Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Gig Diary from one of our first gigs as a 4 piece

I have a few gig and tour diaries that I wrote years ago when I had a bit more time and a few less kids. I'm going to put a few up on the blog as I dig them out.

, what a wild fucking place. The first gig we played there was out of control and ended at noon the next day in a field in the middle of nowhere. The Leechrum festival was even wilder. Starting and ending in that same field. Playing to naked punks at 5 in the evening with Gaz so stocious that the songs became a stream of consciousness rant more akin to Ulysses than Ray Davies. Three days of mayhem pure and simple. So heading back to Sligo promised to be a treat. We ran into Jasper at one of our gigs in Dublin and he asked us to come back up and play in the Trades Club again. Gigs outside of town are always more fun, you don't have to go home afterwards to your regular life. And another gig as a four piece which is a different vibe. There's a lot of us now. Three guitars sticking out of bags. It just feels different especially when we are traveling together. I really loved being in a three piece for some reason. A power trio. Minimalist. But the music comes first and it sounds better with the four of us.

Everybody nearly missed the train except me. I got in a shower over at Sarah's as my bathroom only consisted of a toilet in the middle of the sitting room. And a lift to the station. The train was smooth. Gaz was the only one that brought beer, so it was mellow. Yeat's Country is beautiful country, it has to be said. It just gets more extreme the farther west you go. It looks like it has been scraped and pushed and pulled in different directions. Odd looking lumps loom out of flat fields. Hills rise straight up into plateaus that stretch on for miles. Golden and rocky, they make for an amazing background to a quaint little village by the sea.

That contrasts somewhat with the town itself. Sligo looks nice enough. It has a nice area down by the river and they have obviously spruced it up with a lick of paint and a few nice restaurants. But it's a tough fucking town. It's like so many small towns in Ireland. There are countless really tough small towns in Ireland. We grabbed a bit of food and a few cans and headed down to the river. Shot the shit and passed the time, then headed to the pub for the Ireland World Cup Qualifier match. It would be useful to know if the punters were going to be in a good or a bad mood later. It was a shit match, but Ireland won.

The first band were deadly. Kids playing metal. They started with a Slayer/Metallica medley and played large portions of Motorhead's back catalogue. Their average age was literally 15, I asked them later. They were great though, good to see kids giving it loads. The next band was a 25 piece samba percussion group. Marching band style. They were great even if they were too serious to appreciate Gary's antics.

We played one of our better gigs ever. We were tight and had great energy. We didn't have any silence during the gig. Just the added feedback of the extra amp fills a bit of space. It gave me hope that the GGI wasn't just a fluke and that we were actually improving. And we just sound so much better with 2 guitars.

The crowd loved it. We are always so well received down the country. We do well in Dublin, but the country people just seem to enjoy the gigs so much more. I spent most of the rest of the gig out on the fire escape drinking tins with the kids.

Getting more beer to take back to the party turned into a lot of hassle and even more cash, but it was sorted and besides Tommy falling down the stairs and completely hobbling himself, it was into the Taxi and off to Dessie's. No problem. The taxi driver said he'd never drive by anyone carrying instruments and not pick them up. Up to Dessie's, which was now in the middle of nowhere, and of course Dessie had fallen asleep in his house. We couldn't wake him to let us in no matter what we did. We could see him through the back door, we could hear him snore, heard his phone ringing, but no movement. Jasper handed me a shovel and showed me how to pry the wood off one of the windows in the back of the house. No problem on that and I was in. I must say at this point, that I knew that Dessie had neighbours very close and I guessed that they probably lived in the other half of the house. So as I was walking through the pitch black back of the house, I was sure that I was going to run into an old woman in a terry cloth robe wielding a rolling pin. Once I found the sitting room, though, it became obvious that I was in Dessie's. Records everywhere and newspaper sopping up recently spilled beer. Round to the front door, turned the latch and we were all in.

