- 07 Dec 11
To cap another highly eventful rock‘n’roll year, a slew of Ireland’s most hip and happening musician types and gatecrasher Phill Jupitus converge on Dublin for the 10th Anniversary Hot Press Summit. President Higgins, The Stone Roses, Amy Winehouse, the Boys In Green & marauding North Korean submarines are all on the agenda as 2011 is subjected to CSI-style forensic examination.
Forget the Late Late Toy Show and Garda breathalyser checkpoints, the surest sign that Christmas is upon us is when the good and the great of the Irish music industry assemble for the annual HP Summit.
We’ve been putting the rock ‘n’ roll world to rights for ten years now – the first summit taking place in 2002 when Damien Rice, Lisa Hannigan, Mundy, David Kitt, Glen Hansard and Gemma Hayes were among those pontificating, prevaricating and lots of other things beginning with ‘p’.
Since then our round-ish tablers have included Joe Elliott, Cathy Davey, Tim Wheeler, Sharon Corr, Neil Hannon, Laura Izibor, Paul Noonan, Niall Breslin, Danny O’Donoghue, Duke Special, MayKay and Conor J. O’Brien, to name but a dozen. But – in the immortal words of ABC’s Martin Fry – that was then, this is now. Michael D is rocking in the Áras, the third coming of the Stone Roses is nigh and all thoughts of terminally dull football have gone out the window as Trap’s men head for certain Euro 2012 glory in Poland and the Ukraine. Here in The Workman’s Club to chew over these and other matters of national import are:
Lydia Des Dolles – lead singer with Sweet Jane, the Velvet Underground-worshipping Dubliners who had to leave their Wrigley’s at home this year when they journeyed to Singapore. Currently recording their second album in Grouse Lodge, they could just be the dark horses of the Irish rock pack.
Thomas Walsh – purveyor of some of Ireland’s most perfect pop, Thomas returned to Pugwash duties this year, having spent 2010 moonlighting alongside Neil Hannon in the cricket-tastic Duckworth Lewis Method. Made it two top 20 Irish albums in a row with The Olympus Method, and continued to have extremely nice things said about him by the likes of Chris Morris, Stephen Fry and ELO legend Jeff Lynne.
James Byrne – not content with drumming his way round the world this year with Villagers, James runs the Any Other City label whose latest signings Hello Moon have made January’s Eurosonic cut. Has also been known to man the 1s and 2s in various city-centre nightspots and reckons that The Clash’s Topper Headon is one of rock’s greatest unsung heroes.
Julie Feeney – financed her own US tour this year, which elicited rave reviews from the likes of Rolling Stone and the New York Times. Went the Fundit route to raise the money for her next album, and has also been commissioned to write an opera.
Stewart Agnew – The Dundalk singer-songwriter tasted top 10 Irish success for the first time in 2011 with Hello Bright Spark, an album that DJs here, Pat Kenny and Tony Fenton included, couldn’t get enough of. Springsteen-y in a Bono-ish sort of way, you wouldn’t bet against him achieving international lift-off in the New Year.
Phill Jupitus – the most welcome of gatecrashers, we had no idea the comedian and Never Mind The Buzzcocks team captain was in town until Mr. Walsh told us they were meeting for lunch. Starred this year in the touring version of Spamalot that stopped off in the Grand Canal Theatre, and has a keen ear for both new talent and obscure old people it’s imperative you discover.
Sam Halliday – the Two Door Cinema guitarist who despite being in songwriting lockdown in Glasgow joins us through the wonders of Skype. Arguably the hardest gigging Irish band of 2011, the Bangor/Donaghdee trio started the year by wining the Choice Music Prize and ended it by remixing Lady Gaga.
Stuart Clark – Hot Press’ Assistant Editor who still dreams of being Lemmy when he grows up. Today though, he’s amphetamine sulphate-free and eager to demonstrate that should David Dimbleby ever retire he’s the man for the Question Time gig.
Stuart: Okay, an easy one first – you’ve all had stoopidly busy years, what were the highlights?
