Fresh on the heels of our review of the Steve Ignorant With Paranoid Visions ep review as part of the All The Madmen single series we catch up with legendary Irish punk band Paranoid Visions on the release of their new EP ‘Up the Anti’, and the planned release of an EP and album with Steve Ignorant.
In 1988, Ireland celebrated Dublin city’s millennium (thousand year birthday), with the tag line “Dublin’s Great in ’88”, poverty, drug addiction and mass unemployment were conveniently forgotten, and politicians and celebrities pontificated across our airwaves and television screens extolling the virtues of our great capital. That year Paranoid Visions released ‘City of Screams’, and brought us on a tour of their Dublin, a “cardboard city” that some would never see, “high rise hell holes that block the sun”, a place where “children have to live in slums.” Paranoid Visions had their own tag line for the millennium, “Dublin city ain’t no fun!”, journalist and Horslips sticks man Eamon Carr stated at the time that it said more about Dublin in the millennium than any amount of celebration or (specially released) commemorative 50p coins could, he was right, and most look back cynically at those celebrations now.
One of the tracks on Paranoid Visions excellent new EP Up the Anti, ‘The Cycle repeats’ could be a song for ‘The Gathering’, the Irish government’s current campaign to encourage emigrants and their descendants driven away by recent and historical economic failings to return to our broken country and inject a little cash into our ailing economy, the one our government played such a significant part in destroying.
‘The Cycle repeats’ is a grim slice of reality that is more intoned with the state of the nation than the embroidered Irish dancing skirts and paddy whackery that will great our returning sons and daughters at airports over the coming months. It says more about Dublin in 2013 than any amount of celebrity endorsement of a government’s open money hungry invitation to its diaspora, a compassionate look at the lower rung, the no chance, and desolate that parade the streets, painting a vivid picture of broken junkies, and deprived and neglected kids, lead singer Deko says of the subject matter, “that sickness, and the way it’s tolerated, and the way the government takes no action at all on it makes me sick…it’s a terrible thing that something like that can savage a city, and its only the poor, the poor kids (that are affected)…” He continues, “even when the boom was here there was still the underclass, there was still the deprived, absolutely decrepit parts of town, and now the boom is over those places are getting even more marginalised and that creates ghettos, and the heroin is in the ghettos…it’s a reflection of Dublin that other people don’t see…”.
The band have always opted for varying stylistic elements on their releases, demonstrated on, and by the title of their debut ‘Schizophrenic’, but has become more and more pronounced as the years have past, and was expertly proven on last year’s Escape From the Austerity Complex’. ‘Up the Anti’ continues this pursuit of diversity with the intense straight up punk of No Contrition [Abandon Ship], and the Bowie inspired Log/On Bog Off, a commentary on the growing dependency to interact via computers and a fitting musing in light of the recent revelations of Obama’s big brother leanings. Deko’s voice is surprisingly tender as he sings the call to arms chorus:
So log on to the internet, and scroll down to your future
Have a say in the world today, now chained to your computer
cues and prompts to suss you out and medicate your anger
Your privacy is history, so stand into the danger
Deko commenting on their material says, “We don’t sound like any other punk band, and that’s deliberate, that’s because we want our own sound, and everything we do has our own stamp on it.” He adds “it’s (kind of) a new departure for us…musically, it’s fucking.. not bang bang punk rock shouting and screaming, which we don’t do all the time, but that’s what I like, we are one of these bands that do stuff outside the guidelines and the limitations” The song is definitely one to listen out for when the band return to the acoustic stage at this year’s Rebellion Festival.
‘The Cycle Repeats’ follows and is an imaginatively layered track, both musically and vocally, Aoife Destruction enunciating her own lyrical contribution in that now quickly discernible and unique way, juxtaposed with Deko’s singular social lesson, the track is up there with the bands very best material, and gets better and better with each listen. ‘United Left Annoyance’ makes it clear that the band are not aligned to any political doctrine, all sides are viewed with the same pessimism. The slightly hip hop infused ‘False Prophet’ was initially to feature a collaboration with impressive Dublin rapper.
Temper Mental Misselayneous, refreshingly experimental, the impact is intact minus the rapper, the other version will appear on an as yet undecided future release. Overall, contemplating the contrasting components on this superb and vivacious release, John Peel’s famous comment about the Fall seems apt for Paranoid Visions in 2013, “They are always different, they are always the same”, and thank god for that.
I spoke to Paranoid Visions recently about the recording of the EP, we kicked off by talking about the speed and quantity of new and planned Paranoid Visions releases over the last year.
P.A System: We never stop writing, that’s our problem. On Austerity we had to, at one stage, draw a line in the sand and say that’s this album finished with, don’t do anything more for it, and that’s what we did for that one, we already had some stuff in development, stuff sort of in mind, Deko’s always got a ludicrous amount of lyrics anyway, so there is never any shortage of words to go with any music so as soon as we come up with a tune we’ve got a song there already. So we didn’t see any point sitting around waiting, we rapidly got two or three songs together and then we were launching ourselves into the Steve Ignorant/Paranoid Visions project, so we had to basically put our heads together to write that, and of course we wrote too many for that straight away, and some of the stuff wasn’t suitable for it or whatever else. So as a stop gap for that, we had Scarred for Life up in Belfast who were saying did we want to do an EP on their label so we took two songs that weren’t suitable for the Steve Ignorant album and three songs that we wanted to do our own versions of and that became the Up the Anti EP, it’s really limited edition, an Irish only release, it probably won’t be going out as a download, because I don’t think Scarred for Life go down that route.
