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A Quietus Interview

The Everlasting Yeah: Raymond Gorman Of That Petrol Emotion Interviewed
The Quietus , February 5th, 2014 21:31

Odhran MacGabhann talks to Raymond Gorman of That Petrol Emotion and The Everlasting Yeah about Derry as city of culture, Sahaja yoga, sobriety and The Undertones

TPE picture courtesy of Steve Double

Raymond Gorman first came to prominence as the guitarist in That Petrol Emotion - a Northern Irish, London based indie outfit with an American vocalist, Steve Mack. This band coalesced from the ashes of the Derry Hitmakers, Bam Bam And The Calling and John Peel favourites, The Undertones. Gorman was one of the founding members, along with the band's other guitarist John O'Neill, a partnership that developed out of the pair's joint DJ sets at the Derry Left Bank club.

TPE were a lot more political and outspoken than the bubblegum Undertones and, despite being essentially a band out of time - too late for post punk, too early for Madchester and Britpop - they picked up a lot of critical acclaim before splitting in 1994.

Despite the gigs going well following their 2008 reformation, That Petrol Emotion are now on an indefinite hiatus. That said, Raymond Gorman, Ciaran McLaughlin, Brendan Kelly and Damian O'Neill announced that they had formed a new band named The Everlasting Yeah.

What's your favourite band of all time?

Raymond Gorman: Very, very difficult to answer. It probably changes every year. I find it really hard to pick only one band. Perennial favourites who remain big influences on me personally would be the big guns: Can, Television, Velvet Underground, Buzzcocks, Beatles, Stones, Stooges, NY Dolls, Echo & The Bunnymen, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Bowie, T-Rex, Small Faces, Zeppelin - see I'm useless! For newer more current bands I love Queens Of The Stone Age, they’re my current fave rave.

Who is the driver behind The Everlasting Yeah?

RG: I’d have to say more than anyone, Ciaran in the early days. Whenever we were first getting what became The Everlasting Yeah together we realised that a lot of the songs that he and I had written since That Petrol Emotion just didn't and wouldn't fit the bill. He was convinced that we needed to find a new aesthetic, a brand new starting point. I was appalled at first about the idea of having to start from scratch again but on serious reflection I realised that he was right. A lot of the time he is the most vocal and critical. If you listen to our rehearsal recordings, it’s usually him doing the most talking! I saw this documentary about Sigur Rós a while back and they said that they never speak when they're doing music - we're the polar opposite!

Who is the singer in The Everlasting Yeah?

RG: The singing has ended up becoming quite a communal, unison thing. Ciaran and myself take the lead but the whole tribe sings. It evolved out of who was writing the top line melodies and words, which is basically Ciaran and myself, but because a few of the songs had a chant-type element going on everyone could join in and we encouraged everyone to do so and it sounds great. It seems perfect for these times that we are a group, a unit and not a vehicle for some frontman's ego. Just as in society at this time we need to bind together and become a strong immoveable unit so that we can't be destroyed by the machinations of the State which is trying to grind the people down in every country in the world. It must also be said that we just couldn’t bear the whole process of trying to find a singer again, it was bad enough for That Petrol Emotion; that was torturous, plus there don't seem to be that many good ones anymore. Ciaran's voice and mine aren’t too dissimilar so they blend well together and we love singing so we’re hoping that the unison singing will maybe make us stand out a bit. I liked John Lydon and Mark E. Smith when they used to sing before they both decided it was easier to intone or warble. If you have something to say and there's passion, intensity and heart in the content it can sometimes be done better than with a singer who is more technically gifted, it’s the same as on any musical instrument.

Were there no moves to involve That Petrol Emotion in the city of culture?

RG: At one stage they were gonna let The Undertones curate an event where they would pick their favourite bands and the bands would play during the year of culture. John O'Neill was gonna choose us but of course mysteriously all of a sudden there was no budget for it and the whole thing got cancelled, which was a shame as I would have loved to have done it. We're still a cult band even in Derry. When we reformed and played in 2009, only about 250 people turned out to see us which, all things considered, is not a huge amount and was quite disappointing, even though the actual gig was a stormer for those who made it in.

Does everyone in the band live fairly close?

RG: Damian, Ciaran and myself live about within a 4/5 mile radius in South London. Brendan lives in North London. Everyone is settled where they are so can't see anything changing though obviously it would be great if Brendan saw the error of his ways and moved back over the river!

Are you going to play any That Petrol Emotion material?

