Friday, February 20, 2009

HIGH COST OF LIVING - PUNK GOES UNDERGROUND - THE THREAT '78-'81 ( Originally appeared in Riot 77 Magazine )

After the Radiators and the Rats relocated in England, there was a very noticeable gap before a second wave of harsher punk began to develop in Dublin. Many of that original fan base had either moved on or gone back to what they listened to before punk “happened”. Although it took years (with the likes of the Jon Savage book, ENGLAND’S DREAMING) to expose much of the reality of the Sex Pistols ideology as a manipulated debacle, the seeds of sentiment and anger which the phenomenon cast were growing in many directions regardless. Rather than merely a high-energy rock’n’roll concept, punk presented new possibilities as a medium of communication that was taken up and nurtured on a broader level. For many people, punk had a major impact because it felt like an aboriginal scream against the barrier of muso competence that kept the amateurs on the outside. Paradoxically, it was this amateur creativity which steadily spawned new results from incorrect and self taught ways of utilising musical instruments - and the availability of the first commercial synthesisers added an embryonic element. Attitude was another factor which was hardening considerably... and in the tense melting pot where “arty” and “streetwise” fused, some of the most creative and edgy music of the era was borne. The Threat stood out like a shard of glass in the litter of Dublin’s lightweight new wave bands. Their claim as Dublin’s first “genuine” punk band has often been garnished in folklore, specifically in early accounts of U2 in the Dandelion Market. Their one recorded contribution to the world, The HIGHCOSTOFLIVING / LULLABY INC  7” single on the band’s own ONEWEB label still exists in it’s own space and beamed a subtle but far reaching local influence on subsequent successful conquerors - U2 and My Bloody Valentine - as well as those who took on the world and lost - The Keltic Klan, The Pretty, Napalm Sunday, Paranoid Visions... The following feature is a result of separate interviews with Threat synth player Stano on 23/8/97 and Guitarist, vocalist and founder Maurice Foley on 9/9/98...

BOZ - What was your motivation for involvement in punk in the first place???
MAURICE - The Sex Pistols I’d say because it was real music. I wasn’t interested in superficial dolled up kind of music that had no real meaning... I’d played trad when I was a small kid and then I got into folk music a little bit... I always liked music and music always affected me but nothing was grabbing me on the music scene... and then it was the Pistols really, just like the force of the music and I said, “This is it, they’re saying something and this is what I think too, but these guys really mean it and I want to mean it as well”, and I just wanted to grab a guitar and start playing again. Here in Ireland was a little bit behind, not so much... so the Buzzcocks were one of the first bands to come over here and I went to see them... they were brilliant... I loved their album LOVE BITES.
STANO - Around 75, I was into Patti Smith, People like Dylan... later I started picking up on the newspapers, reading about punks in Britain... picking up English stations... The Damned NEW ROSE, stuff like that. I went out and started buying the music papers and started reading about the punk bands and just got interested in it from there. At the time there were people around like the NY Dolls and the Ramones but I didn't know anything about them. The first people that I heard of was the Damned... and I can remember distinctly going in and buying PRETTYVACANTthe day it came out... I just had my hair short and it was spiked and I was wearing drainpipes and brothel creepers... It's strange ‘cos midway trough '77 the first group of punks I met, they were from up around the Clanbrassil Street area & around that part of town... but there were about 10-15 of us hanging around at the time. I went away to England for about a year and a few of my friends moved over there and when I came back there was a lot more punks around. That’s when I started to come across Brum and Jody Campbell, people like the Black Catholics... there was a new batch of people I didn’t know... a strange thing happened ‘cos when I was in England for a year I was going to all the gigs and my dad came over to see me and I had my hair dyed orange, wearing all this gear and my dad said to me, "Jesus, don t go back you'll be battered", so I dyed my hair back again and I came back to Dublin and there was all these fuckers going around with their hair all dyed!!! But the main thing that I liked about the whole punk thing was the attitude of it, that you can do anything... previous to that I was doing my own style of music which was collage, cut up tapes... so the whole attitude of punk was to be yourself and be original as far as I was concerned...

BOZ - When was there a noticeable effect taking hold? ... What would have been the first gigs you saw in Dublin by local bands???
MAURICE - Yeah, there weren’t any local bands at the time... there was Revolver... they kind of came on the scene, but they weren’t a punk band... they were like a showband getting into the music... and I thought it was great that there was someone starting off doing something... but I didn’t feel it was so real, so there weren’t any local bands... we were like one of the first bands starting off... and then of course I was into playing myself so I wasn’t going around listening to other bands... I just wanted to sing and say what I wanted to say.
STANO - First gigs... there was a band called the Gamblers. They were sort of a new wave type of band... I think they were sort of a pub band that changed when the punk thing came along... I saw the Radiators, I think I saw the Rats, I’m not too sure... just bands around Moran’s...

