL NECKLACES Everyone knows you got it on Grafton Street. Give it up. JUNK EMAILS For the last time, I do not actually have any need for Viagra.
aer yourself.” Teaching yourself to relax is crucial, and deep-breathing exercises as well as physical activity can be helpful ways to calm down. Ultimately however, it is important to remember that a bit of stress is normal and oen helps to provide the motivation to get going. There are many facilities in UCD that can help students cope with pressure coming up to the exam period. Many people are unaware that there is a nurse stationed in every exam centre for students who might suﬀer from panic attacks or feel unwell. Also if you feel like you are sinking under pressure, make an appointment to see your Student Advisor who will be able to help.
Tips to avoid exam stress: ■ Get organized and begin studying ASAP. ■ Make a study timetable. ■ Eat healthy food. ■ Get your sleep. ■ Talk to somebody if you feel under pressure.
FAIR TRADE FASHION It’s an easy step to change from a selfish to selfless fashonista. LIBRARY SUPER-FINES
let you know. Aer ﬁlling out the questionnaire and declaring that I understood it and that it was true and accurate to the best of my knowledge, I was brought across to a nurse who checked to see if my iron levels were high enough to give blood. It is a precaution for the beneﬁt of the donor, as they want to be sure your iron is high enough to donate. This procedure is carried out quickly and harmlessly by the nurse who tests a small drop of blood from the tip of your ﬁnger in a process that you will barely notice has happened. If your iron levels are too low, they won’t take your blood. However, if your blood passes this test and they will be able to accept a donation straight away. I was then brought into a big open room behind the reception area and led to a reclined chair in which I was to give blood. A pressure cuﬀ was put around my upper arm so as make the veins more prominent and the area where they would insert the needle was cleansed with antiseptic. As a person who dreads the thought of needles, I was shocked with how virtually painlessly and eﬃciently it was inserted by the doctor. The sensation felt like a slight pinch which lasted no more than a second. I was asked to continually squeeze an object in my hand to ensure a smooth and consistent blood ﬂow. This process, during which the blood is transferred from the needle to the blood bag, is absolutely painless and, for the beneﬁt of the squeamish, the blood bag is kept out of sight of the donor. Donors are never le alone, and a donor attendant is never was out of sight, keeping a close eye on those donating to ensure everyone is feeling ok and calm about their procedures. The bag was ﬁlled in approximately ten minutes, aer which a small dressing was applied and I was asked to press ﬁrmly on the place of the insertion to prevent bruising. I was led to a canteen to rest for as long or as little as I wanted, depending on how well I felt. Sometimes donors can experience dizziness and nausea aer a donation and are encouraged to sit still or lie down until the feelings pass. Sweets, sandwiches and drinks are all oﬀered and available free of charge. I was advised to help myself
Even though most of us have already clocked up a small fortune, look on the bright side. Maybe now some of us will have a chance at getting that illusive core text book that’s been on
GLADIATOR SANDALS These knee-length strappy sandals, making tree trunks out of the slimmest calves, are a no-go this summer.
and to refrain from engaging in any strenuous activity and to wait a couple of hours before I smoked or drank alcohol. Unexpectedly, I really did feel ﬁne aer I donated. The thought that what I had just done could possibly save one to three lives was, for want of a better word, a bit of a buzz. Anyone who can, should give blood donation a go and encourage their friends to do likewise as it really does save lives. For more information on blood donation, you can phone their information line on 1850 731 137, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Alternatively, you can visit the website on www. ibts.ie.
reserve since January. The Trench coat Effortlessly elegant and perfectly suited for those slightly warm yet rainy summer months ahead.