Lydia: Going to Singapore was amazing – although the 19-hour flight was a major head-fuck! Halfway through there was an announcement saying: “If you have chewing-gum put it in the bag the stewardesses are about to bring round or otherwise you’ll be arrested.” They have zero tolerance towards everything! We thought because of that the audiences might be a bit subdued but no, they were totally up for it. We did Music Matters, which is their sort of South By South West, and then 24 or 25 other shows. They’re so welcoming of western bands. What it all stemmed from was Universal in Singapore asking me to do a various artists cover of Coldplay’s ‘Fix It’ for the Japanese earthquake disaster. I couldn’t make it over in time for the session, so I missed out on my ‘We Are The World’ moment and recorded my lines here. It’s an expensive place to get to, but luckily we had Culture Ireland and our label Reekus behind us. It’s also been fantastic working on our new record with Pat McCarthy who did Madonna’s Ray Of Light album and has just been working in New York with Metallica and Lou Reed.
Stuart: I’ll be asking everybody for their opinions on Lulu later.
Thomas: It’s Metallica, so it’s shit!
Sam: We were in Singapore and South Korea, which was even weirder. We played at this festival, which the previous year had been cancelled because a North Korean submarine with what was thought to be nuclear missiles was spotted in a nearby bay. To get to it we had to go on this little private plane, which sounds great, but it felt like a death trap. All of us and our luggage being thrown about by the turbulence. Then when we got there, our front-of-house engineer was miking up the drum-kit and this guy came on and started painting the riser black. We were like, “What the fuck are you doing?”
In terms of highlights, it’d have to be winning the Choice, which was essentially a night on the piss with your mates, and then a couple of weeks later going to America and experiencing the full-on MTV madness of the Woody Awards. Odd Future, Wiz Khalifa and Foo Fighters were all playing, and we got to meet Lenny Kravitz’s daughter Zoë who we didn’t realise at the time is in the new X-Men movie.
James: Villagers were brought over to Istanbul this year by the equivalent of Culture Ireland, so Culture Turkey! It felt more like a holiday than a gig. I don’t know if Becoming A Jackal’s even out there yet, but everybody knew the words. If you want to go somewhere European but a bit strange as well, I’d recommend it. I was also lucky enough to see The Walkmen play from literally ten yards away. I’m a big fan of their drummer Matt Barrick, so I snuck on stage during ‘Stone Crazy’ and just stared at him!
Stuart: You were being a helpless fan boy, weren’t you!
James: Kind of! I actually ended up lending him my Wellington boots ‘cause he didn’t have any. I was about to go on stage, so I said, “Just borrow mine.” My feet are quite big and he’d be, I’d say, Size 6, so he was sloshing around in them. I got a lot of slagging over that from the lads!
Stuart: Did you accompany Conor to the Grosvenor House Hotel in May to pick up his Ivor Novello Award?
James: No, we had a gig that night in Colchester so Conor went down on his own by train, and came back oiled up! We got to go to the Mojo Awards though.
Lydia: Who did you stare at there?
James: Phil Collins, Ringo Starr and Jim Sclavunos, the guy that drums with Grinderman. We were sat pretty close together, so I thought of going over to introduce myself but chickened out!
Stuart: The Duckworth Lewis Method were nominated for the Ivor Novellos but…
Thomas: ... didn’t win! Yeah, thanks very much for reminding me, Stuart! We’d just started promoting The Olympus Sound and were driving down the quays to do a Radio Nova session when I saw Conor walking along with his guitar. We were stuck in traffic, so I wound the window down and shouted, “Give us a lend of your Ivor!” Of course the reason I didn’t win an Ivor Novello or the Choice, which the Duckworths were also nominated for, was Neil Hannon.
Stuart: He’s always held you back…
Thomas: Well, he can’t physically hold me back; it’s just not possible! No, musically it was the greatest day of my life. We walked into the Grosvenor foyer at half-eleven in the morning and there were Vic Reeves and Rolf Harris having a chat. We sat down at the Sony Music table and who was next to us but Don Black who wrote the lyrics to ‘To Sir With Love’ and all these incredible James Bond songs. He was giving an award to Lily Allen who was just there; Neil Sedaka was there; Kaiser Chiefs were there; Annie Lennox was there; Johnny Marr and fucking Noel Gallagher were there with Paul Weller when he came in. When the nomination montage came on with Tom Robinson doing the voice-over, I thought I was going to pass out with excitement! There were only two other albums up for the award, Paolo Nutini and Dizzee Rascal’s, so even though we didn’t win I’m incredibly proud just to have been short-listed. They did a thing beforehand, which gave the respective sales figures – six million, four million and 40,000. I was delighted we sold 40,000 but don’t put that in or they’ll take the labour off me!
