GRIT interview

pic by David Pujol

Dublin Oi Punk DIY band Grit have been doing the rounds for over a year now.  Their fast snappy tunes almost coming across like an Oi X Ray Spex at times have seen the light of day on vinyl a couple of times on Distro-y-records.  They are a feature of the DIY scene throughout Ireland and have toured Europe too.  I sent their lead singer Clodagh a few questions and here are her words.

Can you give me some history of the band?

The five of us know each other from the Dublin punk scene and have played in bands together before.  Byrneos (bassist), Eric (guitarist) and John (drums) always wanted to do an Oi! style band but it took some years before they got into a room together with instruments in their hands instead of pint glasses!  They had a few casual jams and decided the tunes were worth making public.  Seán came on board with a second guitar and then myself on vocals.  We had our first practise as a 5 piece in June 2016, our first gig on the 1st July in the Grangegorman Squat complex.  Since then we have been busy: released two 7”s and gigged in Ireland, UK, France, Basque Country and Spain with more gigs in U.K. and Germany to come in 2017.

What gives you the fuel to keep wanting to sing and play songs?

The fuel and drive is that I’m still excited about the punk scene and live music.  I want to participate in the Irish scene, I also enjoy travelling and seeing how the punks do things abroad.

I wanted to be in this band because I am partial to the oi! genre – current bands like Bishops Green, Rude Pride, The Jollars, Syndrome 81,  as well as older staples such as Runnin’ Riot and Camera Silens.  In the early days of GRIT there wasn’t any Irish oi!-punk bands playing the particular French-inspired type of music that we do and none with a vocal viewpoint coming from someone other than, ahem, a cis white male, so that was the stimulus that drove me to approach the lads about doing vocals in GRIT – no-one else doing what I was interested in listening to.

(R.A.Z.O.R. with a more uk-inspired sound formed around the same time as us and are worth checking out!)

You’re the front person. Does singing songs give a sense of confidence that otherwise just wouldn’t be there? Why do you think that is?

For me, feeling comfortable or confident in myself was something that instead came with age and learning not to undermine myself with negative thoughts.  If I give the impression that I’m confident on stage it’s because I am at ease with the lads and enjoying myself.

Who writes the words? What are you trying to portray with your lyrics?

Mostly myself and/or Eric, however, Back up Loader is all the boot-iful poetry of John.

Our songs’ subject matter reflects that of the traditional punk and oi! canon but portrayed or interpreted through our individual experiences of living in Ireland.  Some of the topics we have tackled are: austerity politics, class struggle, the decline of the Irish small town, dysfunctional relationships, mental health, friendship.

We try to have a defiant tone, I hope that although some of the subject matter may be bleak you will still feel optimistic about the future when you listen.

Do you think there is a class struggle in the western world?  What do you think the term working class represents in Ireland?

Yeah, I believe there is a class struggle and there will be as long as capitalism exists.  Top-down stuff like austerity politics, zero-hour contracts, gentrification* and bottom-up movements like people mobilising against water charges, going out on strike. *Earlier this Summer on tour with the band, almost everywhere we visited had a version of the scenario… this venue/this neighbourhood/my home won’t be here much longer.

It’s a tricky term to define … the working class doesn’t look the same way as it did, for example, forty years ago because of the changing landscape of employment.  Experiences vary depending on the environment (i.e. city versus rural communities).  A lot of traditional working class people are now long term unemployed or the working poor.  There’s also the consideration of what is economically versus culturally working class, who is middle-class aspirational and who has class consciousness.  I don’t have the terms to answer adequately … it’s more a gut feeling.

GRIT are a lot different in sound to your last band (Burnchurch). Did you purposely set out to form such a band? Any reason?

It was most definitely a conscious decision.  The other members and I have played in heavy bands before and wanted to try our hand at a different style.

All the band have deep roots in the DIY scene and have been for over 20 years. Has this DIY scene achieved much?  Is it a different space now compared to the mid to late 90s?

