Interview by Barry Egan
‘Like a snotty kid poking a dead crow with a shitty stick, or a scabby knee that you just can’t help but keep picking at — these are scenes from the A&E at the end of the world, and Fight Like Apes are open for admissions.”
That’s Fight Like Apes’s mission statement (sort of) on their Facebook page. But you wouldn’t expect anything less from this much-touted electronic outfit.
As album titles go, Fight Like Apes’s 2009 album The Body of Christ And The Legs Of Tina Turner certainly grabbed your attention. (The music wasn’t half bad, either.) I ask if they had to get Tina’s OK to use the title The Body Of Christ And The Legs Of Tina Turner.
Mary-Kate ‘MayKay’ Geraghty, vocals, synth and attitude: “Yeah, she said we were able to use it. She was sound.”
Jamie ‘Pockets’ Fox, keyboard, vocals and attitude: “He came to me in a vision. Everyone was cool.”
The Son of God notwithstanding, “cool” is certainly a word I’d use to describe Fight Like Apes’s cover of Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand by Primitive Radio Gods for The Windmill Lane Sessions on Independent.ie.
It was a joy to behold in the famous Ringsend studio. Pockets did his magic on those mad-looking synth jobbies; MayKay opened her mouth and the words come tumbling out — very cinematic, like a Terrence Malick film: “We sit outside and argue all night long/About a god we’ve never seen/But never fails to side with me/Sunday comes and all the papers say/Ma Teresa’s joined the mob/And happy with her full-time job,” sings MayKay in that wonderful off-kilter voice of hers — like a funky Patti Smith...poking a dead crow with a shitty stick.
“The lyrics are really amazing,” MayKay says of the Primitive Radio Gods song after she puts down the mic. “In terms of how they are written, the words are quite simple —but it is really beautifully done. It’s a piano ballad over a hip-hop beat. I don’t think it would have occurred to us to cover it before.”
Fight Like Apes’s new, self-titled album (yes, it’s called Fight Like Apes) is sonically arresting in all the right ways. Songs like the single Pretty Keen On Centrefolds, The Hunk and the Funpalace and most intriguingly, I Don’t Want To Have To Mate With You, leap off the CD player at you. “We used to use longer titles to stand out — but after a while, it becomes expected,” Pockets says, in reference to The Body of Christ And The Legs Of Tina Turner.
The hugely hum-along-able Pretty Keen On Centrefolds has some killer lines: “I look up oh-so high/ I take a swing out of line/Say Daddy, why was I born? He said shut your mouth.”
I ask Pockets did he really ask his father that.
“That’s just existential crisis!” he laughs, adding that the song is about the complexity of ageing and feeling you’re perhaps too old to be dating the aforesaid centrefold.
“Your girlfriend is actually very good looking,” pitches in MayKay. “She could be a centrefold.”
“She’s roasting hot,” laughs Pockets. Equally roasting hot is Fight Like Apes’s musical style which, as Pockets explains, has them digging forward into the past. Unsurprisingly, Fight Like Apes’s influences include 80s stuff like Soft Cell, and Talk Talk. They recently did a cover of Village People’s classic Go West (of which Pet Shop Boys, who also covered it in 1993, also tweeted approvingly).
“There are no limitations,” Pockets says of their music, while MayKay adds that Fight Like Apes have just returned from playing in Texas. “This guy didn’t know where Ireland was,” she says. “We didn’t have time to put him straight.”
Spoken like alt cool singer in Tina Turner’s — and God’s — favourite Irish band.
Windmill Lane Sessions: Tina Turner's favourite Irish act Fight Like Apes calls home