Kevin Forde talks to Celbridge’s MayKay of Fight Like Apes.
WITHIN Ireland we like to think of ourselves as a bunch of delicate singer-writers loving types.
Some people enjoy the acoustic guitar dominated heart-broken melodies of our uncountable troubadour brethren, others don’t, either way it’s generally how we define ourselves musically.
Maybe it’s Christy Moore’s fault. Had he had a Dylan like about-turn and “gone electric” then perhaps Joxer never would have went to Stuttgart and we’d be a nation of anarchisitic punks wearing needles and pins and spitting on our favourite bands as a sign of affection. Then again, maybe not. Either way, earnest, serious, sensitive acoustic guitar slingers is what we’re known for.
Fight Like Apes are none of these things. Brattish, brazen purveyors of electro-punk rock with song titles like “Digifucker” and “Lend Me Your Face”, they are a bunch of high energy misfits on our conservative musical landscape. Damien Rice, if he ever gets round to releasing a new album, will probably not call it something like “The Body of Christ and The Legs of Tina Turner”.
That album, the follow-up to their 2009 debut, saw the band confirming their status as one of Ireland’s finest live performers and possessed a level of maturity and even lyrical introspection that perhaps surprised some.
MayKay (Mary-Kate Geraghty), lead singer with the group and hailing from Celbridge in North Kildare, says there was a concerted effort from the band to make themselves slightly more vulnerable on this record.
“We’re not using as many pop cultural references. I love using them but I think we probably hid behind them a little bit so yeah I think this record shows a bit of a different side.”
Songs like “Waking up with Robocop” or “Thank God You’re Not Thirsty” show a widening of their emotional palette, if not a complete discarding of their pop cultural encyclopedia, with MayKay saying the latter song, in particular, does leave her feeling a bit naked on stage. They are also quite fond of swear words. So is there anything she wouldn’t sing?
“Oh definitely”, she says, “although it might sound ridiculous since there’s probably not a lot left that I haven’t said,” she adds, laughing.
“I think saying the “c word” on the album is about as far as I’ve gone. For the most part there is a lot of thought gone into the ones that might sound like they’ve been blurted out, it’s certainly not just me spewing for the sake of it.”
Known predominantly for their terrific live shows in which pots and pans often replace regular instruments, they are also a band who like a quiet drink or two. Occasionally they might have one too many, like at a gig in the University of Limerick last year when the band ended up being fined. MayKay is quick to absolve herself of responsibility.
“I’m blaming the boys for this one”, she begins, “they got really drunk to the point where you think everyone is having a great time. Of course the security guards weren’t having a great time. So they fined the lads. I can’t even remember what it was [€250]. So the lads said lets to go to the bank.”
On arriving at the bank, the lads - keyboardist Jamie “Pockets” Fox and bass player Tom Ryan - found a lovely lady behind the counter who was happy to give them the money. In one cent coins.
“They got off the fine because the guard wouldn’t take the money.” she laughs. “Now there’s a good tip.”
Having failed to pick up the Choice Music Award last week (they’ve been nominated for both albums and failed to win both times, this time losing out to surprising victors Two Door Cinema Club) the group will be back on the festival circuit for the remainder of the year. An incredibly hard-working live band who are seemingly never off the road MayKay has only one wish for the rest of the year.
“I hope we’re going back to Europe mainly Germany this year because there is so much cheese and bread that I always look forward to it.
“So I’m really pushy to get back to Germany, other than that I really don’t know”
Fight Like Apes play Judge Roy Beans in Newbridge on Friday, April 15.