Posts Tagged ‘RTE’

RSAG to Riches

I wrote this article last year for Kilkenny’s “Kats Eye” magazine, and have decided to put it here. It’s a bit old but he’s a great artist so I’m posting it.

Back in the good old days Kilkenny was seen as a home to great music. Engine Alley were indie darlings, Kerbdog were tearing up stages and My Little Funhouse were trailing Axel Rose on an international tour. The Newpark Inn was the centre piece for any discerning music fan, and bands from all over Ireland were chalking down our fair city as a regular date on any tour. But it was during this time that a native was putting together a demo that would see Kilkenny’s place reappearing on the map over a decade later.

Rarely Seen Without Drumsticks

Rarely Seen Above Ground, Jeremy Hickey’s multilayered one man band, has been knocking up the accolades over the past year with his stunning album Organic Sampler. But it all started a long time ago. “I actually did my first demo back in ’96. I did give it around to a few friends and they were kind of into it,” says Jeremy on his first foray into his musical career. “It was around the time of DJ Shadows first album, you’re talking daft punk, you’re talking  Moby, all these kind of people were coming out and making albums that had a certain sound”.  And so Blue Ghost was born, Hickey’s first incarnation.

Now, in 2009 Hickey’s album has been gaining a lot of attention. Critically the album has been slated the “album of the year category” more often than not. “People like Jim Carroll of the Irish Times did a lot for me”, he notes on the influence of the media on his current standing, “he’s a very experienced man, a lot of people don’t actually realise the work he’s been doing over the years both here and over in London and elsewhere and he’s actually worked with a lot of people”. But it doesn’t stop there. His album strikes the right chord with most of the music media, garnering rave reviews across the industry.

Earlier this year RSAG was nominated for the coveted Choice Music Prize, an award that see’s the best of Irish talent vie for the prestigious title. While he didn’t win he did realise the scale of the nomination. “I think that the fact that the people that were there enjoyed it but also it went live as well was great for me”. His performance was a highlight of the night, and the audience’s reaction unequalled. “It was nice to hear that reaction.  It was good to know that I was going out and doing something that I was enjoying anyway and that other people were getting into as well”.

Not just happy with playing live on national radio, Hickey has also played on the cream of Irish television shows. A hugely impressive set on RTE’s The View showed RSAG’s capability to put a drummer to the fore with the use of multimedia screens, which has always been a huge visual impact of his live act. “It was a really good experience. Because of the way they had the screens set up was a multi layered thing” he says of his performance. This, along with another great performance on RTE’s superb Other Voices has seen RSAG push its fan base even larger. “Every little thing that I’ve been doing, every little thing that I’ve been involved in in the last year has helped to build up the profile”. It seems to have worked.

Then came the Raw Sessions, an RTE venture that saw Irish acts slog it out to write a full track in under 12 hours. “I got a call from the presenter and was asked are you interested in doing it and I said yes. I didn’t know it was a competition on the first one and thought it was a program on a musician, his story and how he creates his stuff. Then after the first one I found out that it was a competition. It actually worked out well in the way of publicity. For me it didn’t actually matter that I didn’t win. It was just the fact that the publicity, that you’re getting to people that you wouldn’t normally know who I am. In that way it’s been great”. Not only did it cement RSAG further into the minds of the public, it opened doors in the music industry. “I actually got to work with a producer called Leo Pearson, and I’m recording my 2nd album with him right now”.

 

Check out those drums

In terms of influence Hickey has been tied to numerous acts. “I’ve gotten everything from Ian Curtis, David Byrne, Nick Cave and maybe one or two people saying Tom Waits”. Hard acts to follow but when pressed on whether or not these acts are part of the writing process Hickey added, “I think it’s just my style of music, I just try and kind of incorporate as many kind of different things as I can. I just go with whatever I’m feeling. But no I never consciously think about anybody when I’m actually recording, it’s just one of those things that happens.”

RSAG is now recording his second album and hopes to have it released by September or October of this year. “I don’t know whether I’m rushing it or not I just feel I just need to get something else out. I don’t know why, it’s kind of a drive”. And perhaps trying to conquer foreign fields. “I’m kind of working on that at the minute, it’s just one of those things, you just need to go. I’m just going to have to go over there to actually slog it out, I mean that’s why it’s brilliant, I actually appreciate everything that’s happened and I feel very very lucky the way things have happened here but I also know I have to do it in a different country. When I start there it’s going to going from scratch again, you just have to keep positive about things.”

RSAG’s second album, Be It Right orWrong is out now, and yet again is garnering highly positive reviews. With two great albums in the bag it can only be right for RSAG’s future.

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Forget referendums, protest new laws into existence!

Public protest, Dublin.

