Just got to hear an advance copy of the new Mahones album, Jameson Street, and it’s really impressive. In some regards it’s a throwback to the early Mahones releases and features multiple guests including Dave from the Peelers and Nick from the Dreadnoughts as well as members of the original legendary Mahones line-up. There is also a special treat on the album for Pogues fans.
Shite’n’Onions – First of all apologies for being so late to the game – I read a write up on you in London Celtic Punks a couple of months back and was so impressed by what I read that I ran out and bought your album “All Manner of Ways”. After a few spins, I really like it but I’m struggling to put a label on your sound. I hear outlaw or alt-country – you remind me of people like Townes Van Zandt and Blaze Foley, yet I also hear Christy Moore – it’s almost country with a Celtic soul. How would you describe your music and who influenced you?
Dylan – Yeah, Eddie & London-Celtic-Punks do great work in raising awareness for artists, glad to have had their support recently. You know yourself, most publicity is bought & paid for, so when people like yourselves reach out to an artist, on your own time, purely based on the fact that you’re actually interested in the artist & their work, well, it’s more of a genuine thing isn’t it? I’ve never paid for PR myself & I self released that record, so I expect it to continue to reach people as time rolls on, rather than it having reached a lot of people from the get-go. Naturally, when you first release a record, after all the hard work that goes into making it, you do what you can to get it heard. My drive for getting an album heard, is always geared towards the gigs. I’m a live artist, not so much a studio artist, so other than working on the songs themselves, I’m always thinking of the gigs. As much as that record is considered a studio album, my own performance is completely live on there, I didn’t use click tracks, headphones or overdubs or anything like that. I sat in the room, in front of a couple of mics & played the songs live. With having moved to Nashville from Dublin, via London, I did have distribution issues in getting hard copies across seas to folks, but we live in a digital age, so it was available to be listened to anyways. I’m sure all this played a part, in the album reaching people quite some time after its release, but a lot of new listeners found that album during the pandemic.
I guess All Manner Of Ways is the sound of my life’s journey. That album wasn’t designed with a certain audience in mind, like how a lot of genre based albums are. When other musicians join in on my songs, I only really know when it’s not right, which is more of a feel thing, I don’t to ask them to play a particular way. I’ve never had a contemporary sound either, so I think that record will always sit a little outside of whatever is current, ye know? Songs inspired me, not genres. In my formative years, I just followed the songs. I was brought up on Christy Moore & at that time, I wouldn’t have even known what a genre was. Of course, eventually, we learn more about the journey of songs & where they came from, which helps us to describe their sound, but artists like Townes & Blaze just had great songs & I believed them, that’s what was most important to me. Townes sang Dirty Old Town & Christy sang Song To Woody. A lot of the Irish folk song pioneers, of the 60s & 70s, were immersed in American song traditions in their formative years & of course, Irish music is a root of American Roots music, so I never really felt any restraints in that regard. It was immediately obvious to me, how connected it all was. Van Morrison would be the most obvious example of that. As soon as I became aware of genres & the likes, I knew the artists that communicated important things to me, wrote outside of those restraints. I enjoy the fact that you mentioned Celtic country here & that you came across me in a punk article. That makes me feel good. ‘Celtic soul got country’, we’ll go with that for All Manner Of Ways.
Shite’n’Onions – You are originally from Dublin and you followed the natural route of many Irish musicians to London but now you are based in Nashville. How did you end up in Nashville? I’ve been there a few times and it’s a culture shock to me (and I’ve been in Boston 25 years). How do they accept an Irish guy playing in Nashville? Is there a good alternative scene in Nashville (outside of Music Row and the Broadway Honkey Tonks?
Dylan – Yeah, I was born & raised in Loughlinstown, a very working class area on the south eastern outskirts of county Dublin. From an early age, I had a hunger to experience the diversity I imagined a big city would offer. By my late teens, I had my eye on New York, but I ended up in London instead. For the guts of ten years, I lived all over London, in places like Kentish Town, Crystal Palace, Tottenham, East Finchley, Acton & Forest Hill. I had arrived in London with a guitar & songs to sing, but it was during my London years, that I learned how to be a live solo performer. Towards the end of my time in London, I began to venture over to the continent of Europe, which led to me performing at Muddy Roots fest in Waardamme, Belgium in 2013. Muddy Roots fest is run by a label of the same name & they are based out of Nashville. In 2014, I was invited over here to the States, to play some gigs & record for that label. During that visit, I met my now wife. So initially, it was music that brought me over here to Nashville, but eventually, I moved here to be with my wife.
