- 30 Nov 22
Enola Gay's Fionn Reilly and Joe McVeigh talk about getting their start, their upcoming Dublin gig, the Belfast music scene and more.
Belfast punk group Enola Gay got their start in 2019 by handing their demo to popular Louth noise-rock outfit Just Mustard. Amazingly, they liked it so much that they asked Enola Gay to play their second ever gig as their support. Now, after a few years and a pandemic, the band are playing their own headline shows across the EU and UK. Their final show of this year will be at Dublin's Workman's Club on the 8th of December.
The group didn't know what to expect when dropping their demo to Just Mustard. "It was pretty surreal at the moment, because it all came about through just handing them a demo at a set of gigs they were playing in Belfast, and a few months later they hit us up. We didn't actually have a band when we gave them the demo. It was just me and Fionn back then," said guitarist Joe McVeigh. "It was before our first ever gig," vocalist Fionn Reilly added. Now, the two are joined by bassist Adam Cooper and drummer Steve Curtis.
They used the time in lockdown to hone their craft and work on music as much as possible. "We were just basically trying to find a way to occupy ourselves, really. So that came in the form of practising and writing music," said Reilly. They weren't too worried about losing momentum during lockdown, as they hadn't done too much yet beforehand. "We just treated it like, 'Ah who really cares. No one knows who we are anyways,' So we had no pressure on ourselves."
Regardless, the outfit are thrilled to be able to get back into playing gigs. When asked what they are looking forward to the most about their upcoming Dublin show, McVeigh jumped in to say, "Everything." He continued, "The sense of community around it, I would say. There's a lot of fans that we have met through our UK tour and the Europe tour, and we have highly regarded support acts, Panikatax and Gurriers. There's a lot fans that are actually coming over for the show, so everyone will get that sense of community. There'll be sort of a crossover episode, where there's all these people that you've met along your journey and they're all together in this one room all of a sudden."
View this post on Instagram
The two do feel like they have it tougher as a Belfast-based band to break into other scenes in Ireland and elsewhere. "It's a lot more structured down there [in the south of Ireland]. It kind of makes sense as to why there is a lot more bands that are very proactive and have bigger hopes than sort of just playing their hometown," said McVeigh. "I think a lot of acts don't ever expect to leave Belfast," added Reilly.
Enola Gay, however, do have bigger aspirations than to stay in Belfast, and have from their conception. "Before we even played a gig we talked about that. One of the main reasons that we do this is that we get to travel. It wasn't really ever on our minds, sticking around," said McVeigh.
A staple in punk music is incorporating meaningful and often anti-establishment messages. Enola Gay are no different, as they have written songs about toxic masculinity, rape culture, and racism. Their track 'Through Men's Eyes' arguably has highly triggering lyrics for survivors of sexual violence, referencing horrific Whatsapp messages from the notorious Belfast Rape Trial. Hearing the words aloud at gigs could be a potentially difficult experience for some.
"We knew from the get go that we wanted to write things that matter. There's a lot of identity politics in Belfast so you kind of grow up naturally not really afraid to speak your mind on things," explained McVeigh. Reilly continued, "It felt like the obvious thing to do. We're in a punk band- that's what we like to say anyway- and punk has always been outspoken, historically since its inception. It's always been right at the cutting edge of provocative lyrics. There's not always a great response, but I think if you stand by what you believe in then what's the worst that can happen?"
In the future, the group are hoping for more of the same. 2022 has been a great year for them, and Reilly is hoping 2023 will be filled with more "gigs and festivals, traveling around and meeting people."
They also want to get more experimental with collaborations and support acts, even mixing different genres into their gigs.
"I do think that we're now able to take bigger risks with support acts. Something we've always wanted to do is have electronic acts and rappers, to vary things up a lot for the gig. It's very important for us that people not only enjoy our show, but the whole show," said McVeigh. Reilly continued, "It's not like just opening acts and stuff either, it's collaboration nights almost. Different things that are against the normal style. Then eventually, we'd run a festival with bands that are actually there on merit, rather than there for pay to play or whatever it might be."
Enola Gay fans will be pleased to hear McVeigh and Reilly confirm they're going into the studio in "the next couple weeks" to record new music. "We're going to record as much as possible," said McVeigh.
Tickets to Enola Gay's last show of the year at Workmans Club are available now from €15.