Stuart: I know he’s robbed you of a mantlepiece full of awards, but how is Mr. Hannon?
Thomas: Really good. He’s in the West End now with Swallows & Amazons and has just written an opera for a German guy about cancer. It took him two years. I said, “Why can’t you get motivated about a cancer opera?” and he was like, “It’s not the sort of thing you wake up every day at 8 o’clock and want to get stuck into!” I’ve heard a fair bit of it and it’s brilliant. He’s the man to talk to about operas, Julie.
Julie: I need to finish the album off, and then do it quickly. I’m one of these people who automatically says “yes” to things without considering how much work’s involved. Don’t get me wrong, I love the variety but it’s a bit stressful. I need to put the self-management thing to one side for a while and get lost in the music again.
Phill: Having been a DJ on 6Music for five years and therefore part of the music industry, I’m really enjoying being a fan again and discovering stuff on an ad hoc basis. A lot of it’s been through bands coming up to me in clubs or at gigs or on the street and giving me their CDs. I always say to people, “Be prepared for that opportunistic moment.” Gig-wise, the best thing I saw this year was Cassette Boy at Glastonbury. That being aside from the fact I went to Cuba and pretty much every band in every bar was amazing. They’ve fuck-all else to do except make music. Their joy is that primal. Anywhere they sell drink, five guys will walk in and start banging boxes. The only place I went and paid to see a band in Cuba, it was shite!
Julie: I suppose the highlight for me was touring in America. Culture Ireland helped me with the first-half, but then I had to take out a big loan for the second-half, which if nobody had turned up would’ve ruined me financially. The place where I felt akin to people most was New York, but then you got pockets like San Diego and up in Berkeley, which were great. Las Vegas too was bonkers. I imagine the college radio thing would work for Lydia and James and Thomas, but people tend to connect with me best when they see me live. Neil Gaiman, who I’m a huge fan of, tweeting that he’s mad into my music was a bit of a moment as well! He’s married to Amanda Palmer who came to see me in New York and invited me to a perform a little set in her show. Another strange connection was one of the high-ups at JetBlue, the American version of Ryanair, liking my first album and asking me to play inside Terminal 5 at JFK Airport. They wanted somebody Irish, but contemporary not traditional. We had to go through security, the whole thing.
Stuart: Were you scared going the Fundit route for the new album in case people weren’t prepared to cough up?
Julie: You can see on the website what’s been pledged so, yes, it would’ve been embarrassing if we’d fallen way short of the target.
Phill: Which was?
Julie: €20,000. In the end we went beyond it and got €23,000 from 203 people pledging everything from five euro to a few thousand. At one end of the scale I was offering them a badge and wristband, at the other a 90-minute full ensemble gig anywhere in the world for them and their friends.
James: The former Nine Inch Nails drummer, Josh Friese, was offering some mad stuff if you funded his album.
Stuart: Yeah, there was a $75,000 package, which included him writing and recording you a 5-track EP; taking magic mushrooms and cruising round Hollywood in Danny from Tool’s Lamborghini; and either playing with your band or being your personal assistant for a month.
Julie: Mine are all a bit tame compared to that!
Stewart: I’m listening to everybody here and thinking I haven’t done bloody anything! It was a huge surprise to me when Hello Bright Spark went top 10 in Ireland. The album meant a lot to me because of what it’s all about, and I put my heart and soul into it but I had no idea whether or not it’d get played on the radio, which for all your Facebook-ing and Twitter-ing and playing live is still the Holy Grail for somebody like myself.
Stuart: How did you end up working with Lou Natkin who’s got both The Monkees and The Beach Boys on his CV?
Thomas: That would have been ‘80s Monkees and Beach Boys…
Stewart: Yeah, way back when…
Thomas: Way back when? No, that’s recent stuff!
