What's Irish, has a great love for cheesy B-movies, enjoys blasting out Atari Teenage Riot, concocts fiendishly memorable abrasive pop hits and stopped to speak to Strange Glue for an introduction to their work?
Answer, The Dalai Lama (only one "L" in "Lama", we assure you).
Okay, so maybe it's the rather impressive new kids on the block Fight Like Apes, but one has the ability to bestow untold blessings upon you and lead the world to a peaceful coexistence where values are mutually appreciated, whereas the other is just the Dalai Lama.
We joined the band's vocalist Maykay and synthesiser-abuser Jamie in the darkened corner of a rather plush hotel lobby on 6th street in down-town Austin in the state of Texas. While the band's manager Niall scooted off to buy us all beer (thanks man, we owe you one) we got down to business regarding the band's role as deities in America, the allure of watching six movies late at night and why more fans should be aiming their cameras at the band.
Around about us, the state of Texas had just celebrated St. Patrick's day, an occasion summarily ignored in England. A fact not unnoticed by the very Irish band themselves.
Maykay: Yeah we arrived on St Patrick's day. As I'm sure you probably know, over in Ireland St. Patrick's day isn't that big a deal. It's like the big part of it, is like, most offices and schools have the day off.
Jamie: Everyone just gets drunk. M: But here It's fucking insane! Just absolutely insane, and like over here, most of America can claim Irish heritage. To be honest I could of left Paddy and not minded.
J: Yeah, kinda take it or leave it. Last year St. Patrick's day was the day after SxSW finished, whereas this year was the day before SxSW started.
M:: Today was my favourite day by far because many of the streets were mobbed today, and the difference as well I think, it seems so obvious but the weather makes a huge difference i think, there's more people in the streets than the bars and clubs or anything. Nevermind the fact that Tom [bass] is gonna fucking pass out during our set.
Given that wherever they go, the band face the merciless criticism of blogs everywhere, we felt it was only fair to offer the band the chance to review the crowds for various cities they had visited in recent times.
New YorkM: In terms of the crowd I think the gigs we play outside of Ireland and the U.K are a lot busier than a few people, so you have to look very carefully at the expressions on their face rather than the movement of their body. But.. Sorry, in one sentence, we loved both New York shows.
LondonM: London's taken a long time to break and I think we have made them realise that we are not bothered by the people with folded arms.
J: Just don't come to the gig!
M: Yeah, don't fucking come.
J: In London at the moment we always have half the crowd going for it at the front and the rest doing their own thing, soon we'll have them all listening. M: Y'know we work on an extra row every-time, so we will see what happens. But when London crowds are fun they're the best Strange Glue: What do you think the back rows of the crowd are actually looking for?
J: Catchphrases, they're looking for catchphrases to write on the internet.
M: Yeah they're all bloggers.
J: Everyone in London has a blog.
M: Everyone, even the homeless!
TexasJ: They're kinda similar to the New York crowd, but they're more than willing to watch, but like you need to give them something to react to I suppose. Like today they were great the same as we played Rio's last night, and both times they were watching and looking happy but it took until like the the third song for them to start moving or clapping or whatever.
M: I think we can always tell when it's an audiences first time seeing us because there's a massive difference. It's kinda like, you'll either go and really like it and come back and have fun for the second time, or you won't mind it but never come back. So if we have an audience looking in between, we know it's their first time seeing us, and that is what it felt like today which is fun playing to all these new people than the same crowd we get at home.
IrelandM: We just slag the shit out of them and make them get angry, which is kinda dangerous really.
J: Loads of crowds think they're right bad asses and stuff, and oh, we can heckle her and we can heckle him and throw this and that, but when you put them on the spot they're shit. I suppose more often that not, people, if you point out in any way that they're lacklustre or boring they will try their fucking damnedest to prove you otherwise, it's amazing.
We've excised a huge chuck from that section, to fathom just how wonderfully chatty these fine folk are, consider the fact that we requested one sentence reviews for each city/country. Still, brevity is the enemy of interest, as we once said (about six words ago). The tangent, in case you were wondering, concerned Beyonce, Twitter, mobile phones and Maykay's bruised flesh.