RG: No we're not as I think it's important that we establish our own identity as The Yeah but I would never rule out doing a TPE song in the future. The four of us did a gig for my 40th birthday some years ago and we did a new version of 'Abandon' that worked well so its not like we wouldn’t revisit some older songs and have some fun with them but that is looking way ahead in the future, something for an encore maybe.

Your internet handle is vanming. Why vanming?

RG: Van Morrison and Charlie Mingus.

Why call the band The Everlasting Yeah?

RG: We were originally The Hoodlum Angels but it just didn’t feel right, I’d even registered the domain name. One day Ciaran sent me a text with a list of names and The Everlasting Yeah was on it, I just phoned him back at once and said, "That’s it!" It took a while before everyone accepted it (hello Damian) but now everyone agrees it’s the right moniker. I looked it up online and found all the stuff about Thomas Carlyle and that sealed the deal.

Do you get back to Derry much?

RG: I was going back quite regularly for the last few years as my sister moved back and she has a great house where we can stay comfortably, so that’s a big factor as my parents are not really up to having visitors for long nowadays, it just disrupts their routine. I went back for a few days around New Year. I miss the sea more than anything, I don’t think I could ever go back and live there again but I enjoy seeing my friends and getting out into Donegal. My heart’s in Donegal I think rather than Derry although I think Derry is a special, spiritual place. Saint Columba lived there and the Troubles started there. There’s something special about it for sure.

How will the band fit in round The Undertones touring schedule?

RG: Well so far we have had to accommodate Damian’s schedule as that is how he pays the rent, however I’m hoping The EY will start being a lot busier and he can hopefully earn the same money (if not a bit more) with us. We just did some recording recently and I’ve seen a major sea change in his attitude; I’m not saying he wasn’t committed before but I think now he is much more engaged and as excited as I’ve seen him since the beginning of the Petrols which is a fantastic thing. I think he can see now that we are onto something great. It’s an exciting time.

What was the story with the recent Time Out debacle?

RG: I don’t know if you saw the link but I sent them some basic info asking them to put us in the listings and someone then wrote a really derisory and insulting putdown, which was weird as we had only done two low-key gigs until that point, which they hadn't seen. They made a snap judgement based on grainy footage and sound from someone's mobile phone on YouTube. I made a point of posting it on Facebook and the TPE fans came to our rescue taking them to task for putting the boot in before we’d even got off the ground. It was very ageist more than anything, but it proved to be good PR in the end, as loads of people were appalled that they could be so mean spirited and nasty. They actually revised the original piece but still couldn’t resist putting in a sly dig the second time too. I’m not that bothered but I do feel sorry for any new band starting today, the criticism is just so fierce you really have to have Teflon-coated skin to take it. I’m not against criticism per se but surely it should be nuanced and constructive.

How many gigs have the band played?

RG: We have only done four gigs in total so far, three in London and one in Oxford; the latest, a sold out headlining appearance at the Roundhouse Theatre which went fantastically well and was brilliantly received. We were a bit nervous and apprehensive beforehand, however when we walked out on stage there was such a feeling of warmth from the crowd, we were all very nervous but that immediately lifted us up and inspired and energised us. There were three generations of folk there – aged 14-60 – and all were enjoying it. It's good to be back.

I read an interview in which you name check War and The Equals. I’m not really familiar with these bands. What songs by them in particular I should check out?

RG: With War and The Equals I’d go for a greatest hits CD in both cases. Key songs for War would be 'Me And Baby Brother', 'Low Rider', 'The World Is A Ghetto' and for The Equals it's 'Black-Skinned Blue Eyed Boys', 'The Skies Above', 'Police On My Back'. They have that collective vibe and embody that spirit of togetherness and community that I want us to reflect. It feels right to namecheck them as something we want to emulate.

Have you heard SOAK? She’s a young girl from Derry. There’s a lot of hype about her.

RG: I have heard SOAK. I couldn’t really see what the fuss was about to be honest and I thought she was being hyped way too early before she’s even ready. She doesn’t really sound like the finished article yet, not by a long stretch. I can’t help thinking all the attention has gone to her head a bit too quickly too going by some of the stories I’ve heard. It must be hard when you’re that young and getting all that attention but it means now there’s a lot of expectation already, maybe too much, and she has to deliver straight away. It’s a tough one. I wish her well all the same; it’s a jungle out there.

There is a documentary series on TG4 entitled Guth. The Smiths & John Lydon have featured so far. It’s in the Irish language. I think it’s a terrible pity that TPE/The Everlasting Yeah aren’t featured.

