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Hoarsebox to kick up a storm as they play R—is’in Dubh



Date Published: {J}

It’s always memorable when you catch a band on their way up. While it’s a buzz seeing someone in a big venue, you’ll always remember the time you saw them in a small room. Hoarsebox are a band with serious ambitions and their gig upstairs in the Róisín Dubh may well be the last time they play in such tight confines.

The Dublin based four piece are currently touring in the US, putting the finishing to their debut album. Keyboard player and vocalist Johnny Holden explains how Hoarsebox came up with their peculiar moniker.

“The band name is a combination of a couple of things,” he says. “We used to all use that expression: ‘Howya Horse’. That evolved into ‘Howya Horsebox’. So we were first called Horsebox. We’d often be hoarse at the end of a gig. So we put two and two together and got five – Hoarsebox.”

“Our formation is long and boring,” he adds. “I was in school with Phil, the guitar player, but I’ve been playing music with Kieran, the bass player, for years in a variety of bands. Max, on drums, was hired for one session gig four years ago, which we didn’t pay him for, and then he never left. I think he’s still waiting to be paid!”

Hoarsebox fuse distil influences like The Police, Fela Kuti and Red Hot Chili Peppers into their own poppy concoction. Work Party is a particular toe-tapper. Is there a chief songwriter in the band or do they work together?

“It’s usually a combination of the two,” Johnny says.” Someone will come in with a bit of a song but it’s rare that one member would ever come in with something completely finished. We work on the music itself together and then I go off and put lyrics to it.

“In the case of Work Party, producer Ken McHugh had a part to play in its overall funkiness. You could see he was getting off on the clavinet sounds and the disco beats and bass, which in turn got us excited. So we rolled with it. It’s a lot of fun to play. I hope it’s not just fun for us though or else we’ll never get anywhere!”

For their debut album Hoarsebox enlisted the services of producer Dennis Herring, who was worked with major acts like Elvis Costello, Modest Mouse and Counting Crows. How did an emerging band attract such a big league producer?

“Dennis was told of our existence through some label folk who came to see us play in LA and New York last year,” explains Johnny. “Two in particular travelled over to Dublin to see us play in Andrews Lane Theatre in May 2009. The relationship began when we came over here to Mississippi in September for a couple of weeks just to see if we’d all get along.

“Making an album with a producer is a very full on experience so you need to know it’ll work,” he adds. “So far we’ve been having a ball. He’s dragging us kicking and screaming out of the seventies into the 21st century. He’s a very good guy with years of experience so sometimes we’re a little in awe. His recent album with Buddy Guy was just voted blues album of the decade.”

Music and how we consume it has changed immensely in the past decade. Bands can no longer depend on record deals and CD sales. Hoarsebox have an innovative way of reaching fans: an iPhone application (or ‘app’) that keeps you up to date with the band.

“We wanted to get our music out in more novel ways,” Johnny explains. “iPhones are pretty big in Ireland but they’re huge on mainland Europe and in the US where there are literally hundreds and thousands of apps. An Irish company called DV4 approached us with the opportunity for their ‘band in the hand’ project: a new way for fans of music to get even closer to their favourite bands. The band can be asked questions which we respond to by video. We also upload video content as we tour around the US and make this album here in Mississippi, which is only accessible to Hoarsebox app holders. When you’re an independent band like ourselves the more ways you can reach out to new fans the better.”

Hoarsebox are already fulfilling many bands’ dreams by playing and recording in the US. New York, in particular, is a place they love going to.

“We played a gig on Halloween Night in a place in Greenwich Village called Arlene’s Grocery,” Johnny recalls. “We arrived at around 6pm only to find a queue of people outside waiting to see us. That gig was a lot of fun.

“I was on crutches at the time as I had recently broken my ankle,” he continues. “After the gig we were taking the subway to a party and there were loads of other people waiting for the train all dressed up in Halloween costumes. One really drunk idiot thought my crutches were part of a costume and started giving me grief about insulting disabled people by my choice of fancy dress. Nothing I said could convince him that I actually had a broken ankle and he took a swing at me. Thankfully my train came seconds later and I hobbled away!”

When asked what punters coming to the Hoarsebox show in the Róisín Dubh on March 25 can expect, Johnny gives an answer that points to their quirky sense of humour.

“Blood, sweat, vomit, laughing, screaming, roly-poly, the Twist, the mash potato, the roast potato and thousands of elderly people asking for covers of Earth, Wind and Fire!”

All joking aside, playing live is what Hoarsebox live for. They are determined to have as much fun as possible, creating what they hope is an infectious sense of abandon.

“Gigs are what make us tick,” Johnny says. “Getting people to dance is the ultimate goal. That’s why we sing like nobody’s listening and dance like nobody’s watching. So everyone else will too.”

Hoarsebox play upstairs in the Róisín Dubh on Thursday, March 25. Doors at 11.45pm, Admission is free.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



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

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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



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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