Although I don’t live there any more, I am still connected mostly to the Dublin DIY scene.  I think it has achieved lots and evolved over time.  The younger generations always seem to improve on what they have inherited,  I am continuously impressed by them.  Two achievements that stand out for me are:

The Karate Club – in existence ten years is a punk run practise space.  I know there are others like it in Dublin too.  A dedicated space enables more and more bands to form and creates a very healthy scene.

Tenterhooks –  were a formidable collective that rented a city centre space, kitted it out for concerts and put on regular events which was a refreshing alternative to pub venues.  It shut it’s doors in 2016.

In international terms,  cheap flights and the Internet has widened the web of the Irish punk scene as bands can hop on a plane and do a weekend tour anywhere in the EU quite easily.  The exchange of ideas and new links formed are a positive influence on us all.

It’s definitely a different space… some changes that jump out at me

– everyone has their own gear, so you don’t have to keep asking the one band who own a backline to play your gig! This can empower more folk to put on their own gigs: all they need is a room.

– as i recall Dublin in the 90s there were two scenes that sometimes merged… now there are several different diy punk scenes.

– more active women, openly queer folks, immigrant punks add diversity

One thing that hasn’t changed much is the price of gigs, some people appear to want to maintain door prices at mid to late 90s rates.  I’m not a bread head and no-one is ever going to be rich from playing punk gigs but a decent door price (e.g. €10 or more) would ensure no-one has to take a hit.

You’re driving a group of 10 year olds to their dance class and they ask you about music. What 5 songs do you play to give them an introduction to your world?

You drop them at dance class and have the deck to you and you only.  What 5 songs do you throw on?

Ha ha!! That’s an hilarious premise! And the answer could change daily.

I’m gonna just give you five dance-able punk songs instead.

I actually made a mix CD for my niece of a similar age and put some accessible punk tracks on it.  These were:

  1. Aggressors BC, Tone of the Times – punky ska/dirty reggae with social commentary
  2. Buzzcocks, Ever fallen in love? – bittersweet power-poppy punk
  3. Le Tigre, Let’s Run – positive lyrics about not being afraid to risk failure set to a dance track

To those three I would add:

  1. Hexen, Shame on us – melodic oi from Bilbao, I would cough over the cursing of course. I like the lyrics that warn of “false friendship, false rebellion” which are wise words for the younger generation coming up in ubiquitous social media.
  2. G.L.O.S.S. Outcast Stomp – after the other four songs i think the chisslers will be able to handle something kinda heavy and this is an absolute banger.

You’ve an interview coming up for a blog: What question do you hope you’re going to be asked and why? What question do you dread and why?

I always hope I will be asked questions that can help me promote the good things happening in the scene here because neither I nor GRIT exist in a vacuum.  I like when I’m asked for veggie recipes too because I’m wholesome.

I dread being asked “what’s it like being a woman in punk”.  Yawn.  Punk interviewers are way too intelligent and original to ask that though.

You played GGI festival (not your first time). What is so special about this festival?  Why should people go to it next year?

GGI is the Glasgow Groningen Ireland festival (established 2004), a rotating annual DIY fest that celebrates the friendships and connections between those scenes. This year had a great mix of approximately 40 bands: crust, d-beat, hardcore, kraut-space-punk, noise, ska, etc,. etc., playing over two days drawn from the above mentioned places (and beyond).

It’s unique because it has a completely different character every year depending on the location and the crew involved but always maintaining a DIY punk ethos.

In a sense, the festival’s impetus was a nostalgic one but it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy and now is a permanent fixture on many Irish punk’s calendar.  This year I was pleased to see the demographic widening – alongside the (supervised) toddlers who were pottering about during the afternoon, there were teenagers all the way up to folks in their 60s in attendance ( with bands of all ages too).

It will be in Groningen in 2018, the crew there run a well-organised festival in excellent venues and great after parties in the Crow Bar run by Esther (Fleas & Lice).  You can rent a bike and enjoy the flat bike routes of the city and whatever Dutch specialities you enjoy in the afternoon before the gigs – little beers with big heads and falafel would be mine.

niallhope

 

 

 

 

This Weeks News Jan 15

In what seems like his annual trip to this country but in reality it has been 4, Henry Rollins is returning to vicar street this week. Rollins has forged his own distinct career path, with the intensity of his punk rock roots with Black Flag and Rollins Band matched by the uncompromising attitude that has permeated through his spoken word performances and journalism and down to his acting, radio hosting and TV presenting.

