Hope Show 34 – the lowdown

Hope Show 34 – for absent friends

1. Rocket Juice and the moon – Hey Shooter
2. Grant Hart – The Argument
3. Mike Watt – Against The 70’s
4. Goldblade – Riot Riot
5, Panthro U.K. United 13 – Sound of a gun
6. The Evens – Wonder Why
7. Matana Roberts – Secret Covens
8. Barry McCormack – The Road to Tyrellspass
9. Glimmermen – Peace at Last
10. David Grubbs – A Dream to help me sleep
11. Midday Veil – Sun Stone
12. Hunx and His Punx – Mud In Your Eyes
13. Blast – Winding Down
14. Funeral Oration – Still IN A Punk Band
15. The Pukes – GLC
16. Zounds – Deportee
17. The Lives Of Millionaires – Act One Scene One
18. Southport – Fade Away

My daughter is getting into the Red Hot Chili Peppers and she switched me on to Rocket Juice and the moon. It is a collabaration between Damon Albarn, Flea and Tony Allen. It’s an interestng album shooting off in all quandrants with a very funky background (funky bassline, who’d have imagined that?)

I played Grant Hart a coule of weeks ago but want to get back to this album. I’m feeling pretty nostalgic today. I’m thinking of Seamus Heaneys family and how the death of one man has received pretty much universal approval in expressing sadness and empathy. His 2 sons have been to a few Hope gigs and one of them played drums in the Lawnmowers. Mike Watt featured heavily in their musical education so I’ve played Grant and Mike for them.

I’m also nostalgic because my son lost his Semi-Final today. He loves uplifting music and what is more uplifting than Goldblade . We played this song as a battle cry last night. Didn’t work though!!

Panthro UK United 13 is some mouthful. This band changed their name to Black Cougar SHock Unit but along the way released a criminally underated album, this is from that

The Evens released their third album this year, the odds. I’m just throwing this in so You don’t forget it.

Matana Roberts is a really interesting person, full of free jazz and rhythms that will have you all over the place. I played Secret Covens as it’s 1min53secs – didn’t want to get you too worried

I’ve been thinking of Dublins history a lot of late. I visted the excellent Dublin Tenement Experience and would have been at the lockout commemoration today if it hadn’t of been for the aforementioned semi-final. Rather than delving into our history I’ve taken the recent album by Barry McCormack (well 5 years is recent) and the new album by Glimmermen to celebrate Dublin today. And I won’t mention the All-Ireland Semi Final v Kerry as that could well be over by the time you read this.

David Grubbs voice is one I could listen to forever. I first came across him in Squirrel Bait and then Bastro. This rickets and scurvyy album is a beauty. No other word for it don’t ya think

Midday veil have a new album called Current (how long this that title stay relevant for?) coming out next month on Translinguistic Other. This is from that, I’m looking forward to the album.

I’m enjoying the Hunx and His Punx album, more than I should I suppose. It’s raw punk rock us style. Not too disimilar to Black Flag (who I played last week) and Blast who are next. Actually totally not similar at all but coming from the same place if that can be possible

I love Funeral Oration – tuneful punk rock from the Netherlands that dabbles in a US hardcore sound. They didn’t play rebellion this year but would have been a welcome addition.

The Pukes and Zounds both played Rebellion and gave me the opportunity to get both these records and share them with you. I played Deportee as it is a poignant memory of times when people left Ireland to travel unfriendly land, much like what this country has become. 100 years after the lockout what has changed? Maybe we drink coffee and wine and have nicer clothes?

The lives of millionaires remind me of the world we are chasing, the world of bankers and big bucks, the world we hope isn’t too alluring for others, but we just can’t seem to change it can we?

In memory of Big Jim Larkin, James Connolly and Seamus heaney I play Fade Away by Southport who have just announced their decision to stop playing as a band (damn shame).

niallhope

Hunx and His Punx – Street Punk

Hunx And His Punx
Street Punk
Hardly Art

HunxAndHisPunx_LP2

Seth Bogart started Hunx and His Punx in 2008 and this is their third albm. Hunx is Seth’s alter ego and the Punx are two women playing obnoxious US hardcore with an almost riot grrl feel.

The first time I had coffee I spat it out and said why would people drink this garbage. There’s so many other hot drinks out there in the world. Street Punk reminded me of that time. Initially I found it awful. I wanted so much more. its basic u.s. nearly 80’s hardcore feel had me very interested. But the obnoxiousness? Does the world need another obnoxious record? Listening to songs about Bad Skin, Blondes, being a pussy is about as interesting to me as watching a soap opera on tv. However some of the music is compelling.

So I’m in a quandary here. I don’t know what to say or think. Hunx is Seth Bogart’s alter ego. Seth is making a statement, trying to be obnoxious in a world that causes him hardship as a gay man. Shannon Shaw and Erin Emslie are his punx and they want to scream, they wanna be in your face and they are sneering all through. There’s two great songs, You think You’re tough and I’m coming Back rocks with sing along songs. There’s other parts that remind me of LA punk in a great time for LA punk if only they wanted to sing about something different!

