Bands that saved a life
The Pleasure Cell
Picture the scene. A boy with an attitude. Wanting to change a world be believes is coming to get him. Him and his punk mates. Only. Everyone over 21 is out to get him. Noone understands. Only when his music is playing is he happy. It’s 1985 and Dublin is grey. School means nothing. There’s very few jobs anyway. As a kid this boy loved sport. Played all day. Then punk rock became his training sessions. Bass guitar and plectrums replaced footballs and boots. Writing letters became his passion. Writing to people in bands. Waiting for those postal deliveries. Twice a day.
Of course the distraction of school existed. One day there was a small piece in Hot Press magazine about a band called The Pleasure Cell. It seemed interesting. The band were singing abut life in Finglas and listened to English counterparts like new Model Army. The lead singer was a recovering heroin addict and was happy to discuss it. They were giving some lunchtime talks in Bolton Street College. School attendance would be a problem, Of course that turned into no problem as a walk into town on the day of the Bolton Street gig was the only wise thing. Worry about school afterwards.
And so I trooped into Bolton Street and was blown away by the honesty of the three playing members and 1 non playing member of the band. As someone who didn’t drink swimming above water in a sea of alcohol that was my community I wanted in. Then the band played a set. I was rooted to my set. I wanted to go up and hug the 4 lads. Thanks, I’ve found what I’m looking for.
After that I went to see them play ahenever and wherever. They were so inclusive and encouraging in all I did. The band I was in at the time, Kill Devil Hill, played a mutated psychobilly sonud. It was fun but I was never really part of it. When the Pleasure cell were going to appear on Irelands biggest tv programme (most tv sets in the country had this show on every week) Noel was going to sing proudly wearing his homemade Kill Devil Hill t-shirt. I hadn’t the heart to tell him the night before when he finished it that we had split up that day. I did tell him and he wore his shirt buttoned over iot on the night.
They fused the Clash and new Model Army and had some rousing songs. Whether singing about police violence, changing your world or screaming for a brighter future they ploughed an independent route. Their self-released New Age single came out in 1988 on their own Statement label. With the single they issued a brick when sending it to the press. Do with this as you will.
Grey Dublin held little allure for people wishing to play music in the 80’s and the band headed to London, saaadly for me. When I travelled to see them in Hammersmith Clarendon they seemed to think that image might help them obtain some sort of record deal. As they squatted around Hammersmith they practiced and played wherever possible but never quite made that breakthrough. When they left Dublin they played to a packed Teachers Club, that was their highlight. Sold it out on their own merits.
After that they became one of the many thousands who emigrated, lost in the dreams of a better workd outside green and grey Ireland. They left a huge mark on me and when we were putting things together as Hope Promotions / Collective I endeavoured to emulate the Pleasure Cell philosophy at their gig. Greet people as they come in, treat them as you would wish to be treated. That way we can all be in this together