BOZ - When did the Threat start?
MAURICE - I’m not sure exactly of the chronology of it... it was around ‘78... I remember that I met the other musicians in McGonagle’s Nightclub. I knew Fionán and Guggi out of the Virgin Prunes. Now there’s a band...  they were brilliant... and DC Nien, the drummer with DC Nien played with us a few times to help us out when we had a bit of a problem with our line-up... I was starting to write songs and play songs myself... one song was BORED AND FRUSTRATED... people used to like that song... I still remember how it goes - “Bored and frustrated, nothing to do, stuck here in this fucking hole, there’s no use of thinking of you... Might just look around me to see what I can do, to disrupt this monotony, to smash this quiet through” - that’s how I felt and then you want to do something but, you know, what’s there to do??... And I was expressing myself like that... one song... GOVERNMENT OF THE FUTURE... It was about how so many people want to control us, for money reasons mostly... they give you like a sugar coated pill... the chorus of that song was “No need to do it no more, we do it for you”... that’s how I felt... that’s how I still feel things are going... so I went to McGonagle’s looking for musicians because I was ready to get going... I met Mono and Larry Murphy... he was a brilliant bass player and we only played a few gigs, we practiced near Larry’s place, there was a school hall or a church hall we used to practice in and our first gig we played in Bray in support to a local band Strange Movements.
STANO - What happened with the Threat was that about '79... I used to hang around with a friend of mine and we were going to start a band ourselves around ‘78. We put an ad in the Hot Press looking for musicians... So I met a guy called Larry Murphy and a few other guys, but I went down to the White Horse in Marino and I met Larry and I met Maurice... He had a chain round his neck and his hair was all spiked and he had a band "The Threat" going so I started hanging round their shed in Coolock ‘cos I was just only the road in Artane.
MAURICE - We got our second gig up in Dundalk... and again it was with a local punk band... when we played, the local Dundalk crowd just sat there, and we had a few lads come up with us, they were like... skinheads... we started to get a following pretty quickly so there was maybe 6 or 7 lads and a few women came out and they were dancing while we were playing... when we stopped and the Dundalk band got up, everybody just stood up automatically and our lads took offence to that and they threw a few bottles over into the Dundalk crowd... and they threw a few back, there was a whole crowd of them... so our lads ran out of bottles and started throwing chairs and stuff... there was a fight and the cops came and everything... They told us to get out of there, there was a gang of them waiting to ambush our van, and I was blind drunk as well and I said to the guy, “Look, I’ve had a few drinks”, and he said,  “I don’t give a fuck... get the hell out of here”... I was hit with a brick and the side of my head was bleeding... another fella was pretty cut up as well... so there’s a hotel as you go out of Dundalk and we thought we’d go in there and clean up. Of course the bouncers saw us coming and locked up the place... so we just went out to the van and we were sleeping there... and the cops came along again... because the jacks was wrecked and there was water all over the place... the second band had cancelled the gig... the police brought us to the hospital to get a little cleaned up and then they brought us to the station... but they let us go at the end of it all. The long and the short of that was that we were a 3 piece band and the drummer and the bass player and the guy who was our manager, they bottled out, they didn’t want anything more to do with the band... I think it was a little too heavy for them... so I was on my own again ... we’d just played twice...
STANO - they went on to form another band called CHANT CHANT CHANT... and there was only Maurice left but he reformed the band, got in two different players... a girl called Deirdre Creed who went on to the Boy Scouts and a guy called Ken Mahon from DC Nein.


BOZ - So basically that incident brushed off on the band and you came out with a reputation?
MAURICE - Yeah, what happened after that was that we got a name for ourselves ‘cos there was just a few of us and that was like a running battle with bricks flying and everything. I guess maybe living in Coolock it was always a real band and the people who would come along were real people... they weren’t poseurs... because the punk scene just became a whole dress thing... and then pretty much every time we played there’d be a fight, so it made it a little difficult for us to get gigs... then what happened was we got Longer, the drummer from Coolock & Deirdre Creed, she was the next bass player that we got... it was in McGonagle’s again...  she came up to me and said she could play bass and she had a brain as well... but as a part of the punk thing there’d be spitting... I don’t think she handled that too well... The thing is, in a sense it’s crazy but I could see the point in it... bringing someone down from their trip of  “I’m great, I’m up on a stage, I’m better than anyone else” type of thing.

BOZ - How did Stano get involved in what you were doing? What about synthesisers fitting into the context of a punk band?
MAURICE - Stano was living out near me and he’d been to some of the gigs and he had a synthesiser... the thing about Stano was, he was always a little different where we were living... how will I put it... I’m not putting down any of those who were in the gang... they were my good mates and they were into the band as well, they helped us a lot... some of them might not have been such deep thinkers if you like, but Stano was... he always had his own take on things... so he got involved with the band.
STANO - I used to just suggest things... like that's a good riff, I like this, I like that and I started to get involved in that end of it... then I brought myself a synthesiser and that's how I got involved in the Threat.      

BOZ - When you joined the band did it change it in terms of sound etc.?
STANO - The strange thing about the Threat was that we had our own sort of style of music... like the Chants came out of that who were a very original band... Maurice was interested in experimental music and pushing it further... in terms of a punk band, we were different from the other bands that were around... I mean, the Threat were an individual band... you hear the single, it doesn't sound like anything that was around... it doesn't sound like anything from Northern Ireland and it doesn't sound like anything from Britain... at the end of the day it was the way we looked and because of the times... 
MAURICE - We did have a hardcore following and people wanted that hardcore side, but I wasn’t happy with just that.... Bowie was an influence... he’d definitely have been an influence on Stano as well... I wanted to take it in that direction but I didn’t want to loose the bite of what I had to say and we certainly weren’t going to play to please a crowd... we weren’t going to become a showband or something like that so the synthesiser really helped to create a different atmosphere, different sounds, but it wasn’t going to be synthesised music... it was going to be real music.