People marching to have Mark McCabe's Maniac 2000 as the national anthem

It happened at midnight, midweek. The law overnight turned a portion of the population into dope fiends, the scourge of society who were trying to get our youth addicted to the most evil force to face us since Hitler’s band of racially insane Nazi’s. Duffyites rejoiced across Facebook fan pages and in letters and calls to the media. Jobs were lost, sacrificed to cleanse our nation of the evils of head shops. It’s a precedent, protest enough and the government will enact new laws, giving power back to the people. It could be on RTE One at 6:30 on a Sunday evening. “This week on Ban Something we have Condoms, the most immoral thing to hit this country since bastard children, and Football, a game invented by a country that gave us 800 years of occupation! Lines are open, vote now! The winner will be outlawed by midnight!”

So, when push comes to shove, what should we ban? What is failing the public, affecting their mental and physical health, and possibly causing death? Get your placards ready, its time to force the government into doing what we want.

Cheryl Cole not as popular as a sausage roll

Not as popular as a sausage roll, more popular than Kerry Katona selling sausage rolls

The most evil thing to hit planet earth since the Black Plague has to be Facebook. I have spent too many hours arguing rubbish points with someone I’ve never met over things as trivial as the best way to cook lamb chops. In the real world it leads you to distraction, blanking real people while you think of your next witty reply, hoping that someone will hit the thumbs up “like” button, and possibly reply with a bit of support. It is a completely pointless activity, a waste of brain power that could be better put to use cooking a few lamb chops. Possibly the best way to get Facebook banned would be to start a “get Facebook banned” Facebook fan page. It got Rage Against the Machine to number one at Christmas, it nearly got a replay with France when Mr Henri decided to thump the ball in the back of the net using his hand and it decided that over 1 million people prefered a sausage roll to Cheryl Cole (they actually prefered a picture of a sausage roll, if it was real it would be a fairly putrid piece of meat surrounded by stinking pastry) Of course there have been cases of people actually coming to harm from Facebook use. One mother of four was stabbed to death by the fiance she met on the site. He stabbed her twice in the back of the head before throwing himself on some railway tracks. Another girl, who was an aspiring model and television presenter, had acid thrown in her face, scarring her permanently with horrific injuries. This website needs to be banned.

Cars bad for your health

Driving on a road, only an idiot would do it

Surely one the most evil things to grace our streets are streets. Yes, roads are lethal. 239 people died on the roads last year, so its time they were gone. How can something that allows a large chunk of metal hurl headlong into your face be considered safe. Ban them now, or our teenagers will never be safe. Since air travel is considered to be the safest method of travel we could all build runways in our back gardens, and fly to work every morning. It would be like Back to the Future. “Roads, where we’re going we don’t need roads”, uttered by the Doc, it could be the mantra for the future.

We all learned a harsh lesson last winter. Freezing weather needs to get the axe. Yes, ban going out in cold weather. Thousands died across Europe in the last cold snap, not being told not to go outside in plummeting temperatures. How can you expect people not to go outside if you don’t force them not to go outside. Ban it, ban it, ban it. For the sake of the children, ban it. Unless of course you had a flying car, in which case going out in the cold might be a little easier.

Burgers are bad for your health

More dangerous than stabbing yourself

Putting our restauranteurs, supermarkets and green grocers out of business may seem a tad harsh, but if it saves just one kids life it will be worth it. Yes folks, ban food. Thousands of people have allergies to different foods, how can we expect them not to eat them without a ban? In America there are on average 76 million poisonings from food every year, with 5,000 deaths. It’s hardly a safe product, and with a ban we could all enjoy government approved gruel out of silver bags knowing that we will always be safe. Yummy! Add to that the risk of choking and you get something more dangerous than playing golf with a ball of semtex. Why hasn’t it been banned already?

If our society is to flourish, we all need to get on the phones to Joe Duffy as soon as possible. The power is in our hands, and we need to use it. Unless the state protects our youth, our youth are is lost. How can we be expected to decide whats good for us and whats not? Banning everything maybe? Possibly, if it stops the risk of death, let me rephrase, the perception of death, its worth it. I need to be nannied, and I want the state to tell me what to do. Hopefully they will also introduce censorship, and then you will won’t have to read this article in the first place.

A reaction to RTE’s unbalanced “Head Shops” program

Nirvana Head Shop, South William Street, Dublin

Nirvana, big in the nineties, are making a comeback...

So as the head shop debate rages on, RTE decided to throw in their two cents on the issue with their imaginatively titled “Head Shops”. A balanced discussion of the highs and lows (or Saturdays and Mondays, depending on your perspective) was just the tonic the country needed for a such a hotly discussed subject. A brilliant expose of the roots of legal highs, the people for them, the people against them, the statistics on the dangers caused to people, the numbers for the levels of crime caused and reduced by them. Unless somebody slipped some highs into my tea I’m pretty sure it was the equivalent of Bray Wanderers playing Brazil, a one-sided look that was sure to please the masses of Duffyites.

The stage was set for a rundown of the lows of Head Shops. Some type of scummer fella with his face fuzzed out, the type of thing normally reserved for witnesses and pedophiles, was telling the country that snorting a line made you “mad ourrav it”. A clear portrayal of the type of people using it. Two seconds was given to a man saying “its a witch hunt”, not making it clear whether he was for or against (he was against, having been on the news a few weeks previous). Next was on to the Dáil, for the concerned citizens were marching to save the children. Here we saw lots of people waving placards, and one unfortunate who had stabbed himself in the wrist when high. 14 seconds was given to a foreign chap who was calling the banning of the head shops something close to fascism. The rest of the time was given to the protesters.