Deko: We had line up changes, and younger charges coming in to the band, and they’re hungrier. They’ve added a complete different dimension to the song writing, we’re writing stuff an awful lot faster, because we’ve got a bass player that knows what a bass is for a start, and we got a guitarist who can play, and who is here at every rehearsal, it’s charged…we’re writing a hell of a lot more songs, I’m delighted the way things are going, it’s far better to release this and get this out, we’re not going to be around forever, we said that it 1981 but…we’re not going to be around forever, we never got this chance when we were 17, when we were starting this band, we never had a chance to release stuff, we had a lot of songs written but we never had that chance to let them go, but we never had that release, now we have the power in our own hands.
In the last couple of years the band have struck up solid friendships with several of the bands that influenced to them to start in the first place, The Shend (The Cravats), and Zillah Minx (Rubella Ballet) both guested on their last album, as did Steve Ignorant (Crass / Schwartzeneggar). The subsequently released a single with the legendary front man as part of the Louder than War series of 7″, and have now recorded a full twelve tracks, the first of which will be the “If Ignorance is Bliss….ep” out in August on All the Madmen records (limited edition 7″ on coloured vinyl) , and will culminate with the release of the album ‘When….?’ on Overground Records. The band have already played a couple of warm up shows ahead of their Rebellion slot with Steve, and have planned both UK, and Irish launch dates for the album. Louder than War quizzed them on their plans for the album, and subsequent dates.
PA: There is two colossal gigs that we’re involved in, and it had to be launched at one of them. There is no point doing them, and three months later when we’re probably not doing any more gigs with him, you know, have the album trickled out.
Louder Than War: Have you talked about that with Steve, how long we have got to tour the album with him?
Deko: As long as we want, but we’re not going to tour..we’re not gonna run it on the ground and play small gigs in no horse towns everywhere, we’re just going to do proper gigs, you know what I mean, I’m not into driving around in a van, and touring Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, I’m not into that, neither is Steve, thank fuck!…that means we’re not stuck with a schedule, we’re not stuck with a deadline…”
Louder Than War: Obviously you have worked with Steve before, but how did ye come to work on an entire album with him?
PA: It’s one of those things..the poor fucker is probably wondering that himself (laughs). It’s started off life as let’s do one song, and then on the way from the airport, we announced that we’d like to do two, and would he do two? so we did two, and then we got on really well with him in the studio, and the way he worked and the way we work, and it’s all very..mutual admiration stuff going on, and then he said, the stupid words, look any time you want to do this, I’m up for it! and I said, do you fancy doing an EP then? and he goes, yeah right, grand, let’s do that! and then I said we’ve written the EP, but we’ve sorta written at least two EPs, do you wanna do an entire album? and he said yeah, whatever! why not? and we ended up doing 12 songs, and the gigs, and we’re doing the 7″ on All The Mad Men as well. So by the end of it, we will have released two singles, and an album with him!
Louder Than War: How would you describe the shared vocal approach, is it like a kind of vocal sparring?
Deko: It’s a vocal spar from start to finish, because Steve’s sings in a certain tone, a certain voice, and it’s a classic Steve Ignorant vocal, where as mine varies, I go half goth, half death metal, and then in the middle of it, half johnny Rotten, you know what I mean? So I’ve got a mad swing of a vocal, you have to fit his into the middle of it to make it work, so in parts it didn’t work with mine, so we pulled mine out of it, but most times it did work…he’s got a distinct vocal, and mine is the complete opposite, it’s non distinct, but it’s there…when Steve talks he has an aggressive tone, I don’t! But when I shout, or when I sing those songs, my aggression overloads, whereas Steve’s is controlled, I have to hold back to fit in with what he’s doing and it’s working for me…I’m learning a technique as vocalist.
Having heard the new material aired at their recent gig in Dublin, as well as the upcoming EP on All the Mad Men, plus a dollop of tracks from the forthcoming album, it’s clear that, not content with releasing one of the best albums of 2012, the band , along with the legendary Steve Ignorant, will be making those 2013 end of year lists now too.
‘Up the Anti’ is currently available on limited release from Scarred for Life Records.
When…? is released on CD, LP & as a download on the 3rd of November 2013.
Steve Ignorant with Paranoid Visions Live Dates
The Rebellion Festival, 9th of August.
UK Album launch, with Zounds, Cravats, and Craig Temple. November 15th, The Dome, Tufnel Park, London. Tickets here.
Irish Album launch, November 1st 2013, support tbc.
Paranoid Visions also play the acoustic stage at this years Rebellion Festival at 2pm on Friday the 9th of August.
Steve’s new acoustic act Steve Ignorant’s Slice Of Life play the same stage following night.
Live shot by Janer, see more of his photography here.