Lee Harvey’s Interview

Dublin band the Lee Harvey’s have been on the go 8 years and in that time have released 3 albums on foad. I’ve seen them only a handful occasions but have always been impressed. Their sound has a feel not unlike those northern Irish bands on good vibrations but where good vibes had a lot of pop going on Lee Harvey’s are more rooted in clash and punk, lots of great melodies though. I’m sitting here listening to their Still Angry album on a plane journey back from Spain. I spend 7 days there on a family holiday and this was a perfect accompaniment for heading home. As I pondered going back to the real world and wondered what was going on in the world I had bitzy’s observations on the states in my ears. This album was written before the current President made claims for most powerful man in the world. No doubt that will provide fuel for rainforests of lyrics but the observation of

“It’s what you do that makes you count
Not who you serve”

is as deliberate as ever in the week white supremacists felt it was ok to March and then commit a terror attack. What will happen will become the history books of our children’s children, let’s hope it doesn’t repeat the mistakes of the past.

I sent Bitzy a few questions after their successful appearance at Rebellion and here is what he had to say.

For those interested can you give us a bit of history to a) the lee Harvey’s and b) some of the other bands you’ve played in? What do you do outside the band?

I formed The Lee Harveys in 2009 with Mike a guy from work who has gone back to New Zealand. I wanted it to be a sounding board about all things good and bad with the USA. It is a country full of contradictions…plenty of subject matter forever.

We did our first gig in Thomas House. Paul joined after that.

I was in The Strougers back in the 70’s and played the Dandelion market etc, Paul was in thee amazing colossal men, guernica and firewater creed. Tony was in jobseekers. We were a 3 piece for a long time until Rory joined on lead guitar

I work as an outreach worker with homeless drug users and people with alcohol issues

How did the three albums on FOAD come about? Who asked first and what does the process involve?

We recorded the first 2 albums in ashtown studios. PA and Whelo from the dubtones guested on guitar. basically PA said he would put the records out on FOAD which we were happy to do. Our current album is also on FOAD and fair play to them for helping us immensely. we sell cds at gigs basically. gun city is sold out and still angry is almost sold out so several hundred sales there.

how many times have you played rebellion? What are your honest impressions of it? Did your opinion change after attending the festival?

We’ve played rebellion 4 times. The first time is now part of folklore., too long to go into but I still have nightmares bout it. My impressions of rebellion are a very well oiled rock n roll machine. Its good to be rubbing shoulders with some of the punk rock legends, but there are some of the older bands from back in the day who seem happy to just play the circuit and not release anything new. Its a great festival run by great people.

can you tell me your favourite gig a) to play and b) to see ?

I loved playing with buzzcocks a few years back. rebellion, as i said, is great coz the sound ya get is second to none. Seeing the clash in TCD and Ramones 4 times was the ultimate.

what made you pick up an instrument to begin with and decide yes I can be in a band? What makes you keep doing it?

Punk happened at the right time for me, 1976, hearing new rose and seeing the radiators from space told me that anyone could do it, they were a great irish band. i do it for the love of music, not for money coz theres fuck all money in it and coz ive still got something to say.

we ain’t gonna ever play jazz, put it that way.

niallhope

Gareth Murphy on early punk, entrepreneurs and women

 

One of the best books about the music industry is Gareth Murphy’s Cowboys and Indies: The Epic History of the Music Industry.

More than just a standard history, the book focuses on the individuals who made huge changes to the industry. People who founded record labels, often as D.I.Y. enterprises on a shoe-string budget. It is fascinating, and inspiring, to learn how these people started their labels, made decisions, nurtured talent and brought us some of the music we love the most.

