With a fresh new attitude, the brash pop of Fight Like Apes has won the young group many admirers, writes Eamon Sweeney
Fight Like Apes easily win the strangest title of the year award for the moniker of their second EP, David Carradine Is A Bounty Hunter Whose Robotic Arm Hates Your Crotch. Mary-Kate Geraghty (Maykay), Jamie Fox, Tom Ryan and Adrian Mullan have been one of the hardest working and most successful new Irish acts of 2007, already winning a considerable army of admirers for their brash blend of buzzing guitar pop.
At the time of our conversation, they're still wiping the jetlag from their eyes upon returning from the extremely prestigious CMJ Music Marathon in New York City. "We've had such a busy year, so to get an opportunity to do a gig in New York felt like a short holiday," Jamie enthuses. "The gig was perfect," agrees Maykay. "The only thing was that I nearly didn't get into the venue as I'm only 20 and I hadn't brought any ID with me."
Maykay and Jamie first met on a family holiday in Spain. "One night, I told Jamie I loved singing, so he made me sign a contract on a piece of tissue in a bar saying that I would never do anything musically without him," she recalls. "In retrospect, I was probably looking for a bit of action at the time," Jamie laughs. "But at least I got a lead singer out of it."
After a few years of gigging in various different outfits, they stumbled on a more singular direction and formed Fight Like Apes. "We always encourage criticism within the band, which is great, because other bands we were in before had very set ideas. When Jamie writes something, we then go through the very fun drinking process when he describes what the song is about. I won't sing a song if I don't undertand it, but sometimes it's a bit terrifying, you big weirdo," she playfully laughs at Jamie.
"I had this sudden realisation in New York that our songs are a bit perverted," Jamie agrees. "There is this strange fight between chauvinism and feminism going on in the band."
"I think it's really funny that he can write a song that can be considered chauvinistic but when a girl sings it, it's a real girl power thing," Maykay continues. "For example, I can sing a line like 'Imagine if I break your ding-a-ling' and all the girls will go 'Woo-hoo!' But imagine if Jamie wrote that from the opposite side of things about hurting a girl."
The rapturous reaction to their debut release, How Am I Supposed to Kill When You've Got All the Guns? has been enormously encouraging. The shouty pop song Lend Me Your Face became an alternative radio favourite and is greeted as an anthem at their shows around the country. They are perfectly poised to make an even bigger splash when they unleash their, as yet untitled, debut album in 2008.
"The way I look at it is that the stereotypical Irish band is still considered to be The Frames or the singer/songwriter thing, so I'd love it if our album opened up things a bit more on the Irish music scene," Maykay hopes. "There seems to be few bands like us that don't sound the same but share a similar attitude." For the record, Maykay and Jamie rate Grand Pocket Orchestra, Adebisi Shank, Jape and Giveamanakick.
"We're sick of this thing when someone says, 'Have you heard this? It's really good for an Irish band,'" Jamie continues.
"Why should that sentence even exist? Why should we be happy with sub-standard bands when an Irish band like My Bloody Valentine changed modern music and influenced bands all over the world? We'll still be talking about their album Loveless in 20 years time."
Music fans and bloggers have been excitedly championing the band. Indeed, one blog entitled Asleep On The Compost Heap claims: "Fight Like Apes are the best new band in Dublin by a country mile. They operate well outside an insular and suffocating scene that is as dry as a bowl of Shreddies, full of non-descript groups of bitter little men who worship Joy Division, stab each other in the back on internet forums and are all probably weeping inside at the rocket-like trajectory of this colourful bunch's success." Ouch!
"We seem to be a relief to some people," responds Jamie when I read this quote. "People have seen us putting the work in rather than bitching about how hard it is to make it in Ireland. Even people who don't like our music seem to have some respect for us, which is fantastic."
Fight Like Apes combine a healthy work ethic with a refreshing can-do attitude. "Everyone in a band that doesn't make it seems to resort to a get-out clause and then blame everyone else but themselves," Maykay believes.
"If this doesn't happen for us, then so what? You have to play gigs and sell merchandise to make money these days because you won't make it on record sales.
"If you're making music, you've got to move with the times." n
David Carradine Is A Bounty Hunter Whose Robotic Arm Hates Your Crotch is released today. They play The Underground, Limerick tonight, Carlow tomorrow and Whelan's, Dublin on Friday, November 16.
An exclusive limited edition 12" compiling both EPs will be available at the Whelan's date only