J: [regarding the crowds at concerts in recent times] They're all Twittering the shit out of everything while the gig is going on.
M: What is with that! iPhones and Blackberrys are the worst thing that ever happened! My boyfriend... [pauses] sorry, ex-boyfirend went to a RAGE gig last year, so while he was there he rang me and told me he met a mate there.. so the next day I'm online.. and during the gig his mate had left a stylus thing saying "Rage's third song is great" and i was just like.. of all things to interrupt, posting on the internet during a Rage Against the fucking Machine gig. What is that about!
M: [On audiences with mobile phones/cameras] It's really stupid because I have fallen off stages three times, I think four times.. And none of them have been rock and roll-y or glamorous, they've all just been stupid and hilarious! But none of them were on camera, not one of them... So there's not enough video phones going around!
SG: Beyonce does it once and it's everywhere.
M: Yea that was amazing! Yea, but after the gig they could not stop laughing at me. As a matter of fact, one side of my arm was black with bruising, we couldn't stop laughing. I was like, after getting over the embarrassment I thought I really had to see this.. and no one had it!
SG: So. That's a message for more cameras?
M: Yea we need more!
There is, however, a more immediate form of audience interaction. The classic art of heckling: something all bands must learn the art of handling.
M: Take it off, take it off is my favourite!
J: Ummmm the best heckles, someone recently when we were playing we fucked up a song and some guy goes "You're Shit!"
M: My favourite was.. what was it?... "I think you're very attractive" not "Get your tits out" just so civilized!
J: Yeah that's the kinda thing your boyfriend says to you when you're going steady.
Being part of a band comes with its downside though: the backstage area. Suddenly, you are thrown in a room and expected to actually socialise with the people you've grown up idolising. The phrase "never meet your idols" doesn't exist for nothing. There are usually two outcomes from such a scenario (1) They turn out to be a total douche and it destroys the image of them you had built up in your mind, (2) You heinously embarrass yourself in a way that makes "We're not worthy!" look positively cool and collected. We think it's a case of the latter for FLA.
J: Me and Jenny Lewis. I met her alright and I'm like obsessed with her, I mean, I'd marry Jenny Lewis. She was in The Wizard for God's sake, and that's an amazing film with Fred Savage. Anyway, I met Jenny Lewis and all I could muster was "you're an honour" wasn't it?.
M: I met her first, and I was quite star-struck myself cause we're both huge fans, and I was like doing the stupid standard "Oh God It's so nice to meet you.. you're amazing!", and then I saw Jamie just stood like completely stiff with his arms to his side, the product of his wet dream, just stood before us, and i was like "this is Jamie" and Jamie's like "You're an honour, it's an honour, I love you" and that was it.
J: Then she said "I'm Jenny" and I said "Of course you are" and that was the conversation over.
M: I thought it was quite romantic.
J: I met her at the coffee stand later. I just apologised and ran off.
M: We did The Prodigy tour recently and we first met Liam Howlett, who to me has always been someone that I wasn't sure existed - I think he's so brilliant. He's one of those people, you see him all over the place and you know his face so well, so seeing him in front of you its like woah! Even when we first met him we didn't really recognise him, he had a huge hat on and couldn't really see his face. He was like "it's great to meet you guys, I really love your band" and we were like," We...err.. really love your band too" and that was the best we could muster for Liam Howlett.
Back on the safer ground of the home life, the duo shared with us those things which have shaped their lives culture wise.
M: I think music for the first time in ages is quite positive in Ireland, for instance there's lots of new bands, The Galaxies, Give Man a Kick, Jake and all those bands are so entirely different. I think in five maybe ten years we're not gonna be the same singer/song-writer country - we'll actually have quite a dynamic music base. Which is great for us, when we go home and hear some of the new music it's so exciting and fun, I really look forward to it. From a film perspective... I've never really...