RG: We’d love to do Guth although my Irish is extremely rusty these days. I did go to the Gaeltacht for a couple of summers and had a brilliant time there; I was a very keen Irish speaker for a while until I went to France in '78 and subsequently became a Francophile. I went to Falcarragh and Ballinamore and had a wonderful time, it was great to get out of Derry at that time, such a welcome change to be in the countryside away from the madness of N.I.. When coming home on the bus the army would do a stop and search it and when they spoke to us we’d only answer them in Gaelic to wind them up!

The failure of That Petrol Emotion. Reasons... The Irish republican politics weren’t inclusive. You weren’t from Manchester. The timing was always wrong. You went funk when you should have stayed indie. You tried to be The Stooges with 'Scumsurfin'' a few years too early. You turned down the U2 support offer. The spokesman for the group was American and it confused people. It left you open to criticism. You got tired touring. Fireproof wasn’t as strong as the other albums. Your sound changed too much over the years. Substance abuse took its toll.

RG: I’d say you are spot on with a lot of those but not the touring. Rather we didn’t tour enough I’d say now. We definitely didn’t work hard enough all in all. I’d say we should have been more proactive about trying to change perceptions of the band, especially after End Of The Millennium Psychosis Blues came out but a lot of the time we were a bit lackadaisical, we always thought the music was enough but it never is of course, you have to play the game and we never did. Saying that I was nearly always disappointed by the way the majors tried to market us, it was like they never knew how to push us. In retrospect I wish we had sold ourselves as an album band and not bothered worrying about having to have a hit but once you sign to a major that is what is expected. I actually thought we delivered on that front, I just don’t understand why we could never get into the top 40, it’s not like we were avant garde.

I disagree about Fireproof. I’d say that one is my favourite along with Manic Pop Thrill. Some day Fireproof will be reassessed and people will finally realise just how brilliant those songs were. I mean take 'Infinite Thrill' for a start. That is a sublime pop song; every part of it is brilliantly and perfectly constructed. When I first heard it I thought finally we can’t lose with this one. As it turned out it never even got a release as a single. Of course the sound changed over the years so why does no one see that as a plus? We were always pushing ourselves, trying to find something new. Sometimes you have to be prepared to fail a little to succeed. There was the most ridiculous reaction at the time to End Of The Millennium..., I remember the NME review gave it 8/10 but it read like an obituary. It was disgraceful. It was recorded deliberately with all those different styles to be like a great mixtape like the ones we made and used to listen to on the road, a bit of rock, a bit of pop, a bit of soul, a bit of hip-hop, reggae, jazz, everything - we grew up with people like Bowie so we didn’t consider it a crime to change styles. Maybe some of the styles didn’t suit us so well but I think that record is rather under valued – most of the material is very strong - and I’d much rather have it than Babble which is over praised and only actually has five good songs on it.

Substance abuse only took its toll on me for a period, no one else, and no one outside the band really knew or would have cared anyway. It was kept quiet and I’m glad it was. It was inevitable that I would crash when I look back now but at the time some people around me dealt with it badly and obviously it took me a while for me to find my feet again. I went back on the road fairly soon after crashing and burning and I was definitely fragile. Once I’d hit the proverbial brick wall it still took me quite a while before I was able to give up the things that were slowly killing me. A lot of people at the time thought I wouldn’t see 30. However I recovered and actually it strengthened me in many ways. It's true that cliché, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I became a better songwriter because of it and I started pouring more of myself into my songs. Thing is at the time there wasn’t the kind of support networks for people with drink and drug problems that there is now. I was actually sent to a place like the Priory, 'cos I was in such a state and taken off the ...Millennium... tour. When I found out how much it was costing I checked out (even though Virgin were picking up the tab). It was full of rich junkies from Chelsea who would just check in and out as they pleased just to keep daddy or mummy happy - they had no intention of giving up and I thought that wasn’t a healthy environment for me. Fact is that I was doing a lot of speed on top of the booze and not sleeping. Once I’d been hospitalised and given some sedatives I slept for about 18 hours and felt immediately better although I remained incredibly paranoid for a time. I was really lost and of course found it hard to talk about. To give you some idea of the madness that was going on someone actually gave me two tabs of E on my way to the hospital. Luckily I had the presence of mind to know that wasn’t going to do me any good at that particular time. I find it quite cathartic to talk about this period now, it was very dark of course but I came through it. I was definitely clinically depressed for a time too, no doubt about it.