We were keeping it very mellow. We had even talked Gaz into keeping the stereo down, which is usually virtually impossible. It didn’t take long for the stereo to edge up to a respectable level. Easy to hear, easy to talk. Then things got tricky. Dessie's girl Nessa is friends with a very camp gay guy from Hawaii. American guy from Hawaii, not that it matters. I heard him ask Jasper at the gig if he could come back to the house for a few drinks and Jasper definitely made it clear not to bring people back. No more than 2 anyways. So your man showed up at about 4 with 6 surfer dudes. Dessie went mad. He just started screaming at your man to get the Fuck out. Some of the lads came in cracked open a few tins, the rest stayed outside, I'd guess trying to see the lay of the land. Dessie was having none of it. He didn't want all of those people he didn't know in his house. It didn't matter that Nessa had invited them all and that she'd be home soon. Dessie's has that kind of aggro/sloppy drunk thing going. It doesn't help that his nose has definitely been spread across his face a few times in his life. Things took a turn for the worse when he grabbed the hatchet. It wasn't really a hatchet so much as a three-quarter sized axe. He was swinging it around as he kept screaming at your man to get the fuck out. The surfers had already legged it outside. Everybody was trying to calm Dessie down, but he couldn't hear or see anyone except the Hawaiian. He was too drunk to actually hit your man with the hatchet and he probably wouldn't. None-the-less, as soon as he dropped the axe, I grabbed it and hid it. It was all like watching a really mad movie. It didn't really seem like it was happening. I get that a lot. I read somewhere that moving to another country is like getting a free ticket. Nothing ever seems real. You can kind of look in in a way that you couldn't at home.

It was at this point that Conzo, on his second trip away with the band and undoubtedly a bit surprised by the evenings festivities, legged it off to bed. The Hawaiian had hung on to wait for Nessa, the rest had seen enough. Nessa came back and the music went all the way up. The party really picked up and rocked for a while. I did the math and figured that there couldn't be enough beds for everybody. I took my leave and after finding somone sleeping on the floor of an absolutely baltic room with wood half covering the absent windows, found a lovely warm room with glass in the windows, a bed and a sleeping bag. Score. Me sorted.

That was at 6. At 8-30, I woke up to the realisation that Gaz was sleeping on top of me. It was a single bed and he'd kind wedged himself between the wall and me. What an unbelievable snore. Snorting and sputtering. Every minute or so it sounded as if all of his breathing had stopped for a split second and then spent the next 5 trying to make up the time. After a while I had to move to the floor. I had managed to get into the sleeping bag so that was my own. I must have lay there for a few hours drifting in and out of sleep. The way that you think that you haven't gotten any more sleep, but time has passed so quickly that you must have. I got up and stumbled around the house. Tommy was of course sleeping in the most uncomfortable position possible. Basically doubled over in an armchair with a blanket wrapped around his neck. Cans littered every flat surface and newspaper stuck to my feet with every step I took. I took refuge in the kitchen and made myself a cup of tea. I was almost immediately followed in by Gaz who turned The Exploited up to ten and grabbed a can of Guinness out of the fridge.

Dessie came out a while later and re-assumed his sloppy/aggro thing. He was pissed that the music was so loud, but got even more pissed off when I offered to turn it down. He gave out that Gaz was drinking his Guinness and grabbed the can off him. Gaz responded by opening a new can and drinking that. Gaz cajoled Dessie into chilling out. Gaz can calm people down by calling them names and telling them they're not punk rock. It only works for him, let me assure you. I busied myself making toast and tea for people as they woke up. I wanted to make sure that we didn't miss the train and I wanted a bit of food, so I arranged transport and we headed into town. The last image I have of that house is Dessie and Gaz locked in an professional wrestling style embrace, both with one hand on the last can of Guinness in the house, both trying to wrestle the last half of the can into their mouth.

The surfer lads had left Jasper a present on the doors of his car in the shape of two boot prints complete with large dents in the fenders. Jasper wasn't impressed and I’m sure he was glad to be getting rid of us so that he could relax a bit. He's a great promoter because he always looks after the bands. He looks after whatever he can and he works really hard.

So it was into the pub for a pint, next door for a couple of sambos and then onto the train. Tommy tried to make a run to the off-license for the way home, but had to pull up lame half way there. His leg was looking pretty broken, his limp complemented by a drunken hangover meant that he was lucky to make the train period. Gaz tried to make a run as well, but left it too late and could only get a bottle of wine. They both made the train with seconds to spare, but we were all on.

Gaz had no corkscrew so he pushed the cork in with a key. It opened the bottle, but every time he tried to take a gulp, the cork would re-adhere itself in the neck of the bottle. So he had to push it with his finger and drink the wine that flowed around his digit. It did the trick, but not without spraying wine all over his face. He looked absolutely demented. After about an hour, he fucked off to the jacks. Thankfully, he got lost and ended up passing out for the remainder of the journey in someone else's seat.
As we pulled into town, Gaz reappeared. Rolled a smoke and brazenly smoked it out in the open. He was taking a long drag off the fag, pressing himself against the dividing window and giving us the finger when he was caught by the conductor. After numerous threats of arrest, the conductor realised Gary was mental and his threats were falling on deaf ears.