Stewart: I met Lou years ago, asked him over to do a bit of writing and we just clicked. My other lucky break was through him falling in with (former Bell X1 manager) Roger Bechirian. I recorded Hello Bright Spark two years ago in London with Paul Wilkinson; was really excited about it over there but then when I got home thought, “Nah, there’s something missing.” Roger had a listen and felt the same way, so earlier this year we went into Grouse Lodge and re-did it all in just 18 days.
Stuart: Tell us about the support you’ve got from Mr. Kenny.
James: He made it part of his election campaign, didn’t he?
Stewart: We just got a call from one of Pat’s producers saying he liked the record and would we come in and do a session. He has over 300,000 people every day tuning into his show, so the answer was a very enthusiastic “yes”!
Stuart: Phill, is the hanging up of your DJ headphones permanent?
Phill: I think I’ve fairly well burned my bridges with the BBC doing the book (Good Morning Nantwich: Adventures In Breakfast Radio), which tells the story of me being on 6Music and realising I’m not really what they want. You just get a sense of the vibe around the place. I thought, “Better to stop myself rather than overstay my welcome”, which is what a lot of people do in radio. They carry on broadcasting because that’s all they know.
Thomas: We get the vibe of people not really wanting us every time we go out and play to six people! Pugwash got to number 14, but swear to God, you’ve never seen a record disappear so fast. It’s like it went in on a bungee rope and then a week later – woooooooaaaaaaaaaaargh! – out again. Even in success we’ve managed to be obscure!
Stuart: Phill’s already nominated Cassette Boy at Glasto as his gig of the year, what about the rest of you?
Lydia: Crystal Stilts last month in The Grand Social were amazing, as were Primal Scream and The National at Oxegen. Did you see them there?
Stuart: Yes, I squealed like a Jedward fan and sprinted thirty yards to high-five Matt Berninger at Punchestown.
Lydia: I think I was right next to you!
Sam: And So I Watch You From Afar in this tiny place in Glasgow where we’re living at the moment called Bar Bloc. The band went crowd surfing and the roof’s really low, so they were kind of sandwiched between the audience and the ceiling. It was just a great sweaty rock show.
Julie: There’s a young guy called Eric McGrath who I think is a great songwriter and performer. I presented a 26-part history of recorded song this year for RTÉ Radio One, so I’ve been listening to artists like Al Jolson and Paul Robeson who obviously aren’t gigging anymore. Talking of radio, I must thank NPR in the States for all their support.
Phill: Somebody asked Dylan why he doesn’t play new music on his radio show, and he said: “Because there’s so much more old music.” You’re not wrong there, Bob!
Stewart: I saw Duke Special the other night in Dundalk and went home totally inspired. He’s a great songwriter and like Neil Hannon able to turn his hand to opera and musicals and, well, just about anything.
Phill: He got me along to do a gig with him at the Belfast Literary Festival where he’d do three songs and I’d come on and do a couple of poems. It was a sort of salon evening, which was really good fun.
Stewart: He’s always trying to do something different.
Thomas: Yeah, but he’s addicted to Diet-Coke. What the fuck is that? Me and Neil and Peter (the Special one’s real name) did a Tony Fenton outdoor thing in Galway last year and driving down he stopped off in a Spar and brought a tray of cans. I said, “Are you stocking up for Christmas?” and he went, “Oh no, I’ll have them today.”
Stuart: When you think of Neil, Duke Special, Gavin Friday, Sinéad O’Connor, Jinx Lennon, yourselves Thomas and Julie and Conor J. O’Brien, there are a lot of maverick talents coming out of Ireland at the moment.
James: If you work hard and are lucky enough to end up with a really good label, you don’t have to be whatever’s ‘in’ this week. You won’t sell millions of records, but you can have an alright career and get to make the music you want to make.
Stuart: Domino make a lot of money from the likes of Franz Ferdinand and the Arctic Monkeys, but they’re also prepared to release Orange Juice and The Feelies box-sets knowing that in all probability they’ll lose money.
James: Domino are fantastic. They’ve perfected the art of being music fans whilst at the same time running a viable business. Laurence and Harry (the owners) could have bought themselves mansions but decided instead to stick out 3CD Young Marble Giants and Josef K retrospectives because they feel people need to hear them. Any Other City is tiny by comparison, but like Domino I know that a lot of what we release is going to lose money. For every amazing thing that happens there are going to be ten crap ones, but hopefully over the course of three or four years it’ll start making sense.