Jacqui Synpe and friends protest a local head shop

"Ban Head Shops, now, lets go to the pub next door"

Off to Roscommon so to speak with Jaqui Snype, who was leading a team of volunteers, working on a rota, to picket the local head shop all the time. “Are you proud of what you started?”, presenter Philip Boucher Hayes asked. Off course she was she said, she was protecting the children. Outside the shop he asked, “does anyone believe that if this place closed down tomorrow would anyone stop taking drugs?”. One man used his powers of logic, clearly backed up by concrete proof, said that because of the recession people wouldn’t be able to afford the diesel to drive to Athlone and buy drugs. Makes perfect sense. Another said, “80% of the younger ones won’t go looking for drugs but when they’re in a place like that, its like a sweet shop”. I’ve trawled for those figures, but can’t find them. Could they be made up? No, why would he do that? No, it can’t be a figure off the top of his head. 97% of people never make up figures off the top of their heads. Could he be in the 3% that I made up that do?

On next to Newbridge, which has two head shops. 2 minutes and 58 seconds was granted to Lorna, the manager of The Hemporium, in which time she stated that people were free to do what they wanted with the product. Described as “brightly lit with sparkly cabinets filled with curious and wonderous items, all the best tricks of the retail trade employed”, he may as well have used a split screen, one side with the shop, the other with Willy Wonka’s face. Adding the Oompa Loompa music would have been genius. Finally it was described as a “high-class retail experience”. Funny that, a shopkeeper making his shop a nice experience for customers. It’s like a trick Satan would use. Luckily it’s not used in regular shops, I’m glad they’re stinking shitholes that place no value in a nice premises. The owners of the shop refused to comment, leaving Lorna to field the hard questions. Maybe this was because they have horns and can only come out at night, or maybe because 8 shops have been attacked in recent months, and showing who you are to regular drug dealers could be really bad for your health. 55 seconds was also given to how the drug world, and how they are reacting to legal highs, all leading back to stabby arm man from the protest outside the Dail telling us how his friends wanted to kill him for protesting against head shops.

17 year old Chloe McDonagh, sitting beside her mother, was next up to give us all an education. She had an attack after taking “Wildcat”, which had her featured on the front page of a local newspaper. Her mother stated, “I thought she had a few drinks on her”, but soon she realised it was legal highs she had taken. Still, forget about the underage drinking she was taking part in, that doesn’t matter. Off to a pub to get some reactions from people, where a man and his child were enjoying an afternoon session. A lot of close-ups of pints and we were once again wiser to the effects of head shops.

Back to the big smoke for the finale of the show, and we were informed that 300 people had gone up to a window on South William Street to buy highs. Using Boucher Hayes’s powers of mathematical statistics, he informed us that this hatch was opened 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Work out the maths and you find that that’s an awful lot of people buying highs. But factor in that this was a Saturday night, the busiest time on the Dublin nightlife scene, and you realise that it’s as balanced as Meat Loaf and Kate Moss sharing a see-saw. He finished by saying “will demand dwindle when the ban comes in? Almost certainly”, a fact he almost certainly made up himself, adding as his last words that it will “make criminals of the people buying it”. A true statement, ne’er explored.

Presenter, RTE Head Shops

I'm going to be a famous investigative journalist. Like Sherlock Holmes.

What is most disturbing about programs like this is the lack of clarity over the issue. Yes, testing and regulation need to come into action, but none of that was really explored. In fact only 4 minutes and 10 seconds was given to any argument for the cases of keeping the head shops open. In the 30 minute program this equates only to around 16% of the entire output of the show. Hardly fair and balanced, it never interviewed the Gardai in relation to crime statistics, or the Revenue Department regarding the amount of taxes paid by these businesses. It had no facts on the decline of organised crime regarding drugs. Instead it dwelled on the rants of protesters, and human interest stories of users designed to tug on the ole heartstrings, a tactic so lazy that it is not actually asleep, its dead.

So for some statistics omitted from the show. There is approximately one mephedrone death in Ireland per year. Thats compared with 7.1 per 100,000 alcohol deaths and around 69 deaths from poisoning by use of prescription and over the counter medicines. In 2008 controlled drug offenses were 23,405, compared with 21,984 in 2009, down by 1,421. Importation of drug offenses were down from 67 to 46. Possession of drugs for sale or supply were down from 4,302 to 4,039 and possession for personal use was down from 18,093 to 16,811. In fact there was a reduction of controlled drug offenses of 17.2% in the first quarter of this year.

All these figures tell a story, a story that it seems RTE did not want to be told. All the figures are freely available from government websites like cso.ie and http://www.coroner.ie. In a fair and balanced society we need a fair and balanced media. Without it we can only repeat the past mistakes of governments. As mentioned in my last blog on this subject, the criminals are the only ones who will win. Then we’ll have a program on the effects of illegal highs. And maybe guns.