Where is John Marchini now?

RG: He lives in New York City and has done since 1994 I think. Still in contact with him, he came to see us when we played Brooklyn during December 2009.

When did you DJ with John O'Neill in the Derry 'Left Bank' club?

RG: From late 1983 until we went to England in October 1984. Some of the best times of my life were spent at that club, it was like a religious experience for anyone who went to it – fantastic times, we used to take it quite seriously, we’d meet up beforehand and decide what records we’d play. People loved it. I’ve never actually been to a club since that played better music. I keep saying I’m gonna get back into DJing I’d love that.

It seems a bit ridiculous that funding was found for a Teenage Kicks musical and not for the mooted music festival featuring The Everlasting Yeah/That Petrol Emotion.

RG: Yeah, but as I said earlier I didn’t expect anything else - this is Derry yeah? They wanted Cliff Richard to be the headline act for the city of culture, that’s what you’re dealing with.

In what years were Bam Bam And The Calling active?

RG: Bam Bam are still active, they play in Derry periodically and are still great too. I was in the second incarnation which was like Adam And The Ants meets The Clash/Bunnymen, I think we actually didn’t realise or weren’t fully aware of how great we were at the time. I felt more like a rock star playing in Bam Bam than I ever did in the Petrols. It’s a crying shame and the biggest regret of my life is that we never recorded with that line-up. We made it onto N.I. TV for 30 seconds once but no-one seems to have the video anymore. Great days. Very fond memories.

Why was 'Genius Move' banned from being aired by the BBC?

RG: It was banned 'cos of the reference to Gerry Adams on the sleeve. There was no need for any reference to him 'cos the quote was from Liam Fellows, but I think it had been left to our tour manager to sort out the sleeve and without thinking he included a reference to Adam’s book. It will haunt us forever that one. Pretty poor excuse all the same to ban us/the single, pathetic really, however no one knew we were banned as they didn’t make a fuss a la Frankie Goes To Hollywood, very smart on their part. The Pogues were banned too.

Did you enjoy playing ATP with My Bloody Valentine?

RG: Yes, I loved it, although we never got one review from it. It’s like TPE don’t exist or have never existed for the mainstream British press anymore. We are now the world’s forgotten boys. There was even a book about political bands in the 80s and we weren’t included! Can you believe that?

How long have you been practicing Sahaja Yoga?

RG: Twenty one years. It saved my life. It keeps me sane. I'm not saying I'm a master. I have a long way to go. Life’s a journey and oftentimes a battle and you need some psychic armour to protect yourself- your true self. I’ve had the most amazing experiences: glimpses of eternity, feelings of such pure wellbeing and joy that sustain me through all the hard times. It's real. Everyone should try it at least once, but don't be fooled, there are so many different yogas all purporting to be the one. In Sahaja Yoga it's free, no-one is looking to fleece you. You're given the knowledge to sort yourself out and then it’s up to you. You tap into energy within yourself you didn't know was there. It's all natural and spontaneous and free. When asked if he believed in God, David Bowie once said he believed in a positive energy that ran the whole cosmos. He was onto something.

Was it a big blow when John O'Neill said he was leaving TPE?

RG: It was, but mostly because of the way it happened. We went to Rockfield Studios in Wales and everyone was excited to be back there recording again after Manic Pop Thrill as we had had such a great time doing that record. Then on the first night, when everyone was drinking, John decided to tell us he was leaving, instead of waiting until we’d finished the recording. It was a complete bombshell. When I look back now, we should have thrown him out there and then and got on with the new recording ourselves. Instead we meekly accepted everything and he hung around for another three or four months. It was a toxic situation. He has apologized to me since, and of course I forgave him, but at the time I internalized a lot of the anger that I felt about him and ended up getting messed up in a bad way. The rest of us should have talked more. There was a lot of bad feeling making that record. It’s actually a miracle that anything got done at all. For the longest time I couldn’t even listen to it, but I have come to see that it has some great music on there and the mood of the sessions has leant it a certain weird atmosphere and gravitas. That was the worst period of my life, without a doubt. I wished I’d talked more with Ciaran McLoughlin, especially as we were both coming into our own as songwriters and ultimately had nothing to worry about in terms of material, but at the time it hurt a lot. I’d always supported John, even when he was forever going back and forth to Ireland when his first child was born. It disrupted the band working, but I went along with it because he was my friend and he started the band. He had to do what was right for his family in the end, no doubt, but he could have been much less selfish and inconsiderate in the way that he announced he was leaving. Of course when he left everyone wrote us off too, but we came back much stronger and the records we made without him are amongst my favourites.