Nashville is an interesting town, it’s very much its own thing. There’s nowhere else like Nashville, not in my experience anyways. You could draw some comparisons with Austin, Texas maybe, but even then, Nashville could still be considered, to be more of a self-interest-music-biz-town in a lot of ways. Many people move here, in an effort to further themselves within the music industry, but I don’t tend to be around those people much, as it’s not really where I’m at in life. I become friends with people, for who they are, not for what I think they can offer me, ye know? I think you can find alternative scenes in most towns & Nashville has a lot going for it, but you would definitely have to dig a little deeper, to find alternative scenes here, especially if you’ve lived in a place like London, or even Dublin for that matter. This isn’t Country Music City, It’s Music City, but in fairness, you’d be hard pushed to even find some of the more mainstream genres, like Reggae or Celtic Punk. Bill Herring of 1916 just moved here from Rochester, New York & there’s a strong possibility, that he may very well be, the only active Celtic Punk singer currently living here. No joke. My wife & I love Nashville & it’s a town full of great people, but we do keep an eye out for other places to live though too.
Speaking of honky tonks, Broadway & alternative scenes, there is a very healthy local honky tonk scene here in Nashville, away from the downtown areas. Over towards East Nashville, there are important events like Honky Tonk Tuesdays, which have to be seen to be believed. It’s a revival of sorts I guess. You could also maybe say, that there’s another folk revival currently in bloom too. When it comes to traditions, I’m not much of a fan of the term ‘revival’, continuity has always been there for me, but those traditions have been entering mainstream culture again, in an obvious way. There are a handful of honky tonks on Broadway, that the locals will still go to, like Robert’s Western World or Layla’s, & some of the best & hardest working musicians are in those places to, but for the most part, locals don’t tend to visit the majority of honky tonks on Broadway or the bars over on Music Row.
All in all, we’re spoiled rotten here for music, both in quality & in quantity. It’s a very vibrant town & like everywhere else, it’s fast changing. As for myself, I really haven’t played in Nashville much, during the time I’ve been based here, but that’s about to change.
Shite’n’Onions – Speaking of Celtic-punk you have written/recorded with James Fearnley of The Pogues and The Walker Roaders. How did that come about? Any plans for future collaborations? And you have toured with Flogging Molly, The Mahones and the odd metal band – how did those tours go?
Dylan – Well, most of those things would be linked. I met Flogging Molly here in Nashville in 2016. We got chatting, they had a listen to my music & I got an invite to perform on their punk rock cuise in 2017. The Flogging Molly Cruise was an amazing experience. The cruise ship left from Miami & it travelled through the Bahamas for a few days, with bands like DeVotchKa, The Skatalites, NOFX, The English Beat, Voodoo Glow Skulls & of course, Flogging Molly too. Flogging Molly’s accordion player, Matt Hensley, is also a renowned skateboarder, so they had a skate ramp up on deck, between the pools & the stage. Matt got his old skateboarding crew together & they skated away while the bands played. The cruise ship had various venues throughout its decks & we all performed multiple times over the course of the few days. By my last performance on there, quite a crowd had gathered for my set. Flogging Molly’s singer, Dave King, joined me on stage too & that helped a lot with the momentum of things. Dave & his wife, Bridget Regan, couldn’t have been more supportive of me. I’ll always be very grateful for that. Once I finished out, the last song of my last set, Dave & Bridget told me that they wanted to take me on tour with them. Later that same year, they did just that. I went on a US & Canadian tour, as the third & opening act, with Flogging Molly & The White Buffalo.
I didn’t write with James Fearnley of The Pogues, but James did add accordion to two of my songs from from that album, All Manner Of Ways. I’ll try not to make this confusing, but again, it’s all linked up. My actor & musician pal, Zander Schloss, was also performing on The Flogging Molly Cruise. Zander had his then manager, Tom Barta, on board with him too. Zander has been in many bands, such as The Cirlce Jerks, The Weirdos & The Latino Rockabilly War with Joe Strummer, but Zander & his then manger, Tom, were also in a band together, known as The Low & Sweet Orchestra. Well, James Fearnley was also in The Low & Sweet Orchestra. So Zander, Tom & James were all in that band together, they are all friends & they are all based out of LA. Are ye still with me? Hah. Just to further confuse things, at that time, Tom had also started to manage James Fearnley’s new band, The Walker Roaders. While I was on the punk rock cruise with Zander, Tom said that he also wanted to manage me. So, for a time, Tom Barta ended up managing Zander, James & myself. My tour with Flogging Molly & The White Buffalo, started at the Fox Theater in Oakland, California, so my wife & I flew out to LA, a day or two before the first show of the tour, to meet up with Tom Barta & James Fearnley there. I kept in touch with James after that & he added accordion to a couple of songs on All Manner Of Ways for me. We’ve already spoken about the flavour of that album, so it was important for me, to have someone like James on that record. Especially on the songs that he performs on. I grew up on The Pogues & having James on Where Dublin Meets Wicklow, the only song on that album that references home, really grounded the spirit of the album for me. James used the same accordion, that he used on The Pogues album, Rum Sodomy & The Lash too. Back in Nashville, I had recently opened for Spider Stacy, who was also in The Pogues, so it was all a real buzz for me & a serious honour.
