Whelans, March 20th 2010 w/Seadog and Patrick Kelleher

watch the omens, my son, and rejoice, for if those omens are of the shit nature, then a great gig thou shalt have. It’s a logic as old as my socks, that for a while didn’t matter, as there were too many gigs, or too many omens, or all the gigs were shit regardless, or something. But as we manged to mangle every single, minutest aspect of the soundcheck and load in and the minutiae of getting shit together, it boded well, obviously. Right? I mean, we got away with it. From trying to get a sneaky extra hour in the studio to work on a part of a song we rewrote in a conversation, and failing as someone shouldn’t have expected someone else to be getting text messages as they were in bed having gotten in at 7 in the morning, to Paul being held up and arriving late to find that the rest of us had somehow forgotten his stage Roland to having to put back the soundcheck so John could go and get some gear that had gone missing to Vinnie’s usage of an amp head that he was at that moment introduced to trying to run through a fix in a song that most of us were hearing for the first time it was all a catalogue of reckless amateurism that filled me with joy. If the easy bit has gone so terrible wrong, and yet right (we finished the soundcheck eventually, to a certain amount of satisfaction) then the gig is bound to be a success…..right? Right?

As i stood there watching the excellent support from Pk and Seadog among not many people i thought that it had finally caught up on us, and we were finally fucked. The gammy soundcheck just the precursor to a night of biblically awful proportions. But it wasn’t, it was the opposite. it was a fucking terrific night. We played a song that was 28 minutes long (at least). our set, just over an hour, consisted of 3 numbers. And people seemed to like that. It felt pretty fucking good. It felt like a return to something.

Now, if we could just master the tiny art of getting to and from a venue with a bag of stuff, we’d be fucking sorted. But then, if it were easy, we’d get bored.

Some photos here

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Saturday, 14th march, 2009, Andrews Lane

A nice stroll in the park before soundcheck

A nice stroll in the park before soundcheck

We were apprehensive about this, given our previous excursions. We wondered were we simply good enough to do this at all. After all the pain and disappointment of before, we wondered whether or not we in fact wanted to do this. But we did, and once Ronaldo scored that peno we thought, fuck it, here we go again. But we didn’t go again, not into that bleak dark hole of acceptance, like most who travail on the Old Trafford turf.  It’s was a glorious concoction, and one that set up the day rather beautifully.

As Liverpool are twatting United, Rovers have a stadium, we’re in the midst of a recession and numpties with salted peanuts for brains are shooting soldiers in “Ulster”, we’ve clearly gone back to the 1980’s, so bearing that in mind, we now sport 4 keyboards on stage. Next it’ll be neon and leg warmers, and one hopes, emigration. Our set tonight was mostly new stuff, out of necessity, out of self preservation. We got a very positive reaction, which helps us as we meander forward. We’re operating as a seven piece now, deciding not to replace our two recently departed comrades. (Mick and Jurgen). So no more classical music. And no more leather pants. It’s like that bit in Spinal Tap where David, heavily sedated, says to Marty “You know how many people have been in this band over the years? 37 people”. Well, not bad, but not a patch on reality. I hope we’re done with that now, but i think it says something that 5 of us were in Das Madman together, last millennium, and here we still are, banging our heads. Off the wall. The same wall.

Anyway, this gig wasn’t about us, although it was good to be playing again, and even better to be doing so in fromt of a packed house, this was about trying to do something to help Road Records, which i hope we have done. All of us, that is. And now we can go and amuse ourselves by working out why it all went wrong in the first place.

17th Sept, 2008, Wilde On

In the past I’ve used Oscar as an oblique chat up line, sitting on my own in the utter darkness of the Olympic Ballroom, reading a small, tiny-texted leather bound copy of the complete works. “What are you reading” asks the hapless girl who wanders into my the realm of my pruning perusal. “Oh. Oscar Wilde.” You know, cos I’m sensitive. Look at me. in the dark, squinting to read the deeds of Lord Savile and his various cronies, which i can’t because it’s pitch fucking dark and the text is, as I’ve said, tiny. That’s how desperate i am to avoid dancing to Temple of Love for the twentieth time that night. In fact I’m so sensitive i light a fag and put it out on my knuckle and said lady wanders off wondering to herself, what kind of tit brings a book to a disco. A sensitive tit. Go out with me. Just for a year.

