If I Can Make It There….

27 10 2010

Folks, as some people already know, I’m off on a press trip to New York tomorrow for a top secret Batman launch. I’ll be back in Ireland early next week, so I’ll reply to anyone who’s looking for me then.

In the meantime, I’ll be hanging out with the utter legends that are Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, watching the Knicks play at Madison Square Garden, taking in a tour of DC Comics and  (inevitably) getting into lots of adventures during my stay. This will be the first time I’m going to bring a camera on my travels too (I don’t own one, so thanks to Our Martin for the lend!) so I’ll probably whack a few piccys up here when I get back.

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Silhouette At The Riff Raff Rooms Newry-Tomorrow Night

21 10 2010

If you’re nowt on tomorrow night, you should head to see the uber-good Silhouette at the Riff Raff Rooms in Newry town. Shauna and Co. have had an amazing 10 months so far and next year things look like they’re going to get even better and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of the opportunities right now. If you haven’t caught the band before, they’re an ace mix of avant garde influenced awkward alt-pop and Victory At Sea-esque grandiose clatter and are getting better as the weeks progress. In fact it seems like no time at all when they were debuting the new line-up last year at my 30th birthday show and they’ve really gelled well together in such a (relatively) short space of time.

A few weeks ago I wrote a short piece on the gig for my column in Hot Press, so here’s a reprint. Incidentally, if any bands/promoters want featured in the Hit the North page get in touch. In fact while I’m at it, I’m also looking after the music pages in the Sunday Life for the next few months too, so if you want your gig featured there give us a shout  on here, Facebook, Twitter, or, if you’re that way inclined-you can talk to me via the medium of dance.

But enough waffling, here’s the Hot Press column and the poster for tomorrow’s gig. If I’m not covering a show elsewhere I should be down at this too, so come say hello. I’ll be the grumpy looking bloke with too many tattoos.

News

Words: Edwin McFee

Ever since time began (well, the 80s) this writer’s homeland of Newry has been a bit of a wasteland when it comes to offering some much-needed teenage kicks. While the 60s and 70s saw the likes of Lizzy, U2 and Gallagher tread the town’s boards, (Rory that is, not those two eijits from Manchester) it seemed that the initial spark of a burgeoning live music scene unfortunately fizzled out like a firework that’s been left out in the rain. All is not lost though, as the good people involved with the Riff Raff Rooms have been steadily building up a reputation for themselves as the taste-makers of the border town and have made some excellent bookings in recent months which have whetted Hot Presses collective appetite and marked them out as ones to watch over the months ahead.

Part of the venture’s current appeal lies in their recent union with the 27 Club. Already a staple event in Warrenpoint, the club is masterminded by Beat Poets’ tub thumper Mark Dinsmore and has featured everyone from NI heavyweights And So I Watch You From Afar to General Fiasco over the years and it looks like they’re planning to repeat that success in Newry. Kicking off the union with a gig on Oct 22 by the insanely talented (and arguably one of the best performers in the country right now) Silhouette, there are also plans for shows from the whiskey-soaked lunatics that are Here Comes the Landed Gentry on Nov 19 and the always impressive Cashier No. 9 too and we’d like to wish them every success in the world.

Speaking of success, the annual local band love-in that is Glasgowbury has once again been nominated for several categories in the UK Festival Awards. Paddy Glasgow and Co. are in the running for Best Small Festival and the Grassroots Award (which are voted for by Joe Public via http://uk.festivalawards.com/) as well as the industry selected Promoter of the Year and Line-Up of the Year and fingers crossed they’ll come away with something as we’d love to see the lads channel their inner Halle Berry for their acceptance speeches.

Finally, NI’s all-conquering kings of metal Gacys Threads have announced that they will launch their second EP ‘Wolf Brigade’ with a gig on the night before Hallowe’en at the Pavilion in Belfast. Having supported the likes of Fear Factory, Cancer Bats and August Burns Red in the past, the band’s star has been in ascendance this year and the new four track release leaves us hungry to hear a full length LP from them. For more info check out www.myspace.com/gacysthreads.





New Metal Hammer Out This Week

21 10 2010

Yes, as the cripplingly obvious headline states,  the new issue of Metal Hammer is out now in all good newsagents and I’ve got interviews with the Wretched End and Dragged Into Sunlight in there as well as the usual reviews, so go check it out.

It’s been about six months now since I jumped aboard the good ship Hammer and it’s been a blast working with them so far. I haven’t seen the new issue yet, but I’m sure it’s all kinds of ace-ness.





Happy People Have No Stories

20 10 2010

This morning I got a promo of the new Therapy? live album (‘We’re Here To The End’) in the post and it reminded me that I didn’t post up the tribute piece I wrote on the band for the Belfast Telegraph, so here it is in all its glory.

 I’m sure I’ll be reviewing the record somewhere, so will also put that up here too (as well as the live review from their beyond awesome Belfast gig last week) and here’s a cheeky look at the back cover for anyone who can’t wait until Nov 8 when it’s officially released.

Anyway, here’s the piece from the paper.

