Ready for some counter-intuitive counter-culturing? Hot Press' Natalie Dyer speaks with die hard fans in Ireland’s underground music scenes. All to see what they think of one another.
Earlier this year, Notes on a Rave documented the birth of Dublin’s rave scene in the 90s. Last month, Against the Current exhibited Waterford’s subcultural movements from 1979 - 1996. Seems as though history refuses to be forgotten. And why should it? In ethnomusicology, infinite sociological research can prove the linkage of identity through music. But don’t take an ethnomusicologist's word for it. Hear it from the frontlines.
Punk on Rave
Davey Tyler // Diehard Punk
Davey reckons most would be shocked to hear that he has a soft spot for the dance scene: “I think what attracts me the most, is the vast array of music sub genres - be it house, trance, or hardstyle. It’s what breaks down all social barriers...The loyalty of the frequent ‘rave goer’ is hard to match too”. Davey admires the support given to up and coming ‘bedroom acts’ and would love punk bands to get the same level of encouragement. In regards to a standout dance gig he’s been to, Davey says Shine in March of 2014: “Seeing the legendary Green Velvet on the same bill as the likes of Chris Hanna and Space Dimension was pretty special. Happy vibes for days after..minus the hangover.”
Hip Hop on Rave
JeanLuc Uddoh // JYellowl Rapper
JeanLuc praises the size of the rave scene fan base: “Some raves are put on in the grimmest conditions in a field down in Westmeath when it’s minus three degrees and lashing rain. Yet, 5,000 people still show up topless in shorts.” JeanLuc feels hip hop and rave are closely linked because “hip hop DJs and producers can sample their songs and verses”. He also thinks that to be in the rave scene, you have to be extraordinarily committed to the sesh:
“They have a rep of doing a lot of drugs and being off their heads with their jaws swinging - but I think that’s just people in general...I remember the first time I went to a rave. Everyone was so into the distorted sounds and climatic drops, but I just couldn’t hack it because I was sober. I’m a lyrics listener, so it takes more than an instrumental to get me going.”
Rave on Metal
Jess Brennan // Public Figure & Fire Performer
Although Jess wouldn’t go to metal gigs for the music, she commends the dedication metal heads have to the scene: “It’s that separation from metal to other more commercial music genres which makes it attractive and exclusive”. Jess describes metal music as “quite aggressive with nonrhythmic amplified guitar...and drums with dark and raw vocals.
"They call those vocals 'death growl' - which I think is kinda fuckin’ cool,” she says. On whether there’s any conflict between metal heads and ravers in Dublin, Jess says the only conflict arising these days is within sub genres of the rave scene: "There’s bound to be conflict in a scene as big as rave".
Jess also sees a lot of similarities between metallers and ravers: “They’re both loud and boisterous. When the rave scene was first developing, ravers felt disconnected from the rest of society because of the laws made in some cities banning illegal rave parties”. This disconnection, is what Jess feels metal and rave have in common. Contrary to society’s views, she thinks metal heads are - “underneath all the hair and leather” - massive sweethearts.
Rockabilly on Rave
Kim Gahan // Manages Collegiate Shag Dublin
Kim builds on Jess' theory of disconnection in ravers: “The scene, to me anyway, always gave the impression that it was quite an independent or lonely scene to be part of. Visually, it's completely different - lone techno dancers on a dance floor, eyes closed, disconnecting from everyone else in the room, with no particular defining fashion statement.”
On an uneasy dance experience in the former basement of Twisted Pepper: "The room was jam packed, everyone knocking into me, spilling drinks, there were disorientating smoke machines, blinding lights....just not my thing!”
But before readers jump to their guns, Kim tells us that her whole perception of techno has now changed thanks to her partner, who is a techno producer: “I've come to appreciate the work that goes into producing techno and the musical knowledge that's needed to make something quite minimal, deep and almost hypnotic”.
Hip Hop on Punk and Grunge Rock
Bobby Basil // Rapper
For Bobby, he loves the rebelliousness of punk: “You’re not sitting down and shutting up. It’s a freedom of expression and being unapologetic”. Bobby's most punk experience, he says, was not turning up to detention in school. On Nirvana’s grunge rock song ‘Hairspray’, he likes the fact you can barely understand what Cobain's saying: “He’s not limiting himself to words. He’s mumbling and I love that. It’s just a big fuck you to everything normal.”
On hip hop and punk’s fashion similarities, Bobby talks about how Kurt Cobain started the long jumpers, glasses and ripped jeans - but that now everyone in hip hop is rocking it. Lyrically speaking, Bobby also connects the dots between 80's and 90's hip hop and punk music: “Hip hop would have talked about struggle. It started out from people being poor and saying ‘we’ll just rap’. It was a raw community feel”. Bobby feels that when it comes to anti-establishmentarianism - punk addresses the same issues. He also explains how hip hop contradicts itself in regards to that statement: “At the same time, they're run by big corporations”.