Conzo got the DART out to pick up his son as soon as we got off of the train and I headed out of the station. It was taking Gaz and Tommy ages. Gaz was holding Tommy up with one hand and drinking a beer he had mysteriously just found. Tommy's leg was fucked and they were giggling like a couple of idiots. I'd had enough and grabbed Gary's bike and headed home to a bit of sanity and a bit of peace and quiet.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

2008 interview with CONNECTED Online Magazine

The following is an interview we did with Fenster for Connected Online Magazine in December 2008.

When one is the furore of youth, rocking comes almost as second nature, one has the freedom and proclivity to devote large swathes of time to this most fundamental of activities. As one progresses in years, the periods allotted to this endeavour can be impeded by the urgency of “other stuff”. Rocking is still a priority but becomes part of a time managed schedule, balancing the rocking against the ever demanding “other stuff”.

The years pass and the rocking becomes more and more marginalised, until one faithful day the rocking falls off the radar and the “other stuff” lays claim to ones entire life, alas we rock no more. Thankfully one band are around to buck this trend, nada, zilch, nil, not children or mortgages or marriages, nothing, is going to stand in the way of Dublin’s finest street punks Moutpiece, when it comes to ROCKING THE FUCK OUT!!!

Just glancing at the cover of their recently released, eponymous, debut album, a semi naked Adonis like character stands resplendent, with guitar, in his underwear outside a fruit market, tells you in no uncertain terms, a good time is about to be had.

It’s one of those, straight for the jugular, no messing about, 12 songs in 25 minutes, tales of excess and debauchery direct from the society’s underbelly, kind of affairs. Marvel as the band lay down their modus operandi in “Out of our Heads Again” and “Battle Hymn of the Alcoholic (Part 2)”

Speculate as to the identity of the enigmatic “Tony Delaroni”, consider the antics laid down in “Gary”, and simply be in awe of “24 Stella”, the greatest tune written in honour of an off licence special offer that has ever and will ever exist. All ushered in by blistering guitar, low slung bass, resounding drums and played with an energy and passion that rarely makes an appearance in this day and age. It’s quite simply one of the finest records you’ll hear all year. Gaz – lead guitar and vocals - and Derek aka The Yank – drums – tell it how to do it right.

So, how’s it going?
G: Thanks for asking. Well to be honest, I am just over the worst dose of the scutters I've ever had. And as a matter of fact, there was an article about it in a recent Sunday Times. Well, not my arse exactly, but there was an article that said all the Holy Joe's who brought their sick mates to Lourdes copped a load of the winter vomiting bug and transported it back to digestive systems around the Finglas area. Cheers lads.

So how did it all begin?
D: It all started in the long hot hazy summer of 'O2. After a stint living in the States, on a complete wobbler, Gary returned home and the wobbler intensified dramatically. This was when I met him and we got a band together after he played me a couple of tunes he'd come up with, on a two string guitar in my front room after about 16 cans. I could see the potential, we went for it.

And how did the legend progress?
D: Subsequently, we looked around for a bass player and that took, what at the time, felt like fucking ages. Initially, Conzo was on bass, which was great because he would give the band a bit of extra gravitas with his unkempt hair and nonchalant swagger. But due to prior commitments, being a total ledgebag with the legendary Female Hercules, he kept turning up late for practice. So we asked Tommy Trousers, of legendary hardcore crust band Killercrust and even more legendary hardcore crust operators, Brawl, to step in on bass axe and provide that solid backbone we so desperately needed to solidify our position as the anti-crust messiahs.

It all came together nicely then and before we knew it we were playing our first sold out gig in THE LEGENDARY Mother Redcaps and from then on we've literally done a good few gigs. A few good gigs mind you. Later on, Conzo rejoined on rhythm guitar. We've been together for a few years now, ramshackle bastards to it man, but somehow we keep managing to up the ante musically, even though we never practice and spend most of our time on the internet. But we have a core belief that anything that comes this easy can't be bad. Like, man we are DOING it, there was something like 48 people at our last show and we are only going 6 years. That's some progress isn't it?

Who’s running things?
D: To be perfectly honest, if it wasn't for me there'd be no band. The other three do whatever I tell them. That's not necessarily true. For instance, Tommy Trousers doesn't listen to a word I say, although I was best man at his wedding, in his speech he mentioned the band, which was nice. And as for that way out Conzo fella, I don't know how he can afford to go to pubs so much. And Gary's usually locked enough to agree to virtually anything whether he likes it or not, which is handy. Oh yeah. I play the drums and I'm from America. Portland Oregon, big town but you wouldn't think it.