The Threat mk.2 - Maurice, Longer, Deirdre Creed
BOZ - Did you see yourselves as the first of the authentic underground punk bands in Dublin????
STANO - Yeah, we were... ‘cos a lot of bands that were around were bands before but the Threat formed as a punk band... they weren't a band previously, they didn't exist... the band were together a year and a half before I actually joined them... so as far as I know they were the first original punk band to come out of Dublin.

BOZ - Around the time in Dublin, were there people vehemently opposed to punk to the point where you’d get attacked on the streets?
STANO - Yeah... I remember just when I got into punk, I got attacked a load of times in Dublin just ‘cos I looked so different around town, you know... the Magnet... it used to be really, really dangerous going down there ‘cos of a lot of the heads around the area, they'd be waiting for you so you used to have to come out in gangs... I know a few people got a hiding and we got chased a few times... that went on for a few months, but I think it's just like anything really with gangs of people... we were young at the time, and they were young and I think they seen us coming into their area and into their pub and like, taking over, so that was the cause of it mainly... it was extreme with maybe about 2 or 3 headcases who were skinheads at the time... like the tail end of the bootboys... but a couple of months later, fellas that we used to see hanging around the place, waiting to fight us, they started appearing in the gigs and a few of them started turning into punks... the whole thing started to blend then... towards the end then there wasn't really any of that... I think it was just a handful of people, you know when you hear stuff like that... it was just a group of people who just wanted a fight... like anywhere really...
MAURICE - I used do deliveries in the van. Punk took a little while longer to get going... I think punk took off in ‘78 so the band started in ‘78... So in ‘79, remember I pulled up to make some delivery in Earl Street and the place was closed for lunch... I had an hour to do something so I remember I walked around and I thought, “I’ll dye my hair”. I walked into this hairdressers and said, “Do you know how to dye hair”, because nobody was doing it, I didn’t know what you did to get it done... they explained how you do it by bleaching your hair so I said “I want some yellow and some green and then keep it black in the middle, but I want it spiked”, and then they were all into it and the guy was explaining how you get the cap and cut holes in it and pull your hair through that and bleach it. I sat down and he kept asking was I sure and all the girls who were working in the shop came around... and when I came out of that place everybody was looking at me... of course there was a kick in that as well... some ego thing... I liked people looking at me and so it was a style... it wasn’t that violent to start off with... I went into work and they didn’t quite like it too much that I was looking like that... and then I had a chain around my neck and a padlock on it and I didn’t have the key for the padlock anymore so my neck would be black from that all the time and then you’d start getting aggressive looks... then you’d meet a few guys together... and I think they kind of felt insulted - that was the kind of mood I got... So, getting attacked... one time I was waiting at a bus stop out in Santry to go into the Crofton Airport Hotel, there was a gig on out there... this car pulled up at the lights... it was dark and this guy opened his door waved me on to come on in. I said no, It’s OK... but then he waved me on again... so I went over and when I got there he shut the door and started laughing, putting two fingers up... but his window was down so I grabbed him by the throat... and then his mate drove off.... but there was 3 of them and only one of me so they turned round and came back... one of them had a screwdriver and they jumped out and had a go at me... but it was like they thought they had to prove themselves seeing me walking round as a punk like that. Most of the time I’d be with a few mates and when there was a few of us there, there wouldn’t be a problem, and like I said, the band, a lot of the following of the band were skinheads as well as punks so they’d be well able to handle themselves.

Dandelion Market interior c.1980 ( From Vox Magazine )
BOZ - At what point did you decide to do your own record???
MAURICE - I guess I would have liked to have done a single earlier... I would have liked to have brought out GOVERNMENT OF THE FUTURE... that would have been a great single... but we were changing by the time we got round to getting the single together... if we had money we could have done so many things... but neither did we want to go along and play music that a lot of people would like... or that people who had money would like... I hated that scene... there was one place, the Sportsman's Inn in Mount Merrion... I delivered some gear for a band that played out there and the crowd that were in there were all smart and nice and they had their big fee to get in and I thought, “Wow, this is crap!”, but like if you played there... now they had money... you could get signed up, bring out a crap record... ruin your integrity...
STANO - Basically what happened was, Maurice was in contact with a few record companies but they were sort of holding him on about it so we decided to put out our own single. Donal Lunny, he was to produce the first single and we went down to Slane to do it. 
MAURICE - Yeah... Donal Lunny had produced our single for us and I’m very grateful to him for that... and he did it for free... He went in and spent about ten hours on the drums getting the sound. We were just playing pool next door, drinking and whatever and I was bored out of my tiny mind... so that was an eye-opener... things would have changed now I guess... but at the time, you’d go into a studio and while one guy is doing his thing the rest of us were just waiting round to record and whatever... and it was a side that I didn’t like... I was on edge... it wasn’t my thing so much... it was a distraction from playing... but I wanted to get my stuff recorded and it was kind of necessary.
STANO - Half way through Donal had to go off and tour Europe with Planxty and we were waiting and waiting for ages. Maurice kept calling into Christy Moore’s house asking when was Donal coming back... He met some woman in Europe or something like that and didn't come back for ages so basically we finished the single ourselves... I think it would have been lot better if Donal would have finished it ‘cos we hadn't a clue what we were doing but it was just dragging on and dragging on... We just found out that it was easy to just go to a pressing plant and press the thing... I don't think we even got it mastered or anything... we didn't know anything of the process of that... The Pistols were in the studio doing overdubbing, doing the guitars... the whole attitude they gave out in the press was, and what we adopted from that was, they went into the studio and recorded the single in one day... there was no fucking hope... that wasn't going on.