Gareth’s parents were two of the most interesting entrepreneurs of Ireland’s counter-culture. His mother had a fashion stall in the legendary Dandelion Market in Dublin in the 1970s, and his father was a music promoter responsible for bringing bands like the Ramones to Dublin. Crucially they were responsible for staging Dublin’s first major rock festival in 1977. It featured Thin Lizzy, Graham Parker and the Rumour, the Boomtown Rats and the Radiators From Space. As such, it was a key moment in Ireland’s rock as well as punk culture.

In the new issue of Long Live Vinyl magazine, Gareth has a lengthy article on the early punk moment. Just as he did with Cowboys and Indies, he looks at punk with a fresh perspective and highlights the significant contribution of behind-the-scenes individuals like Danny Fields, the early Ramones manager.

Gareth very kindly answered some questions for us about his punk research. Interestingly, he notes that some of the most successful and innovative music entrepreneurs had a background in punk. He also identifies how Richard Branson’s Virgin empire got a major boost from punk.

What was the most interesting thing you discovered/learned when you were researching the piece?

Well, over the last five years, I’ve pretty much been around the block when it comes to punk. I’ve talked to a lot of key players and had to look at punk from different angles – both in the UK and from an American perspective. At the end of it all, what you come away with is a sense of all the mythology. Blagging seems to be a core feature of punk. Punk was, and remains, a great news story. It never sold that many records. I’m sure it’s sold far more newspapers, magazines and documentary grant applications. So, it’s unique in that regard, and you have to cut through the fibs and be forensic.

Writing this piece, I had to condense everything down to a definitive essay. Although I was given 2,500 words, I didn’t have the space to pirouette around diplomatically. I had to pour the main points into the given pages and be damned with it. So I guess what I learned is that I don’t care if I’m offending anyone.

If punk mythology has thrived unquestioned for so many years, it’s because so many writers have stars in their eyes and keep giving these punks free rides. I definitely don’t have any stars in my eyes. Not anymore. It’s a snake pit of professional bullshitters and I can prove it.

What songs/albums from that early punk era do you go back to and listen to most?

It’s the “punk-not-punk” bands that I like the most. The Stranglers would definitely be my favourites to come out of that whole scene.

Although, I really wonder if they count as punk. Listen to their keyboard player, Dave Greenfield, who is very much a virtuoso, almost in that prog tradition that punk supposedly hated. He’s a genius who made many of their songs so good.

Talking Heads are another example of a band who surfed that punk wave, initially, albeit somewhat sideways. I think they were a really important group who I happily listen to today. Blondie I love, but again their best stuff was not punk at all. I actually can’t stand their first punk album. Same goes for Ian Dury. He’s the original London punk, isn’t he? And what a hilarious poet, but the Blockheads were the opposite of punk.

Musically, I don’t really like raw punk. What I do find interesting, musicologically, is how it was a reaction to corporate rock and hippie uniformity. It’s a great story as a cultural event. I definitely get the joke and can recognize how it put energy and meaning back into the music business. As a clothing fashion, I love it, too.

My problem is that I’m a musician, so there’s only so much Sex Pistols or Ramones I can listen to before I get bored. That said, in a party or a particular situation, one well placed joker like “God Save The Queen” or “Blitzkrieg Bop” can work a treat. Very much a question of context and what was happening before.

Your family ‘had a seat at the table’ with those early punk bands…any stories that stand out?

My parents were gig promoters, so the anecdotes I heard tended to be horror stories. The laughter was always mixed with due shock. My father, Pat Murphy, organized that famous Ramones gig in the State Cinema in Phibsboro [Dublin]. He was taken to court because fans ripped up the seats and threw them in the air. The venue was trashed and I think he may have lost money in the end.

Generally, the punk gigs got so violent, they had to get metal detectors at the door, and at one, they found a meat cleaver in someone’s trench coat. Gobbing and stage invasion was in vogue, so bouncers had to guard the stage while being gobbed all over. Apparently, on the front line, punches were flying in all directions.