Phill: Stewart Lee got me to do a benefit gig to put out a Ted Chippington box-set. Who’s going to buy a Ted Chippington box-set? Everyone who was at the gig apparently, but nobody else. There aren’t that many millionaires doing interesting work. Oh, can I just say that the most unbelievable thing I’ve heard all year is an Otis Redding demo version of ‘You Left The Water Running’, which is track one on disc two of the Fame Records Story.
Stuart: What’s the Kitsuné set-up like?
Sam: When we signed it was just three or four of them in a tiny Paris office organising compilation CDs and club nights all around Europe. Since then they’ve started a clothing line, taken on half-a-dozen extra people and moved into a bigger office. I don’t know if it’ll turn into a permanent arrangement, but one of the bands on the new Kitsuné compilation is Cast Of Cheers.
Julie: It’s a very different record industry to even five years ago. There’s nobody bigger than Lady Gaga at the moment, but she still has to partly bankroll her tours.
Thomas: She’s addicted to Dr. Pepper’s! I’ve got to give a shout out to Daragh Bowen at 1969 Records who’s released at least 30 albums in the last five years, purely because he loves the acts.
Lydia: Reekus are about to put out a 30th anniversary album, which is an incredible achievement. It’s only since signing to them that we got to know the history, and The Blades now are one of my favourite bands.
Stuart: Lydia, I’ve been greatly entertained this year by your, shall we say, very forthright tweets. There was high drama one night when you gave a running account of some friends of yours being hospitalised when their drinks were spiked.
Lydia: That was terrible. Luckily they all recovered, but it was a really stupid, cowardly thing to do. I’m an upfront person so if I’m angry or pissed or whatever I’ll tweet it and fuck the consequences.
Stuart: Anyone come a cropper as a result of drunken tweeting?
Sam: One time I said in capital letters, “I HATE COLDPLAY!” which wasn’t a very good idea because we were about to play a show with them in America. Somehow their management heard about it and I had to take it down.
Thomas: I won’t get into this too deeply but I’ve a pretty horrifying stalker on Facebook. An American woman...
James: You hope!
Thomas: It’s been very weird. They say you’ve arrived when you’ve got a stalker, but that’s bollocks.
Stuart: I inherited a stalker once from Hothouse Flowers, but that’s a story to be recounted over a few pints! Hands up who’ll be going to see the Stone Roses when, as seems inevitable, they play Slane?
Phill: It’s eerily reminiscent of the Sex Pistols. One great album; broke up ‘cause they hated each other; got back together because they needed the cash; nice having ‘em back but you’d rather it’d been The Clash. In this case it’s the Roses with the one great album etc. etc. and The Smiths who you’d rather see.
Thomas: The Smiths will reform, though.
Phill: I’ll put €100 on the table now to say that’ll never happen.
James: They don’t need the cash.
Stuart: Morrissey and Marr maybe, but I wouldn’t say Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke are sat at home lighting big fat Cubans with €50 notes.
Sam: I’d be much more excited if it was Talking Heads who were reforming. I went out recently and bought their whole back catalogue, which is great but also daunting because you know that in a million years of trying you’ll never write something as great as ‘Once In A Lifetime’ or ‘Psycho Killer’. Drake’s Take Care is another record you listen to and go, “God, I’ve so much to learn!”
Stewart: I felt like that listening to the new Ron Sexsmith album, Long Player Late Bloomer. Springsteen’s The Promise is another which makes me go, “Shit, I’d better up my game!” but that can only be a good thing.
Stuart: You’re mates with Ron, aren’t you?
Stewart: I met him touring on the road, and he very kindly guested on my second album, Songs From The Gas Station, which we partly recorded in Toronto where he’s based. He’s the quintessential songwriter’s songwriter…
Thomas: Who wouldn’t mind being less celebrated and more commercially successful, thank you very much!
Stewart: Oh, he’s desperate to have a hit.
Phill: Elvis Costello’s like that. He’s livid that the only time he topped the charts it was with ‘She’, a maudlin ballad that he didn’t write. “Look at my back catalogue and this is the number one I get?”
