I will never forget the first time the ex came to Dublin. We had been putting on gigs for a few years and had seen many troubadors in those initial days. My parents had a world opened up to them they never knew existed as bands came for lunch before their Dublin gigs. The biggest problem was getting places for bands to stay. Thankfully there were some very kind Dublin punks who opened their rented spaces for bands to lie their heads for the evening. When the Ex and Dog Faced Hermans came to town Fergus and Michael were the willing hosts.
Usually when a band drove it was some sort of van, we had the membranes and their multi coloured affair and the people from working class northside of Dublin were suitably intrigued. Howev er the extook on another dimension. Of course it is 25 years but my memory is of a fire engine, parked on the street with people spilliing out.
That kind of sums the ex up, majestic and unpredictable. I had some of their records and they were better educators than my history teacher in school. The Spanish Civil War, world poverty and the plight of the Kurds were all brought to my attention by the ex. My wall at home had a few press clippings and pictures but in the middle of all this was a huge poster of an archetypal business man in a suit withpockets out to give an impression of being penniless. The header stated, “Home taping is killing music…..” and the footer proudly read “… And about time too.”
The sentiments were spot on. Sure we taped records by bands but it wasn’t to get around buying the album it was to check out the music. If we liked it we tried to get the record. Major labels were concerned at loss of sales and us punks were ok with that.
So the ex took their bass guitar and drums and made their tribal sound. It was cutting but still had a beat. It wasn’t all about chords but guitar solos were still very much down the list. Majestic. When I was playing bass in my band I tried to copy that sharp sound, i never worried too much about notes but more the pounding rhythm, it was a pale imitation but each time I went on stage I thought about the Ex and the sound they made.
25 years later they were back in Dublin, as good as ever with some line up changes along the way but they have lost none of that abandon from the early days.