A week of punk

“Punk rock saved my life”, Derrick Johnston proclaimed one Monday night in the hut to an audience one could quite comfortably count with two hands and we knew exactly what he meant. My saving wasn’t on the form of punk but it certainly shaped my life. So many decisions I make on a daily basis has some basis in punk, or more specifically the free thoughts around d.i.y. and collectivism. These decisions involve purchases, food, sport, parenting and work. It is steeped in a belief that if you’ve something to complain about then you’ve something to change, and a belief in the strength of an individual being emboldened within the collective. And Derrick Johnston and Chris Snelgrove know exactly what that means.

It matters little how many people are at the gig it is the existence of the event that counts. That two people can travel from Montreal and Dundee respectively to our island and sing some songs to people that want to hear them is the vital ingredient. That they make no money in the process is secondary. We are all friends here, hoping for a better world and a fairer future.

Derrick runs make that a take records , books his aen shows and runs his ane festival. He sings his songs with passion and integrity and sings right from the heart. At times it’s uncomfortable as depression is just not a jovial topic. It’s ok though, he’s amongst friends and we care.

Chris has been playing in bands for 25+ years. Punk rock took him away from a path of succumbing to addiction and he is grateful for that.

This gig was sandwiched between ones in Belfast (smith street band) and the dublin gigs of Martha with Joyce manor and a few days later lemuria. All bands come from similar places. A love for tunes and punk rock but also an appreciation for people and a knowledge that life doesn’t revolved around the music industry.

Smith street band sang their anthems to a Belfast crowd ready to sing along with them but something felt like it was missing.

Martha seemed like they were one of the audience but when Joyce manor hit the workmans stage something seemed to be missing.

Lemuria were celebrating the 10 year anniversary of their excellent Get Better lp all great songs but still something not quite right. It was not quite the Joshua Tree extravaganza of U2 but a similar feeling around it. However Lemuria share that belief that the world can be a better place and music can help us along the way. And this is a world I feel I belong in

niallhope

Cathal Funge. An interview with the broadcaster Cathal about his punk radio documentary.

What can we expect from the documentary?

 

The documentary is going to be a bit of a trip back forty years to tell the story of Irish music in 1977. I’ll be covering quite a few events from that year including The Boomtown Rats and The Radiators From Space both releasing their debut singles, Rory Gallagher headlining the Macroom Mountain Dew Festival (Ireland’s first outdoor rock festival), Lizzy headlining Dalymount with The Rats and The Rads supporting, The Clash in Belfast and Dublin and the launch of Hotpress.

 

Were there any surprises for you as you delved into the scene at the time?

 

There was a lot of talk in the UK press over the last twelve months about the 40th anniversary of British punk so I started to look at what was happening in Ireland around that time. The initial idea was to look at the Irish punk scene but after a bit of research I noticed a lot of things started to happen at once and not just in Dublin but across the country, North and South.

 

1977 in Ireland seems to be a year of beginnings for a modern Irish music scene. You had bands like The Radiators getting into the charts, rock festivals in Macroom and Dublin, The Rats on Top of the Pops, a national music magazine launched etc. The documentary in many ways is about a bunch of people just going for it, creating new ways of doing things and setting the tone for others to follow, which off course they did.

 

If you compare today’s vibrant local music scene to 1977, it doesn’t just feel like a different era, it feels more like a different planet!

 

What do you make of those early punk ‘pioneers’?

I love the DIY attitude and lot of the music from that era has stood the test of time. A lot of the events I cover in the documentary are not punk but they were inspired by the spirit and energy of time. It seems as if the climate for change was ripe and people went for it. In the case of Macroom, it was just a bunch of people in a small West Cork town trying to bring some extra business into their area. They came up with the idea of staging Ireland’s first rock festival and managed to pull it off with Rory Gallagher headlining the event at a time in his career when he was playing venues like Shea Stadium, not the local GAA pitch in Macroom.

 

At the same time, up the road in Cork City, Elvera Bulter (now label boss at Reekus Records) was in UCC and she started putting on gigs in City Hall including Dr Feelgood and The Stranglers. By the end of the year she was hosting the weekly Downtown Kampus gigs at the Arcadia which quickly established itself as the focal point of a new music scene in the city. That scene blossomed in the 80’s and gave us great bands like Stump and Microdisney.

 

I’m sure they didn’t realise it at the time, but a lot of these people were pioneers. They didn’t just do things, they also showed that there was a market for rock music in Ireland.

 

How did you get into music (as a fan) in the first place?

 

Growing up in Wexford, there wasn’t much going on in terms of music, no record shops, no gigs etc. I was very fortunate that my dad and older brother both had great tastes in music. My dad had a lot of old 60’s albums that I soaked up and then as I got a little older, I would sneak into my brother’s bedroom and rob/borrow some of his albums. So, anything from Teenage Fanclub to Nirvana, Mercury Rev, Pixies, Sonic Youth.