J: There's a few good films, "I Went Down". In Bruges is good.
M: That's an amazing film! Brendan Gleeson is a wonderful man. But nothing new really, not that I know of. I still maintain that I think Ireland is a beautiful place, if I was from Texas for example, I think I would adore Ireland, especially for a touring band. It's very lucky for us, and we're blessed to have such a great base to leave from, but we really want to keep moving and travelling.
SG: Father Ted or The I.T Crowd?
M: Father Ted!
J: Father Ted, I like the I.T Crowd though because Matt Perry is in the second series, but apart from that it's still cool.
M: Father Ted is the kinda program you can watch over and over and over again and still thinks it's genius!
SG: You use a lot of B-Movie samples within your songs, whose job is it to find those?
M: I don't think it's the Everest of jobs, but maybe one of the most wonderful parts of Jamie's life, he spent the most of his childhood watching B-movies, now he is actually obliged to watch them.
J: Yeah sorry guys can't make rehearsal today I'm watching a film, it's called 'A Woman With Two Brains!' It's really good.
SG: So do you just sit there with a notepad, feverishly jotting down quotes and timecodes?
J: Oh no, not really.
M: I think it'd be useful if he did have a notepad, because he comes to me "I've watched 6 movies, you should see what I've found, i think it's from the third...no fourth film." I'm like "what?"
J: Then I can watch them again. You just find them, you'll hear it, you can watch ten films in a row but suddenly you'll just hear one sentence and it's like "that's brilliant!" But sometimes it's really annoying because you can't hear anything over the background. I remember when we were in Seattle and we found out that we needed clearance for certain samples, they wanted to charge us a load of money so I was panicking, I was like "Mary what are we gonna do" and she was like "don't worry we'll just go watch some movies now." So me and Mary just sat in the studio the whole time, I mean we had the luckiest time ever.
M: There's nothing lucky about it, a movie called the Brain That Wouldn't Die! Did we take anything from that?
J: Yeah we did the one from Beverly Hills.
M: What's it again?
J: The brain was kept alive by experimental science.
M: Yeah there's like loads of films we used, but something we never looked at seriously before the album was the copyright thing.
J: People were so scared about this and we were like "ahh, don't worry it'll be grand" and they were all like "no, it won't be grand", They wanted 14 grand for a sample in a Fight Like Apes song... so we just got a bunch of school kids from Ireland to do it.
M: And it sounds a lot creepier now with the kids.
With their beers nearing the empty mark and Strange Glue's narrowing skewing below the top of the label with threw the final question at the twosome. As is usually the case, it concerned the future and what they perceive life holding in store for them in the years to come.
J: We're gonna be touring this for another year like. That's probably a good idea to be honest because at least we'll have something to write about.
M: But we all know bands that have been fucking touring the same album for 4 to 5 years.
SG: Have you got to the point yet where you're sick of playing certain songs live?
J: Certain songs, the songs you sound-check.
M: We always sound-check "Battle Station" and "Digifucker", which are two of my favourite songs but sound check just kills them.
J: It's just like again... and again. So we always try to change up our sound-check songs. I mean your always going to enjoy playing live to an audience and especially a receptive audience.
M: If you play with a man like Jamie you rarely are allowed to get bored, for example "Jake Summers" is our most played song, and there's always one point on set where I don't know whether I'm going to get a table thrown at me, dump tackled, I mean boredom isn't even in his consideration.
J: Nor is safety really.
The SWAT team training their laser-sights upon us as we left the hotel told us that it probably wasn't the best idea to take our beer outside with us. Strange country.... gun on a holster: fine and dandy. Beer in your hand: illegal.
So then, if you haven't already made yourself familiar with the band's debut album Fight Like Apes and the Mystery of the Golden Medallion which we had nothing but kind words for in our Strange Glue review, you know what to do. If you're unwilling to take our word for it, the kind people at the FLA camp have given us the track "Lend Me Your Face" to try to convince you otherwise.
MP3: Fight Like Apes - 'Lend Me Your Face'
Fight Like Apes TV