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Second interview with political singer/songwriter Ciaran Murphy

category national | arts and media | news report author Wednesday July 16, 2008 13:07author by Sean Matthews - Belfast WSM Report this post to the editors

In a second interview, Sean Matthews of Workers Solidarity Movement in a personal capacity interviews singer/songwriter and former republican prisoner Ciaran Murphy concerning the release of his new album and other matters.

Could you tell me about your new album and when it was released?

Actually itís only an E.P basically meaning itís shorter and not of
album quality. Iíve put it out for a number of reasons mainly to try
and get the money together to do a proper album. I had always said I
wanted to give the music away for free - which I did do for a long time
with MySpace downloads and free CDs at gigs - but the fact is you need
money if you ever want to do more recording and to publish material.
I was able to put the verbal hand grenade out because a generous fan put up 200
quid for covers etc, that a ridiculous state of affairs when Iím
getting radio play and people asking about CDs from all over the
Apart from that I needed to move on and work on new songs, but I
wanted to get a physical copy of that "school" of songs if you like (Airstrip,
sadam, etc) out and available for people before I took them off line. It went on
sale on July 1st, important date for me.

So far has there been a positive feedback regarding your new release?

Iím not sure, in one week I sold about 30 online and then the same at a
gig down in cork last week. So far itís only been pushed on the likes
of IR Net and so only the politicos know about it. I am getting
certain DJs praising it though and I have a couple of newspaper /
radio interviews lined up, with a bit of luck ill get a bit of a
backlash and then shamrock promotions will be pushing it after that, so we will see how it goes then.
Iím worried because many of the people buying have probably heard most
of it before on MySpace, they might be bored with the same songs (I
am) so Iím starting to regret not putting more on it, but if I had then it
wouldnít have been an EP. That said there are three unheard of tracks
on it and they are all better recorded, I also put a good bit of work
into the sleeve work so itís not just about the music.

In the current climate, in which 'scaremongering' from sections of the
media over 'anti-social behaviour' is demonising whole working-class
communities and young people contributing to an atmosphere of fear and
mistrust. Your song called 'anti-social' talks about many of these
issues and might be quite 'unpopular' in some quarters; could you
elaborate more on the origins of the song and its impact?

Iím glad to get a chance to address that actually, some people got
deeply upset at that song which I can understand. I received abusive
messages on line after I put it out and even ended up arguing with
people after gigs about it. The first time youhear it you think itís a hoods anthem but you only need to listen to it again and you get it. The problem with writing songs about deep
issues is youíre trying to say as much as possible using only a few
words then hoping it will fit into a melody; itís not always possible
to put across exactly what you mean. When I wrote that song I had
just been queuing in a shop and had watched a quite well off
republican laughing at a newspaper headline about a fell getting hit in the knees with a
shotgun, but the shop was across the road from a bookies which was right beside an off licence,
I just thought if bookmakers and other parasitic business men are doing
massive damage to our most vulnerable (which they are), well why donít
the same people push to punish them for anti social behaviour?
Lets get something straight, the roots of Ďanti social crimeí lie in
economic inequality there no doubt about that, that said however, if
your someone who gets off on torturing vulnerable working class people
to get money or kicks then youíre a scumbag, the cops either cant or
wont sufficiently protect communities from the likes of that and so
its stupid to expect people just to wait for a revolution, perfect
equality and social equilibrium and just do nothing. Iím not opposed to punishing somebody who would put screwdriver into my head or would torture my granny for her chapel money, Iíve no problem with people executing heroin dealers. That said I have no problem with
working class people grabbing a piece of the pie, if a kid from Divis
does a runner with a new pair of trainers from a high
store then fair play to him, if working class lads rob thousands from
a Securicor van then ill be laughing my head off, this is capitalism
and its pennies to the rich.
One close republican friend suggested that maybe the song itself was
just a bit farfetched, that people werenít getting kneecapped just for
robbing bookies and that I was just stereo-typing republicans as the
big bad terrorists of 1980s BBC Belfast set dramas . Iím not sure;
maybe he was right, I donít play it in west Belfast any more, not since
Harry Holland and Bap McGreevy were murdered.
Regarding the media response, I donít know if I would call whatís happening
scaremongering, alot of people are genuinely scared, I get scared here
in west Belfast, good people are being slaughtered by fuckers who are very confident and have no
sense of community, thatís a crises. The overall media spin on it is
pathetic though, itís designed to make communities feel powerless, the
press and all the political parties are using this to garner support
for the PSNI, thatís wrong and needs to be challenged.
Anybody who believes the cops can deal with this need a reality check.
Going on their past form here they could well be behind half of it. We
need more community solidarity to defend the vulnerable, and that
doesnít mean calling the cops it means physically defending our
vulnerable, only we can do that.

Do you have any favourite songs?

Loads, depending on what mood Iím in. I always come back to "All the
young punks" by the clash, itís an epic song that never lets you down,
Moving Hearts doing "no time for love" always does it for me too, when
Iím drunk (as I am now) I shout for "sick bed of cu chulann" by the
pogues or McGowan doing "snake with eyes of garnet". I love old
Motown stuff too, the best anti war song ever is "I should be proud"
by Martha Reeves who lost her brother in Vietnam, "up the ladder to
the roof" by the Supremes is a special too. I have guilty favourites
too like "love lobster" by Lulu and loads of hardcore punk and Oi
stuff, but I wonít get into that.

Turning to political matters, when and how did you become conscious as
an 'anarchist'?

