Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

Without a voice. Dublin band Steerage turn to the tunes.

Is there a reaction against the dominance of singer/songwriter types?

(Conor) I’ve heard it from a lot of people – even Louis Walsh – that there is a dominance of singer/songwriters in terms of becoming moderately successful in Ireland. It’s hard to say if there is an extreme reaction. Certainly not from my point of view – we’ve been in the backing band for Mumblin’ Deaf Ro’ in the past and will be playing with him on his new album. If you look at the cross-section of acts at our level, I’d say there’s a fairly even spread of regular rock bands, punk, experimental, improv, electronic and singer/songwriters. Perhaps the singer/songwriters have more of a chance of commercial success if they have the talent.

(Donnchadh) I don’t think there is a dominance, you’ll find equal amounts of all genres if you know where to look. Maybe in the more popular corners of music you’ll find an emphasis on singer/ songwriters. But I don't think one form of music is ever simply a reaction to another.

Politics and Music – is it possible, or desirable?

(Conor) I admire bands that can pull it off successfully but for me our music is not political.

(Dan) It worked to great effect with Rage Against The Machine and Public Enemy, but sometimes it can be really naff.

(Donnchadh) We don’t really have any specific political message to be found in the usual lyrical sense, however we run the band in a very DIY independant way. I think you’ll find most independant bands, musicians etc. are political in that they feel very anti-corporate. That’s as much a backlash to record company monopolies as it is to big business in general. That idea of independence goes beyond the usual ‘indie’ pigeon hole by the way, as with a lot of Dublin and Irish bands at the moment, the tendency for a lot of us is to totally shun large record labels, and the ‘industry’ in general. The idea is that we produce and promote ourselves, avoiding the so called sell out, where the label dictates music, sound, image, all that type of stuff. Some of the bands are more active politically than others but there is definitely a common ground there.

Who or what are your influences?

(Conor) Personally, as far as instrumental acts go, Tarentel, Do Make Say Think, Windy And Carl, Stars of the Lid, Mogwai and The Redneck Manifesto. Like a lot of guys my age, Nirvana really made me want to pick up a guitar and be in a band but this didn’t happen until I met Donnchadh in 1994. Other musical influences would be Faith No More, AC Acoustics, Super Furry Animals, The Beta Band, Orbital, Yo La Tengo, …Trail of Dead,. Aside from the instrumental acts I find it hard to say exactly what influences how I play or write so I’m just naming bands that have really meant something to me along the way.

(Donnchadh) I'd add to that Neil Young, Kyuss, Queens of the Stoneage, My Bloody Valentine, Pinback to name but a few more. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly which of our favourite bands influence the music, but personally I’d say that I’m influenced by most melodic and/or heavy music. I've always loved metal as well, so that is probably what influences me to step on the distortion pedals so much.

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