True story. Here’s another. When given the “Theme of Oscar Wilde box” we didn’t so much think outside it, as tear of a tiny bit and staple it to an already in concoction piece we were, uh, concocting. Paul alluded to Oscar’s much vaunted love of Krautrock, and undoubtedly he have been thrilled with the approximation we did last night. It’s still a work in progress, and testament to our ever variable writing process (it grew out of a jam), the bit Oscar would have loved was the vocoder rendering of his words at the end. I like the vocoder, i initially thought, oh oh, MogwaislashCher comparisons, but it’s actually pretty cool. It’s like voice wah. I suppose if we knew how to operate it properly you’d hear more than just what sounds like a robot having a wank, but why would we want to, if the masturbating maladroit mandroids petit mort sounds so delectable.

Anyway, the rest of the night Oscar was done proud, though i doubt he would have had the patience to stick around (assuming his manager hadn’t already canceled his appearance, of course), especially once he found out that there was no free absinthe backstage. He’d have pissed all over his own purple shoes in rage, and stormed off in a huff. I did similarly.

P.s. it’s good we only played for 7 minutes, if this is anything to go by.

6th September, 2008, Glor, Ennis

Rudimentary geography isn’t something that dominates discussion in Chez Jimmy, and it was noticeable by it’s absence as Michael “Mick” Fleming turned up 2 minutes before stage time having driven all the way from Schull, on the edge of Ireland, down the many tiny, pocked roads that comprised the majority of the 200km required to make the journey. 3 and one half hours was apparently not enough time to be comfortable. You see, we learn, as an organ, we grow, we absorb information, and now, we absorb geography. And you can rest assured such an under taking won’t be undertook any time soon. This parable will serve as a reminder, stuck as it is here, on t’internet, for all eternity.

A rudimentary grasp of geography was also required to navigate around the huge stage. A stage on which the sound eddied and swirled like so many tiny whirls in the Mighty Shannon ™ as it snaked it’s inky black hips past Jurgens house later that very night, where we were indulging a Mesuggah disco and getting righteously merry. But before that we had to traverse the peaks and troughs of a stage sound that required our ears have the very latest in mountaineering equipment. I’m afraid on occasion we’ll slipped, those tiny crevices of aural lucidity we had our ears jammed into came and went. Splat, a performance, shredded on the crags. So bless those hearty souls who extended us the lifebouys of their patience. Thank you people, thank you.

Festival life, July 2008

And they would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for us meddlin kids.

And they would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for us meddlin kids.

To celebrate our being asked to play at the Transmission festival in Kufstien, Austria, and subsequently being told, with three days notice and nearly 3 grands worth of nonrefundable plane tickets, that the show was now a no-go, some of us, hardened by age and cynicism and thus able to absorb this disappointment, hopped a plane to travel about the alps in search of a decent pint and more’s the point, the Perfect Schnitzel. During this sojourn we hoped to perhaps learn something of ourselves, each other, the way of the schnitzel and to quell the inner monologue urging one to seek out and exact revenge for this latest, wallet annihilating slight.

It started well enough, with our resident Deutschophone Jurgen bargaining us a hire car by putting on a lamentable little boys voice and saying “for only 50 extra euros we could have had a GERMAN car.” The frau took pity on us, perhaps reading in our faces the recent hurt of a 3 grand excision, and avanti! we were off, into the Burg of Munich, in search of a bed, pint and the first of many Schnitzels.

The first schnitzel encountered was outside Jurgens hotel, and it wasn’t bad, although it was turkey, and this is a schnitzel so-so, according to our Teutonic captain. I chose a rather nice Dunkel to accompany my dinner, it was full flavoured and fruity on the nose, a good beer. The second, equally magnificent. And so on. It was warm and the air around us had never tasted the sea, it sat heavy and grainy and unmoving. It wasn’t bad. We travelled around looking for interesting bars, but every we went seemed to be closing, or playing euro-trance. In booze desperation John asked some random Munchener who was leaving a bar that was also, exasperatingly, closing early (it was about 11.30. On a Friday night!) Oh sure, says our new cohort, there’s a place just around the corner, so gleefully we followed him down Hamlins tiny streets, like so many rats. The place he led us to was called Fan Arena, which is a shit name, and had a Bayern Munich crest on the window. So maybe we can talk football, or something, eh? I entered after Vin and John who stood there in front of me, looking around. The barman came from behind his bar to stop me from going further. “Private Party” he said. “You can’t come in”

