Damian by Terri Hooley
Damian by Terri Hooley

Damian by Terri HooleyTwo men currently sharing their third band give leisurely responses to a series of frankly random LTW questions veering between music and sport and back.

Derry boys Damian O’Neill and Ciaran McLaughlin’s personal memories combine with telling memory blackouts to whet the appetite for the eventual release of the second album of the band in question, The Everlasting Yeah {https://www.theeverlastingyeah.com]
The Undertones’ November visit to Manchester saw them dedicate Get Off The Phone to Johnny Thunders, who guitarist Damian saw on his very first visit, back in 1984. As the favourite cover I’d ever heard him do was Non Alignment Pact by Pere Ubu, with That Petrol Emotion, are there any covers he’s been unable to persuade bandmates to play?
“Not that I can specifically remember, no. Everyone’s pretty accommodating when it comes to covering other songs these days, to be honest. I was very happy, however, that I managed to persuade the Undertones to cover The Outcasts classic Just Another Teenage Rebel when we played Belfast last May.”
We’ll get to an unforgettable Iggy tribute later in proceedings but were there any residual Spinal Tap-like memories of getting lost backstage at Selhurst Park in one of the last Undertones gigs before breaking up? It’s one of the best bits in Mickey Bradley’s autobiography.
“Weirdly enough, I’ve no memories of that show at all. We had broken up by then but were committed to do play, so I guess we just wanted it to be over as soon as possible.”
As an erstwile football and Subbuteo fanatic (check out the Damian/Mickey composition My Perfect Cousin video and the sleeve artwork), do such sports venues necessarily have to lack intimacy or does it just depend on the night and the venue?
“The Trip to Tipp shows (we did two in Thurles, Ireland, I think) when I was with That Petrol Emotion, which I do remember well, were fantastic. Amazing crowds and wonderful atmosphere. The Undertones also did two short warm-up sets playing behind the nets at Celtic Park.
“These were not so enjoyable, mainly because we were all miming, except for Paul. Both times were for important Champions League games and both times Celtic went out, so I doubt they’ll ask us back, to be honest!”
Does this lead to banter on the Undertones bus between the O’Neills (Chelsea) Mickey (West Ham) and Billy (Manchester United), or in The EY (all United), and is there the need for frequent truces!
“Unfortunately our passion for the game has dissipated over the years, so no. Paul has no interest whatsoever in the beautiful game anyway and neither did Feargal Sharkey. Singers, eh? Even though we’re not all as bothered as we used to be, we would still definitely check the results whenever we’re in the tour van on a Saturday.”
Happy for ex-Chelsea manager and player, the current Leicester City darlings Claudio Ranieri and Robert Huth, last season?
“Absolutely. Especially delighted for Ranieri, a great manager who in my opinion got shafted by [Roman] Abramovich after building the championship side that Mourinho then inherited.”
Thoughts on the merits of the Suggs song, Blue Day?
“If Blue is the Colour is the Sgt Pepper of football songs, then Blue Day is Their Satanic Majesties Request. I like it.”
How Suggs will be pleased! On to matters purely musical, and having written the record shop day single Much Too Late, how much did he lament the fact that the record shop is an endangered species, and which could he recommend of those that have managed to survive?
“It’s always sad to see record shops disappear. However, the resurgence in vinyl buying is encouraging. In fact I think vinyl sales outstripped CD sales last month. I actually don’t buy as much vinyl myself these days, purely because we just don’t have the space in our house to put it, but every now and then I would treat myself to a trip to Rough Trade in Brick Lane or go and see my friend Nick Brown at Intoxica Records in Central London.”
As well as ongoing Undertones engagements there’s The Everlasting Yeah, plus solo stuff released in 2014 and now Noirs to add to the personal catalogue, so what material/dates are in the offing, not in any particular order?
“Well The Everlasting Yeah, which is me, Ciaran, Raymond Gorman and Brendan Kelly, have taken a bit of a sabbatical recently, but we’re now back working on exciting new material… I’m also working on some more solo stuff again that’ll hopefully see the light of day in 2017.
“The last Undertones UK tour was a huge success, so I guess there’ll be more shows like that in 2017, plus a first-time trip to Australia in July, where we should call ourselves The Down Undertones!”
Ciaran McLaughlin drums for The Everlasting Yeah but also filled in as an Undertone when Billy went AWOL during their first phase. This University of Coleraine graduate joined John and Damian when they formed That Petrol Emotion and has tolerated LFC, Leeds and Chelsea fans in his proximity with stoicism ever since, while living in Millwall territory at the top of the old Kent Road.