I was too young to see the gigs, but I do remember the stress at home, because as promoters, my folks were taking all the risk. They were terrified someone would die from a stabbing or being crushed. This was a perfectly reasonable nightmare scenario because at the side door emergency exits, dishonest bouncers were letting people in for cash. The venues were dangerously over-packed and no matter what my parents did, it was always terrifying mayhem. In the Olympic Ballroom, nutters used to dive off the balcony onto the people below.

Were there any women entrepreneurs that have been forgotten about by the standard histories?

I can’t think of any truly game-changer women managers or label heads. The music business has always been male dominated and largely still is. As my mum put it: “women aren’t stupid enough to take such crazy risks.” However, there was the New York journalist Lisa Robinson who in 1975, alerted Danny Fields about the Ramones. She was one of the very first players who sensed something happening. A bit later, there was Linda Stein who, on Danny Fields’ invitation, co-managed the Ramones.

On the fashion side of things, Vivienne Westwood was a key player who proved herself as a successful entrepreneur. But I think it’s in the actual bands that one finds a higher-than-usual proportion of women. I’m thinking of Debbie Harry, Gay Advert, Poly Styrene, Jayne Casey, The Slits, and if one widens the field into new wave and post punk, there’s Siouxsie Sioux, The Raincoats, Chrissie Hynde, Tina Weymouth, Lene Lovich, The Go-Go’s and half of the B-52’s.

There’s no doubt that punk was good for women. And even the subsequent generation of early 80s pop stars, like Madonna, Toyah, Annie Lenox and others, definitely got their cues from the pioneers in the late seventies. In that sense, you can see that punk’s take-no-shit attitude was, in many respects, its single greatest strength.

Who were the impressive entrepreneurs of that era do you think….what traits did they have?

There were plenty of labels to come out of punk. In fact, giving so many people a crash course in business was the the real success of punk and it’s amazing that nobody really says it more often. Stiff, Factory, Fiction, Mute, 99, 4AD, STT, Radar, ZE, Def Jam, Zoo, Epitaph, etc.

People say that punk made Richard Branson because he signed the Sex Pistols, but he already had a chain of record shops and a boutique record label that had scored a massive hit earlier in the 70s with Mike Oldfield. He was already heading for bigger things, but it’s true that Branson learned new tricks from Malcolm McLaren about playing the media. Virgin was a much more aggressive company after punk.

But I think the most interesting examples were obviously Rough Trade and Beggars Banquet. Both were record shops that evolved into labels because of punk. They’re still around today, because what they had were musically literate bosses – Geoff Travis and Martin Mills respectively.

As young shop owners, they learned vital lessons about operating within modest means, keeping up to date, building a community and being genuinely independent. And all these labels, including some new ones like Def Jam, KLF, Sub Pop and others went on to drive hip hop, rave and grunge. They were all run by punk graduates.

Michael

Rebellion 2017 Protex

The pioneering punk/new wave bands of Northern Ireland including the Undertones, Stiff Little Fingers and Rudi didn’t just write great songs, they wrote great pop songs. Of course we didn’t appreciate it at the time but they didn’t just write pop songs for the moment, they wrote songs that stood the test of time.

Protex were one of best of that wave of bands, although the commercial success they’re deserved eluded them.

This is brilliant bouncy pop, ’60s harmonies on songs like Got Johnny, Place In Your Heart, Private Lines and I Can’t Cope have the members of the international punk clans rocking back and forth in their Docs and brother creepers in appreciation. Lots of the crowd can’t have been born when Protex first recorded these songs, but the young Brazilian punks who look they stepped out of Love And Rockets light up and sing along with Don’t Ring Me Up. The tall serious German punks nod along and even crack a smile.

While Protex wrote escapist pop back in the day, new songs like Walking On A Tightrope have a political edge. That represents progress, at the height of the Troubles every utterance from an Ulster band was judged as either too political or not political enough. It was a terrible trap for young bands, so it is heartening to see that for Protex the passing of the decades means greater creative freedom.