On the back of that momentum, I met up with a Swedish booking agent, to arrange a solo headline tour of Scandinavia. During that meeting, the agent put the idea to me, of touring Europe & the UK in 2019, with the Swedish heavy metal band Avatar. Avatar had brought a one-man-band on their previous tour & they were looking to keep some of that flavour for their next tour. Originally, I was asked to be the opening & third act, on a bill with Avatar & a Canadian psychobilly band from Montreal called The Brains. The Brains weren’t able to do that tour in the end, but their drummer also drummed for The Mahones, so The Mahones joined the tour instead. That was one hell of a tour. I also joined The Mahones on stage for most of those shows & towards the end of that tour, I ended up being the only support act. When you’re a solo acoustic act, people can have a very limited perception or vision of what your gig can be. Some promoters, gig goers & event organisers, fail to understand, that it’s not only about the amount of people on stage, the type of instruments that are being played, how well known the act is, or how upbeat the music is considered to be. All most solo acts require, is the potential of an atmosphere to work with. All in all, it boils down to being able to communicate. There isn’t going to be much of an atmosphere, if you put a solo act on early, before a crowd has time to settle, or if you put a solo act on a tiny stage, off to the side somehwere, while a DJ in the background drowns them out. If you give any performer, the chance to communicate within an atmosphere, it can often become something far more special than any wall of sound could ever offer. I will say this though, if you do put on a solo act, in front of a large crowd, make sure their volume is at a decent level, otherwise they’re fucked. It’s not that you need to be loud to play to a crowd, but if there isn’t that loud place to go to, the performance can feel far less dynamic & attention spans may drift as a result. So, over the years, I was kind of on a mission to see how far I could take the solo acoustic thing & that was kind of it, being the direct support act to a Swedish heavy metal band, in countries were English is their second language. Some nights, I just stood there & sang A cappella, to a crowd waiting for a pyrotechnic metal show. That tour definitely divided opinions, but there were many beautiful & spirited moments & the magic that comes with that, will make any challenge worth the risk. That was the last extensive tour that I’ve done too.
Shite’n’Onions – This has been a great interview, Dylan. Final question. So, what’s next for you?
Dylan – No bother John. Thanks for your time & consideration. As for what’s next, I really don’t have any solid answers for that. Everything has been so unpredictable of late, ye know yourself. The pandemic hasn’t been a creative period for me, as I tend to do everything at the same time. Touring encourages me to write & vice versa. Like I was saying earlier, most of what I do is geared towards the gigs, but things are starting to pick up again & I’m getting out on the road whenever possible. I had an amazing gig at Muddy Roots Music Festival this year, it was my first time back there in five years & it couldn’t have gone better. That’s the same crowd I was also mentioning earlier, the same label that brought me over here to the States back in 2014. It was a very grounding & wholesome experience to reconnect with all that. I was in Maryland & North Carolina, there last weekend, doing a couple of great shows & that local Nashville residency has just started too. I’m currently booking for Europe & the UK, for March & April in 2022, which I’ll finish out with a visit home to Ireland as well. So hopefully that will all be able to go ahead come the time. I also recently started my own interview show, The Stirring Foot, which you’ll find on all the usual streaming platforms. Episode one was with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, episode two was with Steve Ignorant of Crass & episode three will be with John Sheahan of The Dubliners. It’s more of an audio montage series, than actual conversations, but it’s been amazing catching up with those artists through zoom calls. They’ve reminded me of why I started playing music myself, at a time when I really needed to be reminded. So I’ll keep my website updated with any further news & hope to see ye down the road. Thanks again pal
Nips’n’Nipple Erectors are of course Shane MacGowan’s pre-Pogues second wave UK punk band. I bought Bops, Babes, Booze & Bovver originally 20 plus years ago for a lot of money when I first discovered ebay. I’m not sure of the legality of the version I bought but now the album has been re-issued on Rough Trade (300 copies on yellow vinyl) so I assume all is in order here.
