HOT PRESS FEATURE: GLASGOWBURY

22 11 2013

As we hurtle towards Crimbo, I plan on whacking up a fair bit of stuff in the coming weeks that sums up 2013, deadlines permitting (yep, key word here is “plan” ).

To kick things off, here’s a piece on Northern Ireland’s very own Grand-Daddy of them all-Glasgowbury, that originally ran in Hot Press during the summer.

GOODBYE GLASGOWBURY

The Answer, VerseChorusVerse and organiser Paddy Glasgow offer their thoughts on the final Glasgowbury festival. Edwin McFee is the man raising a glass.

 

On July 20, 2013 the much-loved, mould-breaking Mecca for Irish music that was Glasgowbury festival finished for the final time. It’s safe to say that the Eagle’s Rock, Co. Derry-based bash has had a massive impact over its 13 year existence, offering many musicians-not just from the north-a platform to perform their wares while also inspiring many other entrepreneurs to try something similar across countless counties on the island. With that in mind, we caught up with Tony Wright AKA VerseChorusVerse (a veteran Glasgowbury performer), Cormac Neeson from the Answer (the final band to play the festival) and of course, the event’s founding father Paddy Glasgow, to talk about the last ever trip to the Sperrins, its legacy and what happens next.

 

VerseChorusVerse: “Our gig on the Friday went from beginning to end in a glorious musical fashion. The band and I had an absolute blast. Jonny Black (guitar) was even happy at how it went, so that’s gotta count for something! We had people dancing-not moshing-but genuine dancing and people were singing along. Everyone that was in that tent left smiling-including myself and the guys

 

Looking back over the years, I’ve got so many good Glasgowbury memories to choose from. My first year with my old band was fairly special, as was last year as it was my first solo stint. I’ve got mixed emotions about it all ending. I’m going to miss it terribly, but I’m so thankful of the memories and good times. It was a yearly event in July that promoted togetherness and hope for the future for young and old alike, unlike that other event we have in the north in July, if you get what I mean (at least we still have Pride fest though!).

 

The festival instilled a real sense of worth into all of us musicians here. They treated us with respect and nurtured us all in a way that few of us had the chance to experience before. It also gave us all a sense of professionalism and self confidence that can be hard for a young band to muster at times. Glasgowbury, thank you. Thank you for everything.”

 

Cormac Neeson (The Answer): “It was a real honour to draw the whole festival to a close. There was a bit of pressure to do it justice but we got an awful lot of love back from the audience. From the word go there was a big mosh pit going on down the front. We got the Streetwise Samba Band to play with us for our encore on ‘Waste Your Tears’ and it was great to hear them beating out these great rhythms to our song. We closed the festival on a high and there was a lot of mutual love in the air.

 

I got to see some other acts during the day too. Hurdles were really good summer pop and Wyldling were amazing. [Frontwoman] Jilly St John is fantastic and she really sold her band to me. It’s electro pop and not normally my thing, but her enthusiasm and charisma sucked me in. I’ve a lot of time for a front person who gets onstage and gives it everything they’ve got. They’re definitely ones to watch.

 

We’ve played Glasgowbury three times in the past. We were there when it was just two tents on a football pitch in 2005-ish, whenever we were very much an upcoming band and Paddy took a chance on us. You could tell even then that it was a festival on the up. He had so much enthusiasm for giving young bands a chance and I’m sure he and his team will have plenty more to say over the years to come.”

 

Paddy Glasgow: “The final Glasgowbury was absolutely brilliant. It was a time mixed with celebration and a certain amount of sadness in our hearts, but for me we went out on a high and the sun gods shone down on us, which made it even more special. When we first started there weren’t any platforms for music [in NI] outside of the two main cities, but now there’s loads and while I wouldn’t call us trail blazers, someone had to ignite that and someone had to start that ‘can do’ attitude and we did it.

 

When I went to tourism bodies when we first began, they weren’t interested in anything ‘local’ but now it’s all ‘local.’ There’s local music on their TV adverts and local breaks and gigs are all plugged now too, so maybe the ‘wild mountain man’ was right 13 years ago, eh? [Laughs].