Maybe they’re of a different era but the world they find obnoxious still exists and maybe that’s the real shame.

niallhope

Lazy way
Bad SKin – obnoxious
Everyone’s a Pussy – and why?
You Think Yoy’re tough – great track, bikini kill playing the germs?
Born Blonde Hair Die – Song about a Hair Dye?
I’m COming Back – Punk rock us style
Mud IN Your Eyes – I wanna keep playing this
Street Punk – Communist eyes and Liberal Guys sung to perfection
Don’t Call Me Fabulous – rasps at ya
Rat Bag – from the gutter
Egg Radi on Mojo – Early Beastie Boys Cover, fast and direct
KIll Elaine – Riot grrl with that loud raw punk sound
It’s Not Easy – It’s not easy being me, bluesy, rocky and filler?

Phil Chevron Testimonial, Olympia Theatre, August 24, 2013

Phil Chevron Testimonial, Olympia Theatre, August 24, 2013
Chevron reminding us of the celebration that life is never what we expected. And always worth embracing.
philip-chevron-event

What Irish artist of our generation chronicled more accurately that twilight world between despair and hope? Who gave voices to the margins? Who sliced through the haze obscuring chances and chancers, resources and fairness?
There are really only two types of people these days; the one who leave and the ones who get left behind. And it was to the intersection between these two tribes that Chevron’s pen sliced with the care and skill of a surgeon’s knife.
The two Radiator’s albums are steeped in loneliness and camaraderie. What other Irish band of the era left behind such an incendiary pair of documents scrutinising Irish life and the lives of the Irish at home and abroad?

And tonight we honour Philip Chevron. I don’t know the man. I may have shaken his hand once or twice over the years. Yet his work, his worldview, his artistry changed my life. He sang and wrote about places I knew. Places I had been. And recently he had helped me massively with a book I am doing about the music industry. He gave his time to answer questions from a virtual stranger. Not only did he give his time, he provided me with pages of his recollections about his early life, career and influences. I was already in his debt. I had enjoyed the Radiators deeply and during times in my life over and over.
The Radiators have forever reminded me that you can combine the music and literature of the world with the poetic musings of contemporary life.
In every sense of the word, tonight was A Variety Show. An idea surely that would have pleased Phil. The music testified to a wide range of musical tastes and proved how Chevron could unite so many disparate tribes. Represented on stage we had traditional Irish music, German cabaret, Brill building pop, folk, and rock.
Camille O’Sullivan was a new to me. She was a name I knew of, whose music I had never heard. Somewhere in my mind the word ‘cabaret’ was assigned to her; and that is not always a great box to live in, with its connotations of amateur dramatics and bludgeoned clichés.
Her interpretation of Nick Cave’s ‘The Ship Song’ was a dangerous move. So closely bound up with Cave’s swagger and machismo; in anyone else’s hands it can sound like a parody. Yet O’Sullivan invested it with a deft energy and lightness of touch, she infused it with a burning sweetness. An accomplished performer, she delivered the song with a mesmerising performance. It seemed unlikely that she could top that until she launched into a sensational version of Chevron’s Pogue song ‘Lorelei’. The lyrics, with their mythical tale of longing, complicated love, and fate were heightened by O’Sullivan. Her stagecraft was captivating and shone a light on Chevron’s accomplishments. He was a consummate wordsmith.

This afternoon I was ignorant of Camille O’Sullivan. Tonight, and forever, I’m a fan.

Another unanticipated highlight for me was Patrick McCabe. If O’Sullivan brought Chevron’s words to life, McCabe did the same for Chevron’s Dublin. His reading of John McGahern’s work (I’m not sure what book it was) conjured up the perplexing evenings of Dublin and the torturous emotional landscape between sensuousness and seriousness. The frantic search for the lover in the streets of the capital city, the hope that the woman in the cheap dresses that were popular that summer would be her, were read with perfect inflection by McCabe. The reading placed the walks taken by the inhabitants of Chevron’s songs in the context of writers like McGahern. It is worth remembering that while the Irish authorities were banning The Life of Brian, the South African government was doing likewise to McGahern.
Roddy Doyle later reads a specially written piece. It is moving and funny and poignant, speaking to humanity and mundane life. It is the type of eye-for-detail that makes Doyle outstanding. Tonight he shows his respect for Philip and the rest of us gathered here by putting the people we knew into the story. The young men and women watching the Blades and the Atrix in dank venues, worried about what life in Dublin was going to bring to us, yet knowing three minute slabs of pop could take us somewhere else.
If there were unknown pleasures on the bill tonight, the act I was most looking forward to seeing, The Radiators surpassed my every expectation. This was how the youth of my generation, who sought meaning in music, were introduced to Chevron. There is something so exciting about your hometown producing a band you know are as good as anyone in the world. As the evening rolled into the night, the band performed a stormer of a set, reminding us that Chevron’s accomplices in the band possessed energy, creativity and skill.
They demonstrated how they had the dynamics to bridge the best of 1970s original rock in Ireland with the passion of the next wave. With guest vocalist Brush Shields, they opened the can of hidden delights they polished up for last year’s essential album Sound City Beat. It was a powerful honouring of the ancestor spirits.
Even more visceral: the Radiators with Gavin Friday. He swaggered and strutted, channelling the aggressiveness of the boot-boys who happily intimidated him and his ilk in late 70s Dublin. These hard lads were a constant reminder of the ugly frustrations of daily life. The corner boys from the mean streets whose gauntlet had to be run if you wanted to see bands in Pearse Street or Cabra.

