CELT IN A TWIST – INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT
The BibleCode Sundays
'Ghosts Of Our Past’
Ashleigh Brilliant (1933 - ____) English-US "writer, cartoonist, columnist"
LISTEN TO THE INTEVIEW HERE
Celt In A Twist: Ghosts Of Our Past, the brilliant debut from The Biblecode Sundays is not a confession of collective iniquities by the band (though you can bet a half dozen Irish ex-pats on the London pub circuit would have more than their share of those). It’s more a testament to their musical lineage and to those who have inspired the rich storytelling, timeless melodies and bare knuckle energy you’ll find on this record. Front man, Ronan MacManus is online to tell us more. Slainte Ronan, are you surprised by the praise for this disc or after playing the pubs for so long do you just know what works and what doesn't?
Ronan MacManus: Ya, we've gigged for a long while on the London scene before we started writing our own songs. We would play other people's songs so we knew what would go down pretty well with that, but we didn't realize that people would 'get' what we do. So as far as the themes of the songs and the lyrical content, that's been a surprise as to how much people relate to it. It's been great!
CIAT: Let's talk about Irishmen in London. What distinguishes the shared experience of the London Irish that lent so much inspiration to this disc?
RM: There's obviously the traditions passed down, but there's also a strong identity simply because we're right in the belly of the beast here, in terms of the political situation between Britain and Ireland. Being of an Irish background in Britain, you really know where you come from and what you're about and you don't mess around with that. It's all the same things that Irish-Americans and Irish around the world find. That tradition is really kept alive and it's very strongly felt.
CIAT: Well that leads me to my next question and to this side of the pond. We just heard Boys of Queens. How does a tribute to the New York Fire Department find its way into this experience?
RM: Our accordion player, Andy (Nolan), he's a great student of Irish history around the world, especially the Irish-Americans. He reads a lot of books and actually runs a website about Irish organized crime and things like that. He's found that the Irish have played a part in everything from wars around the world through to especially the 9/11 thing. I think it struck him that the fire department has a great history of that. He felt an affinity with them and he just wanted to pay tribute to those people basically.
CIAT: Now, you've told us a bit about Andy but it would seem impossible that this project would fall on its ass with all the talent you’ve assembled and their impressive pedigrees. Tell us about your band mates.
RM: Enda Mulloy (harmonica/bass), he's from County Mayo and he's been in London for about ten years. He grew up in a small village in Ireland and his dad and uncles, The Mulloy Brothers were a ballad group for years and years. So he grew up with that tradition around the house. They were and still are quite a well-known band in Ireland. Joe Moran is our flute player. He has a long line of trad. music in his blood and he's played the flute, the bodhran and everything. Carlton Hunt is our drummer and he played with Bad Manners. He's been in bands a long time and he brings that spirit and experience to it. And, Patrick (Franklin) ... he's sort of the baby of the group. We found him when used to drink in his dad's pub and play in there. When he was 15 years old he started to play fiddle with us. He'd been learning as a child. He officially joined the band after that and now he's become an essential part of the sound.
CIAT: Very cool. Now, is Declan MacManus (Elvis Costello) your brother?
RM: He's my half brother. We have the same dad. Declan from the first marriage and myself and my three other brothers from the second.
CIAT: So is Diana Krall a good sister in law?
RM (laughs) She's great, ya … she and these two lovely nephews of mine!
CIAT: Does she ever get out the pubs in London?
RM: They're not in London for very long when they come here and they have the twins with them so ... it's obviously very hard for them to come and see us, same for Declan, but they always have encouraging words for us and lots of support so that's good.
CIAT: Absolutely. You’ve got your Celt In A Twist and we’re chatting about The Biblecode Sundays and their new CD, Ghosts Of Our Past with my guest Ronan MacManus. Find out more about their brand of bottle slammin' London Irish Rock on the net at www.biblecodesundays.co.uk. I’m sure you’re already sick to death of telling this story, but for our listeners who don’t have your one sheet handy, explain the band name if you will.
RM: We used to do these two gigs back to back on Sundays, small pubs full of mental, hard drinking Irishmen. So, we used to have to join them in the drinking just to get through the gigs because they were so crazy! And, of course we would find ourselves at four in the morning talking about conspiracy theories, that was one of our things ... the book of Revelations and all these conspiracies. At the time that was our big topic of discussion whenever we got off our heads. Basically The Bible Code (I'm not sure how well-known that is), is meant to be all the things that are encoded in the original text of the bible ... everything from the JFK assassination and all these things that were apparently a big conspiracy. So we would talk about this every single Sunday at about 4am, and those days became known as BibleCode Sundays.
CIAT: That's a great story! Can you set up one of my favorite tracks on the new album called My Town?
RM: We got in touch with a guy named Mike O'Day in Boston. He's a film maker and an actor. He had written a film called 'Townies', which has recently been changed to 'The Code Of Silence'. At the time it was just an idea and he was kind of getting it together. Andy contacted him to find out more about the film because Andy has a big interest in Irish-American films. And he said, "Would like to write some songs for the film?" So we wrote three songs, Bang, Bang, You're Dead, Honour Of The Gael and My Town especially for it. We wanted to get the vibe of Satisfaction by The Stones and mix that in with The Pogues and that's how we got the rock thing in there with the Irish instruments and it didn't come off too badly.