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15th April 2008
Attention to detail Celebrated couturier Helen Cody talks to Cathy Buckmaster about her work as an international designer and emphasizes that the beauty is really in the details when it comes to her unique creations
Helen Cody, a world renowned couture fashion designer based in Ireland, has a curriculum vitae of experience in the fashion world t h a t
spans almost two decades. Aer graduating from the National College of Art and Design, she travelled to Paris to work for French Vogue and then on to work with international designer Azzedine Alaia. Cody explains that from day one, fashion was her burning. “I always wanted to be a fashion designer. I have a very talented mother so I started making things from when I was ridiculously little. I was ﬁve years of age making my ﬁrst handbag. “I visited NCAD when I was in ﬁrst year in school and thought ‘Absolutely, that’s it, that’s where I’m going.’ I didn’t even apply to another college and luckily I got in.” Ireland is oen looked upon as a very minor player in the international fashion scene, so for an Irish designer there’s an added challenge to make their mark on the international industry. “It’s a much smaller market and that’s something that works against designers here. The quality of the work is as good but unfortunately the market isn’t as big. “Unfortunately, to do well, you have to leave the country or do what I do, which is to completely ignore the market production end of things and go into couture. I specialise in a much more highly speciﬁc niche business.” Cody’s designs are very unique, with a precision of detailing and cut adding to their unusual charm. “What I do is couture, everything I do is to order, and I don’t do any mass production. I used to do it and I was selling at forty stores at one point but I found it didn’t suit me. “What I’m good at, what I specialise in, is the very laborious hand making, hand dying, embellishing, ﬁnishing, working on sculptural pieces that go to
the Oscars and to opening nights. That’s where I’m much more comfortable.” The fashion business is renowned for being diﬃcult for newcomers to break into. Cody reﬂects on this competitive element. “I wouldn’t like to be in a young designer’s shoes right now because it’s much more competitive than it was in my day. “It’s so long ago since I did it and I was a bit ground breaking because I became a stylist when the word didn’t even exist. I went straight form NCAD over to work in Paris. I came back and I said, ‘Ok guys, there’s a thing called a stylist around the rest of the world and it hasn’t hit Dublin yet.’ Now of course, they’re ten a penny.” She laughs. Cody’s spring collection can be viewed online and it really is breathtaking. The subtle femininity, and simple but classic silhouettes and attention to detail really make each piece resemble a work of art. She describes her current collection
in a nutshell. “It’s very ﬁies inspired, there’s a lot of texturing on fabrics and origami work on the actual surface of the bandeau part of the dresses. There are high-waisted, very narrow Audrey Hepburn pants, embellished egg-shaped coats, Swarovski crystals, laser-cut petal dresses, hand-dyed feather and ballerina dresses.” As for what makes Helen Cody’s work unique, she modestly explains what makes her diﬀerent. “Well I would hope it’s the attention to detail, the choice of fabric, and the ﬁnish. “When somebody comes to the studio to choose something, they look at a sample but ultimately I design for the person. It’s very speciﬁc because an extra inch here and there can make a massive diﬀerence to how something sits on a body. I change proportions for people so it’s really a bespoke service; it’s unique to the wearer. The one thing I’ve learned is that you have to be speciﬁc to the customer.”Cody also explains an
invention that she is obviously quite proud of. “We’ve created these ‘waspies’ that go inside the waist so we have that real ﬁies broken rib silhouette without the actual pain of breaking your ribs.” She jokes. “My ladies love it actually because it not like going the gym, you lose three inches oﬀ your waist without any pain and it’s not like those silly magic pants that everyone wears, but more like a lovely piece of lingerie.” As for her favourite aspect of fashion design, she has no uncertainties and passionately exclaims, “My fashion shows, without a shadow of a doubt. You spend days and nights for two and a half months working your butt oﬀ and you’re given a tiny window of twenty minutes to impress the world. “It’s that moment when it all comes together that probably makes me do what I do. It’s that moment when all the work, all the drawings, all the research, all the preparation and all the passion, become completely worth it. I produce all my own shows and when you see twenty models lined up backstage ready to walk out and you’ve got your music and your lighting, there’s nothing like it, it’s amazing.” For any aspiring fashion designers looking to make a start, Cody oﬀers some sound advice. “I’d say travel immediately. Leave the country as fast as your little legs can carry you, not because there’s anything wrong with getting experience here but it’s more limited. “Aim high. When I le NCAD, I said that I wanted to work at Vogue and I got a job there because I dug my heels in and I really had to annoy them but it worked - I didn’t give up.” She concludes conﬁdently, “I would say persist even if you feel like you’re annoying somebody and absolutely travel because you’ve got the rest of your life to be stuck in a job, you might as well have some adventures and go for it.”
