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Dundalk's finest poet Jinx Lennon on 911, the town, drug slugs, thugs and energy vampires (etc)
arts and media |
Tuesday October 03, 2006 19:18 by eeekkk/jinx
Ten Questions. Answers fast and dirty as returned by e-mail with no cleanup. (This is how you do an interview with a mobile phone in 10 minutes flat and make Indymedia safer for the arts (or anything else for that matter))
Jinx and Paula
Were U really 'in a sex shop on capel street when the twin towers blew up'? Tell me more about that tune.
yes all true but what happened initially was i had been in Abbey St in a hardware place to get a key cut or a lock or something similar and i overheard the clientele talking about a plane and stuff to do with a hi-jacking so i automatically thought it was a PLO/ Entebbe Airport type situation they were talking about, and i had no idea this major episode had happened ,i just noticed they looked at me funny like i should automatically be joining in with the conversation so i thought something felt slightly odd .I was walking through Capel St a few minutes later when a mate of mine name of Hovy ran out of Slattery's in a bit of a panic roaring at me to come into the pub.When i went in they were all glued to the screen like it was JFK's assasination and it all got a bit hairy then cos i was trying to decipher what was obviously Manhattan covered in smoke.I went one of the Utopia sex shops later and they were playing showing endless replays of the Twin Towers exploding and collapsing but no one in there seemed to be really interested ,it just seemed like another porno clip on the screen,its just one of those surreal situations so thats fed into the song.
Your songs are very vividly 'Dundalk' in landscape humour and horror. Do you think those from 'the town' get more out of them than others?
I think people from other places get more out of them in ways , and people from Dundalk who have moved away and live across the water cos i suppose they can get a better perspective on things cos they have been away from the place a while.A lot of Dundalk people living in Oz,the States and England cherish them cos it is a bit like a snapshot in ways cos of all the map reference points and places of interest.I have a good following nationwide and in some places in England and I aim to make the North East Irish borderland universally understandable to people ,i look to Kavanagh or Pat Mc Cabe writing about Monaghan and the border towns or some of the Dublin writers or James Ellroy writing about LA.Its important to me to get my hands dirty when i'm writing and stop pretending everythings Listerine mouthwash up here ,but equally i want to make my home town more romantic and human to outsiders instead of writing something superficial and sitting up on a pedestal writing some paddywackery shite.
I heard you work in the hospital in Dundalk and you have a tune about standing up for our hospitals. What do you think of the health service?
I just felt that when it comes to standing up for stuff in Dundalk we get it hard to come out with strength in numbers.Six years ago when the maternity unit in the local hospital was being closed most of the people standing out in the cold were middle aged ,while those that should have been there,the ones that would soon be potentially having kids were off shopping in the spring sales.Its a border town thing i suppose this reluctance to stand up for what we are entitled to ,but i was a bit annoyed to see the bad turn out for the protest that and the way that certain local politicians sat back.
Can you list your albums and tell me a bit about each and the circumstances of their making?
I have three albums
1. Live at the Spirit Store Dundalk 15:11: 2000
I spoke to Derek Turner who runs Tumbleweed Studios/ gigs at the Spirit Store about recording a gig in the autumn of 2000 cos it was time to get some document of my live shows down at that stage as i'd been doing the Jinx Lennon solo thing since the end of the previous year.He encouraged me to bring out a live album saying it would be the 1st live album from the Venue and Juliet Turner had been already threatening to do a live cd so i'm glad i got in before her.Its a good representation of my live shows at the time,and also the halcyon days of the venue and its a very rowdy record cos the crowd were totally pissed drunk so its a bit like a Dubliners live album in a way.I was actually shitting myself and you can hear it in my voice and the way the songs threaten to fall to bits and that keeps it fresh and real.Theres 14 of my own songs including "Get the Guards"and "Lookout Posts of Forkhill"none of which i ever re-recorded and four cover versions from Genius,Public Enemy,Wu Tang Clan,and Culture Beat. Some people like this one the best and d'ont think i've made a better one since
2. 30 Beacons of Light for a Land Full of Spite,Thugs,Drug Slugs,and Energy Vampires
I did this in Dundalk again in Tumbleweed with Jason Varley the studio engineer.I had been getting it hard to write songs i was happy with during 2001 ,then the 9/11 thing happened and it made me sit up a bit and i wrote a load of new stuff.I wanted to bring another live album out and i actually recorded two more live gigs at the Spirit Store but i realised i would not get the same energy as the 1st release due to a number of factors so i decided to record some studio stuff with some really good local musicians and singers and we did this over 2002.It was great fun doing it with Jason and we took our time,i wanted to make a sort of "Swordfishtrombones "Tom Waits type thing with loads of different styles like that album,also Magnetic Fields "69 Love Songs" a monster of a record with loads of musical genres on it.Theres a mixture of live songs overdubbed with other instruments and studio tracks.There was a lovely old microphone in the studio that i used more and more for guitar and vocals as the album went on.I was really happy to get the Dundalk Brass Band in to do "Boys of the Blue Bag Brigade"it was tight work trying to get them all in the studio (and Colin Berrills from the Gurriers on drums) and Bernie Bingham the arranger of the song for the band was a true gentleman,it works a treat.Its a true heads album and i had plenty of smoking and drinking sessions with friends to make sure i felt at ease with the way it panned out.Its still got a good live feel and because of that and the fact that most of the vocals and instuments were done in one take keeps it sounding fresh.
