James Joyce had been in a pop group, he would have been in Microdisney.
That is, if he'd come over from Cork to spend his time drunkenly throwing
himself off tables in Hampstead and scouring London's markets for the
most sickening shirts available.
Such was the path staggered along by Sean and Cathal, the nucleus of Microdisney,
as they left behind some silly excesses in Ireland in favour of more carefully
considered ones here.
In between antics on tables and sampling the world's many and varied alcohols,
they took time to record three John Peel sessions, a handful of shamelessly
good singles and a fine, if much ignored, LP on Rough Trade.
With a new mini-LP in the pipeline, another session coming up, and a return
to live action, it seemed time for me to set off Willesden way in search
of the heart of the business.
Let's whizz back to the Cork days, when the group first took shape. Sean:
'We were a five-piece then and saw ourselves like The Pop Group. We were
terribly into playing funk riffs as fast as we possibly could and telling
everyone we were not a punk rock group. We were of course'.
Sean was busy with quality control work at the locomotive factory, and
Cathal was researching in West Ireland for a projected book entitled Sex
Among the Subnormally Intelligent. It all had to bring forth something.
The results, 'Helicopter of the Holy Ghost' and 'Pink Skinned Man', interested
John Peel, and as a result of a session for him they pitched camp in swinging
London, becoming familiar faces in Cricklewood's rough Irish pubs.
Here they got mixed up in fruitless record deals, and came to further
despise the home of New Wave Rock. Sporadic live performances nevertheless
promised much. Some saw the spirit of Syd- Barrett, not Vicious.
Sean:'Those were strange affairs. Our troubles during that time meant
that we underwent the rather unnatural process of becoming naive.
Meanwhile, live we were just getting odder and odder. They loved it at
the Rock Garden'.
Rough Trade put out the brill 'Everybody is Fantastic' LP, and 'Dolly',
the purest of pop ditties. But still no one appeared to give two hoots
All that is set to change. Sick of being nice to everyone, Sean and Cathal,
devotees of Brian Wilson and 'the psychedelic side of country music',
have prepared their assault on the world.
The forthcoming LP presents their early Irish singles, some demos and
three instrumental pieces from the soundtrack for a commercial drugs education
video that never reached completion.
The Powers That Be decided Microdisney's drug-music contributions would,
more likely than not, encourage drug taking, and the project was cancelled.
The group don't want any more misunderstandings. They have been prepared
to compromise on the title of the LP. The original title, 'We Hate You
South African Bastards', has been changed to 'We Hate You White South
African Bastards'! Peter Powell airplay is not anticipated.
Cathal: 'We felt we had to dedicate something to lovely Zola Budd, Springbok
Speedball and British Citizen, to wish her all the best at the lynching
luncheon back at Daddy's Kraal in Bloemfontein. It's our hands across
the sea gesture.'
A recent live performance suggests that a lot of people will soon care
considerably about Microdisney. Songs such as '464', a cross between The
Birthday Party and Love, and the roistering cover of the 'Who'll Stop
the Rain?', even though performed sober, still show a refreshing originality.
But will the good life spoil you, Cathal?
'Well, I may be an alcoholic by the time I'm 30 but at least I'll be a
far more interesting person than George Michael.'