Happy People Have No Stories

I first fell for Therapy? at the tender age of 13. In many ways it was a long-distance love affair for me. While the Larne/Ballyclare-born three-piece were touring the world and preparing to unleash their seminal second album ‘Troublegum,’ I was residing at home in Newry, dutifully keeping an eye out for their appearances on TV and trying my damnedest to play along to their song ‘Innocent X’ on the battered old bass guitar I bought in a pawn shop in the ever so glamorous Dundalk. Still, the fact that I was too young at the time to see them up close and personal in the Ulster Hall mattered as much as intelligent conversation in the Big Brother House. As long as I had my copy of their debut album ‘Nurse’ and the ‘Shortsharpshock’ EP I was that rarest of things-a happy and contented teenager.

The year was 1993 and it was an odd era for music and youth culture in general (both in Northern Ireland and beyond). The big-haired so-called cock rock scene seemed to be rapidly wilting as the weeks and months sped by and to quote one old dinosaur-the times they were a-changing. Fed up with watching their peers prance and preen during their never-ending guitar solos, Therapy? opted to provide us with three minute slices of lunacy served up with a side order of perverted punk rock bravado instead and the moment they released the ‘Shortsharpshock’ EP out into the wild on March 8 ’93 is, for this writer, one of the most important cultural events in our country’s history.

Reaching number nine in the UK singles charts and number two in the Irish equivalent, the four track opus featured lead single ‘Screamager’ and saw Mssrs Andy Cairns, Michael McKeegan and Fyfe Ewing grace Top of the Pops, the Word and many other mainstream TV shows, becoming the first band from these shores in nearly two decades to make the rest of the world sit up and notice. Not only were those raucous (and sometimes ramshackle) first performances an utter revelation for  millions of outsiders, but you can literally pin-point the exact moment on that first TOTP appearance where a generation thought to themselves-“Hold on, this being in a band lark looks fun. I want to do that too.” How do I know this? Well, because I was one of those people. In those days there were dozens of garage bands all over the UK and Ireland playing dodgy versions of Therapy? songs and by the time they released their breakthrough album ‘Troublegum’ a year later, they had quite rightly became hard rock royalty and metamorphosed into a bona fide phenomenon.

Without sounding too cheesy about it, the trio also gave hope to generations of people from Northern Ireland too. They proved that you don’t have to change your sound or style in order to do what you want and you can succeed on your own terms. They shone a spotlight on our country for the first time since the 70s too and deliberately went out of their way to help the likes of Ash, Joyrider, Throat, Snow Patrol and many others cut their teeth and ultimately kick-started a resurgence in local music that has carried on to this very day.

This year sees Therapy? celebrating their 20th birthday. It’s an achievement which many (including members of the band themselves) thought would never happen, but this writer is proud to see them still making amazing albums, still touring the world and affectionately acting as the Godfathers of the NI music scene. The odd band member may have came and went since those early gigs in the Art College, but with the addition of drummer Neil Cooper in 2002, Andy and Michael have never sounded stronger than they do today and with albums as good as 2009’s ‘Crooked Timber’ they’ve ensured that kids will continue to carve their crude-looking Gemil mascot into school desks and lockers for a long time to come.

Perhaps the only downside to the Therapy? tale is the fact that they never seem to get the recognition they deserve on home turf. From a fan’s perspective, it can get quite galling seeing the same old faces receive accolades year in and year out for “services to NI music,” but you also get the impression that the hugely humble and down to earth trio would feel a bit bashful if they did get a gong or two. Still, that doesn’t mean we should all forget about the impact the band have made over the last two decades and this disciple of their Church of Noise salutes them. So much for the 20 year plan, eh lads?

To pre-order the new Therapy? live album ‘We’re Here To The End’ click on this link http://www.globalmusic-shop.com/shop/catalog/details?shop_param=aid%3DBLAST+001%26





Limbo

19 10 2010

As of today, your humble correspondent is basically homeless and I will be in limbo for about five weeks or so. While I’m officially moving house this week into the bachelor pad of my dreams (and by “dreams,” I mean somewhere £100 a month cheaper), my landlord is currently repainting the new place and moving in new beds, furniture and the like and even though I will have somewhere to hang my hat this time next week, thanks to the hopeless organisation skills of Virgin Media, my telephone line and internet connection won’t be up and running until November 19 (yes, fucking NOVEMBER) “when they’ve a free technician.” What that means of course, is that I can’t work/earn a living due to Virgin Media’s shoddy situation, so I’ll be flitting around for the next 5 weeks between Belfast, Newry, Dublin and America for the foreseeable.

If any editor/PR can’t track me down, please bear with me and if anyone needs my new address then get in touch.

In the meantime, I’ll more than likely be walking around like Bix Bixby at the end of the Incredible Hulk TV series until Virgin Media get their finger out.





Hey Alright. You Know It’s Judgement Time!

18 10 2010

Gotta love Valient Thorr.

If you like what you see, then join the Irish Thorriors chapter http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=157791407578979





Been Knocked Down, Beaten Black And Blue

15 10 2010

Possibly one of the most uplifting songs in the world, ‘Fall Back Down’ by Rancid is a tune I always come back to time and time again. They often get derrided for not being “real punks” but ultimately-who gives a fuck? A good tune is a good tune and this my friends, is a good fuckin’ tune. Enjoy.

Here’s another Rancid video for ”Tattoo.’