Glamorous femininity Zoë Jordan, one half of fashion due Irwin and Jordan, speaks to Cathy Buckmaster about breaking new ground as an up-and-coming fashion designer and about designing real clothes for real women Zoë Jordan is one half of the fashion design team behind the recently established Irwin and Jordan label, launched in the summer of 2008. Joining forces in 2006, the two women le their jobs in brand consultancy and ﬁnance to begin their long-awaited careers in fashion design. Jordan is exceptional in the fact that she never studied at a design college. “I have never studied fashion as I was in ﬁnance. Aer a business degree I went to work for HSBC in New York and then followed up with a couple of years at Credit
Suisse in London. “But I have always been very creative, and aer years and years of 5am starts, I ﬁnally earned enough money to follow my passion.” Jordan describes her creations as “a sophisticated daywear brand. It is a unique label which provides clothes that combine simplicity and quality as well as fashion and durability. “The main inﬂuence for the collection was Diane Keaton, particularly in her role as Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. There is a feeling of sexy androgyny. The collection combines masculine high-waisted trousers,
tailored shirts and tuxedo jackets with ultra feminine dresses and sheer blouses.” The Irwin and Jordan Autumn/ Winter collection varies from the summer collection, leaning more towards a thrown-on glamour idea. The concept for the collection was to combine classic and timeless style with a distinctive and modern edge by retaining simple silhouettes, clean lines and strong blocks of colour and it succeeds in appearing easy to wear and eﬀortlessly fashionable.” Jordan explains the creative
process behind this collection. “We looked to the 1930s for creative inﬂuence. We focused speciﬁcally on 1930’s ﬁlm and glossy glamour that came as standard but with a modern attitude, saving nothing for best, but rather, wearing your best everyday.” As for the kind of women they design their collections for, Jordan deﬁnes the perfect prototype for their designs. “Women who like to stand out but with dignity, those who are discerning, intelligent and quietly conﬁdent. As a tom boy at heart, I am dedicated to creating an aesthetic that is androgynous, yet still sexy.”
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15th April 2008
Sizzling summer cinema As summer approaches, prepare yourselves for a smorgasbord of sensational cinema. Cian Taaffe previews the summer film season and examines the biggest and most-hyped films coming to a cinema near you Iron Man Over the last few years, big-screen adaptations of Marvel Comics characters have been incredibly successful and enjoyable to sit through. The latest of these adaptations sees Robert Downey Junior take on the role of Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. Perhaps Iron Man isn’t as wellknown as Spiderman or the X-Men, but with the cast also featuring Samuel L. Jackson, Jeﬀ Bridges, Hilary Swank and Gwyneth Paltrow, it shouldn’t matter and it looks as though Iron Man will fare just as well in the box oﬃce as any previous comic book endeavours. With the special eﬀects looking just as impressive as last year’s hit Transformers, this is a safe bet for some mindless entertainment. Release Date: May 2nd
Speed Racer Written and directed by the Wachowski brothers, (The Matrix, V for Vendetta), this ﬁlm is based on a classic 1960s cartoon. With names such as Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild), Matthew Fox (Lost), Christina Ricci (Sleepy Hollow) and Susan Sarandon (The Rocky Horror Picture) employing their talent, one would imagine Speed Racer to be the perfect recipe for a fantastic movie. However, trailers for the upcoming ﬁlm are not promising and although it is bound to be a box oﬃce success no matter what, this ﬁlm should be approached with caution. Those who were fans of the cartoon may be in for a lacklustre adaptation. Release Date: May 9th
