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Listen to the lions
In 1982, a band emerged on Dublin’s northside that would go on to write some of the biggest songs in the Irish rock canon. Still going strong thirty years on, Aslan are about to embark on their busiest period ever. As they ready themselves for the fray, the iconic Dublin rockers tell their remarkable story.
Olaf Tyaransen, 18 May 2012
He’s definitely not a fan of organised religion: “As far as I can see, all organised religion is doing nothing but fucking up the world. It belongs in the Middle Ages! The world we live in today has no relevance to what all of that shit’s about.
“Like, look at your man Rick Santorum, one of the Republican candidates in America. He’s totally against evolution, and he’s into Creationism. How can an educated man, who’s potentially going to lead one of the most powerful countries in the world, tell us that there were never any such thing as dinosaurs? What the fuck is that about?
“It’s funny because at gigs I often say, ‘God bless’. But I remember when I was coming off the gear, this bloke said to me, ‘Look, there’s two types of people. Religious people are people who want to go to heaven. Spiritual people are people who’ve been to hell’. And I kind of indentified with that. I don’t particularly want to go
Dignam may not want to go to heaven, but he’s already been to – or at least through – hell. His autobiography, This is Christy Dignam written with journalist Neil Fetherstonhaugh, revealed that, between the ages of six and nine, he was repeatedly raped by a male neighbour in his native Finglas. When he eventually sought help from a friend’s older brother, he was raped again by him. Little wonder that he later turned to heroin.
“Addiction really is about feelings,” he explains. “I was sexually abused when I was a kid. So you have this fuckin’ thing inside you, it’s like a hole, a gnawing feeling. I used to have that all the time, until I took gear. The first time I took gear, I just said to myself, ‘man, you’re fuckin’ home’. Not with hash or coke or drink. No other thing ever gave me what heroin did. It was like, ‘Now I know how Olaf feels when he wakes up in the morning or how Billy feels’. I didn’t feel stoned, I just felt normal.”
Hard drug abuse was rampant across Dublin’s Northside in the 1980s anyway, but his burgeoning rock ‘n roll career offered chemical temptation wherever he went.