Goy Boy McIlroy
We are rather pleased to have bagged an interview with one of the best bands around at the moment. Hotly tipped by the local press, the hype wagon is gathering momentum. It really feels like only a matter of time before national press cotton on, local press are already won over! With new material in the works and one of the best stage shows around I really hope this Darlo lot make an impact, they are rather bloody good. One of the best bands I came across in 2014.
I caught up with the lads at their recent headline slot on the Lone Wolf 3rd birthday party at The Cluny for a chat…
For those who don’t already know can you give us an introduction- who are you, where are you based?
David: We’re Goy Boy McIlroy from Darlington.
Simon: We’re charismatic talisman David, Simon, Glen and unny p-hot Alan creating intense dark and brooding music. With a fun twist. All originating from and inspired by the pit villages and industrial towns of the Northeast.
What got you started?
David: Fate and boredom. The band I was in previous split up. I was bored without any cathartic release so did poetry readings to vent off a little creative emotion. I was asked to do a set of poetry and music. Wanting to do some stripped back blues I contacted Simon who I knew from College/Uni. He said he was up for doing it. We started writing songs and performing acoustic for 3-4 months. We wanted better gigs and to develop our song writing so I asked Alan (the drummer in my previous band). We gigged as a three piece for a year but then wanted to thicken up our sound. Glen (bass) was a friend of mine and at that moment was bandless so we invited him to join us and that completed the line-up as it is today. Ta-dah!!!
How would you describe your music to people? And how has the sound evolved over the years?
David: As touched upon the sound has evolved from a very raw blues driven sound and over time it’s developed to a more of a gothic/post-punk tainted industrial sex drone. For our Facebook I just say ‘neo gothic alt-blues’ or ‘rock music’ for the less genre conscious.
Who is the biggest influence for the band?
David: There’s loads but if I had to shorten it to a handful of artists I’d say Joy Division, The Stooges, Black Angels, DZ Deathrays, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Verve, The MC5, Tame Impala, The Cramps, The Gun Club, The Velvet Underground, Grinderman, The Doors, Echo and the Bunnymen and blues music in general.
My vocal sound is influenced by classical/church music. I love that expansive, reverby richness that you’d find in Gregorian chant or Verdi’s Requiem.
Locally the success of artists such as The Chapman Family, Futureheads and Frankie and the Heartstrings were also a massive influence as they showed that bands from the region can be successful. They also set the bar for the sort of quality needed and how you go about getting yourself heard. I’d also say that the dark vibe or aura of The Chapman Family definitely influenced our band and also their production too with the heavy ambience rich with fuzz and distortion. We were delighted when Owen and Pop from the band produced our single Redemption Caramel.
One last thing I’d say is we’re all massive fans of watching films/various types of TV shows and I feel that that influences slightly. We’re massive fans of horror, dark comedies and bleak/abstract independent productions. We talk about them in practice and it definitely has an effect on the soundscape we try to create and our dark theatrics on stage.
Simon: – the band have all have varied tastes which is great because we all share different music with each other, with varying degrees of success obviously but that’s inevitable. We all bring different influences but there are obvious choices like the Beatles. I have always loved and return to blues artists such as Leadbelly, Elmore James, Freddie King, Blind Willie McTell, J.B. Lenoir etc. There are plenty of influences from everywhere really such as B.R.M.C., The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Velvet Underground, Echo the Bunnymen, Nick Cave, Jonny Cash, Eddie Cochran, Lonnie Donnigan but there are also more obscure influences such as Gustav Holst. I love The Planets Suite it’s incredibly varied but overall keeps a great theme. You always know you are listening to the Planets whichever piece you are listening to with its swelling crescendos, ominous moods, threatening intensity and hymn like melodies.
I’m sure I’ve missed some but there’s plenty.
Why your band name? Any rejected names?
David: There were no rejected names. Although the name was shortened down from Goy Boy McIlroy and The Skerney Pearl Divers. We picked the name so it couldn’t really give people a clue to what the music was about. We wanted to make it a lovely little surprise.
What was the pivotal thing that got you into music?
David: A compulsion to be noticed combined with a psychological need to get shot of all my emotional baggage. Fate also played its hand as I started singing because I broke my leg and was unable to play football. My friend Martin (now drummer in Weird Shapes) had a band that needed a singer so I gave it a go.
