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State of independence
A fresh generation of bands is tearing up the rule book and redefining what it means to be Irish. To celebrate this new wave of talent, we catch up with the best of them.
Peter Murphy, 02 Nov 2007
There is a season, turn, turn, turn. A decade ago the scene was dead, with a bare handful of Irish acts hardscrabbling to subsist in what was the fallowest period for domestic music since the early ‘70s. Five years later the capital’s gig circuit was very much resurrected, and if most of its denizens were operating from the rather overpopulated wanna-be Jeff Buckley enclosure, at least there was no shortage of local shows to check out of a weeknight, not to mention a healthy DIY ethic. Now, local acts never had it so good, with a proliferation of venues, indie labels, regional radio support and homegrown music TV shows.
This warmer climate has borne copious fruit. Dig the new breed: Fight Like Apes, Halves, Black Soul Strangers, Codes and The Coronas, a royal flush of indigenous acts. Remarkably they’re all self-starters too, and the independent ethos seems to have engendered a mindset whereby originality of expression takes precedence over appeasing A&R snifferdogs on the lookout for quick-buck xeroxes of last year’s models.
Exhibit A, Fight Like Apes, whose current EP for Fifa Records David Carradine Is A Bounty Hunter Whose Robotic Arm Hates Your Crotch is out this month, and comprises four rowdy, synthcentric songs that defy description, or rather, demand references so unspecific as to be meaningless. This, singer MayKay confirms, was very much the point.
“Ding-ding!” she laughs. “We had no idea what we wanted to sound like, but every idea of what we didn’t want to sound like. I’ve no problem reading a bad review, I love reading a good review, but I hate reading an indifferent review. That really bugs me, if we haven’t made some sort of an impression.
“None of us can play guitars,” she continues, “but we kind of write guitar songs on keyboards. We always get jokes in venues about having his ‘n’ hers keyboards. Jamie’s got this massive Roland and I’ve got the tiny little micro-Korg, and they play nicely off each other. I think The Frames were our point of reference: if we ever hit anything even mildly resembling The Frames, we’re to all simultaneously jump off a bridge!”