 

It’s the end of Eagle’s Rock but it’s not the end of the ‘Small But Massive’ ethos. The Glasgowbury group has always been about the musician and what happens in the future…? Well, people might just have to wait a bit to find out. I said it onstage on July 20 and I’ll say it now ‘Look out for a Small But Massive stage near you.’”

 





Glasgowbury Review (Hot Press)

4 09 2012

Here’s a reprint of my review of this year’s Glasgowbury that ran in Hot Press last month.Pic stolen from Ramsey Cardy (www.shoottothrill.co.uk)

GLASGOWBURY

Eagle’s Rock, Co. Derry

Featuring a rather fetching stripy circus tent serving as the new home for the G Sessions stage, an additional dance-oriented area sponsored by Red Bull and, most importantly, the strongest line-up they’ve had in their 12 year history, the self-proclaimed “small but massive” shin-dig that is Glasgowbury is rapidly maturing into something of a monster. With shed-loads of Irish acts on the bill, 2012’s festival has something for everyone and business really picks up with the arrival of the all-conquering punk-infused rock ‘n’ roll group Empty Lungs. Now a four-piece thanks to the recent arrival of guitarist Sam (“The fucker looks like Ryan Gosling and has a massive cock” offers singer Kev Jones by way of introduction) the boys are in world beating form and belt out the likes of ‘Identity Lost’ and ‘Nothing Left To Lose’ with a belief and passion that marks them out as one of the best unsigned acts on the island right now.

 

Donegal’s Mojo Gogo are another outfit who are on the cusp of greatness and their utterly infectious indie songs go down a treat on the main stage. Boasting a live sound that’s as solid as Godzilla’s sofa, the quartet impress thanks to numbers such as the stunning ‘Romance In The Lie’ and we’re sure this time next year they’re be much further up the bill. While the rather languid in comparison Master and Dog struggle a little following the Mojos and Katie And The Carnival’s performance suffers thanks to the elements, NI’s greatest party band Pocket Billiards arrive onstage to perk up us and they blast out some absolutely righteous sounding ska-punk, with ‘Dirty Money’ and ‘Belfast Town’ in particular sounding anthemic in the open air.

 

After a brief break checking out the hugely popular, Red Bull sponsored Generator Stage which saw DJs such as Viasidus and Casion spin tracks alongside local radio talent, we pop over to the Eagle’s Rock stage to check out the rootsy sounds of Farriers and their country/bluegrass-tinged songs are a perfect, chilled out precursor to the madness to come. By “madness,” we of course mean those riff lords LaFaro and their turn in the G Sessions tent is a master-class in sonic thuggery. In fact, there are more than a few punters who’ll definitely need a neck brace the next day after being pummeled by the punk metal sounds of ‘Easy Meat’ and ‘Full Tilt.’ Expect them to headline Glasgowbury sooner rather than later.

 

Speaking of headliners, NI legends Therapy? are left to bring the day to a close and they do it in style. Opening with the awesome one-two punch of ‘Rust’ and ‘If It Kills Me,’ the trio (which includes stand-in drummer Alan from LaFaro) are clad in suits and prowling the stage like street-walking cheetahs looking just as up for it as the crowd. It’s great to hear the likes of ‘Nausea’ being dusted off for a live airing and newies such as ‘Living In The Shadow Of A Terrible Thing’ sit happily beside the now classic noise-rock cuts ‘Meat Abstract’ and more. In short-for 70minutes the band brought the thunder and gave us the best Glasgowbury performance we’ve ever seen. File under “H” for Heroic.

EDWIN McFEE 





News From The North Week 107

9 08 2012

Here’s a reprint of my NI music news column that runs every fortnight in Hot Press.

News

Words: Edwin McFee

In just a few days time, the lion’s share of regular readers of this column will no doubt be preparing to straddle the Sperrin Mountains in Co. Derry and break themselves off a piece of metaphorical rock ‘n’ roll action at the Glasgowbury festival. Featuring a bill consisting of some of this island’s brightest and best acts, the bash will be headlined by Therapy? and just recently the Larne/Ballyclare-born boys revealed that they will be debuting a slightly altered line-up for the July 21 event. Yes readers, standing in (temporarily, mind) for long-term tub thumper Neil Cooper is Alan Lynn, who you may remember beats the shit out of things for those riff-laden berserkers LaFaro.