You’ve said before that you felt a kinship with The Fatima Mansions and their singer, Cathal Coughlan. Were there any other Irish bands you rated? What British bands did you feel a connection with?

RG: Yeah I always liked Cathal Coughlan, and in particular The Fatima Mansions. I became great friends with Aindrias O;Gruama in later years. We toured together just before I stopped drinking and there was a fair bit of carousing going on there, but I think we all felt like kindred spirits. They were like us in many ways: they didn’t fit in anywhere either. I never really liked many Irish bands except for older ones like Taste, Thin Lizzy and Them. All the best bands start with a T – TPE, The Everlasting Yeah! As for British, ones we felt a kinship with the June Brides, the Wolfhounds, maybe the Jesus and Mary Chain in the very early days. We were never part of any scene and suffered accordingly. It makes me quite angry that the entire C86 thing is being eulogized now when we had nothing but contempt for most of it. We wanted to be up there with Prince and Public Enemy, who we considered to be our peers. Funnily enough the reason we originally went to London was that the fledgling Creation label promised to put out a single. We moved to Pink as Creation had no money because of the Jesus and Mary Chain. They wanted us to wait. It would have killed out momentum to do so and forced our hand, but I wonder what would have happened if we had put something out on Creation.

I didn’t know there was a chance of TPE signing to Creation. I saw Alan McGee in Dublin recently doing publicity for his autobiography. He released a solo album by Damien O’ Neill [of TPE] that I’ve never heard. I think he’s now running something modest called 359 through Cherry Red. Maybe TEY should approach him.

RG: I think music is just a hobby for him now. I read his interviews and he’s very entertaining, but I don’t recognize the guy I knew when we first came to London. He used to be really lovely- a genuine and passionate music fan- and we used to go drinking together for a while even after us not signing to Creation [McGee’s record label]. He was always very supportive and encouraging. I don’t think he rated Steve Mack much all the same, so I don’t think he was ever that bothered about losing us. To be honest, I thought nearly all of the bands that signed to Creation were overrated. There has been a lot of rewriting of history going on since the mid-Eighties and now even the most mediocre of shoegazing bands are being lauded as geniuses. It’s like Alan has been able to persuade everyone that all the bands on Creation were visionary. I’d say Alan was always enough of a hustler that he was going to be successful at some stage. He just had that belief that makes things happen. He would have been brilliant for us actually, as he left bands to make the music, which is how it should be. I’m sure he would have got us a lot more press than we ever got and more enthusiastic press too. Maybe he could even have come up with some angle to sneak us in through the door somehow. In the end he got what he wanted but like a lot of folk in the aftermath maybe he lost his true self. I heard him going on about Aleister Crowley [English Occultist and novelist] and his theory on magick recently and for me that bullshit is always the last resort of the scoundrel. He still wants to be seen as somehow edgy, and at his age that’s more than a bit sad. He did sign Damian O’Neill for his Poptones label but in essence that was always a vanity project and a last throw of the dice. His heart wasn’t in it by then. I feel strongly that Oasis have set music back about 30 years so I’m not going to thank him for that. I do wonder if we’d have anything in common anymore but then I’m sure he wouldn’t give a shit or care what I thought anyway.

Maybe the kinship with Cathal Coughlan [of The Fatima Mansions] was helped by the fact that you might both have had Second City Syndrome- Cork being the second city in the Republic, and Derry being the second city in the North. In my experience Derry people often get out of Northern Ireland entirely, rather than going to Belfast.

RG: I think you might be onto something there. I never liked Belfast until quite recently and even then it’s not somewhere I’d choose to go. When I lived in Derry I’d rarely if ever go to the Waterside as there was just no reason to. I had no car so we used to walk everywhere. Saying that there were a few places on the Derry side you wouldn’t venture into either. You could get beaten up so easily in the 70s. I couldn’t wait to get out of there. All that macho violence meant I never felt like I could ever let my guard down. I had to man up. My mum was always so worried that I never even did the teenage rebellion thing really until my late teens. By the time I went to university at Coleraine, which is only 35 miles up the road, it felt like I’d been liberated from prison and set free. We lived in Portstewart and Portrush and there were no soldiers, UDR or cops there at all – it was incredible after seeing them and getting stopped by them every day back in Derry. So after the claustrophobia of Derry life I went completely mad at university. It was inevitable, like the pressure cooker effect. I had to let off steam. Looking back I was a bit of a nightmare in many ways but I met some amazing friends there who are still my friends today.