The Nipple Erectors (later shortened to The Nips, probably to make the name acceptable to the powers that be at BBC) were essentially a punk – rockabilly outfit with a great sense of pop melody that released two singles during their short existence. Side-A is the Nipple Erectors side, which kicks off with the glorious punk’n’roll King of the Bop, the rocking Nervous Wreck follows (the single B-side) and So Pissed off and Stravondale Rd., N5 from the same session but not then released close out that side. Side-B is The Nips side. Private Eye is Teddy Boy rock’n’Roll dragged screaming through 1977. Gabriella (produced by Paul Weller) is a pop-punk gem and the violent Vengeance (later covered by Dropkick Murphys) is a great slab (or stab) of early punk . An early insight into the genius of MacGowan.
I didn’t put out a best of 2019 list on St. Patrick’s Day 2020 and the whole world went to shite. So, in my attempt to fix the strange vortex we have been in since, here with no further ado is the Shite’n’Onions best of 2020 (and 2019)
The Top 6:
#1 The Go Set: Of Bright Futures….and Broken Pasts
#2 Greenland Whalefishers: Based on a True Story
#3 The Walker Roaders: The Walker Roaders
#4 The Real McKenzies: Beer & Loathing
#5 The Tan & Sober Gentlemen: Veracity
#6 Bodh’aktan: Ride Out The Storm
Best 30 Year Retrospective:
The Mahones: This Is All We Got To Show For It (Best Of 1990 – 2020)
Another RSD release this year on vinyl is The Pogues, BBC Sessions 1984 – 85, a collection of sessions that The Pogues recorded for various BBC radio shows during their early years. Most, if not all of these tracks were released on 2007’s excellent box set, Just Look The Straight In The Eye and Say Pogue Mahone, and have been floating around on various bootlegs prior to that. Nevertheless, it’s nice to have these songs on vinyl and nice to be able to buy something kind of new from The Pogues.
Tracklisting: Broadcast April 17, 1984 (as Pogue Mahone) – The John Peel Show 1) Streams Of Whiskey 2) Greenland Whale Fisheries 3) Boys From The County Hell 4) The Auld Triangle
Broadcast 9th July 1984 – David ‘Kid’ Jensen 5) Dingle Regatta 6) Poor Paddy On The Railway 7) Boys From The County Hell 8) Connemara, Let’s Go
Broadcast 16th December 1984 – John Peel Show 9) Whiskey You’re The Devil 10) Navigator 11) Sally MacLennane 16) Danny Boy
Broadcast 11th July 1985 – Janice Long Show 16) Wild Cats Of Kilkenny 17) Billy’s Bones 18) The Old Main Drag 19) Dirty Old Town
Celtic-punks first supergroup here! LA based The Walker Roaders consist of a Pogue, James Fearnley (vocals and accordion) and former members of the Dropkick Murphys (Marc Orrell) and Flogging Molly (Ted Hutt, a founding member of the Mollies and later producer). Musically, The Walker Roaders are closer to the Pogues then DKM or FM though even closer to James two post-post Pogues bands, the 1990’s Low & Sweet Orchestra and the more recent Cranky George but with stronger Celtic melodies then either which meshes so well with his north of England grittyness.
“Then the Radiators From Space came out, Television Screen, which was a great single, that was a real inspiration to us” – Bono, U2
Shite’n’Onions very f**kin proudly announces the North American Release of “Trouble Pilgrim”, by seminal Dublin punk band THE RADIATORS FROM SPACE.
The Radiators from Space – The best band you’ve never heard of.Some of you out there in readerland will be very familiar with The Radiators from Space, some of you might know the name and most of you will know squat. I would argue that the Radiators were the most important band in the development of the sound of modern Irish rock – sure there were great Irish rocks bands before The Radiators formation in 1976 – Them, Thin Lizzy, Taste and Horslips and I’m a big fan of all of them (including Them!) and each of them was uniquely influential and laid not only the foundations but also the walls of the house of Irish rock. It was The Radiators who I would argue that all the great and the should of been great Irish bands of the 80s and onward can trace their sound and attitude to – The Undertones, That Petrol Emotion, SLF, Cactus World News, Therapy?, A House, The Fatima Mansions, Blue in Heaven, Sinead O’Connor, The Pogues, The Virgin Prunes, My Bloody Valentine and of course those muckers from Ballymun and Malahide – U2 (and Bono even admits it).
The following feature was written a few years back my friend and Horslips fanatic Lora Templeton and originally posted on the excellent irishrockers.com. My thanks to Lora and Aidan Curran of irishrockers.com for allowing me to reprint.
The Radiators From Space
June 16, 2004 was the centennial of Dublin’s most celebrated literary almanac entry. It would take a bold soul to launch any public venture not in line with the Tourist Board’s agenda for the day. But there were five bold souls – Philip Chevron, Pete Holidai, Steve Rapid, Cait O’Riordan and Johnny Bonnie – who did exactly that, when the Radiators (from Space) hit the stage again after a 24-year absence and re-emerged on the Dublin music scene as the Radiators (Plan 9).