3. Know Your Station Gouger Nation!!!
It took a long time to get my head round a follow up to "30 Beacons" cos i did'nt think i'd better it. I wanted this one to be more of a protest album about Ireland cos i was tired of listening to insipid singer songwriter types sounding like greenfly on a rose bush waiting for a german shepherd dog to piss over them while the world fell to pieces around them ,also the Iraq invasion and our response to it as a nation made me feel very disturbed even though i d'ont really sing about it on the record. Paula Flynn had been playing with me since 2002 and i had been using the tiny yamaha keyboard onstage more and more and felt less awkward about writing songs on it as it had been a disaster in several gigs in 2003.I was doing a radio show for a gig in Dublin in Radio na Liffe in Merrion Square with Steve Lynch who also engineered in the studio there.He asked me if i was interested in doing an album at the studio and i decided it was time to get off my arse about it.We started it in november 2004 ,we'd record during the early morning hours which is a great time to record and it was bloody cold in there and i initially had my doubts about recording until Paula laid her vocals down on three tracks,then it started to sound like a record coming together.Steve was a more disciplined head and a great musician to boot as the record testifies, we'd be tooth and nail about some of the songs but that was all to the good.Its definately a more distilled record that i feel is the essense of Jinx Lennon .Its produced and mastered a lot better than the other records but its still a raw sounding bastard of an album and again there are some great musicians on it
Are you DIY in terms of your label ideologically? Do you always want to release your own stuff?
I released the albums myself because i did not believe that anyone else would be sufficiently interested in releasing them,and i do like the freedom to mess around and release my own things and i do believe in the DIY ethic as far as the belief that lack of technical ability will not be a major problem once you believe in yourself and have something pertinent to say about yourself and the world once you sing about it in your own voice .At the same time i would love to do a soul music type record with the calibre of musicians Al Green plays with,or the great heads T Bone Burnett used for that great record released by bluegrass pioneer Ralph Stanley a couple of years back and you need a lot of dosh to do those sort of things and if a label was willing to give me the sort of spondulicks needed then i would sign with them as long as it was understood that the records i make will always sound like Jinx Lennon no matter what way you gut the fish.
I saw your wild gigs at the Electric Picnic. Did you enjoy them? Are they always like that?
The Electric Picnic gigs were the best ever ,everything just seemed to click,i loved the church pews in the Leviathan tent,i loved the way the whole crowd sang along and danced to my one chord numbers and the Dundalk funk keyboard tunes,i felt a bit like James Brown or even sunday at the Baptist Church with the Rev Green,Paula was on fire on all the songs she sang.The next gig i play might be a total disaster,but thats show biz and i would,nt change it for the world ,thats what i love about gigs.
Who or what are 'chuckies in the mountains' and 'filing cabinets of 3am'?
The "chuckies in the mountains" are very unhappy people, the local equivalent of the NRA in Detroit or the hillbilly characters that go berserk in the movie Deliverence The "filing cabinets of 3 am"are the ones that "take everything in" as they stand there eating their curry chips observing the world around them yet oblivious to the fact that they are standing in pools of vomit .
I heard you are to be immortalised on film. Can you tell me more?
Bord Scannan and the other "Documenting the Arts "people awarded a grant to finish a documentary by Dara Mc Closkey about myself and my music which we have been filming since april last year and which will hopefully be completed by the new year ,all things going well.
The October tour - Jinx Lennon and Paula Flynn: http://www.jinxlennon.com/live.htm
Jinx's Website: http://www.jinxlennon.com/
Lots of Jinx songs: http://www.jinxlennon.com/video.htm# (may favourite today is the one chord (and a few fancy bits) mania of 'noisemaker')