And we are treated to a reworked ‘Johnny Jukebox’. It serves to show how skilled the Radiators are. Instead of playing it safe and giving the audience what we want, they twist the original into something even more original. As a non-musician I can only imagine the work that goes into a process like that. It warms my heart and fills me with admiration. Friday is fantastic and then brings his dark art to Weill’s ‘Alabama Song’ ably backed by the current Radiators and future Trouble Pilgrims.

The Radiators are more than capable of backing the best up as well as fronting up themselves. ‘Enemies’ proves Holidai’s current credentials as a worthy focus. In some ways it is the greatest song of the band’s first era, a blistering clarion call for unity and understanding. It stands up with the best punk songs of any circa ’77 act. Rapid on keyboards is the rockin’ vicar, the shaman of circuitry, wriggling with the same voltage as Iggy, Ian Curtis or Jerry Lee Lewis.
Bass player, Paddy Goodwin appears during the night with other leading lights and acquits himself well. With the ever-solid Johnny Bonnie on drums, he forms a strong rhythm for Holidai and Rapid to experiment and soar. ‘Sunday World’ is also strong tonight with its comment on media manipulation. There is never a bad time to witness the Radiators. Tonight, with their band-mate Philip watching, it is particularly special.
Paul Cleary is the first man onstage alone. He doesn’t need any accompaniment. The mainstay of Dublin sharp pop-combo the Blades, Cleary build up a following in ‘80s Dublin with tight shows, minimal fuss and good tunes. Tonight he reinvents the Radiators’ ‘Enemies’, a one-man-band stripping the song down, rendering it more poignant and plaintiff. He follows this with his own ‘Downmarket’, a song about dwindling prospects and scarce resources. Could any Irish writer of songs in that eighties era have honestly written a song called ‘Upmarket’? Probably not. And Cleary captured the mood with this piece about “living from day to day”.
I also thoroughly enjoyed both Damien Dempsey and Declan O’Rourke, my first time seeing either of them live. Duke Special can command most audiences and his two song set of Kurt Weill’s ‘Applejack’ and his own outstanding ‘Condition’ transcended even the drunken lout who decided that the spirit of charity shouldn’t preclude him yelling his invectives. It was good to see three Pogues there for their bandmate too. And Shane Mc delivered a credit-worthy performance looking battered, bewildered and ravaged. He performed Chevon’s ‘Thousands Are Sailing’ and reminded us what a precarious place immigrants and emigrants hold in history. It was to these travelling souls that the Pogues spoke with greatest resonance. The O’Connor family who had performed earlier had turned in a great ensemble performance with vigour. Irish traditional music deserved and enjoyed its place in Chevron’s appreciation.
Despite owning some of their albums, I had never seen Horslips with their dramatic fusion of traditional music and rock. And tonight was the tonight. And they were a treat. They reminded me what good musicians can achieve with imagination and dedication. Their sound blossomed with the addition of a brass section and a trio of backing vocalists. They still have it; that is for sure.

It was a night for reflection. My mind marvelled at how people like Billy McGrath, Ian Wilson, Ted Carroll, Pat Egan, Elvera Butler, John Fisher, Kieran Owens, Mick McCaughan (who brought the Pogues over for their first headlining tour of the country), the dedicated Ents Officers of educational establishments and countless others laboured with tenacity and entrepreneurial audacity to hand-make an original music scene in Dublin. I have never met most of those people, yet know I have them to thank for making the Dublin I grew up in more wonderful than it would have been.
It is a night for thinking. Thinking of ordinary men and women as well as heroes. I muse on some of my heroes through the years. Tonight the starting line-up would be: Strummer, Connolly, Lydon, O’Connell, Friday, the Suffragettes (I know that’s against the rules), Marx, Bowie, Holidai and Rapid. And naturally Chevron, the Captain and the King.

Here’s to the Captain and the King.

wildheartedoutsider

Hooligan – No Blacks no Dogs, No Irish

Hooligan

No Blacks No Dogs No Irish

hooligan album cover

It’s amazing how life cycles around. Todays empires, tomorrows ashes is how propogandhi summed it up. When people emigrated from this country to UK and elsewhere many weren’t greeted with open arms. Signs popped up all over the UK, “No Blacks No Dogs No Irish” was the message from shop windows for those seeking work or homes for those seeking accommodation. Eventually times cchanged and the Irish community grew in large numbers in the UK.

We then experience some positive times in this country as our infrastructure improved. As this got better larger numbers of menial jobs were created which irish people didn’t want to do. as people came in from abroad to take up employement that domestic workers wanted no part in our own racism increased. It’s the worse indicment of the nation that has people in all corners of the globe that we do not welcome immigrants with open arms.

