One of the most-talked about events at the Rebellion festival this year was the collaboration between Steve Ignorant from Crass and Dublin’s punk stalwarts, Paranoid Visions. They took to the stage in front of one of the biggest crowds of the festival. For anyone who has been following Paranoid Visions since their early days this was an unlikely triumph. They struggled to get gigs in their home-town of Dublin when punk was a dirty word and punks bands were barred from just about every Dublin venue. Paranoid Visions persevered though and gained the respect of the international punk community. In fact, the band are largely responsible for the current thriving punk community in Ireland. I asked Peter Jones (P.A. Jesu) from the band some questions about the ‘Blackpool triumph’.
How did it feel playing in front of thousands of people on Saturday?
I was very nervous to be honest. Most of those songs have lived with me for almost 40 years so I know how much they mean to people, not least myself. What made it worse was we had opened a floodgate and the buzz seemed to be quite strong about the show. Steve holds those songs so dearly to his heart that he always wants to do them justice. But hearing the roar as we came out, listening to the “bomb tape” crass used to use live and kicking into Owe us a Living and just hearing the power of the live sound and seeing the delight on people’s faces calmed me within seconds. It was a really special 50 minutes I have to say!!! Those songs are deceptively difficult, crazy structures and dynamics and a very accomplished and original rhythm section!
Did it feel surreal considering how ‘far away’ punk felt when you went to that first Poison Girls gig?
Not really, over the intervening years we / I have grown into it and that initial introduction to the diy, no stars, no barriers approach of true punk is in my blood I suppose. But that being said, afterwards, I was thinking about it and wondering exactly how I had reached this stage!
How did the connection with Steve Ignorant first come about?
Steve always gets asked this too. And the answer is that we just kind of assimilated him! I promoted the Dublin gig for his Last Supper tour and we were supporting him in Manchester. We just kind of hit it off, he liked the clear chaos that surrounds us and we weren’t tongue tied around him so we are easy to get along with. We were asked to support in New York but when their visas fell through we were left high and dry with flights booked and only local gigs to do, so he felt obliged to pay us back with the support at the final show in Shepherds Bush.
After the gig we were chatting and I said we had a song (Split Personality) that needed his delivery style and we were struggling to get it right. So he said “fuck it, I’ll do it if you want”. So we arranged for him to come over and stuck him in a studio to do it and also suggested we did another one, “rock n roll n revolution”, for a single Louder than War records wanted from us. Done and dusted in 2 hours including tea break. Later that night he explained how he really enjoyed working with us like that as it reminded him of recording Stations of the Crass… get in, get it done, get out! And said any time we want to do more he’d be up for it. So then it just steam rolled…..the proposed ep became an album, one off gig at Rebellion led to tons of offers, many of which we turned down and continue to turn down if it doesn’t suit (we turned down a lot of money for Punk Rock Bowling in LA as Steve had 2 Slice of Life gigs already booked…. !). I think the relationship is long-term even after we all retire from live duties we will nestle in studios to create music together!
Can you tell people who missed it what you performed?
The idea was to do songs that encompassed Steve’s 40 years singing in punk bands plus a nod towards the scene he helped create through crass, so we have songs there from Crass, Conflict, Stratford Mercenaries, Schwartzenegger and with ourselves. Plus Poison Girls, Dirt and Flux of Pink Indians songs because we all loved them so much and thought it may increase the party/celebration feel.
Owe us a living
Join the dots
Banned from the roxy
Where is love
Charity begins at home
What a shame
No more running
Big a little a
I have seen the audience for P.V. grow every year at Rebellion, what was it liked playing there this year?
It was amazing. I thought our crowd might be compromised as we were technically overlapping with DOA, the Members, the Professionals and Slaves… plus we were playing the following day with Steve. But we jammed the venue to capacity. I don’t really know, but the reaction commercially and critically to the past few records has been better than ever so maybe the new breed of punk rockers are getting into us too or maybe its an audience outside the UK and Ireland that’s finding out about us.
Is this the most stable line-up the bad has had? To me it feels like the most vibrant/powerful.
Absolutely. We’ve always been a bit of a revolving door. We have traditionally had adequate musicians who really understood what we were doing, or great musicians who didn’t, or in some cases musicians who had no concept of what we are about…. But for 5 records and 4 years we have had the perfect combination of terrific musicians who completely understand what being in this band involves and why we do it. They also embrace the musical diversity and have a style of their own which fits really well. It’s the best and most stable line up we have had. And that shows in the records and gigs we’ve done.
What other bands were highlights for you this year?
Interrobang continue to prove they are the best band in the UK. Slaves blew me away. TV Smith, UK Subs and Ruts DC were as astonishing as ever. Bad Religion are amazing and I was so pleased to see them for the first time.
What’s next for Paranoid Visions?
We are writing the next album “Dog Eat God” for 2018 release. Pushing the ante even further with this one. One track, Alphabetti Spaghetti will have 26 guest vocalists. We cut down on gigs this year and will continue this practice next year so everything we do feels like an event. We are also working on plans for a short tour with Steve and are entertaining offers from several territories before deciding which to do!
What’s happening with the new punk bands in Ireland?
Lots of great local bands as always. The Lee Harveys, the Black Pitts and I Am A Carcrash continue momentum and will all likely have releases over the next year. We are also starting a series of singles called “No Romance” (continuation of the Advance Records and Dando Sessions themes). This will consist of a 4 band 4 track split ep to serve as an intro to the individual 3 track ep releases by each band to follow in the wake. Volume 1 will have Audible Joes, the Turn, the Gakk and the Nilz on it. We are talking about a UK bands one afterwards. There will be a common theme throughout for artwork and presentation so they become collectable.