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Fight Like Apes for lively New Year’s Eve gig

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: {J}

Fight Like Apes play the Róisín Dubh this Thursday as part of an impressive New Year’s Eve bill that also includes Le Galaxie, Messiah J & The Expert and Disconnect 4.

Since their emergence in 2006, Fight Like Apes have acquired a reputation as a fiery, impressive live act. The Dublin band is made up of May Kay on vocals, Jamie (or ‘Pockets’) on synths and vocals, Tom on bass and Adrian on drums. As 2009 draws to a close, Jamie reflects on a good year for FLA.

“It’s been great, it’s been really, really fun,” he says.

“The last few weeks have been relaxed because we’ve just been writing. It’s been hectic enough, but not as hectic as last year.”

The synth-pop meets indie quartet are currently working on the follow up to their Choice Prize nominated debut The Mystery of The Gold Medallion.

“We’re doing bits and pieces in our houses and then we’re renting a house down in Offaly, in Ballycumber,” says Jamie.

Then we’re going back to the studio where we did the first two EPs and we’re doing some stuff there.” To be fair, Ballycumber isn’t known as a haven for quirky rock bands. How did Jamie and his band mates end up there?

“We heard that there was a place going down there that was relatively cheap and a lot off rooms, and we just thought it’d be really funny. There’s no distractions – a few pubs and a few shops – which is what we wanted at the time.”

In January, Fight Like Apes are embarking on an extensive German and Swiss tour. The live setting is where they thrive and they’re looking forward to attracting new fans.

“A label called Strangeways wanted to release the album over there,” Jamie explains.

“It all seemed above board and we gave them licence a few months back and we went over for our first tour there. We were asked would we go back over in January. It’s something we’re looking into doing a lot of, going over to Europe.”

One of the most interesting things about Fight Like Apes is the fact the band has no guitarist, a rare thing in rock groups. Was this a deliberate choice?

“It wasn’t, no,” Jamie says. “We just couldn’t find one at the time. We tried out three or four and it was just really . . . tiresome, or something. Watching guys solo, not bringing anything original to it. “There was more room in the car as well,” he adds.

“At the start we were driving around in a little car, so it made more sense. And we didn’t want to carry [guitar] amps; they’re really heavy.” The real power of Fight Like Apes lies in the unrestrained pitch of May Kay’s voice. The frontwoman’s howl makes every show memorable, but it’s a sound that took some goading.

“It came about in a real weird way,” recalls Jamie. “At the start we kept saying ‘could you give it a bit more?’ and she kept getting really annoyed with us. She said ‘this is as far as I can go’. We got her so pissed off one day, I remember, by going ‘no, no, there’s no point in us playing gigs if you’re going to sing it like that’.

She just erupted into a scream that went completely over the top. We said ‘could you tone it back a bit?’ and we went from there. We found the perfect balance.”

Fight Like Apes’ live show led to them being invited to support The Prodigy on their 2008 UK tour. It was an enjoyable, but challenging, experience for the quartet.

“They’re really nice guys,” Jamie says about the dance music veterans. “But really intimidating fans, I have to say. Prodigy fans are terrifying; they’re completely hardcore. The first two dates, we literally did everything we could and the crowd just stood there, throwing stuff at us. “We had to learn to play for their crowd,” he continues.

“We decided to play less poppy stuff and more heavy stuff and not play properly, at all. We went out and acted like we didn’t care – because we didn’t! We’d no confidence left after being stepped on the first few times. When we went out not caring any more, they loved it. It was the most bizarre thing.”

Touring with the Prodigy allowed FLA to see the trappings success can bring, but one thing in particular impressed Jamie. “I think I talk more about the food on the road than I do about anything else,” he says.

“It’s kind of my gauge. [The Prodigy] had amazing catering every day – starter, main course, dessert. We just be sitting around going ‘why are we allowed to do this?’ That’s why I’d like to get big – to get the catering! I’m not really into that ‘selling loads of albums’.”

Fight Like Apes enjoyed a fairly quick path to prominence, impressing critics and fans with their unique approach. “It came out of nowhere at the start,” Jamie agrees.