This song talks about how irish people were treated but we mustin’t forget how the cycle has continued. Hooligan have very much a street punk sound. This sound has its roots firmly in punk rock in 1977. The Clash and SLF are the closest two. it’s all good toe tapping stuff and with words to get a conversation going it is always positive.

niallhope

Track by track – the lazy way

1. No Black, No dogs, No irish – Clash and Reggae inspired with sax sound

2. Calling Joe Strummer – is that RnB sound and definite Clash mix

3. Cops and Robbers – Almost SLF feel

4. Bandit Country – 77 punk with lyrics harking back to that time

No Age – AN Interview

no age1

No Age have just released their fourth lp – An Object on Sub Pop. One of the most interesting things to come out of listening to the record is the amount of questioning it contains, not solely lyrically but all aspects of it. The way we are sold records these days is questioned by the band putting the whole package together, from putting in the 5 cards temselves into each cd. The design and how we look at things! I was at a talk last week given by Russ Bestley and Alex Ogg who put together the amazing “Art of Punk” book. They spoke about how bands have brands and images. Black Flag being the classic example. No Age confront that with their garish colours on the new cd. There’s questions everywhere, even down to how these people live their lives as veganss.

Armed with many of these questions I spoke to guitarist Randy Randall about the making of the new album and continuing life in a band. Due to the fact that there are 8 time zones between us I managed to speak to Randy the morning after their launch gig for the album. I was slightly concerned that the life of a rock’n’roller would mean that a 10 am call on such a morning would involve a dull conversation owing to the fact that I forced him to wake soon after hitting bed. Of course for a touring band this is not the case and when I called he was right in the middle of loading in equipment to a radio station in Seattle, bemoaining the scheduling of the good people at SUb Pop.

Hi Randy You’re on tour at the moment – the record came out yesterday – was there a celebratory show

“We played an awesome show in Washington hall which is an old school venue here in Seattle, home of Sub Pop. It is a notable venue in that Count Basie played here in the 40’s, Black Flag in the 80’s and Fugazi in the 90s. It’s a cool spot, they don’t do shows there too often now and we got guys form the vera project which is an all ages music promotions place here in Seattle to go in and rent it and make it all happen”

Seattle last night, Portland tonight, How do you travel between shows?
“We have a van, we load our amps in and I drive it around. We stayed in a hotel last night, got about 6 hours of sleep and up to do some radio session and will drive to Portland for tonights show”

You played Dublin for the first time maybe 6 years ago, in a venue opposite a maternity hospital with Mika Miko, Have you memories of that?
“That was an awesome show. Skinny Wolves put it on, those are great guys. It was kind of like an upstairs pub tavern thing. I don’t know why these things always stand out in your mind when youre touring. ”

Do all these cities merge into one, how can you stop them from doing so?
“The first time is always notable and then there’s little details, some times you go ‘wow, I can’t believe I’m here’. I grew up with the mentality that I can’t wait to leave this town which i’m sure is a common feeling amongst angsty punky adolescent s. I gotta get out of here but there’s that feeeling that I’m never gonna get out of here. So it’s really just dreams, hope and anger that drove me to get out of my home town, so when I end up in a place like Dublin it’s like ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe im here’.

When we spoke at that Dublin show it was about being vegan on the road. How is life on the road suiting the vegan diet? any good / bad places
“Still vegan, diet just gets better. It’s getting easier and more and more places are accommodating for vegans. It’s not quite as left field as it was 10 or 20 years ago. LA, our home town, is the mecca for hippies, granola, avocadoes and fresh produce. So we’re lucky in that regard. Travelling around it’s a good opportunity to see parts of the city that are a bit off the beaten path. You can nearly always find an Indian restaurant or Thai. France can be difficult, usually in France I’ll have falafel.”

My own French trip was salads from supermarket

“Portland is great, our friends always laugh at us cos we come through cities once, maybe twice a year and we have one or two favourite places. Being a tourist, you go to one place and you know it’s great I’ll try it again next year and then the locals who live there go ‘Why do you guys wanna go to that place. it was cool like 6 years ago’. We say ‘Oh yeah, thats when we first came and it was cool then, the spot that was good 6 years ago is still good to me, I don’t eat there every day”.

no age

Considering the new album came out the previous day I felt we should move on to that, even though I could have discussed the best vegan diets or cities for the whole thing. As part of my prep for this interview I got out my other No Age albums and timed them, Wierdo Rippers is 32 minutes, Nouns 31, Everything In Between is 38 and the new one An Object is just under 29,
This is just about your shortest album, Is this the way you like it? is there an ideal length for an album?
“It feels like the album is dense, there’s a lot going on in that 30 minute territory. Even with the songs we are very aware that less is more. We keep it brief and to the point, we get in and get out. There’s moments like Commerce, Comment, Commence where things stretch out – we put it right there at the end.”

At times your songs feel almost like compositions, many of the tracks forego the familiar verse chorus, middle eight routine – is that a conscious things?
“Very much so yeah, particularly on this record we rexamined what our songwriting skills were and we reimagined what ways we could rewrite songs and keep them fresh but not like a puzzle or a Limerick. It’s not really stanzas, it’s more like prose than a traditional poem structure”.