Describe the band’s sound?

G: It's scuzzy punk sounds, obviously, played by experts, but not in a wanky kind of way. Suffice to say, we're all about the hardcore rock and roll, four to the floor, let's go, took too much acid, shouldn't have had that last pint of turps, can't skin up cos I'm too greasy, devil horns in the nip, stereo up to 90, neighbours going mental, good times.

If Moutpiece were a global multinational company, what would its mission statement be?
G: Don't JUST DO IT, just talk about doing it.

Tell us about getting the album together?
D: We used to practice for ages in Estel's practice room and it was cool. We had a list on the wall with 60 song titles on it which were eventually honed down to the 12 on the album. Gary would be the first to admit that all of these 60 songs were absolute classics, but he would also be the first to admit that he's got a drink habit that skews his judgement. Another factor in the conception of the album was that fact that we stopped practicing there and never took the list with us. And therefore we forgot most of the tunes except the chosen few.

And the recording process itself?
D: We ended up getting friendly with a great band called Kidd Blunt, two of whom, Eoin Whitfield and James Eager, are not only deadly musicians, but also sound blokes and stunning sound engineers who could record the shit out of anything.
After a lot of agonised head scratching about who we should get to master the record, James emailed us and said that it was done, don't worry about it. We didn't worry about it so, had faith in the lad and went ahead and got it pressed in GZ, which is in the Czech Republic and was a complete pain in the bollocks.
The iconic images for the sleeve were conceptualised by Conzo and executed by a couple of hot chicks with an umbrella and a fancy pants camera. HMD helped out with doing the writing on the sleeve. Fair fucks to him. Kid on the way and all.

The album has been out for a few month’s now, how has it been received?
D: I'll tell it like it is. Remember those 48 people I mentioned earlier...they all think it's deadly. There are another couple of hundred people that feel they don't know me well enough to just come up and tell me how good it is, so they must think it's brilliant. We've gotten extensive airplay on 2FM and Dublin City FM 103, ganzy loads of hits on youtube and I play it whenever I've been drinking. It's all going very well. Dave in Road Records is sending his kid to college on the back of this record.

What’s the bleeding story with the jocks?
G: It's very simple. Being the brains of the operation, and personally possessing a profound belief in the uncompromising kick arsing-attitude of the record, I was racking me brain for a way to spread the word and get a few bods checking the music. I'm an internet junky and, amongst other things, I like drinking in the daytime. Unfortunately, I have a full time job as a career guidance counsellor for the local girls school so if I get a chance to let my hair down, especially if my daughter’s having her afternoon nap, I like to do something creative. So, one Saturday I danced around the kitchen in me jocks in time to 24 Stella and lashed it up on YOUTUBE. I didn’t know it was gonna end up being viewed by thousands of people all over the world!

We were brainstorming one night about the album sleeve and Conzo, in a moment of clarity, came up with the Ziggy Stardust-esque image of me standing, looking sexy, in me jocks, on a rainy Tuesday, off Capel Street. So the jocks now have a life of their own, I tried later to sell them on e-bay as rock memorabilia and was sent a warning from e-bay admin that the sale of both used underwear and erotica was forbidden under the terms of service and that any further infringements would result in suspension of my account. And would you believe it, I was bid €52 before the plug was pulled. The jocks are no longer for sale.

Moutpiece are youtube video heroes, what’s the story behind them?
G: Right, the first one was me in a shower cap in front of a big tie dyed sheet with the contrast turned up full. The second, I’ve told you about already. The third one was me in me jocks on mushrooms and Buckfast on a mountain in Sligo. The fourth one is me with a pair of tights on me head and white overalls dancing with me dog in me kitchen. What’s not to become an internet sensation about!?!

What’s “The Frog” all about? – carousing garage rock tune with the lyrics “this is the place where the flies come to die”.
G: It is a biographical tale of my time living with – Kaboogie resident - DJ PCP. We lived in this mad gaff on Parnell St. in what is now Dublin’s Asian quarter. Well, PCP is one of the craziest mongos you could ever share a gaff with. It was basically just one small room, mine, and one giant room with the decks next to the sink, his bed next to the decks and a pig pile of stinky socks next to his head. I think the poor bastards downstairs would verify that the hoo-haa was relentless. It was in this pile of socks I got the inspiration for the song, just imagining a load of flies just going there to meet their demise.

Ask and answer you own question:
G: Who's got a head like a snooker ball? Tony Delaroni!!