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Harrison Ford reprises his role as the world’s coolest architect, Indiana Jones, for the ﬁrst time since 1989, in the fourth instalment of the popular ﬁlm series. Initially critics were sceptical about the usual formula of reintroducing a popular ‘80s ﬁlms and bringing back actors who are a bit past their sell by date at this stage. However, the critics can get it wrong, as Die Hard 4.0, Rocky Balboa and Rambo 4 have showed, so Indy’s latest adventure can be held in high expectations. With the fresh talent of Shia LaBeouf thrown into the mix, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is bound to be one of the hottest releases of the summer. Deﬁnitely one to watch. Release Date: May 22nd
Sex and the City: The Movie Run for the hills, hide behind your sofa, or take oﬀ for somewhere exotic and cinema-less for a couple of weeks, because Sarah Jessica Parker and her femi-
nine friends are back and this time they’re going to be several times larger than usual. Those who thought all their Christmases had come at once when this monstrosity of a series was cancelled and who thought it was ﬁnally safe to turn the TV sets back on, are going be incredibly disappointed. Sex and the City: The Movie is bound to be at least as horrifying and mindbogglingly boring as the original TV series was. For those interested in the mindless trials and tribulations of Carrie Bradshaw and her cronies, you’re in for a treat - everyone else must suﬀer in silence. One to avoid. Release Date: May 28th
Prom Night Here comes another attempt from Hollywood to produce a terrifying teen thriller. We get it now – Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer were quite entertaining, but it’s becoming blatantly obvious that this tired formula just doesn’t work anymore. Talk about ﬂogging a dead horse. Once again, no actors with any sort of a reputation were caught dead in this poor excuse for a ﬁlm, so we’re le with names like Brittany Snow and Dana Davis (eh, who?). The only reason for seeing this ﬁlm is if you enjoy seeing rich, pretentious, apparently attractive American teens being needlessly and unjustly slaughtered. Release Date: May 30th
The Incredible Hulk The second Marvel release this summer will be The Incredible Hulk, which thankfully is not a sequel to the 2003 ﬁasco that was Hulk. This time around we’ll see Ed Norton (Fight Club, American History X) taking on the role of our hero, Bruce
Banner. The cast will include Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt and we’ll also see an Incredible Hulk/Iron Man crossover with Robert Downey Junior reprising his role as the aforementioned Tony Stark/Iron Man. The special eﬀects look great and it seems that the storyline has been well thought out, so the legend of The Incredible Hulk may well redeem itself aer the poor version released in 2003. Release Date: June 13th
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Prince Caspian is the second novel in C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia series and this Hollywood adaptation will take over where The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe le oﬀ. Joining Peter, Susan, Edmund, Lucy, Aslan and the White Witch this time is Prince Caspian, played by Ben Barnes. We are also introduced to Reepicheep, voiced by Eddie Izzard, and Nikabrik and Trumpkin, played by Warwick Davis and Peter Dinklage respectively. Prince Caspian promises to be more action-packed than 2005’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and will hopefully be as accessible to both fans of the original book series and newcomers to the series. Release Date: June 26th
The Dark Knight The long-awaited sequel to Batman Begins is ﬁnally on its way. Christian Bale, once again throws on the suit of our beloved Batman to
take on his biggest nemesis, The Joker, who will be played by the late Heath Ledger in one of his ﬁnal roles. We’ll also see Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy and Morgan Freeman reprise their previous roles, while Katie Holmes will be replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes, and with Anthony Michael Hall (The Breakfast Club) and Nestor Carbonell (Lost) joining the cast. The Dark Knight is the one ﬁlm that should not be missed this summer, and is sure to be a guaranteed winner. Release Date: July 25th
Pineapple Express Freaks and Geeks alumni Seth Rogen (Knocked Up) and James Franco (Spiderman) take on the roles of Dale Denton, a lazy stoner, and his drug dealer Saul Silver in this latest comedy, Pineapple Express, from the writers of Superbad. Pineapple Express is a rare strain of cannabis, which Denton is smoking as he witnesses a murder - he then panics and drops the roach at the crime scene.
