Punk band S.F.U. formed in Dublin in July 2010. They were put together by guitarist Trevor Kirwan who long held the ambition of playing in a punk band, and who until 2010 had very little experience of realising that dream.
He over came the initial obstacle of not playing an instrument when Beano Heenan (Skint/Strieknien DC) showed him a single power cord to facilitate his addition to the short lived combo The Examples in the early nineties. A band that featured Ronan (Droppin Bombs) , Richie (ex Strieknien DC) and Deko of Paranoid Visions infamy.
The handful of numbers they wrote and rehearsed together have been lost to time, as they disbanded without recording after Strieknien DC started up again after a hiatus. A couple of years past, and Trevor decided to post an ad on Punk/DIY community board, Eirecore. Fayzer Faye (Skint/Runnin’ Riot) had joined him on drums at this stage. Chezch exile Martin Zaloudek (Paranoid Visions) followed taking up bass duties, with Rob Pepper (Hollow Cost) taking up the role of intense and dynamic front man.
By November that year they were gigging anywhere that would have them; and have since shared the stage with bands such as the aforementioned Paranoid Visions, Culture Shock, Menace, Choking Susan and The Dubtones..
Rob’s fierce stage presence was an integral factor in S.F.U. garnering lots of immediate fans, and becoming live favourites on the punk scene. When it was announced at the Punk Jamboori in 2012 that he was leaving, it was difficult to envision the band’s survival without him. The band had already lost Fayzer to illness, with Brayo (Coldwar/Paranoid Visions/Zero Tollerance/Padlock) having taken over on stick duties. The band toyed with the idea of re-merging under a different name, and for a period of a couple of months it was unclear what the future held. One thing was for sure, Trevor couldn’t see the band continuing with a Rob clone, “honestly, I was just thinking of packing the whole thing in…you can’t replace him, we tried one or two people out, but you were always going to be getting compared to when Rob was in the band. I just said I’ll pack up or go down a completely different route…and then we came across Emma”
The next chapter of S.F.U. would involve another “musicians wanted” posting, but this time it was a singer looking for a band, “Girl Seeks Punk Band”. Art student Emma Ray joined ranks in 2012 and has taken to her inaugural front-woman role with great enthusiasm. She’s energetic and charismatic, and her addition has definitely brought something to the band. However, her arrival at the confident singer that can now be seen on stage was a gradual one, Trevor remembers, “the first few rehearsals, she came in and she just sat in the corner…you could sorta barely hear her voice, but when you could hear it…she had a brilliant voice!, we just had to get her louder, but as we rehearsed she just got louder and louder”.
Trevor initially procrastinated about getting in touch with the writer of the advert after Rob’s departure, but now realises how lucky he was that he did, his liberal is his praise for the band’s new addition, “a brilliant songwriter, she’s really talented, she’s an artist, and she’s doing tattoos now too, she’s got the whole package…it feels like a completely new band with her in it”. It may feel like a new band, but much of what made S.F.U. such an exiting proposition is still intact, and this is reflected in the relatively seamless acceptance of the change by fans, “luckily a lot of the people that were into us when Rob was us are still around…”. Discussing what material survived the change, Trevor confirms “we’ve dropped a few them and then we have our new songs with Emma you know…when Emma sings the stuff we were doing with Rob she puts a completely new slant on it anyway.” The decision to drop some numbers was mostly down to what suited the new singer, as there wasn’t any need to divide up songs, speaking about S.F.U.’s writing process, Trevor states “It’s always kind of a group thing…the songs were always kind of the band’s songs” With Fayzer having returned with renewed energy later that year, his admittance to the importance of S.F.U. for him speaks volumes about the kind of energy that is brought to the band,”If I didn’t have S.F.U. in my life right now, I’d be in a very bad place”, he went on to concede that he would gig every night if he could, a comment that is repeated by Trevor, further exemplifying how vital S.F.U. is for them both , “I’d gig every night if I could, if you’re not gigging, what’s the point?…I’ve wanted to do this my whole life, and I never ever thought I’d get to do it…only I put that ad up I wouldn’t be here, all I ever wanted was to be in a band!”.
They have just finished recording their debut EP with Mark Derelict (Jobseekers/Excuses) and hope to release it independently this summer. The EP will feature live favourites , Blame, Still Fucked Up, Never First, Wasted Breath, Chapter 19, and Be Like You. If they can capture the essence of what makes them such a powerful live experience then the EP is going to be an exciting addition to our record collections in 2014. It is hoped the EP will be released in May, testing the waters for a subsequent album release , until then the band will continue to play as many live dates as impossible, and play their first UK date on June (7th) at the Boston Music Rooms in London with Paranoid Visions.
Hear an interview with Trevor from S.F.U. here.
S.F.U. play The Riot Movement Presents : The Birthday Riot! in Carlow (Irl) on the 28th of March.
All words by Ray Burke. More of Ray’s writing on Louder Than War can be found here. Ray’s radio show is Left of the Dial, to hear old shows go here. You can also follow Ray on twitter as @leftofthedialr