Can we talk about the NME interview Mark E Smith gave, mentioning TPE around the time of the release of The Fall’s album ‘I Am A Kurious Oranj’. It’s even crossed my mind that he might have decided to redress the balance by tackling the topic of the sectarian divide.

RG: It was when we were flavour of the week. He was very complimentary until he started going on about us getting our politics from some social worker in Camden, which was so insulting to us on many levels. I can’t take him seriously. He was on top of his game around then, when Brix was in the band, and then he blew it, of course. I’m amazed that he keeps going: I wouldn’t like to see his liver.

Why did you turn down the offer to support U2?

RG: I don’t really regret it, still. The Fatima Mansions accepted a support offer once, in 1992, but it didn’t seem to make any difference to their career. We turned U2 down twice, a fact which some fans love. Steve Mack and our manager weren’t thrilled, and I can see that from an outsider’s point of view it seems like shooting yourself in the foot. I think back then we thought we’d be bigger than U2 in time, which seems funny now.

Did you go to see the Undertones back in the day?

RG: Yes, I did. They were great in the early days, really loud, with a unique raw sound that was toned down even by the time of the first album. They were so fresh. The songs were wonderful. They made you feel good about yourself and put a smile on your face. We all needed that at the time. Feargal Sharkey gets a lot of stick these days, and most of it he deserves, but he was a good frontman and that warble really set them apart from the pack. It was also great to see a local band make it first-hand. It gave me massive encouragement and the feeling that maybe just maybe I could get up on stage myself too. I had been dreaming about this for a while but I still didn’t have the requisite courage or cojones needed to make the step up just yet. Plus I’d been to school with Damian O’Neill so I would hear first-hand from him about all the great stuff they were up to – the travel, meeting the musicians we both admired, like The Clash. Most people were secretly jealous and wouldn’t even ask them about what they’d been up to so I think he was always happy to have me quizzing him (and no doubt Ciaran was doing the same thing). Ciaran actually played with the Undertones. He stood in for Billy Doherty a few times. Billy was always leaving and coming back. Ciaran was really young – only15 or 16 – incredible. The Undertones were so unstarry and completely lacking in ego. They were perfect in a way. You can see why Paul Morley and all the UK journos lapped them up at first. What kills me now is that they were almost universally hated at the time in Derry. I remember them doing a free gig in the Bull Park and the local neds were throwing eggs at them – typical Derry arseholes. People resented their success. Today it has completely gone the other way and they are now regarded as iconic- total extremes, as usual. I was a fan but they were never my favourite band. I liked more literate lyrics and a bit more rock ‘n’ roll glamour. TPE was like the Undertones after discovering drugs, literature and politics, with a lot more girls in the audience dancing.

In my opinion TPE suffered because they had an American singer. They tried to do what the Undertones did – maintain they were a democracy and not make the singer the figurehead, which confuses people. There was this notion afoot in the 80s that the Republican movement was a Noraid-boosted American invention. British people found it hard to accept that there were UK taxpayers who felt that disenfranchised, angry and disenchanted.

RG: As you say, people never really seemed to understand what we were about. We always thought the audience would get what we were doing and that they would follow us whatever we did. Obviously we were wrong. With regard to the politics and having grown up with Protestants, my thing was always to go back to Civil Rights. To make people understand that the only reason the IRA were in existence in the first place was due to the intransigence of the British and the Unionists. The whole situation in Northern Ireland is too difficult to explain and hard for most outsiders to grasp. Once we started talking about politics the music almost became secondary. In 1989 people thought we were a “house” band. Outside of the dance and Ecstasy thing it seemed that audiences were still very conservative. It’s interesting that once we broke up, guitar music made a comeback. Britpop happened. Blur and Radiohead loved us and Damon Albarn’s stage act is a complete rip off of Steve Mack’s. If we had been a new band around that time it might have happened for us but by then we’d already been around for years and were old hat. We couldn’t even get played on night time Radio One anymore.

Was Steve Mack really in an early incarnation of Mudhoney?

RG: I dunno, they might have had a jam once. There’s a fair bit of myth-making going on here I feel. But why not print the myth? It makes for better reading.

The Everlasting Yeah have a single called 'A Little Bit Of Uh-Huh And A Whole Lotta Oh Yeah!' out in March and an album out in May