Simon: listening to the Beatles.You always know you are listening to the Planets whichever piece you are listening to. As I’ve grown (Simon) my music tastes have matured but the inspiration was listening to the Beatles as a child. Great introduction to great music.
Glen: Car journeys with my dad when I was growing up were great. He’d play me and my sister albums and tell stories of what the bands had got up to through their hay days. I do wish he’d stuck to bands/members in their hay days though as Wings got a lot of airtime as he was a massive Beatles fan. Swings and round roundabouts.
Alan: Neil Peart’s drumming.
First record you ever bought?
David: Believe it or not it was Chris Isaak – Wicked Game (a compilation of his first three albums). It was before the days of the internet and I looked everywhere in Darlington for it. Then one day I noticed it was for sale in Solid Sounds and I snapped it up. I absolutely love Chris Isaak he is one of my biggest idols. When I saw him live for the first time my heart melted. His voice is pitch perfect.
Simon: Cast All Change £9.99 CD. Still one of the best albums I’ve ever bought.
Glen: I can’t remember the first record I bought… maybe subconsciously I’ve blocked that out but I remember the first one that was given to me by a neighbour. It was an Elvis compilation called Heartbreak Hotel and I have fond memories of dancing around the dining room like Forrest Gump. I was quite lucky growing up as my dad had a decent collection of 60’s / 70’s pop from Motown to Rock.
The album that you’ve played to death?
David: As mentioned ‘Wicked Game’ still exists in my record collection to this very day, so that must the album I’ve played the most. That’s probably followed by Blueskins – Word Of Mouth, Pulp – Different Class and Boxer Rebellion – Exits.
Simon: B.R.M.C.’s Baby 81, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds’ – I let Love In and The Black Angels’ – Passover.
Glen: Would probably be 36 Chambers by the Wu Tang Clan, much to my mother’s disgust.
Your first gig?
David: Our first gig under the Goy Boy McIlroy name was at Bedlington support John Bramwell from I Am Kloot. Sounds insane and it was. The first gig electric was in the basement of Inside Out (another cool venue). It was class as it was the first time in a year I had performed with a band, we went down well too.
If you could be in any band, past or present who would it be?
David: It would either be MC5 or The Stooges for their dirty, raw energy and exciting “fuck you” performances. Also with the political/social situation the way it was in Detroit at that time the music really made an impact (so much so the FBI used to watch them) in a way it doesn’t in today’s consumer driven industry. I really envy that.
If I was in those bands however I’d probably try to consume less heroin than they actually did. Maybe I’d just have a little bit on the night to help me sleep.
Simon: Goy Boy McIlroy
Glen: GBM. Couldn’t wish for more.
Do you release your own material or are you signed?
David: Do bands even get signed anymore? Sorry I shouldn’t answer a question with a question.
Yeah we release it all ourselves through our Sex-Coin label, which is basically just a name we put to our releases to make it sound more professional. Having said that if we were trying to be professional why would we call our label Sex-Coin?
Where is your favourite place to play and why?
David: I like the smaller intimate places to play. Puzzle Hall Inn in Sowerby Bridge is class for that, Pop Recs Ltd is great, The Westgarth Social Club in Middlesbrough is cool too. I like playing these venues as you get a real connection with the crowd. You don’t feel segregated from them like you do in some of the bigger venues. It’s this connection that fuels our performance. When they are stood metres away from you grinding their grout whilst smiling then it gives you a massive buzz, better than any buzz that drugs, power or even love can give you. Not that I’m slagging the bigger venues off as you get a great sound playing them as it really suits our expansive, reverb/fuzz drenched music.
Any gig put on by promoter Henry Carden is worth mentioning too as he has a three step protocol of:
1. Turn up
2. Play your songs
3. Have a nice time
This simple approach always guarantees a splendid gig.
Simon: – Our Practice Room is perfectly set up for us. We’ve draped in a psychedelic madness. All inspired by Glen our bassist he’s a very talented art student and it’s like stepping into his mind!! We just hope we get out alive each time we step in! It’s also a disused sawmill and now becoming a great venue for gigs. We’ll be putting on bands this year as we have already gigged there ourselves and successfully put on good friends of ours Avalanche Party.
Glen: I’d struggle to pick one as the best gigs are unexpected ones. A lot of the time we’ll drive for hours to a venue, in a town we’ve never been to and it’s that surprise that makes it. There are obviously stand outs not only because the room or crowd is good but because of the people who work there, to name but a few.. Puzzle Hall Inn in Sowerby Bridge, Independent in Sunderland, Seen in Darlington and lastly the Empire in Middlesbrough.
