More Anti Stuff

17 07 2009

As I’ve mentioned before-the Anti exhibition is now up and running and I thought it might be nice to publish the piece I wrote for the Therapy? section, so here goes.


“I was 13 when Therapy? first burst onto the mainstream boasting short sharp shocks for the masses. The year was 1993 and at that point in history cock rock was still very much in vogue, but these three short haired blokes from mid-Ulster bucked all conventions with glee, irrevocably snaring millions of jaded metalheads under their spell in an instant. While their peers pranced and preened during their endless guitar solos (snore), Therapy? gave us three minute slices of lunacy served up with a side order of perverted punk rock bravado. Needless to say, I was in love the first moment I heard the opening chords of ‘Opal Mantra.’

While I found the skewed guitar solos and oddly named tracks jarring at first, I knew that this was where the future of rock music lay and I wanted in on it too. So, ever the comic fanboy, I sold old copies of Thor, Captain America and others, bought a busted up bass and amp and formed a band in a bid to ape their sinister, but utterly perfect pop songs. I wasn’t the only one either. You see Therapy? gave hope to a generation of NI musicians that it can be done. You really can boot down the doors of convention and “make it” on your own terms. Best of all, the boys (Andy Cairns, Michael McKeegan and Fyfe Ewing) actually cared about homegrown acts too and took the likes of Joyrider and Ash under their wing, giving them their first crack at fame and helped kick-start a resurgence in local music not seen since the seventies.

These days I firmly believe that without Therapy? leading the charge in the early nineties, NI’s music scene would be a very different place indeed. Perhaps what is most exciting is that they’re still continuing to kick ass and take names to this very day, making some of the best music of their career. A few years ago I got the band’s mirrored question marks from their ‘Infernal Love’ album tattooed on my arm and it’s a permanent reminder that regardless of what the cynics say-music can really change your life forever. Twenty years on and the Church of Noise’s sermons are as loud and proud as they ever were and I for one wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Edwin McFee is a music journalist and writes for NME, Hot Press and AU.   

Anti Exhibition

3 07 2009

This Tuesday sees the Launch of the new Anti Exhibition which sees various NI luminaries pay tribute to 10 trail-blazers from the last few decades. I wrote a piece on one of the bands but I’ll keep it under wraps until it’s up and running (in fairness though, it doesn’t take a mind reader to guess who I offered my thoughts on).

Here’s the press release below. You should really check it out-

 Anti / 7 Jul 09 10:00 am-31 Jul 09 5:00 pm / Waterfront Hall / Free

Belfast is often portrayed as a city of two opposing cultures, but throughout the recent history many have chosen to align themselves with a third. The often bleak setting young people in Belfast found themselves in meant that many, feeling no affinity with either of the traditional tribes, through themselves enthusiastically into the music scene. And if that scene embodied a rejection of the status quo, a resounding two fingers to the establishment, then all the better.

Anti is about documenting this part of our culture, ensuring that when people look at the cultural history of Belfast they get more than two tribes.

We asked you to send your answers in on a postcard (both literal postcards and digitally, through forums and networking sites) to let us know what iconic people/places/events/times symbolised Belfast’s alternative heritage for you. Everyone was then invited to debate these symbols and we got together to decide 10-12 iconic subjects for this exhibition.

The list of Belfast’s icons was never going to be exhaustive. We felt it was important to acknowledge the multifaceted web of people, places, things and events that went together to help form this alternative culture. This isn’t about nicely mounted pictures in a white-walled gallery either; this installation is designed to present Belfast’s icons in the quotidian, gritty reality in which they existed. We’ve mounted your icons on toilet walls, so that you can look, praise and defame them at your leisure.