Stewart: Elvis is great because he helped get Ron on to the cover of Q.
Phill: I love it when you meet people you’re a fan of and they tell you about albums. Elton John’s like that – “You have to buy this, this and this.”
Sam: One of the biggest music fans I’ve come across is Jools Holland.
Stuart: Who were you on with that time Two Door Cinema Club did Later…
Sam: Bryan Ferry, Midlake, Jessie J, Tinie Tempah and Slash who watched me play. Talk about performance anxiety!
Stuart: Returning to the Roses, Ian Brown not being able to sing is a bit of a problem for me but, hey, it’s their legacy and they can do what they want with it.
Lydia: I’m a massive fan, so even if the tickets are €80 or €90 I’ll be there.
Julie: I’ll go just to see if they manage to pull it off.
Stuart: I’ll put this question to the Velvet Underground nut first. Lou Reed and Metallica’s Lulu – genius collaboration between two of rock’s greats or a steaming pile of poo?
Lydia: Somebody described it as bringing your granddad to see Metallica and him shouting all the way through the gig! As a fan of both I was really looking forward to the album but it’s, er, an acquired taste.
Sam: It’s awful. They look and sound like they’ve all just lost their minds. Which perhaps was the point of the exercise!
James: It’s not very good and I’ll tell you why – Lars Ulrich’s drumming. There are three great musicians in Metallica, and Lars Ulrich isn’t one of them.
Stuart: This seems like an opportune moment for you to posit your “Why Topper Headon is God” theory.
James: Punk, funk, ska, Motown, reggae – the reason The Clash were able to encompass so many styles was because of Topper’s drumming. He doesn’t feature in any “greatest drummers” lists, but the amount of people influenced by him is incredible. I genuinely think he’s one of the most important British musicians of the past 30 years.
Phill: He’s writing his autobiography at the moment with The Clash’s former tour manager Johnny Green who was over here last week with John Cooper Clarke. He’s been meaning to do it for years but like anybody in recovery – Topper was a serious heroin addict – it’s been baby steps. Johnny’s perfect because he was there and knows what went down.
Stuart: Phill and myself are used to our beloved nation routinely qualifying for major competitions, but you guys must be very excited about what lies ahead in Poland and the Ukraine. 1). How do you think Ireland will fare over there and 2). Are you up for doing the official Euro 2012 song?
Thomas: 1). Trapattoni will have to reappraise the way he plays football if we’re to get out of the group and 2). I’m frightened to after the shit Neil and I got last year over the alternative national anthem we wrote for the Irish Times. We had a verse, “Joyce and Heaney and Beckett and Wilde, Bill O’Herlihy, Duffy and Giles, Evans, Hewson, Mullen and Clayton, Westlife and Jedward the pride of a nation”, which because there are no women mentioned was deemed to be sexist. What they didn’t realise was that Evans, Hewson, Mullen and Clayton were the wives! As wounded as we were by the experience, I wouldn’t rule out Messrs. Duckworth and Lewis penning some sort of footballing ditty.
James: I can’t see Conor doing a Euro 2012 anthem, but he’s a good footballer though. He’s nippy on the wing and surprisingly physical in the tackle. He’s not a natural goalscorer, but has plenty of tricks to get past you. If I’d to liken him to anyone, I’d say Stephen Hunt. I was at the Aviva for the Estonia game and the atmosphere was fantastic. I’d start with Keith Fahey and his highly impressive moustache and have both Seamus Coleman and Wes Hoolahan on the bench because they’re game-changers. The team I really want in our group is England because I think we can turn them over.
Phill: Ripe for the picking, are England.
Stuart: I won’t tolerate defeatist talk, Jupitus!
Phill: I’m an English realist. We’re going to do fuck all again because most of the overpaid multi, multi-millionaires have no pride in the shirt.
Stuart: How about a Euro 2012 opera?
Julie: The pathos and drama are all there, but as it’s my first time writing one, I’m basing it on an existing story.
Sam: Seeing as there’s zero chance of Northern Ireland qualifying for anything ever again, I’m delighted that the Republic are going to be there.
Stuart: There’s a great couplet on the new Snow Patrol album, which goes: “This is all I ever wanted from life/Ireland in the World Cup either North or South.”