If you could play anywhere with any support bands of your choice, what would be your ‘dream’ show?
David: My dream show would have to be played at CBGBs in New York back in it’s heyday with support from Suicide and Joy Division. Maybe get Echo and The Bunnymen in there too. God that would be so dark and heavy that the air would be like treacle. Oooooooo…
Simon: Easy The Viper Room with Avalanche Party, Nick Cave and The Brian Jonestown Massacre as support. I think that would be the greatest show on earth!!!
Best gig memories? and biggest disaster?
David: Best gigs would have to be our first Stockton Calling at KU Bar. It was the first time I can remember playing to a packed room. People were well up for us and rewarded them with one of the best performances I can remember doing.
Our first London gig at the Bull & Gate in London couldn’t have gone any better. The venue was class (shame it’s closed down), it was busy and we went down a storm. Although the cock rock band who had played before us hated it.
There was Zanzibar in Liverpool which was an interesting one. The crowd was heckling us (in particular Glen) before we’d hit a note. This must have riled us up as we attacked with our music right from the off. Mid-set I turned around to Simon and he had gone. He was writhing around like a man possessed and completely lost in the music. It was one of my favourite performances of his and the rest of us didn’t do too bad either. At the end of the gig the crowd warmed to us. I like it when you can change people’s opinion of you through performance. I wonder if The 1975 would have pulled it off?
Split Festival in Sunderland would be the most recent gig that stood out. It was one of those gigs where you go in with no preconceptions and then by the second song you are cherishing every moment of the set as you are having so much fun. We were class and so were the crowd. The weather was lovely also, which is why I stole that women’s ice-cream mid-set.
As for disasters there has not been many. There has been a couple of occasions my antics has backfired like Falling through a wall at Star and Shadow Cinema, Newcastle (you saw it happen ; GJB I did! And I have evidence gov haha!). I once picked up a kettle and poured it on my crotch at The Three Tuns in Gatehead, hoping that it hadn’t been boiled. Turned out it had just been boiled and so not wanting to look like an idiot I kept pouring. I rode a chair at The Packhorse in Leeds lately and it broke whilst I was sat on it, which was embarrassing. These incidents are rare though and to be honest are not bad in the grand scheme of things they just make me feel a little bad.
The worst thing however was in our very early days, when we were raising our profile by doing battle of the bands around the north-east, we were beaten in the final by a band who did a Black Eyed Peas cover. That still keeps me awake at night.
Glen: I think they were both the first time we played the Empire in Middlesbrough supporting the mighty Chapman Family. The Empire was a venue which growing up I had always wanted to play, its a beautiful old Victorian theatre with a huge full height ceiling and gallery, full of character. Anyway, to cut a long story short I thought it a good idea to purchase a coiled springy lead. This inevitably got caught in David’s mic lead second or third song into the set as he took full advantage of the large room. Which tethered him to the stage, not before tried to pull me off stage with him.
What are your plans for the immediate future and any long term goals?
David: The first thing we need to do is get this EP recorded and carry on gigging. Long term goals are just to keep doing our thing and try to make people realise (especially the younger lot) that mediocrity should not be tolerated. That there is so much more going on than what is pushed down their throats by the media. That in a world based on concepts we are free to construct and deconstruct whatever we like. To do this I shall roll around on the floor whilst pissing with sweat and screaming into a microphone whilst a barrage of music batters people in the face.
Who or what is your top tip for local music?
David: There’s loads… Cellar Door, Wake, Shades, High Tide 15.47, Avalanche Party, Bernaccia, Schultz, Kobadelta, Cocquin Migale, The Legal Sinners, Bison Hunting, Be Quiet Shout Loud, Girl Sweat, Kingsley Chapman and the Murder… Jeez there are loads of mint bands kicking around. Just needs one of them to get recognised or we could continue to gig/hang around together and help each other out then we might just get noticed collectively as the great scene this is.
Where can people find out more?
They can ask me personally but they should ask me politely… or alternatively they can go here:
Georgian Theatre, Stockton on 16th March.
GJB: They have more on the cards. Keep an eye on their FB and Twitter pages for up to date info.
Oh yes they also make spiffing videos!
Click a thumbnail to view fullscreen.
View more photo galleries via our Music Photography Library