Music culture is youth culture, and if you are young at heart and into it, you are gonna be at gigs and representing. The remnants of 80s depression and emigration gave way to a swagger and confidence before, and its happening all over again. Sometimes it takes people a few years to catch up, but Cork is still alive In so many ways, and the young people are creating the good stuff. This time out there will be more of a tangible legacy though, as more music is being made than ever before here. These are the days, my friend, Jane’s Addiction were right all along. THESE are the days!
That’s an excerpt of Cork DJ Stevie Grainger’s response to a question on the differences or lack thereof between the crowd he sees at gigs in Cork nowadays compared to when Sir Henry’s was ruling the roost in the city all those years ago. It forms part of a feature in We Play Here about whether or not the ‘golden days’ in Cork were actually that.
We Play Here is a zine that I and a couple of friends/incredible people (Brad McLoughlin, Brid O’Donovam, Eimear O’Donovan and Emmet O’Brien) have been working on over the past number of weeks and months. Its title is derived from a venture that formed part of the Cork Midsummer Festival this year. Essentially, We Live Here (which a couple friends were involved in) offered “new opportunities for talented artists who have made a commitment to living and working in Cork”. We Play Here is trying to capture some of the talented musicians who are living, working and playing music in Cork. Seventeen acts were interviewed for the zine, with photography accompanying each piece. There is a roundtable discussion with the next generation of people involved with music behind the scenes in Cork as well as the feature mentioned above on the ‘golden generation’. The zine will be launched next month. All details of what you can expect are after the jump.
Earlier this year, I felt like there was a lot of nostalgia emanating from Cork about how good things USED to be in the city. Personally I think the music scene in Cork has never been better. So We Play Here is a bid to try and combat that hazy nostalgia. There are 17 bands interviewed in We Play Here. The older guard – the likes of Rest and Ten Past Seven, stalwarts of the city for about a decade – are still around and are interviewed, while there are new bands coming through regularly; I think the most recently formed band on the list of interviews is Elastic Sleep, who are in existence about six months. (Incidentally, some bands in the zine disagree with the idea that Cork music is healthier than ever. One interviewee – you’ll have to buy the zine to see who – says: “There hasn’t been a good new rock band in Cork for as long as I can remember. There’s plenty of new indie and shit, but nothing close to a rock band with anything even resembling a pair of working testicles. Don’t see it changing either, it’s been the same 20 to 30 people at every gig for the last eight or nine years and even that number is dwindling of late.”)
Initially, the plan was to do an all-encompassing look at the music being made in Cork city. I soon realised that would be a very difficult task: a new electronica producer seems to crop up every week; where do you draw the line with DJs; what about the metal scene that has existed in the city for years and years; what about folk; and what about the re-emerging underage scene, led by the lads in the Kino, now open about four months? So I’ve focused on the indier/alt/rock side of things. The bands interviewed range from pop (Saint Yorda) to rock (Elk), eclectic (the David Nelligan Thing) to psychadelic (Altered Hours), with myriad styles in between.
Interviews (in alphabetical order):
The David Nelligan Thing
Hope is Noise
Great Balloon Race
Private Underground Residence
Ten Past Seven
Future Sounds panel:
As well as the music being made in Cork, there are also a ridiculous amount of people coming through behind the scenes. So We Play Here contains a roundtable-style feature with these young people, the ones who will keep the amps on in Cork into the future. They are: Caoilian Sherlock (DJ, musician); Aisling O’Riordan (musician, PR, promoter for the Pavilion); Dan Walsh (musician, runs a jazz night and other such gigs); Colm O’Herlihy (MDR Records, musician, Satitude star); Marc Derham and Dave Calnan of the Kino all-ages events centre; and Eimear O’Donovan (musician and involved with other ventures in the city). Topics that crop up in the discussion include why an underage events scene is vital to a city, how a band builds trajectory and an audience in Cork, the problems with music in the city, how they see things going into the future and more.
Not forgetting the past:
Finally, as alluded to at the beginning, there will be a feature on Sir Henry’s and the older scene in the city, which spawned the likes of Frank & Walters and the Sultans of Ping, and, for a brief period, led to Cork becoming the mecca of music in Ireland. It sounded like an amazing time to be even just a fan of music, let along a musician. Interviewees are Stevie Grainger and Joe Kelly, both of whom were involved with Henry’s in one form or another and are currently running the Pavilion, Jim Comet, a DJ at Henry’s, former member of Belsonic Sounds and owner of Comet Records, and Jim Morrish, a music fan who contributed to a couple of fanzines around the early 90s.
We Play Here – the details:
We Play Here is a totally independent endeavour (with no ads), and is the work of five people: writers Eoghan O’Sullivan (that’s me), Emmet O’Brien and Eimear O’Donovan, designer Brad McLoughlin and photographer Brid O’Donovan. Each band is pictured solely for the zine (bar two, at the time of writing). There are samples of the photography throughout this blog post. Here’s Sideproject:
and here’s Elastic Sleep:
Preorders and launch gigs:
And that’s a quick walkthrough of what you can expect from We Play Here. Launched on Saturday, November 16, we’re doing an initial print run of 150 copies. It will cost €5 and you can preorder it here. To accompany the launch of the zine, we are putting on a couple of shows in Cork on Saturday, November 16. The Kino will host an all-ages event during the day, which will see a couple of bands including the Shaker Hymn playing, as well as a panel of people offering the next generation of musicians tips on making music. Later that night, Mr Bradley’s will host an over-18s event. The lineup for that gig is Lamp, Sideproject and the Great Balloon Race. Prices for the shows are yet to be worked out, but you will be able to buy the zine on the night from both venues.