Long may their vocal harmonies and ringing pop tunes entertain us.

 

Michael

The Winter Passing + Life Goals + Me and My Dog + Niburu. The hangar, Dublin

The winter passing + Life Goals + Me and My Dog + Nibiru + The Winter Passing

The Hangar

September 30

Back to that feeling of solitude once more. I had a backpack full of fliers and posters but couldn’t muster the enthusiasm or courage to pass them round. I’m in that rut and many sure if I can move on, my feeling these days is to leave it to someone who doesn’t have grey hair. Am I wrong?

First band up tonight were life goals from Belfast. They reminded me of  drive when they played with mega city four in 1988, here we go again the age thing :). There’s a smattering of pixies into the melodic pop punk songs. They keep under the city centre speed limit but pack a good punch with those songs.

The songs in between certainly left a lot to be desired. The wrong sort of pop entirely but the venue is a strange abode. You walk in to a bar and some seats but through the double doors literally is a small hangar. Feels like a small car park but with low roof tonight it does have excellent sound.

Mayos Me and my dog were up next. The day before the all ireland final replay between me an my dogs home county and the county hosting this gig and not one mention of football!. My guess is it doesn’t fly high on me and my dogs radar. Lo-fi slacker rock is what they were billed as and that’s is as accurate as can be. 2 guitars, bass and drums. The 2nd guitar acting as lead bringing it from the lofi level. I had a vegan burrito in toltecca before the gig. It had soya mince, tons of topping and sauces but wasn’t quite the burrito I was hoping for. I wanted it to blow my mind but instead it was a good memory. Something like me and my dog, maybe if they only had one guitar. Sometimes the best bands only use the one.

Niburu come on to dry ice. This all male band from Dublin have a sound as heavy as that dry ice as we novel slowly through the set. Sure it gets my head bopping but sound garden or rage against the machine do the same and I never go out of my way to listen to them. It’s all too male of you get my drift

I’m here tonight to see the winter passing. Their record is one of the best Irish releases in the past decade. Full of tunes and hooks and intensity. I admire them for their attitude and energy. Always positive, this was their last gig before heading stateside to do some recording and gigs. How often can we say that of an independent band from ireland. Time got the better of them on the night as the hangar needed to return to its natural night club haunt, lights wer switched on, winter passing got to screech out more song of their set of 5, but it was enough for us all o wish the band the very best in their travels

niallhope

Mr Business Man It’s Not Our World

now

The first band I ever played in was called Vicarious Living.  named after a line in a flux of Pink Indians song our reason behind it was that it “pertained to a different way of living”.  That was 1983 and I played in 4 or 5 bands over the next 6 years.  The last of these were called Not Our World or N.O.W. for short.

 

We played a lot of gigs around Dublin and beyond but always on this island.  There were plans tom play further afield and even bring out a record but circumstances dictated otherwise.  We did manage to get a lot of gigs in Dublin, playing in venues now long gone, like the Attic, Fox and pheasant, Trinity JCR and beyond, new inn, and the earl grattan.  At times it felt like we were a resident band in the grattan played there 5 nights one week.

We taped most of our gigs but unlike Fugazi who all had excellent sound desk recording we used whatever tape machines were doing the rounds.  Around that time as part of trainee sound engineers course they would get an overnight session in a recording studio.  We managed to score some time in Temple Lane Studios.  It was our first time in such a place and the experience was pretty forgettable.  We managed to record three songs and when we left we thought they represented our sound.  However whne we got home and the tape was played through our decks the sound was a thinny representation and didn’t really capture us.  So we did nothing with the demo.  Gave it to very few friends and planned to get back into a studio at some stage.   That wasn’t to be and now 25 years later I suppose it is time enough to let the tape be digitised.

 

Here are the  three songs  We felt we could change our world and subsequently the entire world, it wasn’t to be in the end but our world certainly changed.

 

niallhope

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