And for the Radiators (Plan 9), this high-energy Village gig was the opening of a new and ongoing chapter in the history of one of Ireland’s most influential bands.
The Radiators (from Space) grew out of a succession of early seventies garage bands formed by singer Steve Rapid and guitarist Pete Holidai, notably Bent Fairy and the Punks, and in 1975, Greta Garbage and the Trashcans. The Philip Chevron Band also made their debut in the summer of 1975 at Blackrock Park, Co Dublin. Chevron established contact with Holidai at the end of the year and they begin rehearsing as a new band in the spring of the following year.
With the advent of Chevron (guitar), and then Jimmy Crashe (drums) and Mark Megaray (bass), a truly consistent group emerged as a threat to the moribund Irish music scene and quickly began making history. Band names tried and discarded throughout 1976 included Rockettes, The Hell Razors, Rough Trade, and finally the Radiators (from Space).
In September 1976, as Rough Trade, they recorded a demo for CBS man Jackie Hayden and Horslips drummer Eamon Carr, who had recently launched independent record label, Midnite. Shortly after the session, there was another name change, and the band became officially the Radiators (from Space). In November, Carr played the tape to Roger Armstrong and Ted Carroll at Chiswick Records in London and the band signed a contract with Chiswick. That same month the Radiators made their ‘live’ debut as support to pub-rockers Eddie and the Hot Rods from Essex, England.
In early 1977, the Radiators recorded their debut single ‘Television Screen’ b/w ‘Love Detective’ with producer Roger Armstrong. In Ireland, it was licensed by Midnite to CBS Records and became the first Top 20 punk single anywhere in the world.
‘Both Television Screen and Love Detective outdistance most of the competition. The drumming is a powerful slice of rock’n’roll, the bass is neat and modest and the guitars don’t get carried away in their distorted frenzy. May best of all, the engineering concentrates on the higher frequencies, giving the songs real bite.’ (Charley Waters: Rolling Stone, October 6)
If the entire audience walked out of the Radiators gig at Asgard House, Howth, Co Dublin in January 1978, a sell-out show at legendary Moran’s Hotel, Dublin in March demonstrated how fast the band was rising in the music scene. In June, they performed alongside The Undertones, Revolver, The Gamblers and The Vipers at the University College, Dublin Punk Festival, a show marred by tragic violence when a member of the audience was stabbed and killed. In August, they played at Dalymount Park, Dublin, sharing the bill with Thin Lizzy, Graham Parker and the Rumour, The Boomtown Rats, Fairport Convention, Stepaside, and Stagalee. It was Steve Rapid’s last gig with the Radiators (from Space), although he remained a guiding light over the years that followed.
Singles released in September 1977 included ‘Enemies’ b/w ‘Psychotic Reaction,’ and ‘Sunday World’ b/w ‘Teenager in Love.’
‘No wall-to-wall sneers here, and after all living on the other side of the Irish Sea would justify them a lot more than those who insist on adopting such a stance just to be chic. A hit, I hope.’ (Steve Clark, NME, October 8 )
Following close behind the summer of singles, their first album TV Tube Heart demonstrated that beyond the fast-and-furious punk sound lay a couple of major songwriting talents in Philip Chevron and Pete Holidai. Then, an offer from Phil Lynott landed the band a support spot on Thin Lizzy’s 1977 UK tour, and with this, they left Dublin.
‘That what makes TV Tube Heart stand head and shoulders above so much of what’s currently going down. There’s hardly a song on the album that doesn’t have the kind of claw that sticks in the brain and just won’t go away… a great debut. It’s an album that puts the final stamp on what’s been an astoundingly good year for Irish rock.’ (Niall Stokes/Hot Press October 29)
Within four months of their arrival in London, the Radiators (no longer ‘from Space’) began work on a new album in Soho with producer Tony Visconti. The resulting record Ghostown, released in 1979, remains a unique outpouring of love, frustration, anger and heartbreak. Chevron and Holidai delivered songs that offered visions of Dublin and Ireland trapped in a childhood jam-jar and set free again in exile. The sheer scale of the material could be seen when ‘Million Dollar Hero’ became the great lost hit single, the late Agnes Bernelle performed ‘Kitty Ricketts’ in her West End show and Christy Moore (and later Moving Hearts) covered ‘Faithful Departed,’ adopting it as the perfect song with which to launch his own vision of modern Irish music.