 

A few days ago I caught up with bassist Michael McKeegan and he explained the situation:

 

“I suppose the biggest bit of news is that Alan from LaFaro will be drumming with us!” offered the Evil Priest. “Neil’s had to sit out a few shows due to a longstanding family commitment so (with Neil’s help and LaFaro’s blessing) we head-hunted the best young drummer around to fill in. We’ve been rehearsing and it sounds fantastic, he definitely will be doing the songs justice. Aim to maim…that’s the plan.”

 

So there you have it folks. If you’re making the trip to Draperstown you’ll be witnessing a wee bit of history and if you’re not going, well…consider me very disappointed in your actions. For more info visit glasgowbury.com. See you down the front.

 

Next up, sticking with open air-based events, I’m particularly pleased to tell you that there has been a raft of NI additions (well, seven…) to the line-up for Electric Picnic. Leading the charge are festival stalwarts Rams’ Pocket Radio, Fighting with Wire, LaFaro, Mojo Fury, Axis Of and Master & Dog and rounding off the list are the utterly incendiary rap/punk hooligans Bomb City 7, who will no doubt steal the show at the shin-dig. The quintet of turns will play the Oxjam Wigwam and personally I think it’s only a matter of time before BC7 members Brendy and Kev play similar stages with their other projects Bee Mick See and Empty Lungs too.

 

Finally, I’ve just enough room to let you know the organisers of the annual Hard Working Class Heroes are on the lookout for acts to play at this year’s event (which takes place on Oct 4-6 across six different venues in Dublin). If you want to take part all you have to do is visit hwch.net for more details. The closing date for submissions is July 26. You have been warned…





Unedited Therapy? Transcript (June 2012)

20 07 2012

Tomorrow I’m off to straddle the Sperrin Mountains in Co. Derry to cover Glasgowbury for Hot Press/watch head-liners Therapy? tear the festival a new one. In the meantime I figured it might be a good idea to post up an unedited transcript of an interview I did with Andy and Michael from the band last month (that ran, in part, as the lead feature in this month’s Big List).

There’s lots of interesting bits and pieces in there, so enjoy.Oh, and if you spot me at the festival tomorrow…mine’s a pint!

Therapy?

First off, the current record’s been out for around five months now. How are the new songs going down live now that people have lived with the LP for a while?

Andy Cairns: “The new tunes are going down great. We were expecting ‘Living in the Shadow of the Terrible Thing’ and ‘Why Turbulence?’ to be popular riff storms, but we’ve been blown away by how great a reception ‘Get Your Dead Hand off My Shoulder’ and ‘Ghost Trio’ have been getting.”

Some of the new material caused more than a few (favorably) raised eye-brows. When you were writing the likes of ‘Marlow’ and ‘Ecclesiastes,’ were there ever concerns the songs might alienate some of the T? faithful?

Andy Cairns: “We didn’t worry about how they would be received…I think if we started doing that it would make it difficult for us to ever write music. ‘Ecclesiastes’ actually started out as a Will Oldham/Bill Callahan style tune, just an acoustic and a voice but Neil and Adam [Sinclair, engineer] suggested adding the huge, gated drum sounds which in turn suggested to me-Kraftwerk-esque vocoder. So in the end we went from lonesome balladry to lonesome robot.”

With that in mind-did you consider making a record of ten tracks of instrumental and chilled out sci-fi ballads and leave the crunchier material like ‘Why Turbulance?’ for another record?

Andy Cairns: “Funny enough, I’ve been getting back into riffs again. I’d gotten frustrated with them for ages and just wanted to do something a lot more atmospheric with the guitar and vox. Since finishing ‘A Brief Crack Of Light’ I’ve been listening to Nu-Kle-Er Blast Suntan, Unsane and some heavy bass and I can hear the call of the riff again. Of course if we did that we’d have to make a second, ambient album too…..”