Has the song writing process changed over the past few years?
“Yeah we were very conscious about this idea. We wanted to evolve it or at least take it out of the mindless routine of writng a song. ‘This is what you do’, we were questioning all that. Can we get to the pont of foregoing these traditional kind of structures?”

how do you frame your songs?
“Sometimes it’s just riffs. On this record not so much it was more just starting fresh. Dean is challenging himself to do different things on the drums and creat a different percussion palate, so he would start with these rhytms and I would try and build simple guitar parts after that”.

when do words come into play?
“Usually the end. Dean writes and sings the words and he may catch a vibe or a feeling or a phrase and he will place it in there. I stay out of the words.”

can u tell me about some of these songs, mindful of course that you didn’t write the words.
no ground – The line ‘does anybody really care’ – care about what?
“It’s a bit of a challenge, I thnk it’s Dean explorng his place in the world, searching and stretching. Is it necessary to be understood? Where do you stand? Do you define yourself in the eyes of other people or are you able to live on your own. At what point does that defintion by others shape a persons personality.”

An impression – song about a painting?
“I think there’s a lot of painting metaphors in there. I thnk about it as a relationship, about love through the metaphors of a painting. the blooming of love.”

How do you feel about sub pops explanation of the album – I didn’t realise you could explain a collection of songs like this ‘Lyrically Spunt challenges space, fracturing ideological forms and complacency, creating a striking new perspective that reveals thematic preoccupations with structural ruptures and temporal limits.’?
“That’s a hell of a lot of words. That might be talking about a song like Where Ceilings dream of a floor and some lyrical elements in no ground where it talks about ‘who do you think you are’ and spaces “you build a stage, you built a space” you create a world, you create an environment, looking at life as a series of rooms of constructions. Looking at it as a series of things for sale. There’s a lot of physicality throughout this record. The sounds of the percussion, the physical touch. There’s elements where we are hands on with every process of this so Dean is really trying to question everything with these lyrics. Question, how a building is made, how things are made. Are they defined by use or uses? what you do with a space because of how its built, can you rebuild a room around your own activities or your own mind or do you have to fit your mind inside someone elses constructural space. Not beiong the lyricist I think that’s the short hand or the dumb down version of what I’ve taken from it. There’s elements of ‘where’s the space, where’s the time. How long can this go on, where are we at? What sort of confines are there? who put them there and why are they there and wqhat are we doing with them. There’s a lot of questioning. I don’t think its Dean’s modus operandi to tell everybody what to do, he’s more questioning these things for himself, it’s his own personal journey.”

I get the questions are there, not necessarily the answers. We all have to ask the questions!
In Running from a Go-Go or in My Hands, Birch and steel – “there’s a way for me to get out of this place” there is almost a loneliness or sadness in there. It sounds great that you’re in Seattle now and then Portland tonight but you’re still away from home. Can life in a band be a lonely lif?
“It depends on how you look at it. It can be lonely. It can be an opportunity to be around a lot of people. It’s a perspective shift. For the purpose of this record Dean was channelling some of those elements. I think it’s almost like it could go down with songs like Creedence Clearwater’s Low Die or Beatles Back In the USSR. Ideas that there is the travelling band, the pranksters and i think this was deans foray into that genre of writing. If you look at the song books We are tearing apart the song structures but there is a structure in the lyric. There’s a simple melodies and lyrics that are throughways for a songs that is screaming and warbling all over the place. There’s a shift of roles in lyrics versus words rather than ‘the musics wierd’.

The new album features two illuminous colours that both look good and challenge in that if you move it a certain way it can be harder to read. It looks great, how did it come about?
“It vibrates, it pops but also blurs together in a two dimensinal way that is the closest representation to some of the scenes and ideas that are happening on the record. When we first were looking at how we were gonna create this record it was like a pop up book, almost like an origami build your own object. Where you get a flat cover and perforation and fold up lines, where you’d have to build this thing to blend in with the themes, the words, the lyrics and then the sounds. But then it felt a little too arts and crafts for us, to tell somebody how to fold an album. I like the idea of somebody buying an album and then getting out the scissors and starting to chop it up but then we thought people probably won’t do that. It would look like an unfinished piece, but that could be cool. We circled the wagons and thought if its in a two dimensional space how do we make it better and the colours came out of that idea. I’m really happy with how it turned out”

Why the painstaking process of puttng the inserts in. It used to be that all independent records had to do just that but thats certainly not the case anymore? do you feel something has been lost?
“It’s something that had been lost for us. It’s not that novel of an idea and we certainly started off doing things that way. It was more of a return to form for us and to challenge us and to the way we exist. How do we exist with a label like sub pop and to be in this band that has opportunities to travel the world and play these stages and talk on a bigger level. It was a hope to bring things back. Maybe it’s a juxtaposition or a contradiction but it’s to have the best of both worlds. It doesn’t always make sense but for us its a challenge that we wanted to see how it would happen to scale everything up. It’s like a model, ‘here’s an insect, let’s make that insect 40 times bigger’ and what do we learn from this process. Maybe nothing but it looks cool and in some ways it was just fun to do and have a good time doing it. I don’t know why but there’s something about delivering boxes and going through the mechanical process that felt empowering.”

Do you have a home? Is life different with a mortgage than with rent to pay, knowing that you can skip the rent if needs be and live on the road while touring?
“I have most certainly done that in the past. Recently I got myself a piece of land and am married up with a baby on the way. Within the last year I have taken to becoming domestic. I like it, it suits me well.”

