- 13 Jun 18
Stuart Bailie talks about his new book Trouble Songs, a compelling examination of the role music played during the Northern Irish conflict. Interview: Peter McGoran
Having worked as a broadcaster and a journalist for over 30 years, as well being the co-founder of Belfast’s Oh Yeah Centre – an invaluable resource for emerging Northern musicians – Stuart Bailie is better equipped than almost anyone to write about the history of music during the Northern Irish conflict. Speaking with Hot Press, he explains that the idea of a book of this magnitude had been in his head for a long time.
“Ten years ago I did a piece on the Troubles for the Arts Archive,” he explains. “And it was 5,000 words on music and the conflict. But as soon as it was done I thought to myself, ‘That’s a very thin veneer of what was going on’. A few years later, I realised I’d spent the best part of 10 years working in Oh Yeah. By the end, it was getting quite stressful, and it involved a bit more admin than I would’ve liked. So I thought, ‘I want to write again. I want to do something which most of my adult life has been about’. I spent a few years doing some bits and pieces, trying to get agents, trying to get companies. Then about a year ago, the British Council said, ‘Can we help?’ The follow-up question was, ‘Can you get it out by the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement?’ So they’d set the time, and I had to get the head down for a year of ferocity.”
Trouble Songs begins in the midst of Stiff Little Fingers’ 40th anniversary concert at Custom House Square in 2017. Lead singer Jake Burns proclaims ‘Alternative Ulster’ as the new national anthem and delights in the fact that, decades on from first releasing this defining hit, Northern Ireland has changed irrevocably.