BOZ - Dave Clifford from VOX magazine did the sleeve, didn’t he?
STANO - When we got the single Dave Clifford did the cover of it... the sleeve was kind of a fold over sleeve and we sat there and stapled every one of them ourselves... we got it in on a Wednesday or something and it took us 3 days to do that... The cover had on the inside a picture of the Dandelion market... Maurice had this old coat on, dressed up as a tramp with a bottle of wine beside him... and then on the outside we had a semi naked woman with a snake on her shoulder... it was actually a strange looking cover...
MAURICE - Yeah, well we all pitched in. We didn’t go to an advertising agency or anything to get them to do a single for us... we were all into it and we all had ideas but he was great because he was real creative... we had different photos and he came up with the idea of tearing photos and putting little bits together...

BOZ - It seemed like Vox was the extent of your press attention...
STANO - We got maybe one or two little write ups in Hot Press... the single got good reviews but we basically got nothing. Dave Clifford would have given the Threat all their early exposure. I think he was more important on the punk end of it, the independent end of it.... he was taking photographs of the band... he started telling me about this band and that band... Throbbing Gristle and people like that... the strange thing about it was, before I actually got interested in punk, I had two tape recorders and I was messing around at home... I was doing this sort of collage... taping the television, taping myself going to the shops... taping myself going to town, all this crazy and I used to bounce from one tape recorder to the other and it wasn’t music to me but when I met Dave Clifford, he was like, “Jesus!! Do you know about Cage?”, and all these people... It developed further and my interest in the Threat changed where I was saying to Maurice why don’t we try this and that... and when I had the synthesiser, I couldn't play keyboards or anything... It was basically white noise I was putting in the background trying to build an atmosphere and HIGHCOSTOFLIVING was moving into very tribal minimalist stuff... some of the stuff we were jamming in the shed was dub reggae grooves, punkish grooves, tribal drums... going on for about ten minutes, you know... 
MAURICE - I’d say what Dave Clifford was doing was vital because there were notions of what music was about and punk wasn’t respected... Hot Press didn’t respect punk... maybe they did years later when they saw how many people were into it but they were terrible as regards their coverage or support or encouragement to punk music whereas VOX was written by people who were going to gigs. The Hot Press guys were too but they weren’t going to our gigs... if they did they were going as interested bystanders. VOX was written by people who were going to gigs and they were into the music...

BOZ - it has a very definite sound...
MAURICE - The single wasn’t necessarily representative of all the songs. We were going in different directions, it was evolving too... I mean I always liked David Bowie, XTC... Wire - CHAIRS MISSING, I always liked that album... there was great music around at the time and I didn’t want to copy someone.
STANO - HIGH COST OF LIVING is just really Bass and drums and Maurice screaming HIGH COST OF LIVING over it and that was it... it didn't really sound like anything at the time. I remember meeting Kevin Shields from My Bloody Valentine a few years ago and him saying to me that he loved HIGH COST OF LIVING... I mean the Threat were developing and I don't know what we would have developed into but we were definitely interested in Reggae & Dub and we were pushing along that end of it. Maybe something like Public Image is where we were headed.

LULLABY IN C/HGH COST OF LIVING 7" ( 1980 )
BOZ- How many of those singles got pressed up?
MAURICE - We pressed a thousand and that was as many as any band was putting out at the time. We didn’t have a distribution deal or anything. We sold a lot of records through Advance Records and Golden Discs. You had to go around to individual stores and leave records in, and they didn’t want to take it at first... then when people would come in asking and we’d go back in the next time, they’d say, “Yeah, we’ll take some of those”, and you’d have to keep going back but it was a whole trip.
STANO - When the single came out, we hadn't a clue about what to do with it or but it sold out within about 4 or 5 days... 1000 copies... Fanning was playing it on the air and Maurice met Gavin Friday on the street and he said that the single was getting played by John Peel in Britain... we didn't even know what was happening... Maurice just sent the single over to a few British DJs and it turned out we were getting blanket airplay over there but nobody could contact us. Maurice was working and all that but then Rough Trade were on to us and a few of the Irish companies were sniffing around, CBS and that...
MAURICE - It sold really quickly... we went right up on the... Irish charts of course... we were No.1 in the Hot Press chart. Advance had a chart and we were right up on that... we sold loads of records in Advance because that’s where all the punks would go and hang out... and John Peel liked us... he said we were the best thing to come out of Ireland since Stiff Little Fingers. Dave Fanning played it here in Ireland...