 

Around that time, I got a part time job as a petrol pump attendant in a local garage, working a few evenings after school and during summer holidays. The garage was in the middle of the country side and I sat in a hut for about 5 hours with only a radio to keep me company. Dave Fanning suddenly became my best friend and his nightly show was an education, as was Donal Dineen’s show on Today FM.

 

 

Any particular punk songs/albums/gigs that really moved you?

 

From the late 70’s era, I particularly love Buzzcocks first five singles and I think The Clash’s debut album from ’77 sounds great forty years on. In the documentary, I talk to Paul Burgess from Belfast band Ruefrex and Jake Reilly from The Blades about The Clash’s visit to Ireland in October ’77. The Trinity gigs have gone down in local music folklore, how many bands formed after that night out with Strummer and his gang? On the flip side, up in Belfast the gig was cancelled which caused a mini riot and some claim is was the night that the Belfast punk scene was born. I think that might be stretching it a little but it is interesting to hear about the impact the visit one band had on music fans in two very different cities in October ’77.

Listen to the documentary here

Welcome to the camboys, anyone want in?

Camboys
Curve
10 songs of sadness and recovery but somewhere deep down there’s hope. It’s a reflection of life and jack Williams sings of relationships in a lo-if manner that just seem to relate.
 I’m thinking more as a parent of a teenager and what they might be going through as their adventures of life progress as camboys sings “and I thought when I finally grew up id stop falling in love with my best friends. But is there such a thing as growing up?”
Musically it is basic guitar, drum machine and keyboard thrown in for good measure. I sometimes watch programmes on tv wondering why I’m wasting so much time when the remote control is out of reach. Starting off I was like this with camboys but something clicked. It’s basic but catchy riffs take over and i sing along to songs about rape apologists and the vagaries of same sex relationships.
niallhope

Roughneck Riot – Out of anger

roughneck

Roughneck Riot

Out Of Anger

TNS Records

Have you ever been in a situation where you are party to a conversation and just can’t hold back on giving the punchline? Or butting in where you shouldn’t? Are you one of those who can just let the story flow, hold your peace and come in a the right moment? Nah me neither. Let’s cut straight to the chase, Men They Couldn’t Hang, teaming up with the Levellers to try their hand at Dropkick Murphys.

Now that I’ve unleashed that I can get on with the review.

The problem using non traditional rock band instruments in favour of traditional ones means lazy comparisons are inevitable. Roughneck Riot are perfect for these lazy comparisons. This comparison would be like many of the injustices this band sing about.

We get banjo, mandolin and accordion joining up with upbeat high tempo Guitar, bass and drums but it never thrashes along. Good high tempo observations.

Listening to Out of Anger it becomes quite obvious that it is a collection spawned from anger at injustice but not an anger that has beaten the band. From the opening track, Animosity, that exclaims “Without Hope, we’ll never question why. Or seperate from anything that’s feeding you the lies” through Never Silenced, Never Stopped that passes on the wise words “Minds are filled with inspiration until they are saturated…Raise our voices to the night, Forever we will sing” we get a band still wishing for that better way.

The mandolin drenched Need I remind You is one highlight here. No need for a guitar solo when the mandolin can easily substitute. The last of the fourteen songs is a more poignant number “He Never Came Home”, it is a nice sing along number that tells the brutal truth for so many of us as time passes. Our all night teenage and early twenties talking sessions about ruling the world with high hopes and empty pockets to fuel us don’t last forever. Some people call it moving on, some say it’s maturing or many of us ruminate that they never come home.  Maybe they simply run out of anger which ironically is the anger that spurned them into doing things to begin with

Great record

 

niallhope

Stay Clean Jolene st LP

stay clean jolene

Stay Clean Jolene

Stay Clean Jolene

Title:  Stay Clean Jolene (BandCamp, Dead Broke Rekerds, Rad Girlfriends Records, Drunken Sailor Records, Bombed Out Records, Just Say No to Government Music RecordsiTunes)

Artist:  Stay Clean Jolene (Facebook, Twitter, BandCamp, Last.fm)

 

stay clean jolene1

I’m a sucker for Christmas, I love the whole sentimentality of it. The signs that one year is nearly complete and we can prepare for the next. OF course the cynical punk rocker in me gets pushed deep down as commercialism is to the fore in this season. Christmas gives people in the west a chance to take stock of where we are, what we have and what we have done over the past 12 months. Personally I feel like I’ve had a long sleep and we are back again. Thankfully though there’s been a good soundtrack to my sleep. That soundtracks has included some really cool UK diy punky hardcore bands. There’s a whole stream out there bashing away at their guitars , playing like their lives depend on it and holding on to some sort of hope.