Singles released in 1978 bridged the two albums, starting in April with ‘Million Dollar Hero’ from Ghostown b/w Blitzin’ At the Ritz’ Live, a TV Tube Heart composition. In July, another glimpse of Ghostown with ‘Walking Home Alone Again’ b/w the ‘The Hucklebuck’/’Try and Stop Me’ was scheduled, but cancelled. A remix of ‘Million Dollar Hero’ appeared in September.
‘The single of this summer… a new epoch in the Radiators story… This should be a complete and utter chart smash. For me the summer of ’78 will always be epitomized by ‘Million Dollar Hero.” (Hot Press) ‘If there’s justice, it’ll chart’ (Record Mirror)
In October 1978, the Radiators, with supporting band Stiff Little Fingers, performed to an unreceptive audience at the Electric Ballroom in London. It would be their last concert in the UK and they returned to Ireland in December.
‘If there is a lesson to be learned from last Tuesday’s performance at the Electric, it is simply that the band’s music has progressed so dramatically that they must now find a new audience to appreciate it.’ (Harry Doherty/Melody Maker Nov 11)
Despite gigs in Dublin, including a one-off conglomerate of the Radiators and Horslips playing as ‘The Meanies,’ Mark Megaray and Billy Morley left the Radiators in early 1979. The summer saw the release of two more singles from the Ghostown album. ‘Let’s Talk About the Weather’ b/w ‘The Hucklebuck’ and ‘Try and Stop Me’ in June, and ‘Kitty Ricketts’ b/w ‘Ballad of the Faithful Departed.’
Ghostown was not released until August 1979 and it bombed commercially. But reviews attested to what would become its enduring significance.
‘It’s a monumental achievement in rock, possibly the most significant Irish rock album ever… its greatness lies partly in the fact that it’s not purely dismissive, that it explores aspects of what it’s challenging and in doing so discovers a language which is all the more moving for the associations it evokes.’ (Niall Stokes/Hot Press August 10) ‘An epochal statement of Irish rock, an utterly indispensable artifact in even the most selective collection of Irish albums… Ghostown is – to utilize that much debased word – a classic. It positively redefines the artist terms of Irish rock… the Radiators rise to the top of the class of ’76.’ (Bill Graham/Hot Press August 10) ‘A magnificent record… full of inspired and memorable urban images’ (Mark J. Prendergast/’Irish Rock’ O’Brien Press 1987)
Four on the Floor, an EP featuring ‘Television Screen,’ ‘Psychotic Reaction,’ ‘Enemies’ and ‘Teenager in Love’ was released in February, 1980. Other singles that year included ‘Stranger Than Fiction,’ produced by Hans Zimmer, b/w ‘Prison Bars’ and ‘Who Are The Strangers’ in July on the Chiswhick label and again ‘Stranger Than Fiction’ b/w ‘Paddy ‘Guitar’ Paddy’ and ‘Who Are the Strangers’ on Mulligan, the Radiators’ Irish label. In September, various mixes of ‘The Dancing Years’ were released and the Radiators made three major Irish TV appearances, including The Late, Late Show. An autumn and winter of gigs throughout Ireland followed.
‘Before a packed audience in the Project, they played a fine set that made a mockery of their fruitless search for gold across the water.’ (Joe Breen/Irish Times Nov 4)
In March 1981, ‘Song of the Faithful Departed’ b/w ‘They’re Looting the Town’ was released. That same month the Radiators cancelled their proposed Irish tour and ceased work on the demos for a third album (to be called Absent Without Leaving). The band formally broke up.
But it was still only 1981 after all, and it would take a few more years before the world was ready for a band expressing a new generation’s view of Irishness. By then, Philip Chevron was himself a member of that band,The Pogues. They went on to tour the world, sell millions of records, craft modern classics such as ‘The Old Main Drag,’ ‘Thousands are Sailing’ and ‘Fairytale of New York,’ and inspire wave after international wave of bands eager to find out what happens when you smash the genres of traditional folk and do-it-yourself rock-n-roll together.
Meanwhile back in Dublin Steve Rapid, the Radiators member who chose to stay behind in 1977 and concentrate on both his graphic design business and building a local scene, crossed paths with Dublin band The Hype, Rapid demonstrated that he had not lost his aptitude for striking band names and The Hype soon became known as U2. Steve (aka Steve Averill) also designed the sleeve of the band’s U23 EP and continues to be involved in their design process to the present day.
Under Clery’s Clock debuted at a one-off gig at Hawkins, Dublin in 1985, when the Radiators reformed for one night only at AID TO FIGHT AIDS, a Dublin charity event. In 1988, the band recorded this song and Plura Belle, another new composition, with Chevron and Holodai producing. Released as a single in January 1989, Under Clery’s Clock was named NME’s Single of the Week in February. That same month, both songs appeared on the digitally mastered CD release of Ghostown.