BOZ - Are there any particular gig incidents that stick out???
STANO - We played in the Project... I think it was Christmas 1980. We were in Grafton Street and Maurice met Bono in the street. They'd just come back from a tour of England and we had the prime spot... but they asked us could they have it... basically Maurice gave it to them and we played support to them ‘cos they were getting a very high profile... but I remember being on stage at that particular time with the synthesiser and I didn’t like being on stage, like the reaction of it so I just told Maurice that in future I’d play at the desk... I'd sit down next to the soundman... about a week later we went down to limerick and we played in this small venue. Basically the stage was in one corner and I set up on the windowsill.... so the band started playing and I was in the corner making all these noises... I turned to look at the stage and noticed that nobody was looking at the band and there was about 20/30 people looking at me on the ground with a synthesiser... I was trying to get away from people looking at me. What happened there as well was a couple of punks came down from Dublin to see us and one of the local lads went in and bet the head off one of the punks so a big fight broke out in the pub and we got a police escort out of limerick.
MAURICE - Some of the lads from Coolock got quite enthusiastic about the band... we played in the Dandelion Market and there were 3 bands on the bill... the Threat, The Virgin Prunes and U2... it was a great line-up so loads of people turned up at the gig... it was just before U2 made it... like I said, our crowd were real, so whoever was on the door didn’t want to let them in... But they were coming to see us, that’s what they were there for. There was a big buzz in the air too, because they were 3 good bands in their own right, in their own area... The place was filling up and there was a lot of U2 fans there, so anyway when our lads couldn’t get in, there was some kind of panelling around the side and they kicked it in and they came through there and all stayed in the one corner... nobody would go near them... there was a good few of them... there was a place called the Log yard out in Coolock and there were a lot of guys from the Log yard there and they had a bit of a reputation... along with other skinheads and punks from other parts of Dublin that had been into us... so anyway the gig got going and at one stage... I don’t know how it started... they must have been a little resentful that they weren’t allowed in... but the power went off when U2 were playing... and they all started chanting “We want the Threat”, and then there was some kind of a number going on where they were going up to different people and saying, “Are you here to see U2 or the Threat?”, and if someone said, “Oh, we’re here to see U2”, they’d murder them, so there was a little bit of aggravation... after that Bono came up to me and said, “I’m sorry, we can’t play with you any more Maurice!”... Actually I liked them... I used to see them in McGonagle's and I knew them through Gavin (Friday) and they were really competent musicians. There was a different air of feeling to what I was playing... I wish them well with what they’re doing but it was a different kind of music and a different scene and a different mood to what we were doing... and he was right - our fans didn’t mix with their fans.

BOZ - What about the rest of the gig crowds?
STANO - It was a mixed bag... there was a lot of ordinary heads and people just generally into music, and there were actually a lot of hippies at the time and loads and loads of punks... it was a very, very mixed crowd... it was strange as well ‘cos there were some people I knew who were out and out punks at the time like Anto O'Reilly... I remember meeting him in '77 he was walking round with white overalls with paint all over them and a mohican... like a blue mohican... this was 1977... I'd never seen anything like it in my life, you know... ‘cos like 1980, that's when you'd see people wearing the mohair jumpers and stuff like that... previous to that the only thing I'd ever seen was in the paper... but a different crowd used to come to see us... it was more of a punk crowd than the people who used to go and see the Prunes and U2... a similar crowd would be going, but it was just like every band had a following... U2 had a following... and we had our following... 

BOZ - What other bands did you identify with?
MAURICE - Well, bands like DC Nien and the Atrix were playing... the Atrix definitely had a different crowd to us, a different atmosphere when they were playing but some of their stuff was quite different so I was interested to go along and hear them... I wasn’t into them or anything... they weren’t inspiring me or anything like that... DC Nien were using the skinhead image and their drummer was great... he played with us a few times... he helped us out in gigs... that’s before we got Longer.
STANO - A lot of people I hung around with hated U2... didn't like U2 at all... but that was just a rivalry thing, you know, strange as well ‘cos the Virgin Prunes were probably one of my favourite bands... But when U2 were becoming fairly popular here I was actually out of the country... what pissed me off about the Prunes as well... when I first seen the Prunes, I thought... Amazing... Guggi on stage in a dress, Gavin on stage in a dress... ok, the music was all this crazy stuff but at the end of the day they were more punks than me... they used to get a bad time off punks but they were more punk than any of them... They had the balls to get on stage in like '79, '80 in dresses and skirts...

MAURICE ( from Vox Magazine ) 
BOZ - The immediate post punk music was really interesting but do you think a lot of these bands got turned off when the ‘80's approached and a standard punk fashion image started creeping in?
MAURICE - Well that would have been just after I joined the Hare Krishna’s that that started happening... but even when it got going and started up here in Dublin there were people who were into it for the fashion as well... it’s like that with everything I think... and I don’t know how hard it would have been to continue like that because you evolve what you’re thinking as well, you know, but I wasn’t into that.
STANO - You take Thin Lizzy, to me Thin Lizzy were punks... all the punks loved Lizzy and the reason why... you take Phil Lynott at the time... he didn't have metal bands supporting them, he had the Radiators supporting them, and the Rats... I remember seeing him once or twice around Dublin... this amazing black guy walking down Grafton Street with leather trousers and everybody knew him, and the thing about Phil Lynott was, he could go into any pub in Dublin and sit down and talk to any auld fella and they liked him and he was a fucking ordinary head...
MAURICE - I think it was pathetic how some people just dress up... there was a song, “Here they come da da da da da da da... here they come... the part time punks”, and that was quite early on that that song came out. That was a slag on people who dress up as punks for the weekend and then wash the colour out of their hair and go back to whatever it is... go back to their office during the week.
STANO - That's the reason I broke away from it... but people started taking on a dress code... once people started to wear a uniform, that was against the whole thing of punk, that's what people don t realise... Dave Clifford wasn't a punk, he didn't look like a punk but he was more punk than anyone... the stuff he used to do... the performance art stuff, I did a gig in the project around 1982 and Dave Clifford had just put out my first single, ROOM, on his label... I think it was Microdisney, myself, and about 5 or 6 other bands and there was a load of performance people playing... the stuff that Dave Clifford did was amazing... dug himself a hole in the wall and got plastered into the wall and stuff like that. I remember when I first met him I got completely blown away by him. I knew nothing about performance art and someone said to me, “Did you hear about this guy Dave Clifford”, and I said,  “Well what does he do?”, and he said, “well one of his pieces is he built these small coffins and he had a funeral for sparrows and he hired hearses and he went out to UCD and dug little graves and buried the fucking things!”, and I was just going “Who the fuck is this? I wanna meet this guy!!”... I started to hang around with him and he started giving me tapes and the whole thing just opened for me... it was another world out there I was exploring... Kraftwerk was there, Faust and people like that... the Virgin Prunes were already in that direction and to me that was more real... like Public Image started heading this way and to me that was the real punk... and a friend of mine, Donal Teskey... I met him around 1980 but he was doing absolutely amazing work... he used to be taking white noise off the radio and that would be the whole drum track... and Bintti at the time who used to be in the Virgin Prunes, some of the stuff that he was doing was very, very interesting so there was lots of people on an individual basis...