Will it be harder to come up with concepts for songs and records now that you are somewhat established than as an aspiring artist?
“Drunken poor living on the streets pan handling for chagnge living the hard life?”

No doubt you’re still poor, is it easier lying on the street to come up with a concept for a song?
“That’s kind of the myth, struggling artist who dies penniless on the ground is they guy that makes the real art. Anybody that can afford to feed themselves three meals a day its impossible to make art. I don’t buy into that. I dont believe that. I think there’s a certain amount of craft, technique and talent that is applicable to anything. Living on the street does not make it easier for any of those things. It makes it harder to hone your skills and do something interesting. There’s an element of risk taking involved in anything creatinve and what can happen is that established artists are less likely to take risks. There’s too much on the line with the family and the kids to feed and the college thing so they’re not taking risks. That’s where music slows down and gets muddy and not so much one causes the other. I can understand that, you don’t want to take risks and you keep with whats safe. I think for us that this record is a little different, we’re taking a risk, we’re flying in the face of what was done in the past with regard that it’s not a big happy record. ‘Everything in between’ (previous album ed.) had elements of what we’re getting into here It’s also a statement of today and tomorrow is tomorrow. I don’t think this is the only record that matters right now, it’s just the one we made. There’s more to come, this is one chapter in an ever evolving story. It’s easy to get caught up in the ‘This is it, this is the thing’. We’re really excited that it means something but it also feels like that as an artist you have to have that freedom to create and move forward. We’re always trying to do that, people wanna hold you to that ‘Remember that one thing you did, it was awesome’ We’re very appreciative that anybody cares at all about anything we do but we gotta evolve and keep moving and this is one step in the evolution. The next one will be there eventually. You got to take these risks. I feel better taking risks now cos I know I have a stronger safety net with my wife, my house and my home. Even if I fail miserably she will still stay with me, hopefully!! Even if I look stupid on stage or wear a funny hat she will still go home with me.”

It seems to me No Age are not just a band, you are involved in many aspects, from the artwork and your engagement with social media. Do you ever feel like just sitting back and concentrating on the music or is it the whole package for you?
“Yeah, we definitely do. Every night we’re up there on stage and I’m 99% focussed on the music, making sure I get it right but every once in a while I will make sure I’m not gonna fall on my face. When we are writing or recording a record it’s pretty much all music, things sort of go dark. I almost feel like there’s a social media pressure to have something out every day, talking or engaging or doing something. THere’s moments when I’m like ‘I haven’t posted things for a month. we’re working in the studio, nothing to talk about. We’re working.’ Then we go out and we promote it and we want people to know we’ve got a record out and want them to come see us at our shows. You can’t go out in the world and try to hide

At this stage Randy was getting more under pressure to load in for the radio session they were preparing for so I bade him farewell with 2 vox pop questions.
What is your favourite SST album and why?
“I’m a big fan of Black Flag, it’s where it all began. Nervous Breakdown 7″. They shone around the world. That band spawned so many bands, so many movements and I think in terms of importance that is iconic. It is the big one. Outside of that I don’t know, there’s also the No AGe compilation album where we stole our name from so there’s a place of importance in there. There’s some incredible records – husker Du, SOnic Youth. I look at SST as a collection and it is hard to pick out one.”

Are there any record labels where you would buy the record regardless of the band?
“Good question. I listen to everything on Sub Pop. Just got the new Don Gibson album, I like that one. Interesting, I kind of go by stores. There’s a few boutiques and I go if it’s in there and a recommendation I go from that. I’ll trust the shop. I think when I was younger I subscribed more to that idea. If it’s out on SOuthern or Matador it’s got to be good. If it’s on Drag City it’s got to be good. I’m not lookng or buying in volume like i used to. I’m going through old records when I’m in the record shop.

Links
the vera project
best vegan dishes in New York
the art of punk book
no age

Hope Show 33 – the lowdown

the lowdonw on tonights show

1. Ted Leo – Bottled IN Cork
2. football, etc – red zone
3. The Draft – Impossible
4. Shorebirds – Upside Down
5. Wrecks – NOT
6. The Pukes – Will I learn
7. Glimmermen – There Was a Boy
8. Hooligan – No Black, No Irish, No Dogs
9. Moldy Peaches – Nothing Came Out
10. Only Strangers – After Dark
11. The Roughneck Riot – Ignorance Is Easy
12. Keith Morris – Nervous Breakdown
13. No Age – I WOn’t be your generator
14. Ryan Adams – Nervous Brea
15. Black Flag – Six Pack
16. Wringer – Closed Book
17. Drenge – Bloodsports
18. Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros – Mega Bottle Ride
19. The Clash – Complete Control
20. The Clash – Armagideon Time

Ted Leo is a favourite in my house, no song more popular than Bottled In Cork. the kids love singing aloing, it’s kind of our road song

I got a compilation recently from No idea records and like the name of football etc, what other reason do you need to play a song?

For a while I thought they had some link to the draft and got caught out trying to check it out, Turns out football, etc have an album called the draft.