‘This really and truly was the one that got away, one of the most important and enduring LPs in my life… This is outrageously masterful stuff.’ (Carol Clark, Melody Maker Mar 11)
‘The transcendence of its art means that it will endure beyond the wildest aspirations of albums which have sold 100,000 times more. No contest.’ (Panel of 95 Irish music business/media people vote the album #16 of all time/Hot Press Yearbook 1989)
And the music endures, even thrives, beyond its own time. In February 2005,
Ghostown appeared in the Hot Press People’s Choice readers’ poll of the top 100 greatest Irish albums of all time. In April, Brian Boyd of the Irish Times reviewed the Ghostown reissue and reminded his readers that ‘Musically, the album was audacious for its time; lyrically, it’s never been better. Ghostown represents the first time in Irish cultural life that a rock music 33rpm could sit pretty alongside the country’s literary and dramatic outputàquite simply: a monumental artistic achievement.’
The Radiators’ Bloomsday gig of 2004 was not a one-off. The new band, with former Pogues bassist Cait O’Riordan and Those Handsome Devils drummer Johnny Bonnie joining Chevron, Holodai and Rapid, rocked the Oxegen Festival in Ireland soon after. On June 24 2005, they were special guests on U2’s Dublin homecoming show at Croke Park. An EP The Summer Season was released in the same month. Tracks include ‘Hinterland’ a new and stunningly current Philip Chevron song, ‘The Girl with the Gun,’ and ‘live in the studio’ versions of ‘Sunday World’ and ‘Electric Shares.’ An active official website and discussion forum illustrates that the Radiators now have international and second-generation fans as well as the original punk kids who first rocked out to ‘Television Screen’ at Moran’s Hotel, Dublin.
Reissues of earlier albums TV Tube Heart and Ghostown in 2004, as well as news of recording of a much anticipated third album in 2005 show that the band continues to live up to the Sounds magazine pronouncement of ’77 that ‘The Radiators are [still] playing FIVE-STAR ROCK’N’ROLL PETROL.’
It may have taken nearly 30 years for the seminal Irish punk band Radiators From Space to cut their third album, but don’t tell Phil Chevron that they sound any different than before. “To me, it doesn’t sound any different,” says Chevron. To him, even though their debut, T.V. Tube Heart, had a sound more like their contemporaries in the late 70’s punk scene, the fact that their latest, Trouble Pilgrim, has slower-tempo songs and more of a pop sensibility has more to do with their growth as musicians, as well as their changing influences over the years. “When you’re young, you start out playing what you can, and eventually you end up playing what you want.”
And don’t call this a “Reunion Album.” “We really never actually split up,” he says. “We just ran out of road…but it was always the idea that, when the opportunity arose, we would get back together. And we have done a few times before this.” The difference now? Says Chevron: “There isn’t that sort of pressure to return to the hamster wheel of commercial grunt work. We do what we like, without the pressure of having to have a career plan, as such.” And in that spirit, the Radiators have gotten back together several times in recent years. Does the fact that they’re older, and not trying to compete in the same markets as younger bands? “Oh, of course,” he says. “None of us, at this point, have any interest in going back in the factory line. We’re competing with no one.” Chevron, as a member of the Pogues, has toured the world many times over the years. Are the Radiators planning on touring behind this release? “If someone wanted to arrange that, we’d definitely be interested, but it doesn’t seem very feasible at this point.” And as for the gap between the new CD’s release in Ireland and it’s appearance in the States, Chevron says this has more to do with the fact that the band has no plans to try and sign with any major distributors. “The album’s been out there, available for anyone who wanted to release it. We knew that Shite ‘N’ Onions were champions of the album when it was first released. When you own your own masters, which we do now, you have the freedom to license to whoever you want.”
That the album makes references to US foreign policy is only natural, says Chevron, but “America has such a huge footprint on the world, it has to accept people commenting about it.” He points to the fact that Shannon airport is now virtually being run like a US military installation as a reason that someone from Ireland might have cause to make their feelings about the conflicts going in the Middle East known.
The track most likely to get people’s attention this time around is the song “Joe Strummer,” the subject of which should be obvious to anyone with ears. According to Chevron, it’s a kind of musing about what the great Clash front man and solo artist (and, for a brief period, a member of the Pogues) would have to say about the state of the world today. “We started out admiring him, as everyone did at the time, to working with him as our producer, to being mates with him. We introduced him to football.” Strummer’s ability to, as Chevron puts it, “put that point of view across,” makes to world a completely different place for not having him in it.
