A music blog from Ireland.
‘Bursting on to the scene’ is a cliche of music writing but since Fight Like Apes took their first karate kicks on-stage in 2007, their success has been one of the most interesting developments in Irish music. With their second album The Body Of Christ And The Legs of Tina Turner arriving in September, it’s been a non-stop, upward hurtle since their first video for the bizarrely catchy, post-punk blitzkrieg of Lend Me Your Face won troops of fans. In a few short months they’d become the new best festival band and if they looked back since, probably caught their reflections on radio and television.
“Being billed as a festival band’s not a bad label to have. Whatever about facilities and things, the atmosphere at festivals is brilliant.” Mary Kate Geraghty can only be thought of as May Kay but it’s a nickname that suits. Three subtle black dots below her left eye sounds slightly silly to describe but with a striking, pale complexion and ebony hair, she wears the look well.
Guitarist Jamie Fox has intelligent eyes and is known affectionately as Pockets. Close friends who began the band together, they both sing and play synths and keyboards respectively. “One of my favourite things for atmosphere is the Secret Garden Party,” he chips in. “We got there late because of the time we had to play but the atmosphere was amazing.”
“And Benicassim in Spain…” May Kay carries on. “We couldn’t play that because the stage blew away! But again, just a brilliant set-up, even when the line-up of these things are a bit weak they make up for it through the effort they put into creating that fun kind of festival atmosphere.”
This back-and-forth exchange is characteristic of the Apes, easy in each others’ company and considering the huge amount of press interest they attract, they’re undoubtably well-versed in answering interview questions. With the new album, one question on every journalist’s lips will be in regards to that title: ‘The Body Of Christ And The Legs Of Tina Turner’. Although the legs on the album cover aren’t Tina’s, it’s good to hear her name evoked with such respect – every kid from the Eighties must remember her legendary presence, strutting across stages on those fabulous pins.
“She does have a fantastic set of legs!” Insists bassist Tom Ryan, looking dapper in a shirt and blazer, his once-bearded face now smooth and fresh. May Kay is more philosophical on the subject. “I think that’s why she let us use her name, she wants to be back in the game. I think she backed her own horse to do that.”
It was a pleasant surprise to discover the name of the new album as it seems a shame that we don’t hear more from Tina Turner these days. There have always been references to famous icons and action heroes in the songs of Fight Like Apes, yet this time around Robocop is the only major mention aside from the leggy superstar. Not that such allusions have done them any harm – even graphic novelist Warren Ellis has fallen under their spell, naming Jake Summers as one of his favourite songs from their debut album The Mystery Of The Golden Medallion.
“We’re all really into popculture but it’s not as evident on the new record.” Pockets explains. “Travelling around together and watching the same stuff means it’s gonna get really mad eventually.”
“We listen to a lot of music together.” Tom adds. “Jamie’s the Pavement fan.” “We all like Weezer,” agrees May Kay. “My Bloody Valentine. And Queen.”
“We’d probably have to fight hard to beat Queen…” mumurs Pockets.
“You don’t like Phoenix.” says May Kay to Pockets.
“I hate Phoenix.”
“I like Phoenix….” Her tone is almost mischevious. It sounds like a subject they’ve debated at length. It’s certainly clear in the new album that there have been changes in the sound of FLApes, less strange effects, more assertive, strong songs. But with all the flippancy and profanity they’ve used in the past, has it ever concerned them that their music might be seen lacking in depth when compared to the releases of more tender artists?
“Depth is a strange one…” May Kay ponders. “I really think it depends on how people express their emotions. That’s what the first track on the album is about. Music is just another way of saying what it is you wanna say. I don’t think how it’s said makes anyone more or less deep.”
As the main lyricist, Pockets pitches in; “I’ve been interested in this album from the very beginning. The song Let’s Talk about Our Feelings is a very coarse song but we’ve always been interested in feelings, I think in this record there’s plenty of depth. I don’t think that using the words “soul” or “my heart is running out” on a record makes music more relevant.”
Tom takes a more sarcastic approach. “Crybabies are people who cry a lot. If they wanna be that way they can, crybabies can criticise other crybabies..and then go and cry about it!”
“We don’t like to talk about it” is the response to my question about the sudden departure of drummer Adrian Mullan in April this year. “We’ll cry if we talk about it!” Jokes Tom.
In place of Adrian came Lee Boylan, a long-standing friend of the band who produced their first two EPs. Lee sits at ease with the others, curly-haired and friendly-faced, obviously well-settled as the newest ape. Other, more subtle changes have taken place too though: obviously in the songs of the new album which was recorded in London over two weeks in July and produced by Gang of Four’s Andy Gill who has worked with luminaries such as RHCP, The Jesus Lizard, The Futureheads and Therapy?.
“The approach to the album is the main difference” says May Kay. “We wanted so much to make it like a live show, not a live show performance-wise but in the live sound and energy.”
“We started getting ideas for songs around January so by the time we had recorded we had more songs but it was a really quick turnaround for us to record the album in July and get it ready for release” divulges Tom. “It’s really cool, it’s awesome, like pressure being released, exactly as it would be live. It sounds even better in our rehearsals.”
“Kathmandu is my favourite but our favourites change every three days or so,” says May Kay of her favourite tracks. Robocop’s another one, it was one of the first songs we ever played as a band together so I think that one was quite a triumph to get it the way we want it on the album.”
“I think there’s a change in our instruments too. I’ve gone up two or three levels, there’s still another forty to go” says Pockets.
“Pockets has a keytar!” adds May Kay in excitement. This is certainly a notable difference considering the band have stated their dislike for guitars in the past.
“I haven’t really been here that long…” mentions drummer Lee. “Yeah,” agrees Pockets. “Lee’s still got a few levels to go.”
“After the last two months of being off and having nothing to do, we’re gonna just keep gigging and gigging until we’re not allowed to gig any more.” says May.
Pockets breaks in. “Yeah we won’t give up the journey, wherever we go we wanna gig, gig, gig.”
“Japan sometime would be great.” May Kay is keen to get back out in the world with the new material. Have they played the new songs live yet? “Not all of them, about half. It’s weird to suddenly have new songs. It’s great.”
So if David Carradine and Tina Turner have already been immortalised in the music of Flapes, which famous name will make up the third of their holy trinity?
“Nigel Mansell” Tom replies at once. “We’re huge fans, he’s the best formula one guy of all time.”
Oh, I expected someone like Quentin Tarantino.
“Nah.” Says Tom. “He’s not fast enough!”
Get a free track called Poached Eggs from the new album by ‘paying with a tweet’ from fightlikeapesmusic.com
The Body Of Christ And The Legs Of Tina Turner is out now on Model Citizen Records and you can buy it here.
FLApes play Tripod on 27 November.
Originally published September 2010 in AU Magazine