No to be confused with The Draft, who have an album called IN a Million Pieces, which Impossible is taken from. The album is on epitaph but the draft have people from Hot Water music which are linked to No Idea records

as are Shorebirds. Ex latterman, Jawbreaker and rvivr – what a pedigree. They have an excellent album, It’s Gonna Get Ugly

I played a track from the Wrecks new ep, on the last show. I’m debuting another one from the Ep tonight, called NOT. Wrecks feature two people from Slice of Life, who feature Steve Ignorant on Vocals and sound nothing like this.

I saw the Pukes a couple of weeks ago and it was a blast. over 20 people on stage, most of them playing ukelele and blasting out punk covers. Their new 7″ has 3 covers and 1 (not so) original. This is their original.

I missed the Glimmermen album launch due to the Pukes but I stillmanaged to get the record and it’s a winner. You should try it out.

This is turning into a home based set. Hooligan’s new Ep, No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs is out now and this talks abut a different era when Irish people weren’t welcome abroad.

I came across Moldy Peaches through the movie Juno. I had heard

them but they were on my list of bands to check out…..eventually. That eventually was ehen I saw Juno and loved the anti-folksy lo-fi sound. Nothing came out is from their s/t album

I only came across Only Strangers because their friends ROughneck Riot posted about them on facebook. The power of Social media eh

I reviewed Roughneck Riot for my blog and compared them to the Men They Couldn’t Hang. I just get that Ironmasters vibe from them all the time. I played a song last week and gave it the wrong title. That was called Waiting to DIe. TOnight’s one is Ignorance Is Easy. All my men they couldn’t hang stuff is on

vinyl but listen to Ironmasters and see if you get the connection.

although it’s more obvious in other songs (he says covering himself)

I interviewed No age earlier this week and was asked to ask their favourite SST record. They picked Nervous Breakdown by Black Flag, this small set is for No age. I love the new record so I’ve mixed them in with 2 versions of Nervous Breakdown and for good measure Six Pack

Wringer is a new band to me, from US. They have an album out

called Bullfighter which this is from, pretty cool record

Another new one is Drenge from UK. Bloodsports is from their debut

s/t lp and it’s keeping with the theme I suppose – remember though using animals for your personal pleasure is just wrong so don’t bullfight or hunt

There was a lot made out this week because it would have been the birthday of a certain dead Irish musician, Phil Lynott. I never really cared for his music while he was alive so wasn’t sharing in the celebrations, however one man I was quietly celebrating was Joe Strummer who would have been 61. My dog is named after the great man and we sang this song and the rest for Joe during the week

niallhope

Roughneck Riot – This is our day lp

roughneck riot
This Is Our Day

Bomber Music
roughneck riot

So we have an assembled group of musicians complete with tattoos guitars, bass, drums, ukelele, accordion. Armed with a manifesto of making the world a better place, ready to scream it out, ready to take you with them. “Is there anybody out there that can see what I see.. Question everything… Ignorance Is Easy when you’re told what to believe”. So what’s not to like for an Irish person?

Roughneck Riot have been compared to the likes of Real McKenzies, Dropkick Murphys and bands that have taken punk / hardcore and given it a traditional (maybe Irish folksy) with the addition of those non punk rock instruments. Of course we can say the Pogues started it off and these have taken it a step further but listening to the record there is one band that screams out to me. The Men They Couldn’t Hang. I remember the Men did a tour in ireland in the late 80’s and we followed them to as many gigs as possible. There was an urgency to their music that equated to many punk bands rebelling at the time. However the Men they couldn’t Hang were armed with mandolins and acoustic guitars. They were proudly anti-fascist and spoke of the dire conditions in Britain that they were living in. They were proud to support the miners in their battle and all workers in their fight for their rights. Listening to This Is Our Day I am reminded of those days. The gig in Drogheda Boxing Club when we were ready to take whatever fight we were asked to the people.

Of course since those days, many bands have come and gone and have kept us on that garden path. Roughneck Riot are a welcome addition and when they sing “All across the nation a distinct lack of patience, we sing our contempt in such imperfect cadence, in the hope that one day, we’ll make just one small change” I am screaming it with them knowing we are making small steps along the way.

niallhope

Dublin Tenement Experience

Dublin tenement Experience

Powerful. Harrowing. Sad. Enthralling. Vital.

This sums up the 45 minutes spent in the company of anu productions as they tried to reflect what life was like for people living in Tenement Houses in Dubln in 1913. These houses were home to up to 100 people, with as many as 20 in one room. People in Ireland seem to have a strange relationship with our history. It mainly revolves around the fact that this is an island and at some stage we became two countries. How we view history is usurped by where we stand on this (admittedly pretty big) question. We have monuments on our main streets and our capital is littered with references to figures in our history. Get a train to Connolly or Pearse Station, walk up Sean Mc Dermott street and across Parnell Street to our main thoroughfare, O connell (look them up you may be amazed). It is there where we see the GPO, Gresham Hotel and the statue of Big Jim Larkin (let’s pretend the spire doesn’t exist for the purpose of this exercise.) We do seem removed at times from this and the aestethic overrides the reality.