Trouble Pilgrim may not sound like your classic 1-2-3-4 punk rock album, but the subject matter is as passionate and as pointed as the Radiators From Space have always been. The nearly 30-year gap between albums has only served to ensure that the band put its best foot forward.
Trouble Pilgrim is available in the US from Shite’n’Onions
Interview by: John Curtin – Comedian, Irish Musician, Dork
Flash back to 2001, when the news broke out of a Pogues Reunion Tour. Insanity is a word commonly used to describe the feeling worldwide. I seriously debate flying all the way to London just to see the band play live. (A few freinds made it) At the time, I simply could not afford the trip, so I nervously waited 5 years for the band to arrive on American shores. Again, I back out like a cheap stupid bastard. The tour is a success, and I punch myself for not attending. I then begin to hear rumors of a full blown West Coast Tour in 2007. I await the Portland billing…(And for reasons I cannot discuss) It falls through. Luckily for me, Seattle has confirmed two dates. I order my tickets and dance a drunken jig.
October 17th arrives. I get out of work early and haul ass north to Seattle. Prior arrangements have been made to meet up at a local pub called the Owl & Thistle. We arrive to a series of cheers. The good times are certainly here! (And as we all know, a Pogues gig isn’t complete without a pre-gig pub-crawl.) After an hour or so, the pub is crawling with fellow Portlanders, and our cheery pals to the north, The Canadians. After a few pints are drowned, various footy chants are sprinkled among the Pogues faithful.By the time we’re about to leave, full blown Portland Timbers chants echo across the pub. (WTF?) We also raise a pint to ailing Pogues guitarist Phil Chevron, who could not attend the tour due to his recovery from cancer. Like some sort of Celt-Punk roll call, I bump into various members of The McGillicuddy’s, the Scurvy Bastards, The Dolomites/Rag & Bonemen, and even had a Wages Of Sin sighting!
Eventually, the pub empties out into the rainy streets of Seattle, it’s the middle of Autumn, and a chill is in the air. This does nothing to dampen our spirits, because this crew of misfits are heading to The Showbox SODO to watch the Pogues! Somehow we cut the line and walk right in. The opening band is a guy named William Elliot Whitmore and he sounded great, I was too busy at the bar to get a good view.
Then it was time. Time for me to witness The Pogues for the first time ever. (Sure, I’d seen Shane & The Popes play before, but who am I kidding?) To be honest, I had pretty much written off Shane MacGowan a few years ago, so I wasn’t expecting much. In fact, I was relieved just to see Ol’ Snaggletooth up on stage. (It’s the first night of the tour, mind you!) The band crashes into “Streams Of Whiskey” and a mad rush toward the front of the stage begins. The crowd is hungry. Considering this is the first time The Pogues have ever played Seattle, it seemed appropriate. Within seconds, the leather jackets, the skate punks, the paddycaps, the trads, and the skins, all came together to celebrate the night. Let’s not forget some the older fans a bit further back with their offspring in tow. Showing the wee ones a night they’ll never forget. You couldn’t catch your breath before they steam right into “If I Should Fall From Grace With God” It’s about this time everyone realized how good the band sounds. In fact, The Pogues sound fucking great. Not to mention, Shane, (who was currently sporting a classy tophat) who had not sounded this good in years! “Broad Majestic Shannon” “Turkish Song Of The Damned” Phil Chevron’s smiling replacement, James Walbourne subbed in perfectly. By about the time “Young Ned Of The Hill” comes I simply lose the ability to properly review this show. There’s too much to take in. All those years of wishing, and waiting, have arrived and my fucking god, they have arrived with a vengeance! Overwhelming is an understatement! I am willing to bet serious amounts of money that I had by far, the biggest smile in the entire place that night!
Here’s the set list of the remainder of the show
Pair Of Brown Eyes Boys From The County Hell Tuesday Morning Kitty Sayonara Repeal Of the Licensing Laws Sunnyside Of The Street Body Of An American (Shane dedicating it to Kurt Cobain) Lullaby Of London Greenland Whale fishers Dirty Old Town Bottle Of Smoke Sickbed Of Cuchulainn
Sally MacLennane Rainy Night In Soho DOG
Star Of The County Down (Andrew on vocals) Poor Paddy Fiesta (With Shane And Spider smashing beer trays over their heads!)
And that was that. After two hours, a long term goal was fufilled. I finally saw the Pogues, and again, they sounded fucking amazing. I honestly expected a half-arsed reunion gig, instead I received a full blown kick in the ass. There was a faint buzz in the air. Not only the fans, but also the band. Accomplishment comes to mind.
Again, I must admit, Overwhelming is an understatement.