Silver then reveals that Pineapple Express is so rare that the murderers could easily trace it back to him, so in fear of their lives Dale and Saul go on the run. If you enjoyed Superbad, you’re bound to love this. Release Date: September 12th
Step Brothers From the guys who brought you Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby comes Step Brothers, starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as Brendan and Dale - two middle-aged, down and outs, who sponge oﬀ their parents. However when Brendan’s mother and Dale’s father tie the knot, the two are forced to live together. At ﬁrst Brendan and Dale despise one another, but soon become best friends. This may not oﬀer us anything new, that we haven’t seen from Ferrell or Reilly in any of their previous escapades, but it’s sure to make you giggle. Release Date: August 22nd
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Juggling stardom and essays Cian Taaffe convinces Linda Bhreathnach to take a break from her college assignments to talk about the juggling act required to balance an acting career, a degree course and a social life all at once “I decided I wanted to be an actress at the ripe old age of ﬁve, according to the folks. Aer a brief spell of wanting to be a baker, (ﬁguring I could make my own cakes) I opted for acting. Unfortunately, now I have to pay for my cakes and pastries. I got involved in various dramas in school, won a little prize at the Oireachtas, joined a drama group in Galway and then aer my leaving cert I auditioned for Ros na Rún and they thankfully gave me a job.” Actress Linda Bhreathnach who, at the young age of 25, has appeared in some of TG4’s most successful dramas including Ros na Rún, The Running Mate and Seacht, is in an expansive mood. “I don’t really get on with any of the people I work with,” she remarks. Alas, this actress is not about to dish the dirt on her fellow actors and actresses. “I’m just kidding of course - I get on well with everybody, most notably my partner in crime Sorcha Ní Chéide, who plays my sister Ríona on Ros na Rún. Honestly almost all of my friendships have been formed on ﬁlm sets, aside from childhood friends and the like.” When she’s not on set ﬁlming, Bhreathnach is focused on her Arts degree in NUIG, but reveals that even though she may not see acting as a life time career, it will always play a pivotal role in her life. “I don’t know how long I’d survive
without acting. It’s essential to me - I need it as an artistic outlet, so although I may go down the academic route (which seems unlikely at times, especially since I’m doing an interview when I should be working on an essay), I think I will always have a place in my life for acting. I suppose I might end up acting as a hobby though, rather than professionally.”
“It’s quite difficult to have a social life, but nobody is forcing me to do any of this, so I can hardly complain” Most college students struggle to study and maintain an active social life as it is. So what happens to your social life when you throw a major role on TG4’s highest rated show, Ros na Rún, into the mix? “Social life? What’s a social life?” Bhreathnach asks jokingly, before continuing, “It’s quite diﬃcult to have one, but nobody is forcing me to do any of this, so I can hardly complain. Besides working on any of the acting projects I’ve done feels good - I feel like I’ve learnt a lot and got the chance to work
with some really great people. Bhreathnach speaks glowingly of Carrie Crowley, her co-star on The Running Mate. “She really helped me along and gave me more conﬁdence in what I was doing. She was so supportive and she’s such a great actress - I learnt a lot from her. It was pretty daunting for me at the start with a cast that included the likes of Don Wycherly, Sean McGinley, Frank Kelly, Carrie Crowley and Denis Conway. I was wondering if I was in the right place when I ﬁrst got to rehearsals, but then Carrie took me under her wing (although she doesn’t actually have wings).” Having already worked with quite a few big names in the Irish ﬁlm industry, Bhreathnach speculates about the international actors she’d like to work alongside most. “There are so many great actors out there, but I like to aim high, so I think it would be pretty cool to work with someone like Al Pacino maybe someday.” Having your face appear on the televi-
sion a couple of times a week will most likely lead to recognition when you’re out and about, a development which Bhreathnach explains can sometimes make her feel a tad uncomfortable. “I get recognized every now and then - I am generally chuﬀed, but also uncomfortable. I don’t know why that is really, but that’s life. “I’d give anyone who wants to get
into acting, the same advice anyone else would give - keep at it and don’t get disheartened if you don’t get the ﬁrst part you audition for. Grow a thick skin too,” advises the actress. So, with ﬁlming for Ros na Rún coming to a close for the year, what can Bhreathnach see herself doing in the near future? “I’m going to have a cup of tea and a sandwich, and then I’m going to ﬁnish my essay.”
Crowe’s Cult Classic Cameron Crowe, director of the critically acclaimed Jerry McGuire, created one of the most well loved coming-of-age dramatic comedies of all time back in 2000, when he wrote and directed, Almost Famous. The ﬁlm tells the story of high-school student, William Miller (Patrick Fugit), who has a passion for both journalism and music and is given the unexpected opportunity to go on tour with up-andcoming rock band, Stillwater, and to write an no-holds-barred article about them for Rolling Stone magazine. The ﬁlm begins with an insight into William’s childhood, in which his overbearing mother (Frances McDormand) attempts to shelter William and his sister (Zooey Deschanel) from life’s realities, by censoring everything they do. William is oblivious to the fact that his mother is preventing him from living a normal childhood and it isn’t until a falling out between his mother and his sister that William sees the truth.