Hem! It was probably a personal progression not entirely political; I
was always a socialist and a republican and had been active within several groups that were
strongly leadership led. Without going into details, things hadnít gone
the way I had imagined they would and I got disillusioned with everything I
had been doing. When I was a prisoner I always tried to keep close
friendships within every political tendency on the republican wings,
because of this I was hearing every imaginable analysis and opinion on
"the way forward", I was getting copies of Saoirse, An Phoblacht,
starry plough, sovereign nation etc even the socialist worker and
other red banner stuff.
At around the same time as I could see the other side of the fence and
gate fever was setting in, something weird happened. I began to
realise that on hearing peoples arguments I was automatically agreeing
with them, I was agreeing with purist nationalists, purist Marxists,
loyal Sinn Fein activists. I was even debating and agreeing with one
of the prison chaplains, an English man who had lived in Columbia
serving one of the smaller leftist militias there and was a liberation
theologist , my head was
done in and I realised I didnít really know what I believed anymore.
Looking at it all a bit deeper I reasoned that I had forgotten how
to think for myself, I spent all my life trusting other peoples
judgments (as you must do in leadership led groups), I was able to
identify how always trusting others to come up with solutions weakens
your own confidence, even makes you lazy, all around I saw evidence of
it, large meetings where nobody but a few spoke, loads of untapped
potential and talent, all wasted, all because people automatically
think hierarchy is natural and so go to sleep. There had been a
documentary on the sailors of kronstadt in 1921 who had been described by
Lenin as the "flower of the revolution" before the Bolsheviks
massacred them for practising too much autonomy. Some of us were
walking the yard the next night discussing it, the general opinion was
'they should have stayed within the party structure' when I voiced my
opinion that only sailors knew how sailors should operate in a
revolution and that you shouldnít wait for the party to catch up I was
accused of being "an anarchist", thatís when I got interested.
Still I wouldnít claim to be an accomplished anarchist or anything like
that; I am not intellectually advanced about it at all, and a terrible
reader. All I know is that hierarchy does not provide for a healthy
environment for revolutionaries to operate within, it stifles personal
confidence and sees loads of potential go untapped. I think you can
apply that principle to society in general, apparently organising
without hierarchy is the beginning of Anarchism, if thatís true then I
agree with that.

What do you think are limits of Irish Republicanism? Surely its
weaknesses cannot solely put down to 'bad leadership'?

Republicanism saved Ireland from complete and absolute psychological
submission to the British Empire (which is what was planned for us).
The empire and their native capitalist allies envisaged us all
eternally slaving away for them in whatever form they deemed suitable,
republicanism even when it focused only on the national question kept
a flame of self respect alive in the people, it was always there below
the surface (self determination) and still is. I firmly believe that
the stubbornness of even small bands of Irish people and their
organising into fighting units kept a flicker of confidence alive in
the Irish mindset that we all benefit from today, the left should
understand this even though they might not find it in their books.
The limits lie in what I mentioned before, hierarchy! hierarchy does not
lend itself well to mass efficiency, and although small gestures (like
the 50s campaign) are better than total submission to Britain, we need
mass mobilisation and participation if we are to have a revolution in Ireland. Connolly
fully understood this.

It seems that you have a growing fan base, is it confined to a certain
age group and based in Ireland?

Donít know about the age groups at all, but it seems to be growing
alright over fifteen thousand MySpace hits, ten thousand of them in
the last six months, Again I need to thank union breaker Rupert
Murdoch for giving us MySpace.

Finally, what are your hopes for the future in terms of your music
career if I can put it that way, and why do you do hardly any gigs?

I have loads of new tunes ready to go, better than whatís come so far in
my opinion. The fast angry emphasis is still there, probably more so
but vie also slowed down in some of them. I have experimented with
different tunings like DADGAD and have moved into other
areas of interest with songs dealing with everything from the invasion
of privacy and biometrics to the existence of God and evolution. To get it out as an
album will require good EP sales though so there will probably be
another couple of EPs before an album see's the light of day.
I am exploring how to put emotions across through music and
that requires bringing new instruments in. I have just put a new song on
the MySpace called 'Once upon a time in Ireland' which I dedicated it to
the late Brendan Hughes whose final arrangements (Iím led to believe)
involved having some of his ashes spread on the Cooley mountains, I
was touched by that sentiment and understand it totally, so I tried to
capture in music what I think his emotions would have been in making
those arrangements.
At the moment I donít have any plans as such, to be brutally honest I donít think there
will be a "career" in it
for me, you need to go looking for a career in music to get one, if
youíre lucky you will get a break, but I donít even know where to look. As long
as I can get the tunes in my head down into a format people can listen
to, and as long as a handful of people say its good then Iím happy
enough. I have an album ready to go out but I want to do it properly,
this EP is a trial run. As for gigs ill play anywhere but I donít get
asked much, Iím not sure where my music would fit into in the live
circuits here, I might need to wait for this recession to get more of
a grip before people want to listen to me on a night out. Itís mostly
benefits and the like I play at, I played for the protestors down in
Tara which was an absolute honour, I did a gig in Wolverhampton back
in May which was a blast apart from the special branch pulling me in
at Aldergrove and wrecking my head.
I think there is a Belfast gig in August during the feile, I played in
Cork last week at an award ceremony for the family of a young
Volunteer who was murdered by the Tans in 1919, and meet his
nephew 'Master Sprigs' which was a great honour. Also I have just been
asked to play up in Donegal for Radio na Gaelteacht, I wouldnít mind
running a bus up to that from Belfast if anyone is interested.









To purchase just click on the links below



CD Price: £4.99

Postage & Packaging Chrages:

UK: 99p

Europe: £1.99

Worldwide: £2.99
All CDís are signed by Ciaran


author by Jonnypublication date Wed Jul 16, 2008 13:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

for newswire perhaps?

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