“I just want a scoop” I attempted to argue, to no avail. Meanwhile John and Vinnie made their way back toward me, quicksmart. “lets go.” Turns out it was a private party. A private Nazi party if you will, full of skinheads and tattoos and slogans on posters that you didn’t need to be necessarily fluent in German to understand, such is the universality of the language of hate. We hopped it, but our random friend who had led us to this den of iniquity wanted to argue the toss with the bar man and his cuddly looking sidekick. “Assholes! We just want a drink”, as bearla as well, if you don’t mind. Eh, it’s grand, we insist, we weren’t that thirsty anyway.

Luckily for us, we found ourselves standing right outside our hotel, and next to the hotel there was a much more welcoming establishment, that had beer and ashtrays and a bar woman who poured herself a generous helping of red wine everytime some body ordered a drink. Which was often. A regular, who collapsed into a somnamulistic heap on the bar at about 3 in the morning, made us look good. At least we weren’t bathing in our own drool. Not yet anyway.

April 18th, Button Factory, Dublin

Album release night. Black ties, bubbly sipped from flutes, elegant ladies and drug dealers.

Last time i was in here, it was an entirely different place. nice job, they have done. It’s plush and clean and apparently no longer sounds like Jonah listening to Merzbox in the belly of an aluminum whale.

Have you ever seen these two men in the same room?

Have you ever seen these two men in the same room?

We have six extra musicians, who haven’t practiced with us, as per usual. it wouldn’t be fun were it not precipiced nicely on the cusp of disaster. But they’re pros, they can read dots, thank god. Mick can talk dots now that he’s a qualified “conductor”. (“25pee” i said to him, “as i am going to the Malahide road to school.” I did not of course. Mick is not to be trifled with, haven’t you seen dead mans shoes?) How it all sounded, i couldn’t tell you, cos i couldn’t hear them from where i was. Where was i? Planet fucking funk, la.

Marvelous time had by us, fraught by worry before hand, so many doubts creeping in. Does anyone care? does anyone like us? Is there any point going on? Apparently there is.

Last night Parx and Paul did the radio with Aoife. I didn’t listen cos it can’t be any use if i’m not actually there, right. I’m sure it’s all lies.

Friday, Sept 28, 2007, Tripod

HWCH (that’s Hard Working Class Heroes (which makes fuck all sense to me, is it Hard-workin, class heroes? Are we Class? or Class heroes? or working class? how many of our ilk went to Trinity college? far to many to be bleeding working class… anyway)

We’re headlining the first night, which is testament to the high regard in which we are held in this city and it’s scene, even without a record for 5 years. Either that or it’s testament to the fact there was nobody else. I’m betting it was the latter. I mean, former. Anyway, if we weren’t offered money, which, as we’ve entered the mastering stage of record production, we most assuredly need, we would have said no thanks, because we’re not working class, or class, or hard working, or heroes, in any sense(s) of the word(s). But we’ve proven before, time and time again, that we’re available for a price, as the currency of mere kudo and it’s inherit penurious existence no disks makes, ya k’na, la’?

Anyway, the gig was awful. At least from our end. On stage we couldn’t hear a thing, the monitors were all over the place, so much so, i couldn’t hear the drums, John couldn’t hear me, we started songs, and came in in the wrong place. it was held together by gossamer thin tendrils of self-preservation and the last vestiges of robotik-knowhow the last few years of grinding song-writery had yet to eliminate. At least, we thought, the sound out front should be good. Alas no, some ne’er do well had scratched all our settings from the digital desk, meaning when Viv hit the recall button, nothing happened, not a fader moved, and he pretty much had to improvise the sound. So it ended up being work. hard work. not class, and pretty much devoid of heroes.

Wasn’t all bad, though. And here’s some class pictures of the whole event, including some of us. We’re not photogenic, so thanks kDamo, for being gentle. Meanwhile, Hot Press, never afraid to shy away from difficult questioning posits thus: How kooky are we?

Doppleganger curse: Alex couldn’t make soundcheck, but as we stood on the stage painstakingly going through the rigmarole, ultimately pointlessly of course, both me and Lisa swear we saw him walk into the venue, and then head toward the stage door. There’s Alex i thought. Nope. A ghost. A harbinger. A doom merchant. Look out for them.