Almost Famous (2000)
When he eventually is given the opportunity to discover “real” music, rather than merely being allowed to listen to The Chipmunks, William ﬁnds his true passion in life. Several years later, in 1973, William, who doesn’t have many friends, spends most of his time listening to and reviewing music. When William meets Penny Lane (Kate Hudson), a “Band-Aide” (not a groupie), and the band Stillwater, William’s life takes a drastic change, so when Rolling Stone oﬀer him a chance to go on tour with Stillwater, William jumps at the opportunity, despite his mother’s eﬀorts to prevent the trip. Once he steps foot on the tour bus, William’s innocence is le behind in his hometown and he is introduced to an alcohol-drinking, drug-consuming, sex-ﬁlled lifestyle. At ﬁrst William merely wants to interview the band,
tag along for a few gigs and then head home, however, when band member Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup) keeps procrastinating, William must remain on tour to get his scoop. Almost Famous is funny, charismatic and a roller-coaster ride of entertainment. Not only does it contain a love triangle, a fallout and reunion of the band, an acid-trip involving a rooop and a swimming pool, and an incident on an airplane, Almost Famous is blessed with an incredible soundtrack and almost manages to make Elton John sound cool. Winning 45 awards in the year of its release, including one Oscar, Almost Famous gave Kate Hudson the breakthrough role she had been searching for, and she remains one of the most talented actresses in Hollywood today. The ﬁlm also featured an incredible ensemble cast, who gave fantastic performances, including Jason Lee (Mallrats, Dogma), Fairuza Balk (The
Cra, American History X) and Phillip Seymour Hoﬀman (Twister, The Big Lebowski). Crowe based Almost Famous on his own experiences as a teenage writer, going on tour with the likes of Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Crowe’s knowledge of the industry is apparent throughout the ﬁlm and although Stillwater are a ﬁctional band, the story
remains realistic enough and the actors credible enough, to make one truly believe that this ﬁlm could be an actual account of a real band. Despite its under-performance at the box oﬃce upon its initial release, Almost Famous remains one of the most heart-warming cult classics of our time.
TH E THE
15th April 2008
Everyday Magic Susanne O’Reilly reviews Blackberry Wine, a novel written by the same author who brought us Chocolat, Joanne Harris. ■ ■
Blackberry Wine Joanne Harris nnnnp
Joanne Harris is probably better known for her novel Chocolat, which was so successfully transferred to the silver screen, with Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche playing the leads. Let’s face it, when Johnny Depp is cast to star in a ﬁlm adaptation of your book, you must be doing something right. Blackberry Wine has a similar whimsical storyline, and is set in the same small French village of Lansquenet –sur-Tanne, yet its main characters are quite diﬀerent. Jay Mackintosh is a burnt-out writer from England, living oﬀ the success of his only bestseller, Three Summers with Jackapple Joe. The novel was based on his own encounters with a mysterious man called Joe Cox, who enthralled a teenage Jay with tales of his wild adventures abroad, and taught him how to grow exotic fruits, vegetables and ﬂowers in any type of soil. But by the end of Jay’s third summer with Joe, the gloss has begun to wear oﬀ their relationship and Jay’s belief in Joe’s everyday alchemy involving herbs and pig-latin incantations begins to falter. In a Peter Pan-esque turn, Jay’s scepticism in itself proves to be his downfall, when the charms he only half-heartedly believes in fail to protect him from a local bully. Jay goes back to school without saying goodbye to Joe, and does not return for almost ﬁeen years, when he ﬁnds Joe’s house deserted, except for six bottles of ‘Specials’ – fruit wines, made by Joe himself – and a packet of ‘jackapple’ seeds (jackapples, apparently, are potatoes that can be used for making spirits and preserving fruits.)