Metal on Punk
Tom Woodlock // Drummer for zOhra
Tom says he's made friends with a few punks at this stage: "Back in 70s and 80s, both groups were fairly wary of each other for a multitude of reasons. It was mostly a musical thing. Metal was about flash and finesse, whereas punk was about grit and authenticity. Gigs back then used to be skinheads vs longhairs in the pit. Apparently, it got violent enough.
"Punk or metal, both of them boil down to having a place to put whatever frustrations you have and get them out. In that way, there's a fairly big community spirit in the scenes. You can't spend 45 minutes aggressively smashing into someone and not respect them afterwards."
One thing Tom praises the punk scene for, is the political side of it: "I think they've always been known for that and it's easy enough, in this day and age, to stick your head in the sand and write a song about nothing in particular. A lot of people don't care for politics in their music, so you've got to respect their dedication to keeping the ugly truth in the conversation, often at the expense of a wider audience."
Hip Hop on Irish Trad
Diarmaid O’ Murchu // One Half of Neomadic
Diarmaid tells Hot Press that despite thinking Irish trad was a dying scene when he was younger, his little brother plays the music box and is very active in Maynooth: “I went to one of his sessions in the local pub and I really admire the sense of community. Like, it was just a jamming session with about 20 people, of all ages, and of all instrumentation and backgrounds. Sort of like hip hop nowadays.”
Diarmaid enjoys the lyricism and honest humour of The Dubliners, especially in lines of ‘The Wild Rover’:
I went into an alehouse I used to frequent
And I told the landlady me money was spent
I asked her for credit, she answered me nay
Such a customer as you I can have any day.
In Diarmaid's family, they sing it every New Years when they meet up. “I never really understood the lyrics back then, but loved how it brought the family together...It gives you an Irish identity because we all know someone who loves their drink...And it makes me feel proud to be Irish, because storytelling and poetry played a huge role in our past.”
Mod on Irish Trad and Metal
Alan Donnelly // Publishing
In regards to metal, Alan’s been to see Motorhead, Metallica and Machine Head: “The atmosphere at those gigs is electric. The scene just has this ‘we're in it together buzz”.
He also finds that metal heads have a vast knowledge, appreciation and love for all types of music; from classical, to jazz, to trad: “My friends have a band called The Scratch and they blend Irish trad and metal genres together. They call it “speed trad”.
On the mod scene and the infamous conflict between mods and rockers, Alan says there certainly wouldn’t be any to the extent of the feuding that happens between criminal gangs. He also speaks about drugs in the early 1960s as being a big part of the ‘all go’ mod lifestyle: “It was down to the amphetamine pills like Purple Hearts and Black Bombers. Pills made it possible for newly-rich working class mods to pack a week’s worth of partying at all nighters and clubs into the weekend.”
Mod on Skinheads and Rockers
Phil Hope // Promoter
Continuing talks on the mod rocker conflict, Phil says there was always trouble at gigs in his day: “Skinheads would fight with mods and punks would fight with skinheads, but there was also bother between mods from different areas and skins fighting each other too.
"The mod vs rocker thing was just media hype. I've heard tales of Tramore from some folk, but I really couldn't comment as I wasn't there”. (Sidenote: Hot Press looked it up. In 70's Tramore, there were skirmishes between bikers and ‘boot boys’, with the mod revival continuing the trend later on. Allegedly, certain factions were over keeping Ireland free of international politics).
As for why it comes across that skinheads were more violent, Phil thinks it’s down to the media again: “It’s much easier to portray the kids in big boots as ‘the violent cried’, than say the casuals in smart Burberry golfer jackets and trainers”.
Rocker on Skinheads
Gav Icon Hodgins // DJ
In the late 60s in England, Gav explains how a lot of mods turned into skinheads because they wanted something different. On skinheads and their racist stereotype, Gav says skinheads were always associated with violence because of the so called ‘Paki-bashing’ and football hooliganism: “It was a few racist groups who adopted the skinhead look and gave it a bad name”. Gav goes on to explain that these folk are not traditional skinheads and that they dress slightly differently. He believes that due to general ignorance, “people are tarring all skins with the same brush,” but that skins couldn't be further removed from this racist perception.
Skinhead on Everyone
Rúadhán O’ Broin // Die Hard Skin
Rúadhán recounts how conflict was common in 80s music subcultures: “mods vs heavy metallers, mods vs punks, punks vs punks, mods vs skinheads, skinheads vs skinheads. It was a free for all. Politics had a fair share in the conflict.
“At gigs there would be tension and sometimes violence due to drink and drugs and people in different scenes being from different parts of Dublin. Nowadays, there's no conflict in any subculture in Dublin. The scene is small so we’re all together.”
There you have it! Aside from the only divides being within one's own scene, there appears to be universal sociological behaviour throughout all forms of music.
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