Much has been made of John Peel’s advocacy for the Undertones, but what were his feelings when it came to That Petrol Emotion?
“Obviously The Petrols were never going to seriously challenge Peel’s affection for The Undertones, but he did give us several sessions, and I vividly remember him raving about our second single, V2. To be honest, by 1986 we were probably a bit too mainstream for him.”
Honesty’s a bonus! Ever talk football with him?
“No. As he was a Liverpool fan that was probably for the best!”
Which memories are most cherished when it comes to United, then?
“The Tommy Doc era, that season in Division Two and the first back in Division One, were magical. So many great home-grown players (Daly/McIlroy/Brian Greenhoff) with ones plucked from lower leagues (Pearson/Coppell/Hill). Such a dream after the dross of the previous few seasons.
“Also, and obviously, the title season in 1993 and the Treble. We were spoiled in the Fergie era, as many younger fans are now coming to realise!”
Did a shared love of Derry City stop the rows over English teams getting too bad… in any band he’s been in?
“Derry City were not a going concern for much of the seventies/eighties, so football rows over English teams were commonplace and ridiculously important for teenage boys with nothing much else to do!”
Last November’s poppy overkill in sport in general and football in particular is easy to pull apart, but did he admire James McClean’s stance in refusing to wear it in the colours of Wigan, Sunderland and now West Brom?
“I think anyone with half a brain could see that his explanation re: Bloody Sunday was perfectly reasonable. Just imagine the events of that day happening in your home town and then ask yourself if you could, in all conscience, wear a poppy. Thought so.”
Has he read the book about Adrian Doherty, Forever Young, and if not, any other books on Manchester United worthy of a rave review?
“Yes, I have read it, and enjoyed it very much. Such a sad tale, it would make a great movie. Another United-themed book I’ve read and enjoyed is Best and Edwards by Gordon Burn. A fascinating look at the chasm of fame separating the two United legends even though only a few calendar years lie between their times at the club.”
Could the experience be beaten of seeing United in the flesh or did there come a point where the word jinx was mentioned?
“I stopped going when I had a young family and could no longer afford the money or the time! As for a jinx – I did see us win on the odd occasion!”
Favourite United chant or official song… there must be many candidates for the worst, too?
“The Marseillaise Eric [Cantona] chant – great times. And the unrelenting Red and White Army chant, preceded by the name of the manager in situ – gets a bit hypnotic after a while. Watch these to see what I mean: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JfH5NVeAgE
and this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gprul1guQZ4”
Did he assume the worst when he first heard of the fanzine Shankill Skinhead [full disclosure: this was a Whiteside and Clash/Mondays loving fanzine co-launched by your reporter]?
“Yes, I thought it was possibly some red offshoot of Combat 18!”
Hope we dispelled that within the first page or two… were experiences of the aforementioned Thurles better than anticipated given how maligned gigs in stadia were at the time?
“I enjoyed it, but can’t really remember much about it, except that there was a stage in the backstage area one year where acts could perform informally. We played the first side of The Stooges’ Funhouse. Absolutely smashed it!”
What’s the EY singer situation then, still flexible? I’m sticking to my guns in saying you should have approached Iggy, just look what he did for Josh Homme and his mates!
“We’ll be sticking with the current set-up, thank-you. I think Iggy had bigger fish to fry! We should have become his backing group back in the early nineties [having supported him at Brixton Academy]. Like I said, we were killing the back catalogue at this point. He wouldn’t have needed Josh Homme if he’d only given us the gig!”
Is the new material more like anything in particular on the first album than anything else?
“Difficult to say. We’d like to make it a bit more early seventies. Roxy Music and Ziggy-era Bowie have been mentioned more than once. It’ll probably sound nothing like these once it goes through the recording process, however…”
Does he recommend the whole crowdfunding thing for other bands, and what are the main pros and cons?
“It’s OK, but very energy-consuming. Raymond did most of the PR [for the first EY release] and by the end of it he was a wreck. Still, it meant we did get the album out, and we now have a database of fans to contact for the next release.”
Good luck to Damian and Ciaran and thanks to Terri for the pic of Damian

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