In describing Henry Rollins, the tendency is to try to squeeze as many labels as possible into a single sentence. “Rollins is many things,” says the Washington Post, “diatribist, confessor, provocateur, humourist, even motivational speaker…his is an enthusiastic and engaging chatter.” Entertainment Weekly’s list includes “Punk Rock icon. Spoken word poet. Actor. Author. DJ. Is there anything this guy can’t do?” TV Guide has more concisely called him a “Renaissance Man” but if Henry Rollins could be
reduced to a single word, that word would undoubtedly be “workaholic”. When he’s not travelling, Rollins prefers a to keep a relentless schedule full of work, with gigs as an actor, author, DJ, voice-over artist and TV show host to name a few of the roles that keep his schedule full.
Henry currently hosts a weekly radio show on L.A.’s renowned NPR affiliate KCRW, in addition to writing weekly columns for the LA Weekly and Rolling Stone Australia. In 2013, after previously anchoring shows for IFC and National Geographic, Henry joined the History Channel’s H2 network as host of the TV show 10 Things You Don’t Know About. In 2014, Henry received the prestigious Ray Bradbury Creativity Award in recognition for his lifelong contribution to the arts, his passion for social
activism, as well as his intense passion for the importance of maintaining books and libraries.

Gigs this week
Jan 15 – Sea Pinks + Ginnels + Me and My Dog – Sea Pinks LP Launch, Bello Bar

Jan 15 – Wolfgang Flur (ex Kraftwerk), Voodoo Lounge

Jan 15 – Therion + ImperialAge + EgoFall + LuciferianLight Orchestra, Academy

Jan 17 – Henry Rollins, Vicar Street

Jan 19 – The Dubtones + TheMigraines + The Kluster-Fux + The Black Pitts + The Divils
+ Doppelskangers + The Nilz -7 bands 7 euro, Fibber Magees

Jan 20 – Black Dahlia Murder + Benighted + Warpat, Voodoo Lounge

Jan 21 – Night beats + Twinkranes + September Girls, Grand Social

Jan 22 – Punk for Shan = Blood or Whiskey, the Lee Harveys, Blackpitts, Orrka, The
Craic, Fibbers

Jan 23 – Right 2 Water Demonstrations, Nationwide

Jan 23 – Stronghold + Hollow Truth + No biggie, Tentehooks, Newmarket Square

Jan 29 – Discharege + Kluster Fux + Hollow Cost, Voodoo Lounge

Jan 29 – The Lowest Form+ The Number Ones + Disguise, Tenterhooks

Jan 30 – Sleaford Mods.Invisible Britain- Dublin Screening – IFI

Jan 30 – The Dead Goats + Nuclear Holocust = more, Fibber Magees

February 5-7 – Quarter Block Party is a three day music and arts festival

Feb 6 – Kluster Fux + SFU, Suckin’ Diesel + The Divils, Kluster Fux album launch, On
The Rox

Feb 12 – Frank Turner + Sleeping Souls, The Academy

Feb 12 = Cian Nugent + The Cosmos, Grand Social

Feb 13 – Richie Ramone, Vodoo Lounge

Feb 14 – Suicidal Tendencies, The Academy

Feb 17 – Kataklysm+ eptic Flesh + Aborted,Voodoo Lounge

Feb 19 – Jungbluth + Bacchus, Tenterhooks

March 3 – Lee Scratch Perry, The Academy

March 5 – The Cult, Vicar Street

March 10 – The Wonder Stuff, the Academy

March 11 – The Lee Harveys + Blackpitts – Make Music Not Way, The Thomas House

Marfch 22 – Battles, Button factory

March 13 – Cradle of Filth, The Academy

March 31 – Protomartyr, The Workmans Club

April 2 – Peter Hok and the Light perform New Order’s Low-Life and Brotherhood, with
opening Joy Division Set, The Academy

April 2 – The Meatboides, The Workmans Club

April 23 – Red Alert + Takers and Users, the Kluster fux + Suckin’ Diesel, On The Rox