Interview: Vicky Langan

I’m delighted this is finally online – an interview I did with my friend Vicky Langan (performance artist/experimental musician/event curator) about her work and inspiration. I’ve been really curious for a long time about what motivates her, so it was great to get to chat about it. After we did the interview, we took some photos outside in the back garden – the treacle was her idea and it worked out so, so well despite my nerves. I’m really proud of these photos. Advertisements Continue reading Interview: Vicky Langan

Focus on: Stop/Run

It never fails to amaze me how many people are creating beautiful, challenging and eye-opening music in Ireland. And in turn, it never fails to amaze me how many people get up off their arses and put on unusual gigs, or unique events, simply with the aim of bringing new sounds to people and exploring the realms of music and performance. There’s a real feeling in the air these days when it comes to Irish music events that if you can imagine it, it is possible. And this is being exploited in a wonderful way by those who call Ireland’s … Continue reading Focus on: Stop/Run

Focus on Galway: Us vs Them & the city’s hardcore scene

For part three of my Focus on Galway series (which is an extension of my recent article on Galway for The Ticket in The Irish Times), I have a longer interview with Daniel Hielscher, the man behind Us vs Them. He has brought countless hardcore bands to the city as well as playing in Only Fumes and Corpses and Neifenbach.

It was great to find out more about the hardcore scene, which is very much focused on DIY – so much so that one of the city’s bands have bought a vinyl pressing machine so they can press their own records.

It was really interesting to hear about the changes that have been taking place in the hardcore scene in Galway. (And by extension punk and metal; though the scenes are not the same, they share common members and elements – for the sake of not confusing readers, I’ll use ‘hardcore’ in this piece).

With many of the original members of the hardcore scene from the past two decades now in their thirties and forties, people are moving on in life, and for a lot of people this includes moving away from being a regular part of that scene. With families, jobs and other commitments, it’s not always possible for people to play in bands or get to as many gigs.

But Daniel told me that as some people are moving away from the scene, a younger group is moving into it, including teens who are themselves forming bands and getting gigging. Every ‘scene’ will naturally evolve and this is a particularly crucial time for the hardcore folks in Galway, as the younger members will feed off the guidance and example shown by the older men and women who’ve done it all before them.

Galway needs people like Daniel and Us vs Them, along with the many hardcore bands of all descriptions that play in the city, and the other promoters and gig-goers who help keep the hardcore flames burning.

*****

Us Vs Them

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Focus on Galway: Citóg gigs

For part two of my closer look at the Galway music scene, we turn to Citóg, a gig night that proudly proclaims itself the ‘home of Galway music’. One essential part of a local music scene is having a place for musicians to play gigs – somewhere that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to book, or is free to play, or pays a few quid to the bands involved. Galway has had a number of nights throughout the years – including Stress!!, which was run by Tony Higgins, Jonny White and Garret Collins – and the latest is Citóg. … Continue reading Focus on Galway: Citóg gigs

Focus on Galway: Rusted Rail, Brigid Power Ryce, So Cow & Yawning Chasm

Ah, Galway. I’ve had visions of this little city running through my head for the past few weeks, all because of a series of interviews I did for the Irish Times‘ music supplement The Ticket a few weeks ago. The article came out yesterday – you can read it here – but due to word counts I simply couldn’t include everything I spoke to people about.

Usually that’s not an issue – I’ve worked in this business long enough to know you just have to forget about what you cut to make your word count, like scraps of scribbled-on paper thrown in a bin. It’s just part of the job.

But I enjoyed doing these interviews so much, and felt so welcomed into the fold when I visited Galway, that I’ve decided to put some longer versions of these interviews on the blog. There is so much going on in Galway at the moment; for such a relatively small city there are great little pockets of people working away at their music, putting on gigs in their own homes, setting up nights to bring more Irish music to the city, even buying their own vinyl-pressing machines so they can press their own records.

Yet at the same time, Galway isn’t necessarily the place people flock to for gigs – except for the Roisin Dubh, which has a fantastic reputation in Ireland and abroad, people don’t tend to visit the West for gigs unless for special occasions, like the upcoming Galway Arts Festival. This can be reflected in the audience numbers at the smaller local gigs, where I’d venture they don’t always get full houses.

Will Oldham playing the Roisín Dubh a few years ago

While not having a jammed-to-the-rafters gig doesn’t indicate that your gig is of a low quality, people can get discouraged when they feel that their work is being taken for granted. It’s great to have your work acknowledged and to feel that you are making a contribution to the local ‘scene’ or scenes, even on a very small scale.

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New Independent Record Store: Wingnut Records, Galway

If you’re in Galway and in the mood to buy some records, you now have a new independent record store to visit – following the closure of Redlight Records a few years back, and the recent liquidation of the Zhivago Records chain , Wingnut Records is the newest local record store on the block. (There is also HMV, but that’s not an independent store). Wingnut is based in Bell Book & Candle, which is a treasure trove with lots classic books and old VHS tapes – I’d highly recommend a visit there. I used to go to Bell, Book & … Continue reading New Independent Record Store: Wingnut Records, Galway