BOZ - What was the extent of the aftermath of the single?
STANO - We knew we had a following... we used to play in the magnet and a few guys used to follow us around and the usual thing happened... a window got broken and a few chairs got smashed in at some of the early gigs and the guy who ran the magnet barred the band, but every time we played there it was just stuffed out the door and there was 60/70 people outside, you know, it was always jam packed full so basically we knew we had a following but we didn't know how big it was but the fact is that around that time there was nobody releasing singles... U2 hadn't released their single but there wasn't many Irish singles around... Strange Movements, DANCING IN THE GHETTO... that was put out on Terri Hooley’s label... I think we were the first band in the Republic to put something out on our own label... the Radiators were on Chiswick...
MAURICE - ... the biggest thing was John Peel... because he really liked us and so people would listen to his show... so it was stirring with Rough Trade... But we didn’t know anyone... but after Deirdre Creed left, it was myself, Longer and a bass player from the Navan Road... Rocky O’Rourke... the three of us... and Stano... we didn’t know anybody in the music world... it was like “Who the hell do you ask?”... Deirdre Creed had some connections alright... and some of her mates were saying how Rough Trade were looking at us, they were interested in signing us... and of course, Rough Trade, that would have been a good label to be with but we didn’t know anyone.

4be2's posse w/ John Lydon and Stano ( from Vox Magazine ) 
BOZ - You got to meet John Lydon the time he was here and ended up in Mountjoy...
STANO - Well, Jock McDonald was from Coolock and he had the 4be2's... that crowd and I hung around with a load of people from Coolock and they knew I was into punk at the time... I just got a knock one day at the door and the lads said come on into town... I got into the van and Jock McDonald was there... Rotten was my bloody hero at the time and they said we're going in to meet Johnny Rotten. I thought they were Joking. I think we went into the White Horse... some pub around the quays and Johnny Rotten was sitting down there... the thing that I liked about him was... It was at the time of the height of the Pistols, I didn't know that he'd been over a couple of times before that... just coming over to his friends or whatever and he wasn't interested in people asking him about music and this, that and the other... but what I know about it was, it wasn't actually him... I think it happened up near Santry... the van was going along and there was a Taxi driver beeping... they pulled out on the road wrong and the taxi driver was beeping... and one of the guys from Coolock got out and told yer man to shut up and started a fight with him... Rotten was in the back and the Taxi man seen him so when the police pulled him in, they were just looking to get Johnny Rotten... he actually didn't do anything... (A later well publicised incident in the Horse & Tram pub on Aston Quay landed Lydon in Mountjoy for the weekend - see “LYDON-GATE - A weekend in Ireland with the 4 Be 2’s ” - Nosebleed issue 22).

BOZ - After the single, were there plans to record for a follow up?
MAURICE - Yeah, we went into a studio and recorded a number of tracks... and I was planning to go to Berlin to do gigs... and god knows what might have happened... there was a little punk commune there with tents and stuff and because of the political situation the cops weren’t heavy... they were happy to have people living there... in their part of west Berlin, so I had plans to go there... and we’d started recording stuff and I was writing stuff for an album... and that’s when I joined the Hare’s...
STANO - We were actually in recording because the single went so well we said fuck it, we'll go in and do another single and we were half way through recording that single... for our own label again. Then Rough Trade got in contact with us and things were starting to happen for us, like Blondie was going to play here, lan Dury and I think the Clash were coming back and we were asked to play... the whole thing was starting to snowball for us... we were in the process of recording the second single and we had got a contract sent over from Rough Trade and we were just ready to sign the bloody thing... I was in my house one Sunday morning and there was a knock at the door... Maurice arrives at the door, all the Hare Krishna robes and all... that was the end of the Threat....   