Who sings during the chorus of ‘Marlow?’ Is it just Andy or are there backing singers? I’m hearing what sounds to be a female voice in there..

Andy Cairns: “It’s all me. The high pitched vocal are my voice through an Electro Harmonix F/X unit and pitched high.”

What’s your favourite track on the album and why?

Andy Cairns: “I like ‘Get You Dead Hand off my Shoulder.’ I love the lurching rhythm of it and when it all locks in it feels great to play.”

‘A Brief Crack Of Light,’ to my ears, sounds like a game changing record and there’s a nice balance between classic alt rock songs and new, exciting sounds. Did you deliberately sit down and decide to push the T? sound into new and different territories?

Andy Cairns: “Because we are always listening to lots of different kind of music we’ve developed a work method where we don’t question trying anything new. We’ll always give it a go and if it fails then we move on. I’m sometimes envious of ‘formula’ bands like the Ramones, Motorhead and AC/DC, where you just make the same record again and again. It must make it a lot easier for both band and fans. However, I don’t think we’d swap our open-mindedness for anything.”

I understand there’s some material left over-will that surface at some point?

Andy Cairns: “There is. I think there’’s four or five songs at least. ‘Dark Naughty Steps’ is Jamaican dancehall meets Fugazi, ‘All Low no High’ is very poppy (in a Buzzcocks, QOTSA way)….for various reasons they didn’t sit well with the other tracks.”

‘The Buzzing’ is a pretty complex track. Was it difficult piecing the warring melodies, dynamics and time signatures together?

Andy Cairns: “With ‘The Buzzing’ the lyrics came first and then the rhythm of the words themselves came next. The song itself is about not being able to escape your own thoughts and the ‘phantom chatterbox’ of consciousness. To emphasize this we deliberately changed the music underneath the vocals as it went along. We wanted to try and suggest the world slipping under your feet.”

Lyrically, I get the impression that the Andy Cairns of 2012 is a lot happier than the person who wrote ‘Nurse’ et al (“I have everything I need/food, shelter, family/People that love me” from ‘Why Turbulance?’ stands out in particular). Would you agree?

Andy Cairns: “I think so. Well, I get by but these days… I’m a lot more Zen in my
approach. We’re quite spoiled here in the West and don’t realise how lucky we are at times, but yet look where greed has got us. I still get angry, pissed off and at times inconsolable, but who doesn’t? Life goes on and it’s cruelly short. Make the most of it.”

On the live front-some the set staples were left out on a few dates of your recent tour of Europe (Germany etc). How did that go down and how important do you think it is to rest some tracks? (Personally I would’ve loved to have seen a full “Neil-era” set).

Michael McKeegan: “To be honest, writing a set list gets harder and harder every year. It’s a bit of a balancing act…we’re always excited to play the new songs as they’re the freshest ones for us and then obviously there’s a big back catalogue of work that people love to hear. We always try and get a good mix of the older songs which we feel compliment the newer stuff. The tour earlier in the year was quite short and we have a much more extensive tour planned for Oct/Nov/Dec, so we’ve been chatting about getting deeper into the old stuff and
dusting off a few obscurities as well as playing as much as the new album as well. Plus a slew of hits no doubt…could be a long set!”

So next month you’re head-lining Glasgowbury. I remember talking to you guys about it three years ago at Oxegen-are you pleased that the stars have aligned and you can play it?

Michael McKeegan: “Absolutely. It’s got a deserved ‘legendary’ status now and we’re delighted to finally be playing there. Fair play to Paddy for persevering with the booking, we’re all fired up for it.”

How long are you guys playing for/what can we expect?

Michael McKeegan: “Aim to maim…that’s the plan. I think our set length is probably 70 or so minutes which is good for a festival headline. I suppose the biggest bit of news is that Alan from LaFaro will be drumming with us! Neil’s had to sit out a few shows due to a longstanding family commitment so (with Neil’s help and LaFaro’s blessing) we head-hunted the best young drummer around to fill in. We’ve been rehearsing and it sounds fantastic, he definitely will be doing the songs justice.”