As someone who gladly attends the annual Rebellion punk festival it is heartening to see old punks hanging on to what they believe in and treating each other well. Under the surface of the leather, bristles spikes and anarchy there is a movement of players who came from that punk scene but wanted their tunes to really shine through. Few of them play at Rebellion but these people are in bands like Bedford Falls, The No Marks, Southport, Bear trade, Epic Problem and Holiday. There’s a ton more, like the people around the Make That A Take scene in Scotland. If you’ve ever read this blog you’ll have seen me championing them here and on my radio show

One of the best 7″‘s in recent years came from Boltons Stay Clean Jolene, I wrote previously after being privileged to see them play this year, “soaring guitars, heartfelt tunes and an integrity that can’t be made up. We are lucky to have bands like stay clean jolene. Lucky they want to continue to play music to 100 people and lucky they feel lucky to do so. Southport the same. They are incredible. 3 people having fun playing to their friends, regardless if they know them or not. Such talent, criminally ignored but whilst it is that way we can still cling on to them.” And now they have released their album. And it’s Christmas time.

10 songs of action packed guitar tunes. It is heartfelt and has more than a nod to Husker Du and Leatherface. leaving it with thos comparisons is lazy and unfair. I’m just trying to help you. They have their own stamp. Guitars soar with tunes that leave you wanting more. They are anthems, tuneful and clear. I have listenened to this record at least 10 times in two days, it’s that good. Just like Santa Claus, if only the world could be like this all the time, I could ignore all the austerity and measures imposed on the populace.

I bet Stay Clean Jolene would be on the side of the people. A sure sign of community is the fact that so many labels have released this record. Well three have clubbed in for the vinyl and two, at least, for the cd. I only wished I wasn’t too late to the party and could have been their Irish distributor.

Do your best to check this out

niallhope

Todays Play OF the Day – The Cut Ups

As you have probably guessed by now I love a heartfelt punk rock song

The Cut Ups have lots of them

The Cut Ups are a diy, countercultural punkrock band from Exeter, UK.

niallhope

Ace Bushy Striptease have called it a day

Ace Bushy Striptease may have called it a day but you can still check out the diy pop punk sounds on bandcamp

Lofi indie with dual make female vocals. At times this record has a bit huggy bear but with more pop feel.

14 short sharp nuggets for you to remember them by

niallhope

Young Attenborough – Isolation

Young Attenborough
Isolation

“Find your feet
Let the machine sleep
Seek out the beauty in the street”

Is how this album finishes but what words eh? I know it’s not always that easy but what if it was? Do we really new to spend our time slaving away for our next product to buy? We could be seeking out the beauty on our streets. Of course for me a lot if that beauty is in the punk rock community and involves using my resources to support it. But it’s not all about product and commodity. BUT if you are in a position to make some sort of purchase then take a stab at this

I got into music from listening to the records my big brothers returned home in a Saturday afternoon with. That music was the clash, the pistols, Ian dury and elvis costello. I have memories of the ruts and the skids albums coming in and overtaking showaddywaddy on the shelves. Then crass happened and it took a change. Suddenly the chants of anyone can form a band became evident real as band were recording and releasing their own records. These bands were playing their own gigs anywhere they could AND they were trying to change the world.

It was a virus that infected me. I couldn’t get enough and chased down all these independent releases. The partisans lined up alongside political asylum but at some stage i wanted a tune. In sure it was a gradual process but when equally intelligent bands like the redskins, new model army and the three johns were playing a different tune I took that road. C86 came along and the fuzzbox guitar was replaced by a more trebley jangly sound. This was equally infectious and inclusive.

And then I started paying more attention to us hardcore bands as their music became more accessible. Trips to probe reords in Liverpool were essential. As other Irish travellers were picking up toblerones in exchange for their sterling I was looking for big flame and minor threat. My biscuits were half man half gorilla as I mixed these styles.

When we were putting in gigs in Dublin there was a run of shows that featured slum turkeys post hardcore sound and then the manic stop start heading in all imaginable directions racket of Dawson followed by the pure pop of heavenly. In the preceding months Alice donut, circus lupus and lungfish played. All with their feet in different punk rock flavours.

Young Attenborough are a Bit like that. Plenty of different styles, the punk sound complemented by flashes Of wedding present or even thrilled skinny in there.
On this record you get 8 tracks mixing indie low fi and punk rock hardcore And you don’t even have to pay for it if you dont want to. Fantastic

niallhope

Get Human – Garden Leave

Get Human
Garden Leave
Out now

get Human
Leeds 5 piece with a great diy attitude. Self released ep with sing along punk tunes. Not too disimilar to LaChance but their fi isn’t as low. It’s mid paced punk rock with some sing along backing parts “There is no hope in hell for me” is an interesting sentence to sing out loud while cycling into work. Thankfully I stoppped before going in through the doors. This is sing along, mid tempo and catchy as that virus that’s flying through the kids schools at the moment.

niallhope