On an impulse, brought on by drinking one of these ‘specials’, Jay buys a house in Lansquenet, which is similar to one Joe once showed him in a brochure, and moves to France right away, where he ﬁnally begins to write, and is plagued by visions of Joe. He encounters many of the villagers whom readers of Chocolat will recognize, and eventually earns their friendship – all except Marise d’Api, his reclusive neighbour, and her seven year-old daughter Rosa. Fascinated by Marise, and the rumours that she murdered her husband, Jay works her into his new novel, all the time desperately trying to get her to speak to him. It is the blackberry wine le by Joe which eventually works its magic and breaks down Marise’s barriers and earn her trust.
Meanwhile, his publisher and his delightfully obnoxious, over-ambitious ex-girlfriend Kerry track him down and embark on a crusade to make Lansquenet part of a new television programme. This, of course, would destroy the peace and tranquility of Lansquenet, making it just another tourist spot in the south of France. It is up to Jay, with the help of Marise and Rosa, to ﬁnd enough belief in the old magic to protect the village from commercialization. Corny? Deﬁnitely. Thoroughly entertaining? Absolutely. The magic in the story is described so simply and convincingly that even the most rabid sceptic will have to concede a point or two on this one. This is no Indiana Jones adventure, and probably more of a book for girls, but Harris’ writing is taut and clever, her storylines neatly tied up, and her wit sharp. Joe, a coal miner all his life, is a lovable character, a bit like everyone’s granddad, whose appearances are always enjoyable and whose manners stand in stark contrast to the quaint local people and customs. Jay, although a grown man, is still very much a teenager at heart and even at his most blind and stupid, is oddly endearing. If this book doesn’t make you want to jump on a plane to southern France tomorrow and start growing potatoes, nothing will.
■ Joanne Harris
■ Niccolo Ammaniti
Scary stuff Helen O’Sullivan explores the world of nine year old Michele conjured by the critically acclaimed I’m Not Scared and discovers that it is not so sweet I’m Not Scared is Niccolo Ammaniti’s third novel, enjoying huge success in the author’s native country Italy, and making its transition to the big screen in Gabriele Salvatores 2004 hit. The novel is set during a searing hot summer in the Italian countryside of 1978, still remembered in Italy today for the duration and ferocity of the seasonal heat. While the adults of the small rural town of Aqua Traverse stay sheltered in the shade, the six young children of the town ﬁnd nothing to do other than to explore their surroundings by bike. Nine year old Michele Amitrano is one of these boys and the novel is told through his narrative. Whilst out exploring the countryside, Michele oﬀers to climb up and explore an abandoned warehouse. What Michele discovers in here is a secret so earth-shattering that he dare not tell a single soul, as its revelation would destroy the community in which he grew up. As the plot develops through the eyes of the boy, the reader is introduced to a portrait of a boy in danger of losing his innocence; pulled into conﬂict with the adult world, he is unable to understand its bitter truths. As a result he is forced to question all that surrounds him, including family, friends and eventually, God. With his innocence evaporated, he must learn
I'm not scared Niccolo Ammaniti
to overcome his fears and weaknesses alone. The choices young Michele is forced to make lead the reader to a stunning climax, a climax which forces the boy to learn the meaning of life in a heartbreaking pool of simplicity. One of the important relationships focused on in the tale is that between adult and child, and once you plummet into this novel, it quickly becomes apparent that the character of the adult is a distant one to the child. Through this perspective, the vagaries of childhood are subtly revealed. These themes permeate the novel with a universal element of understanding, an element which cannot be captured by the camera lens in Hollywood. The rudiments of the plot are far from original, revolving around a traditional coming-of-age motif. But perhaps it is the classic Italian setting with its unpredictable characters that will catch the reader oﬀ-guard. To this eﬀect the reader is le as clueless as the narrator throughout the plot. Comparisons have been made of this novel by many, with the Stephen King novels and To Kill a Mockingbird oen
mentioned. These comparisons do not do justice to Ammaniti’s masterpiece however, with his astute style of narrative leaving the words of Harper Lee seeming frivolous. Ultimately, this book is a sensational experience – we are drawn into a turning point in Michele’s life as he questions the things that he has always taken for granted. Ammaniti has created a work of art in which he plays not a single false note. It is a truly accomplished work - nothing less than a coming-ofage magnum opus.