I’m aware that i have a hefty majority of ‘fans’ that come from places that aren’t Northern Ireland, so i’ve decided to launch a series of posts about my favourite bands from the wee bit at the top of the emerald isle. My hope is to expose you folks from distant shores to the best our wee corner has had to offer over the years. I seriously love all the bands i’m going to write about, so please take a moment to listen to a few songs, watch a few videos and buy a few of their items!
This series could only start with this band. Fighting With Wire have always been a band close to my heart. Before they were known under this name, the core component was known as ‘Clearshot‘. Unfortunately, the passing of former bass player, Marty [and other issues] forced the closure of that band and a short hiatus. When i was a 15 year old kid playing bars with my first proper band, FutureReal, i caught a Clearshot set one night and couldn’t believe those guys were from our wee tiny town. I became obsessed from that night forward. I snuck out of home several times just to watch the band play in local venues and soon became known to the band themselves as that kid that was always front row at every show – no matter where it took place. I remember when Oasis came to town for a huge outdoor show, that it just didn’t interest me until one day myself and my friend Sean Keddy were in Easons perusing the rock magazines like the mallrats we were when i discovered that Clearshot were confirmed as the support act … i instantly got my ticket. I remember scrambling my way to the very front before their set, which wasn’t hard because most of the audience had no clue who they were, and rocking the fuck out. Years and Years later [2007?] i got a call from Cahir around 7pm in the evening asking me what i’m doing, i said i’m just reading a book and he said ‘No, you’re coming to Portrush with us, we’re playing a show’ – of course i accepted. Anyways, during the travel, a conversation about the aforementioned Oasis show came up and i relayed the above. Craig [drummer] told me that for him personally, looking out and seeing a friendly known face rocking out in the stands helped him get through the show – how cool is that?
Anyways, back to the past; i remember being out shopping in Foyleside one day when i got a call from a friend called John [who was in a band called Room 31] asking me if my band FutureReal could support Clearshot in the Castle Bar the following evening – it was one of the first times i just said ‘yes’ without doing right thing and calling the other guys in the band first, but i didn’t want to miss the opportunity. When we arrived in to do our soundcheck, Cahir [singer] and Marty [bassist] couldn’t believe my age . I’m guessing it was because i rocked out as if it were a gig during the soundcheck … i didn’t know the rules yet. For a local band that was blowing up [they supported ‘At the Drive in’ in Belfast around this time] they were insanely friendly. In fact, i remember two major things about this show; 1. Cahir wore a red ‘Got Cock?’ tshirt that was emulating the ‘Got Coke?’ campaign. 2. My mother attended and Cahir ensured she was as side-stage as the tiny castle bar allowed, he wedged himself between my mother and the very animated audience – very cool.
During these young years, i was a fan of getting signatures from my favourite bands, however, all those moments came when others were vying for signatures so it felt natural. I really wanted the signatures of Clearshot but it seemed forced to do it in a local setting. I devised a plan. I pretended i was sketching them for an art project and presented them with a laminate and sharpie to sign in each corner. It was a total lie, but it was the only way i felt i could grab their signatures without freaking them and other bar patrons out. I still have that laminate to this day.
I caught FWW’s first ever set [on a night they were known as ‘band x’ due to having no official name at the time] simply because i spent every single day and night seeking out and attending local shows. I think from when i was 15 until i was 18 i saw around 400 shows every year, it was all i wanted to do and i didn’t discover alcohol until i was 18.. that’s another story. They were supporting a band called Element [who became ‘In Case of Fire’]. From subsequent conversations with Cahir about this show, apparently it was a very last minute show borne of cabin fever. The band had been rehearsing non-stop in their practice space and just wanted to test the water with a show and saw this as a good fit to start. I was there with my friend John Quinn, sitting on my arse on the wooden floor just watching the next chapter of this story and it was amazing – they were seriously amazing that night and remember, i didn’t drink until i was over 18 so my memories aren’t distorted in any shape.
Listen to their first record ‘Man Vs. Monster‘ below;
With all this information, you would be right to assume that i was more than chuffed to hear that my band, Mascara Story were going to be supporting Reuben in the UK and Ireland alongside Fighting With Wire. To be absolutely honest, i was more excited about playing with FWW every night than with Reuben, but that’s nothing against the latter, i absolutely love Reuben’s music. Whilst that tour absolutely exposed the flaws in my character and anxieties – i absolutely loved it. I was getting to watch two insanely great bands every night from side stage and meet really cool people. Frank Turner was even doing our fucking merch stand, how much cooler can it get?
FWW’s live show is probably better than their studio recordings. I don’t say that often. I usually prefer the studio recordings to 99% of live performances. However, FWW, a three piece, managed to sound HUGE at every show. The boys knew their gear inside out and it showed in every performance. In the moments where the guitar was doing a lead-style part, the bass would crunch over the speakers and dominant the ears. I really miss them.
Cahir’s Songwriting has been hugely influential to me. I didn’t use Nirvana or Foo Fighter songs as rock song templates when i was starting to write my first set of rock songs; i used Clearshot/FWW songs. One thing i’ve always loved about Cahir’s songwriting is how immediate he makes every song – there’s no faffing around or fretboard masterbation – it’s all about the song. I don’t think i’ve ever heard a Cahir song i less than loved. I’m one of those musicians that seeks out bands/musicians hourly until i find something i love, but when i do, it’s like religion – i HAVE to listen to every song the band has ever done and i have to hear previous bands. too. I remember going to Cahir’s house one day and him showing me all these b-sides and demos from the clearshot era that absolutely blew my mind. I hope he’ll upload the entire collection on souncloud someday – there’s some stunning songs amongst that collection and i feel privileged to have heard them.
Did you know? Cahir is a major reason why ‘This is Not a Bruise’ was even included on the first Mascara Story EP. How? I messaged Cahir on msn [remember?] one night asking him to attend a rehearsal in our cityside practise room to critique us, our songs, our style and our performances. Thankfully he agreed to come a few days later. It was pretty nervy being a new band and asking someone i looked up to a lot to come up and judge us, but i knew we needed the kick and i knew cahir would have a foundation for his criticisms. Having watched about 10 songs in a row, he had some choice words ‘Jay, you’re overdoing the drums on every song, simple it down man’ – ‘daveit, stop singing so high in every verse so that when you go high in the chorus that it really kicks’ – ‘stop adding so many parts to your songs for the sake of adding parts to your song’. I’d be lying if i told you we had our four tracks planned for the EP at this point, but what i can tell you is that cahir’s words changed everything in terms of EP arrangement. Not only did we scrap songs like ‘Pencil You In’ [that we were playing live at the time] in favour of new songs such as ‘This is Not a Bruise’ & ‘Episode’, but we even rewrote our newest songs with cahir’s advice in mind. ‘This is Not a Bruise’ was essentially the calling card that got us in the door of the Kerrang! Snickers Unsigned Competition in 2005, so i owe you a beer my friend!
Listen to their second record ‘Colonel Blood’ below;
Cut the Transmission / Into the Ground / Sugar / Erase You / Long Distance / After the Show / Tracing the Lines