Are you planning to catch any of the other acts? If so-who? (Empty Lungs, Boxcutter, Swanee River and Triggerman are all worth a watch).

Michael McKeegan: “That’s one of the greatest pleasures about playing a festival where the line-up is really strong…wandering about and hopefully catching a bit of all the above plus LaFaro, Axis of and Pocket Billiards. I’m also looking forward to stumbling across someone I’ve never heard of before, that’s another cool thing about festival shows.”

How important do you think events like Glasgowbury are for Irish music?

Michael McKeegan: “The fact that all the bands are pretty much local is amazing…it shows the diversity and talent out there on our doorsteps and I hope the wider media at large will be taking an interest and covering the bands beyond the festival.”

On a related note, I was bummed out to see T? weren’t included in the BBC’s recent “The Great Northern Songbook” gig at the Ulster Hall (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-18167909). Personally a track like ‘Die Laughing’ would’ve sounded perfect backed by the Ulster Orchestra. What are your feelings on the (glaring) omission?

Michael McKeegan: “I wasn’t really aware of it until lots of people began to flag it up…it possibly was a big omission on the part of whoever shortlisted the songs. With regard to being included or not, I do think from day one we’ve always been ‘outsiders’ and that suits us fine. The people that know the band absolutely appreciate and recognize the band’s legacy and influence-not just in NI but on an international scale-so we’re very happy and comfortable with the band’s standing in that respect. We were delighted to see Ash win with ‘Shining Light’ that’s a cracking song.”

 

In general, how do you feel about Therapy?’s legacy? I remember once seeing an interview (possibly on Noisy Mothers on ITV) with you backstage at Donington ’94 and saying how U2 made it almost impossible for other Irish bands to get noticed by a label, unless you sounded exactly like them. It almost goes without saying that T? were the main act to break that cycle-does that make you proud that you helped open up the door for lots of different music in NI and the rest of Ireland?

Michael McKeegan: “It’s pretty amazing, we’re all very proud of it…we get a lot of love from bands from all over the place, old and new, so I suppose we’ve been doing something right over the years. I’m also pleased we’ve kept on trying to progress with the music and not fall into the ‘nostalgia’ type thing which a lot of bands who’ve been around 22 years might do. With regard to the U2 comment, it goes back to that ‘outsider’ thing…when we first moved to Belfast all the bands either sounded and looked like U2 or Guns ‘N’ Roses…we didn’t fit in at all so we had to do our own thing. When we did our own single, started to put on our own shows and toured outside NI I feel that showed people that a ‘local’ band could make their mark regardless of what the industry at large felt. It’s been a brilliant old trip so far I have to say.”





News From The North Week 105

14 07 2012

Here’s a reprint of my NI music news column that runs every fortnight in Hot Press.

News

Words: Edwin McFee

By the time you read this latest missive, Co. Armagh’s kings of sledge-hammer rock Gascan Ruckus will have released their ace new single ‘Pieces’ out into the wild. Calling to mind the likes of bruisers such as the Bronx and Hot Snakes, the quartet have built up a live show that’s as ferocious as a badger that’s been booted in the balls and their latest slice of recorded sonic thuggery stands as some of their finest work yet, so pick up a copy via their Band Camp page pronto (gascanruckus.bandcamp.com). In the meantime check out the new, “one for the ladies” themed video for ‘Pieces’ here youtube.com/watch?v=HSvu57H3huo.

 

Next up, the line-up for this year’s Tanglewood Festival has just been announced and it’s a doozey (if you pardon the children’s TV presenter-esque phrase). Taking place at Narrow Water Castle (which is midway between Newry and Warrenpoint geography fans) the event returns for a second year and the fun starts bright and early on Saturday, August 4. Boasting a line-up of over 50 acts, the bash features the likes of Silhouette, Dead ‘Til Friday, Aslan and Runaway Go and entry is £20. With comedy shows, burlesque performances, plays and more also planned to happen across their many stages, it looks like a good day out and for further info visit tanglewoodmusic.co.uk.

