(The following article was written for ARTROCKER MAGAZINE, issue #111, June 2011)
DREAM LIKE HUMANS.
September 2007 it was when I first met FIGHT LIKE APES. We were crammed into the back of a rusting, ramshackle white van, parked just off Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street, as they nervously awaited the call to stage in a pub full of drunken Friday Night Clubbers expecting to relive the sounds of that summer’s holiday in Ibiza. “This could get messy,” I thought. I feared the worst. “Best do the NEW BLOOD interview now in case they don’t all make it back out alive!”
Well, ‘I counted them all out, and I counted them all back,’ and in fact the Irish synth-punks won over many new friends that night – as they continue to do some three and a half years later.
Interestingly, that particular New Blood feature ended with keyboard player Pockets saying:
“We’d love to produce even just one album that will be remembered … for being good!” – which is a convenient point on which to pick up the FIGHT LIKE APES story:
“Colin! Hello! How are you?” It’s singer Maykay on the end of the phone. Pockets is beside her, the phone on loudspeaker. We haven’t chatted in about a year I guess, but I can still sense a certain rough edge to her charmingly polite greeting.
“You’re hungover, aren’t you?” I hazard.
“Oh yes indeed. Absolutely!” Pockets chips in.
The previous evening had been one of celebration for the band, having both played at and been nominated for the Choice Music Award – the Irish Music Industry’s equivalent of the Mercury Award. Under consideration was their latest album ‘The Body Of Christ And The Legs Of Tina Turner.’
“We didn’t win,” says Pockets. His tone hints at a proud but rather ironic smile. But the mere fact that their second album has been recognised in this way (as was their debut, ‘ Fight Like Apes And The Mystery Of The Golden Medallion’) means that Pockets’ simple wish that night in Glasgow has already been surpassed.
It’s been a long while since FIGHT LIKE APES wreaked their mayhem on the stages of UK, concentrating on touring the new album in their home country whilst trying to replenish their monetary resources against a backdrop of such nationwide financial austerity. And although the album actually came out in Ireland back in August 2010, the UK release was postponed from January to April of this year, to coincide with the UK tour the following month.
“It made sense to hold it back a little so there’s a straight run and build of momentum between the release, the tour and then into Festival season,” says Maykay.
They may have been out of general circulation recently, but it’s an indication of FIGHT LIKE APES’ rising stock that, having already accompanied The Prodigy on tour at the personal invitation of Liam Howlett himself, this, their second album has been produced by Gang Of Four’s Andy Gill.
“We were talking to three different lads at the time, and Andy conducted the whole interview from his bathtub which I though quite charming,” explains Pockets. “He came over to Ireland and saw us in the rehearsal room – we got on really well and found him easy to work with, so it was all recorded over the period of a month at his house in London.”
I suggest that maybe the sound this time around has a more ‘rounded’ feel; more ‘mature’ sounding perhaps?
“Well….. we’re obviously getting a little bit older, but there’s certainly no conscious effort to sound more ‘mature,’ laughs Maykay. “I don’t think it would really suit us, and don’t think people would even recognise us if we changed so much. Especially as we haven’t been in UK for a while, we kinda need people to relate back to us first off. It’s hard enough just writing songs and I admire artists that can have the idea that they want to sound more mature and finish up sounding that way. But if anything, we’ve kind of regressed personally, so if we’ve ended up sounding more ‘grown up’ then that’s quite funny!”
(I guess I was wrong, then….!)
Indeed, some might consider the album title to reflect the humour of the school playground. Others however – especially in their devoutly religious home country – may view it differently. Has there been any form of backlash? ‘The Body Of Christ And The Legs Of Tina Turner,’ is after all quite a contentious title.
“No,” says Pockets, his voice betraying genuine surprise. “I think we got away with it! I don’t know why! But it wasn’t named specifically to be provocative…. we just thought it a funny title.”
There is however one rather important matter to address before FIGHT LIKE APES catch the ferry from Ireland to UK – like finding a permanent replacement for bassist Tom!
“You know Tom’s left the band?” asks Pockets as we prepare to end our chat.
“No – as of when?” I ask, my surprise quite evident.
“Erm… last night,” Pockets concedes rather sheepishly. “He just wanted to become a ‘real person’ again. Got sick of the touring lifestyle.”
“Eh? But that leaves only a few weeks to find a replacement before you go back out on tour?!”
“New Year’s Eve was officially his last show,” interjects Maykay, “but he played last night (at the Awards ceremony) because he was obviously on the album. But we’d just been kinda sitting on it thinking ‘someone will show up’…. and then we realised that we hadn’t actually announced he’d left until yesterday! ”
So how is this going to affect the dynamics of the band, given that two of the original four members have now left?
“Yeah -it’s a weird one,” Maykay continues. “Tom was a really important part of what the band is and we’ve all been friends for years (Tom & Pockets were at school together) but I think the benefit of this very incestuous world of being musicians will likely mean we won’t have to replace him with a stranger and that we’ll figure out someone we know who’ll fit the band. We recovered very quickly when Adrian left last year, with Lee joining (Lee recorded our first two EPs) so hopefully the same sort of thing will happen again.”
Given then that three will shortly become four once again, what are the plans for FIGHT LIKE APES going forward?
“We feel like we haven’t been touring now for ‘years.’ We’re so conditioned to life ‘away’ so definitely the priority is to get back out there. Hopefully the UK will go well in a couple of months and we can then get back across to Europe, where it’s been great for us. Then, the ‘big cheese’ for us would be to spend some time in America. The idea of doing a US tour is incredibly exciting and I think it would be great to actually spend a couple of years away from Ireland in some place new. I mean it won’t be long before we need to write the next album, and I feel we need to be travelling a bit to sort of spread the word.”
Well, Maykay, better get those work permits sorted bacause as the New Blood feature all those years ago bears testament:
ARTROCKER is the magazine where dreams DO come true!