Sam: That’d be how most people I know feel. As long as they’ve got green shirts on, I’ll support ‘em!
Stuart: So Two Door Cinema might be up for doing a ‘Vindaloo’-style terrace anthem?
Sam: No, although I have to confess one of the first CDs I ever bought was ‘Three Lions’.
Stuart: They always say you have your whole life to write your first album, and three months to write the second. Is that true of Two Door Cinema Club?
Sam: Yeah, literally! We managed to write three songs on the road, which we’ve been performing live, but otherwise all the work’s been done since we came off the road a couple of months ago. We’re hoping to record in January, so it’s been pretty intense.
Phill: I can’t believe I’ve been here over an hour and no one’s mentioned Rush’s Irish debut.
Stuart: I was on my holliers in Sardinia so missed it, but Ireland’s number one Rush fan, Matt Cooper, told me it was the dog’s proverbials. Thomas, I’m surprised you’re not wearing a black armband on account of Brian Wilson retiring from live performance.
Thomas: Is he? I heard from the band that he’ll be back next year. Pugwash did The Bluetones’ UK farewell tour in September, which included a 3,000 sell-out gig in the Shepherds Bush Empire. They went out last year and sold 50 tickets a show, so you can’t blame bands for doing the “farewell” routine. Musicians need to make a living.
Phill: So when does the Pugwash really, honestly last-ever farewell tour start?
Thomas: We’ll be having three of them next year and a couple more in 2013.
Stuart: Clang alert! I was talking to Imelda May the other day and inevitably the subject of Amy Winehouse came up. She said that with 20 years of gigging and recording under her belt, she’s been able to embrace success while Amy seemed frightened
Phill: I did Amy’s first 6Music interview, then she came in again for the second album and she was on … Buzzcocks twice. It was just heartbreaking because she was a kid. Such a waste, but some people are just going to do that.
Lydia: Even at the very low level we’re at, there’s a lot of pressure on you not to let people down. Multiply that by a thousand and I can see how you might struggle.
James: Amy Winehouse was signed when she was crazy young and by the end of it was responsible for maybe 60 people’s jobs on top of having to perform and come up with the next ten million-selling album. Add drink and drugs to the equation and I can totally understand why she imploded like she did. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember her label ever saying to the media “leave her alone” or insisting that she take six months out to get body and soul together. On the other hand, she wasn’t a 12-year-old girl, she was a fully-grown woman who could make her own decisions, albeit mostly the wrong ones.
Thomas: I’d like to know who the tour manager was that let her go on stage in Belgrade completely off her head. That YouTube clip was a car crash. I get what you say about her being a grown-up capable of making her own decisions, but somebody should have gone, “She’s not well, gig cancelled.”
Stuart: It seems fitting that we bring today’s proceedings to a close by discussing President Higgins. Everyone happy that it’s him and not Sean Gallagher who’s going to be living rent-free for the next seven years in the Phoenix Park?
James: I’ve been canvassing for Michael D and the Labour party since I was five-years-old, so I’m chuffed he got in. It’s just a pity there’s no money in the country for him to do anything.
Stewart: He’s always championed the arts because he’s an artist himself.
Phill: I suspect he knows more about music than David Cameron. I loved it a few years ago when Weller said Cameron wasn’t allowed to like The Jam.
Stuart: His line to me was, “Which part of fucking ‘Eton Rifles’ doesn’t he understand?”
Julie: I’m ecstatic he got it – especially when you consider what the alternative was. I still can’t believe that Gallagher got that high in the polls.
Thomas: Higgins was the only man for the job.
Stuart: I think we should all thank that nice Mr. McGuinness for de-railing the Sean Gallagher express as it was pulling into the station marked Áras an Uachtaráin.
Julie: He was really impressive in that last debate.
Thomas: No better man to drop a bombshell…
Stuart: McGuinness confronting Gallagher reminds me of the moment in The Simpsons when you see Ralph’s heart breaking.
Lydia: You’d have to say that in Irish terms it was the defining moment of the year.
Stuart: Which is sadly where we’ll have to leave it. Happy Christmas everyone!
All: Happy Christmas!
Many thanks to Karl and the rest of the lovely Workman’s Club people for hosting this year’s HP Summit. They and their Banana Daiquiris rock!