BOZ - When exactly did you become a Krishna?
MAURICE - Well, what happened was, the band was really going well... ’80 was the year of The Threat really, because in ‘81 we were having a real problem with gigs, everywhere was closed to us... by the time ‘81 came it was real hard to get anything... the Dandelion was closed... that was a brilliant venue... it was the best place that ever happened and it closed down because of development... you know... there was money there... but like then, there was real people coming to the gigs... there was no fancy atmosphere... it was brilliant... and we’d get a good crowd in there as well, but with other venues then in ‘81, we couldn’t play anywhere... so then what happened was, I had my own van and I was doing deliveries... I lost that contract at the end of 1980, and that would have been to do with... I didn’t have the right image to do Phillips electrical deliveries.... one time I went into work and I decided to paint up one eye so I had some purple and black... just one eye done up, and I had the green and yellow hair... it was a real trip to go out and get gigs, especially when they’d heard about you and you’d say, “No, it’s not true”, about various incidents... I remember one time we played with DC Nien in Belfield... and there was a bit of trouble there... Whatever it was, someone from Hot Press came out to ask me about something... we had this old van that kept running out of water and all the lads were waiting to get in the back after the gig and then this car came in really close beside us and it nearly knocked a few of the lads over, they had to jump out of the way... and it pulled up outside the Students Union Bar... then they got out and they were all loud, they’d had a few drinks and the car could have been stolen ‘cos they were driving all over the grass and stuff... so our lads thought they’d go down and have a word with them in the car... so they ended up smashing all the windows in the car... some chains came out and that... so they drove off and went into the students bar and the students all came out with them and they started attacking... there wasn’t a large crowd of us either... so everybody crowded into the back of the van and we started the van to get it going, but it wouldn’t start... they all came close and started firing rocks, and the lads had to get out to chase them off again... and I remember somebody from Hot Press got on to me to ask me about violence, because they wanted me to condemn violence and they’d figured that I’d had a different angle, but I remember thinking it’s hypocritical to condemn violence if someone does something like that, smashing your windows, because there’s a whole thing going... it’s violent to treat people in your business as instruments for making money... it’s violent to control people in certain ways... so naturally there’s going to be a reaction against that... you can’t turn round and say, “Oh, the guy who threw a brick, he’s bad, we’re gonna condemn that guy!”, why don’t we condemn ALL violence... it’s like up in the north when people want to condemn the violence of the IRA... why not condemn all violence? Condemn the violence of the RUC... so if someone reacts against that... well you can’t just condemn that one aspect of it... so if you want to condemn violence, condemn all violence, join the Hare Krishna’s and chant Hare Krishna...

LULLABY IN C/HGH COST OF LIVING 7" ( 1980 )
BOZ - It seems that after 1980 there was a serious void in what was happening as well.
STANO - I think where the void was... pre to punk happening you had a lot of pub rock bands, so you had someone like the Rats who were a pub rock band changing over... but in that void, what basically happened is you had people around who were making music with the whole attitude of punk... there was an area where people were working away... there’s people out there like Roger Doyle he'd put out albums in 1974 of experimental stuff...

BOZ - How were you operating in ‘81 if you weren’t playing any gigs?
MAURICE - Well, I used to just go on my own... I’d have the amp and the guitar all set up in the garage and a tape recorder there... that’s how I’d write songs... I’d just play away and I’d start saying something and play along with it and try and get a tune together... and I was working at the time as well... I wanted to play gigs... it was kind of winding down that summer... and then we got thrown out of our flat... I met this guy who was in the dole office up the Navan road and he was inside... he was just let out and I said I’d bring him back for a meal at the flat... so I brought him back to our place to give him something to eat because they weren’t giving him his money right away or anything, so I kind of felt sorry for him. Anyway, they didn’t like him there in the flat... they kinda figured out he was taking advantage of me or whatever... at the time we were living on assistance so we didn’t have a whole lot.... and whatever we got we just spent on acid anyway, so we’d have nothing to eat in the place. Anyway, he got some money and he brought me out that night... he was drinking and I had a couple of tabs on me... there were some cops staying it the building as well... He came back and he picked one of the cops pockets and came back to show off to us what he’d done... I took the wallet and knocked on the cops door and said, “Look, I found this in a bag, I think it might belong to you”, but the cop knew this guy... because he was a cop he knew who he was.... in the meantime, my mates had given him a hiding in the flat for having done that.... so I came back in and the cop came in behind me and he started laying into him as well... so anyway, the long and the short of it was that he ended up at the bottom of the stairs unconscious and he was bleeding and that so we called an ambulance... the owner of the place threw us out and we couldn’t get a flat anywhere else... so I was looking for a flat and I was staying various places temporarily and we were going to go out on tour... and then I met the Hare Krishna’s at a festival and I just got into it.... At that stage it was Longer and Rocky O’Rourke and Stano... and I went missing for a while... nobody knew what had happened to me... I just came back and decided that was it and I just joined up...

BOZ - How do you go from playing in a punk band and dropping acid to becoming a Krishna?
MAURICE - For me it’s the same thing... I didn’t want to be like everybody else... just doing things because that’s what you’re supposed to do. I had things that I wanted to say... I was thinking for myself and it was my way of expressing it... I checked it out first and then I decided I wanted to get into practising spiritual life... it was the same thing... it was an expression of my idealism in different ways... the same with the IRA thing... that was an expression of my idealism to do that... I wanted justice... I wanted to do something... and then when punk came out it was the same thing... there’s a thread of idealism there but it’s expressing it in slightly different ways.

BOZ - After the Threat, things got more experimental but samplers obviously weren't available then... the technology was very limited...
STANO - When I did my first single in '82... I did my first demo tapes after the band broke up... about a month after the Threat I just went into the studio to do demo tapes... I brought in clocks and we had all this reversed stuff and dub reggae basslines... I was interested in all the early Steel Pulse singles... so there was all those elements of music coming into it but as it progressed... I mean, my first single, ROOM... I remember meeting people at the time and they had this image of punk and a lot of people were taken aback when my first single was a grand piano and drum machine and to me, that is a real bloody punk single... it still exists on it's own... 14 years later, it hasn't dated or anything like that and that's my whole philosophy on music... on the first album I've got guitars, home made instruments, grand piano on it... I’ve got distorted guitars and tape loops and stuff like that.... That book, the history of Irish rock, when they reviewed my first album... they were talking about loops... I was making my own loops 7 or 8 years before samplers existed... 