“We were making music to play for ourselves. We were very aware that we were limited in terms of musicianship. We weren’t technically a great band but we always had a lot of fun with it. Every gig was a night out.

“Sometimes it feels like we’re watching the band progress while just having a laugh at the same time. It’s always been easy to bring the fun to it. If it’s not fun, there’s no point in doing it.” As Fight Like Apes prepare an eagerly anticipated new album, their synth player reveals how they approach songwriting.

“Mary will bring a song in, or we’ll mess around and just write stuff. Sometimes nothing will get done and then one day we could write three songs. It took a little while to get going on the second album because we hadn’t written in so long, but when the floodgates opened they just came pouring in.”

Their songs so far, combined with their loyal following would seem to indicate that Fight Like Apes will be around for a good while yet. “We’re getting on better and better every day, and as long as that keeps happening then I can’t imagine anything stopping us.”

Tickets for the New Year’s Eve show are €20/15 members. Doors 7.30pm.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Galway girls make a splash on Irish U-15 water polo side

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 18-Feb-2013

The Irish U-15 girls’ water polo team, which was backboned by eight Galway players, made history in Birmingham made history last weekend when they reached the final of the British Regional Water Polo Championships.

All the girls are members of Galway’s Tribes Water Polo Club, formed only two years ago by Deborah Heery and Amanda Mooney. To get eight members from one club onto a National squad of 13 was an achievement in itself for this new club, but to be part of an Irish team – which was captained by Galway’s Róisín Cunningham, Smyth – to reach a final at such a high International level exceeded all expectations.

Competing against Scotland and Wales, Ireland made it out of their group to a semi-final place against the much fancied North West A England team. The semi-final proved to be the game of the tournament with nothing to separate the teams.

After goals from Carmel Heery, Aisling Dempsey, Eleanor O’Byrne, Roisin Cunningham Smyth and a dramatic penalty save by goalie Ailbhe Colleran, the Irish girls ran out 7-6 winners to become the first Irish side to make a final.

In the final on Sunday afternoon, they met tournament favourites, London, who they had previously beaten in the Group stages. With excellent performances from Eva Dill, Ailbhe Keady and Laoise Smyth, Ireland held the experienced English team to a 4-4 scoreline at half-time, but the English team, with their stronger and more experienced panel pulled away to win the tournament in the second half.

The success of the Irish team in reaching their first ever British Regional Finals was enhanced even further when Tribes member, Carmel Heery, was nominated Most Valuable Player of the Irish Team

In addition to their recent International success these girls were also members of the Tribes Water Polo team that won the U-14 & U-16 National Water Polo Cups this year and the Grads invitational U-15 tournament.

The success of this young Galway Water Polo Club nationally and internationally is in no small way due to the exceptional ability of their talented coaches, Padraig Smyth, Amanda Mooney, Jeremy Pagden, Carol O’Neill, Roisin Sweeney, Cathal Treacy.

The Irish team was coached by Aideen Conway (IWPA) and managed by Tribes founder, Deborah Heery.

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Feast of folk at An Taibhdhearc

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 21-Feb-2013

Galway group We Banjo 3, comprising Enda and Fergal Scahill with Martin and David Howley, will team up with Dublin band I Draw Slow for a unique concert at An Taibhdhearc, on Thursday next, February 28, 8pm.

Featuring banjos, fiddle, mandolins, guitars, banjolin and vocals We Banjo 3 combine Irish music with old-time American, ragtime and bluegrass influences, revealing the banjo’s rich legacy from its roots in African and minstrel music through to the Irish traditional sound pioneered by Barney McKenna.

Their début album, Roots of the Banjo Tree, was voted best trad album in The Irish Times in December 2012.

The roots band I Draw Slow perform a blend of old time Appalachian and Irish traditional material that has been described as a fully natural evolution of American and Irish traditional styles.

Their top 10-selling second album, Redhills was named RTÉ’s album of the week in 2011 and it frequently features on playlists of stations in Ireland, the UK and the US.

Next Thursday’s concert in An Taibhdhearc is presented by Music Network and An Taibhdhearc and starts at 8pm. Tickets are €15. Booking at 091-562024.

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