days, the tag 'Peel faves' does not bode well. Images are conjured up
of dour, grey, moribund Liverpudlians with big egos. Not a pretty thought.
But Microdisney harken back to the golden age of nighttime under the blankets
with the tranny, the age of early Scritti, The Mekons and the ever present
Fall. Microdisney's closest relatives must be The Undertones; like Derry's
finest, Microdisney - Sean and Cathal - are also from the Emerald lsle
and sing songs of love with hidden depths. The Microdisney boxing glove
has a horseshoe inside.
Take the name, on it's own a charming word, images of sweetness and Mickey
Mouse. Yet look how it jars in sentences. Too long for Whamlike snappiness,
you hyphenate it at your own risk. Their last album was called 'Everybody
Is fantastic; the new one is called 'We Hate You South African Bastards'.
They can't both be genuine sentiments, and there are no prizes for spotting
'ironic one'. It's about time we met these perpetrators of pop subversion...
(voice and lyrics): "We've changed a lot over the last four years.
We grew up in Cork where there was just no music at all except for Rory
Gallagher, so when we played we got all sorts of people. We used to be
much more frenzied in those days, a Fall-type mess, and our line up was
always changing. Originally Sean was going to play guitar and I was going
to recite poetry, then one week it was guitar, bass drums, then guitar,
keyboard and violin, then we had a drum machine. At the moment there are
five of us - just boring drums, guitars, bass and keyboards."
It would be fair to say that irony plays a considerable role in the mind
of Microdisney. 'Everybody Is Fantastic' comes in a chocolate box sleeve,
and on the back are sleeve notes about 'New Wave Rock Do I detect an air
of cynicism boys?
Sean (guitar + most music): "Well yes, but some people completely
miss the point. One photographer came up to us and said 'Don't you think
the sleeve is a little boring?'! As for New Wave Rock, the whole thing
about punk is that It claimed to be knocking down barriers, but it has
put even more up. We seem to have been shunned by the press because we
don't fit into a neat little scene or have the right haircuts. People
sneer at us for having torn jeans in London which they don't do in Cork,
and things are pretty reactionary there. New Wave Rock, skinny
lies and dinner plate badges - The Photos and Blondie. It still goes on
today with these awful bands like Savage Progress and Immaculate Fools.
Punk has made big business produce the likes of them and Lords Of The
New Church, with leather, jackets and tattoos for uniforms. People put
on an X Mal Deutschland t-shirt and think it is some kind of political
Where is the political content in your material then?
Cathal: "Different people see different songs on the first album
as political, but 'Come On Over And Cry' is the clearest. It's like The
Undertones, people always said they weren't political, but something like
'It's Gonna Happen' certainly was. But most of the time my songs are little
tableaux I paint and they depend on my mood at the time.
Sean: "I have great faith in Cathal's ability to destroy anyone lyrically."
Cathal: "Some of the songs are done deliberately to get up certain
people's noses. Like, I hate songs where the rhymes seem contrived so
at times my lyrics intentionally don't rhyme."
Why is it though, that you have turned your political gaze onto South
Africa, when there are considerable problems closer to home?
Cathal: "The kind of political sloganeering that Stiff Little Fingers
indulged in can only be done so many times. It has a limited lifespan.
And they only did it to get out of Ireland as soon as possible. The title
and antiapartheid sticker on the new album are really doing the same as
'Nelson Mandela', showing where we stand. But beyond that, I don't think
politics in music can really achieve all that much".
But at the same time, you obviously would like to be more than just a
pop group, What would you really like to achieve as Microdisney?
Cathal: "We do want to offend people. I did cause a lot of fuss once
when I ranted on in a song about the Irish flag, but that's just small
fry. Look at Foetus and the fuss he has caused with his posters (Foetus
himself in Christlike crucifixion pose). They've been tearing them down
"Religion in Ireland, Catholicism particularly, is a monstrous creation.
It's almost like Iran - the women have no rights whatsoever. There was
an incident a while ago where a fourteen year old girl was found dead
after she had given birth. She couldn't go on living because she believed
she had sinned against God."
Sean "The thing about Catholicism is that you either get totally
sucked in by it or you totally reject it."
Would it be fair to say that you fall into the latter category?
Microdisney might have slipped through my fingers a few years ago when
anger was all the rage, and each group seemed as pissed off about the
whole bloody mess as the next. But now, when compromise seems the order
of the day, the greatest irony of all is that this band who have the highest
possible contempt for 'punk rock' actually seem to uphold its original
ideals. Cliches they may be, but I can think of a lot worse ideals to
live by than no compromise and the handfuls of two fingers which Microdisney
wave at authority. Awkward buggers to the end, I can't even think up a
decent pun on their name to close with. Now there's the ultimate way to
subvert the rock press.