STANO ( from Vox Magazine )
BOZ - How was that direction received by people who knew you from the Threat?
STANO - I remember doing a gig in '83 and I remember clearly being on stage and a load of punks up the front roaring, “What are you doing Stano? What are you doing... Jesus, what's this?”, I had all these backing tracks worked out and there was all these videos... it was a collage of all these postmortem videos, people with heads cut off and autopsies going on... and either side of it was this heavy pornography stuff and then the centre one was all Salvador Dali Movies... I arrived up at the SFX to do the gig and Giordai from Microdisney was playing with me at the time. Basically what I used to do was I had these tribal backing tracks of all the stuff I'd made myself... slowed down drum machines and stuff played backwards and I used to recite this poetry over the top of it and there'd be all this guitar and feedback and noise... and I'd just be wailing away and all these images would be flashing and people just went demented... people tried to drag me off stage... there was fucking murder over it but I remember the SFX there were 3 or 4 punks who knew me from the Threat going, “What are you doing, what's happening here?”... Basically what happened was... when I went on the stage to do the gig... I hadn't my reel to reel with me and the SFX reel to reel, the tails wouldn't fit so the guy was like, “You have to go on”, and I was going, “No I can’t go on”, and he said like, “Improvise, do something!”, so I met a drummer there... the drum kit was behind the screens and I said... you just go on stage, get into a Gary Glitter Groove... don't mind what we're doing, don't even listen to what we're at so I went on stage and all these images started flashing up and there was all this Beefheart kind of screaming guitar and there was all these tape loops going on and I was just warbling... screaming out of my head... and a load of these performance guys got up and said, "Can we do something to get on stage?", and I said, “Yeah, great!”, so some guy rode by on a pushbike...

BOZ - What did you make of what Stano went on to do? 
MAURICE - Actually, what happened was when I joined the Hare Krishna’s... I gave up the world... I sold my instruments and gave away all my records and everything and I just got into spiritual life... and to be a saint... after a few years, I didn’t quite make it as a saint so I’m getting back into playing music again... Last year (1997) I met Stano... just after I’d started playing music again, outside Whelan’s. That’s the first time I’d seen him since then. I didn’t know what he was doing. He gave me a couple of his CDs and I think it’s great ‘cos that’s what he always wanted to do... we should do what we want to do without being inhibited or intimidated... music isn’t the product of some big companies who are into making money and have all the equipment to make something pretty and cover up stuff and do a million takes... right now as regards music I really am into music now and trad and writing my own songs... it’s the first music I ever heard and it’s what I’ve gone back to so that’s what I relate to now... It’s interesting, Like there’s this straight edge scene with Shelter and 108... I know the lads from 108 in the States... I played with their bass player in New York... but we were playing my songs and it was fun...

BOZ - Do you think there were genuinely elements in punk that could be used as a tool for social upheaval or was that just people dreaming?
STANO - NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS, at the time existed on it's own... and then you get things that copied it... and METAL BOX existed on it's own... that's what I'm interested in, until it turned into a fashion, and it turned into a fashion because of record companies... later there was a distinctive sound that was played but if you go back to the initial punk thing it was be original and at the end of the day one band had their own style and another band had theirs and that's why people like the Clash were interested in reggae and the way Public Image developed... to me that was real punk... not what happened a couple of years later... it turned into a sort of caricature of what people were doing... to me people like Throbbing Gristle, people like Cage and Stockhausen, they were real punks at the time and the whole attitude was be yourself and do what you want to do so that was our whole philosophy behind the Threat. We were just purely interested in music.. we were just on a rollercoaster we didn’t know where it was going...  and to me, my whole attitude to music was, and still is, that you can make it from anything... you can make it from noise, you can make it from television... I started to get out it around ‘82-‘83 but I still consider myself and the music I do the whole punk attitude... when it started to turn into a fashion I moved away from it... after a while it just began to repeat itself, mainly because of the bands I just started to get disinterested in it, you know... At the end of the day I dressed like a punk... I had me brothel creepers and me trousers and my hair spiked and all that but that's because I was a teenager and that's what I'd seen in the papers...
MAURICE - Well I do have ideas and I would like to see upheaval... I thought the IRA was the way to achieve that at one time but if you walk down the streets in Dublin or you walk down the streets in London it’s the same thing so I figured, why give your life to fighting for a cause if it’s the same thing... I didn’t see the point... but yeah, I did want to save things... I mean GOVERNMENT OF THE FUTURE was about trying to get people to say... Don’t you realise what’s going on here, that people are trying to control you... that you’re just being used... they’re trying to think for you... organise things a certain way... you’d better do something... but then, what do you do? So I’ve ended up like this because I figured that it is pointless... it’s not pointless to think... I think we should all think, but to me, socialist movements, so many of them, there’s so much talk going on and it was like... why is everyone just talking... why don’t they do something... and then this idea of the working classes, the united masses... it’s just a dream, it doesn’t exist... because someone gets offered some money and off he goes, he’s left the movement... so I’m into ideas, I’m into people preserving their own integrity... and punk was how I was trying to do that... I didn’t want to be someone else, I wanted to be me... I had things I wanted to say... punk was a way of doing that... but maybe I didn’t see that it was the answer...

5 comments:

  1. Fantastic blog Boz, only found it this morning. Now on the favourites

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  2. great article. ta :)

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  3. What issue of Riot 77 did this article appear in?

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  4. cupla us did a fanzine from 1978-82 or so.he threat were good.the gamblers were a great band though.

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