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Fight Like Apes for lively New Year’s Eve gig

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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

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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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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