 

Keeping proceedings in a festival-vein, June 16 sees the return of the Junk Yard festival in the Tunnel Bar, Portadown. Headlined by well thought of reggae type Natty Wailer, homegrown acts such as Trucker Diablo, the previous mentioned Gascan Ruckus, Wookalily, Microlip and more are on the bill and you can purchase tickets (which, at the time of going to press are TBC) from all Ticketmaster outlets.

 

Next, I thought I’d turn your attention to a new EP that came out at the start of the year which was tellingly titled ‘Rock Road’ by Belfast-based trio Tric. Full of swaggering, skyscraper-sized blues-influenced raunch ‘n’ roll, the record is full of tales of scandalous behaviour (‘Virgin On The Verge,’ ‘M.I.L.F.’) and it’s all delivered with vocals which channel the late, great Bon Scott courtesy of singer Dale Hunter. If you’re a fan of Rose Tattoo, Acca Dacca and Airbourne then you should check them out facebook.com/tricrock.

 

Finally, I’ve just enough room to list some of the latest additions for Glasgowbury in Eagle’s Rock, Co., Derry. Joining headliners Therapy? are Mojo GoGo, Intermission, Droids plus a shedload more and for a complete list of the acts taking place on July 21 visit glasgowbury.com.





Hot Press NI Special Out Now

29 06 2012

Yes Broskis and, um, Lady Broskis, this fortnight’s issue of Hot Press is an NI special and there’s a veritable rake of good stuff in there.I’ve interviewed INXS singer Ciaran Gribbin, the Japanese Popstars, Third Bar Artist Development and Ladyhawke (she’s not from the Six Counties, but sure let’s pretend she is, wha?), reviewed Blink 182’s Belfast debut and there’s a shed-load of other stuff in there too.There’s also a free CD, it’s a mere £2 and there’s a photo of some dude in a Smoking Hearts tee in there too.P-p-p-p-p-pick it up!





News From The North 103

12 06 2012

Here’s a reprint of my NI music news column that runs in Hot Press every fortnight.

News

Words: Edwin McFee

Over the last few months music lovers in the north have been treated to a veritable treasure trove of ear-gasm inducing line-up announcements from various festivals dotted all around the six counties. With Pigstock, Stendhal and more really stepping up and putting together some great bills, many people were left wondering what the grand-daddy of them all that is Glasgowbury would had in store this year. Well, ponder no more loyal readers, as Paddy Glasgow and his team have proved once again that they’ve got more surprises up their sleeve than Paul Daniels and this year’s bash is looking like it’ll be the best yet.

Taking place in Eagle’s Rock, Co. Derry on July 21, the headliners will be none other than NI national treasures Therapy? and this writer couldn’t be happier to see one of the north’s most iconic and important bands close proceedings in style. Also on the bill are the Japanese Popstars, LaFaro, Our Krypton Son, the Wonder Villains, Farriers and a veritable shed-load more and you can view the up to date line-up on glasgowbury.com. Tickets for the festival are on sale now via www.hmvtickets.com and are priced at £40 for the Bear Grylls types among you who want to camp and £30 for general admission.

Speaking of Farriers, the well thought of alt country/Americana/roots/Irish trad types are currently gearing up to release their debut album ‘Years Ago In Our Backyard’ on May 27. Elephant minded readers will remember we told you that the band opted to fund the record by offering bespoke packages such as signed albums and one-off performances etc to their fans in return for their moolah (as part of the Pledge scheme) and the tactic paid off in spades as they raised £4445 in total. Featuring ten tracks of sweet and tender tune-age, Farriers officially launch the opus with a gig in the Black Box, Belfast on May 27 with special guests, Gareth Dunlop and Three Blind Wolves. For more information visit farriers.bandcamp.com.

Finally this issue, the always incendiary Bee Mick See is releasing his debut album ‘Tales Of Self Preservation Gone Wrong’ on May 25 and if you’re a fan of super-charged, punk infused hip hop then you should check it out. The rapper launches the album in the Hudson, Belfast on May 25 and gig attendees will receive a code to download the record for free so make sure you head down. The video for his beyond awesome new single ‘Punk Hoplican Dissidents’ can be viewed at youtube.com/watch?v=6x_MDt2QFy4.