Big Jim proclaimed “The great appear great, because we are on our knees. Let us arise”. Of course it was Larkin who tried to mobilise people in 1913 to join a trade union and William Martin Murphy, the owner of the Irish Independent(amongst other enterprises that he ran) rallied against this. 600 Tramway workers were locked out of their job for being members of ITGWU and protests were held. These culminated in (another) Bloody Sunday on O Connell (then Sackville Street) as hundreds of people were injured when polic baton charged the crowds. Sympathetic strikes then broke out all over the city and over 20,000 people were locked out of their jobs by employers hell bent on breaking union influence.

This was all set against a backdrop of extreme poverty. People were barely making enough money to live on. Tenement houses were home to overcrowding and we are starkly told their story here. In a rivetting performance we are brought into each room in the house where there is a scene from the day. We are told of the collapse of a building that led to the death of two. We are told of the dilemna of the pawn office, were people went every week to sell their belongings in the hope they would have enough money the folliwng week to buy them back. We hear of a family hell bent on supporting larkin and standing up to their employer, that picture changes after 4 months and a cold winter when people couldn’t keep going to the soup kitchens for their food. They had literally nothing but their health which was rapidly diminishing. We are starkly brought back to those times, in a powerful way. Of course it being history means the story had already been written but there’s no escaping the facts. Armed with these facts we should be doing our level best to remember our past, celebrate it and use it to build a better future.

Tenement Houses were a huge part of Dublins history and we need to recognise it. A tenement museum should play its part in this, in the same way as 16 Moore Street, where the leaders of the 1916 rising (look it up) gave word to surrender and were captured. This buiding was earmarked to be part of a development as a shopping centre. The reason it hasn’t been demolished yet? The builder went bankrupt? That is the Ireland we are in today, shopping centres are more important than history (there is no reason why we can’t celebrate both if needs be).

A worrying aspect though is that the collective bargaining Larkin was looking for 100 years ago still doesn’t not exist in ireland today. We are one of three European Countries (out of 27) that doesn’t recognise it by law. PAWN SHOPS are also re-appeaing in Dublin today, so what has changed? Well we don’t have too many places where 100 people sleep under one roof, bar the number of homeless shelters that are also increasing, but there is an obsession with property that helped get this country into this mess. Larkins other slogan, “An injury to one is a concern to all” has as much relevance a century on.

more info on tenement experience
excellent production by anu
more news on centenary of the lockout
save moore street campaign

niallhope

The Pukes – Will I learn

The Pukes
Will I Learn 7″
Damaged Goods

thepukes

New single from 20 piece Ukelele playing (mainly), female (mainly) Punk Covers band(mainly).

In a word riotous. 3 covers and an original here give a great introduction to the madcap ukelele antics of the Pukes. Formed in true punk style as a gang of friends getting together every week playing some music. All with the same instrument. These friends grew in number and learned to play ukelele.

They then got some friends to provide the backing and rhythm of guitar, bass and drums and started playing live. Their gigs are madcap affairs of classic punk covers and we get an insight here.

Don’t take my word for it, watch this video and then buy the record
niallhope

No Age – ‘An Object’

No Age
An Object
Sub Pop

no age

I saw No Age play in Dublin with Mika Miko wheny Skinny Wolves put them on in the Boom Boom room 6 years ago. The Boom Boom room was opposite the rotunda hospital, north dublin’s maternity hospital. I’m sure some babies were born that night to the strained noise of no age and I wonder if we will have a collection of teenagers on this forum in years to come dabbling with music as an art form. I loved both bands on the night and whilst mika miko were more straightforward in their offerings no age offered up a substantial sound. This is their fourth album since those early days.

First thing to notice this album by is the colour scheme. Illuminous orange and green – colours that blend and clash and whilst being aestethically pleasing can also be difficult to read at time. That nearly sums up No Age’s sound. Full of layers, tunes and riffs in there hidden behind the noise but also sometimes haunting. Not making it too easy on the listener. But still easy enough to capture your attention. It is art for the ears.

Like a painting on display in an art gallery the crowds viewing it can have different notions and ideas. It’s the same picture but our eyes can interpret the colours and layers in different ways.

From the riff laden, layered sound, with vocals at different levels we can draw many conclusions from these songs. With no ground starting off and asking “Does anybody Really Care” we have 29 minutes of various tones and fuzz laden dreams. An Object has its haunting parts too, ‘running from a go-go” brings us on a melodic yet haunting journey that has Dean singing the line “I don’t want to be alone again” which has me wondering what life is really like in a sucessful band? Commerce, Comment, Commence finishes our half hour with a layered expolosion of noise.

I love albums that take as long as a soap opera on tv. There’s always time to fit them in. You don’t need to pick out a few songs you can deal with the whole record in one sitting. That’s the best way to capture no age. Sit back, open your mind to the layers of sound and enjoy, better than Fair City any day.

track by track – a lazy synopsis

no ground – riff down, layered vocals and sound – “does anybody really care?”
I won’t be your generator – softer song, noise pop
C’mon Stimmung – faster, layered sound
Defactor/ed – beautiful, yet slightly eery riff – discontent
An impresssion – softer composition with strings
Lockbox – heavier, tuneful
Running from A Go-G0 – journey, melodic and haunting
My Hands, Birch and Steel – haunting
Circling with dizzy – riff layered
A ceiling dreams of a floor – dreamy
Commerce Comment Commence – dreamy and haunting, layered explosion of noise

niallhope