not a member? click here to sign up
Even Better Than The Reel Thing
They were the first true Irish rock stars, a band that blended Celtic mysticism and proggy excess with eye-popping results and paved the way for U2 and The Boomtown Rats. Now, three decades since their last tour, HORSLIPS are back. To coincide with their hotly-anticipated O2 show and new ‘Best Of’, the band talk about dropping acid, Father Ted-like encounters with outraged members of the clergy and hanging with the ‘walking pharmacy’ that was Motörhead’s Lemmy.
Stuart Clark, 02 Dec 2009
Horslips were touring their penultimate album, The Man Who Built America, in the States when another, rather more abrasive Irish band pitched up there on the back of a UK number one single.
“The hype surrounding the Boomtown Rats and ‘Rat Trap’ was huge, but Bob, bless him, managed to bury the band at a music convention gig I was at in San Diego,” Eamon Carr says. “They did ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ for the first time, and were generally going down quite well until Geldof – playing to the American punks in front of the stage – goes, ‘Stop! Stop! Only you guys are dancing. I want the lights put on and you to turn around and look at these people who are controlling your music.’ These people, of course, being the invited record company staff and radio DJs who headed straight for the exit, vowing in the process to do as little as they possibly could in the future for the Rats. Nowadays there’s enough alternative media to do that and survive, but back then it really was career suicide.”
Horslips’ own demise when it came in 1979 was rather less self-inflicted.
“The main reason we broke up is that after ten years of album/tour/album/tour we were bloody knackered,” Barry Devlin grimaces. “Also, punk had hit leaving us wondering if we were dinosaurs. The band started to pull in different musical directions, the record company fucking hated our Short Stories & Tall Tales album and we didn’t fancy playing to diminishing crowds for two years while we pulled ourselves up again.”
After testing the waters in 2004 with an unplugged album, Horslips are going the whole reunion hog next month with shows in the Belfast Odyssey (December 3) and Dublin O2 (5), which dwarf anything they attempted back in the ‘70s.
“I won’t say it’s like riding a bike, but it is amazing how much stuff has come flooding back – most of it good!” Devlin concludes. “To have a ‘Part 2’ where we can show the kids what we did in the war is something we’re all enormously excited about.”