Saturday 23 March 2019

THE O-ZONE: Savage talking

On banks (‘thievery corporations’), growing your own and what you can and can’t say in the Dail


The OZone has a splitting headache. So I'm afraid I'm not really in the mood for having sex with any readers today.

Sorry. Not even you.


Liquid breakfast. Staggering drunkenly past a Galway bank -- or 'thievery corporation', as I prefer to call them -- I find myself caught short. As I relieve myself beside the cash dispenser, I spot a sign in the window which claims: "We're saying 'yes' to four out of five credit applications for Irish businesses."

Methinks there's some mental reservation going on here. What they really mean is, "We're saying 'yes [but . . .]' to four out of five credit applications for Irish businesses."

I stay in especially to watch Victoria and Shane Grow Their Own on RTE1. Disappointingly, it turns out that they're only growing vegetables. Still, it's an enjoyable hour of television.

A number of people have said to me that Shane MacGowan shouldn't be demeaning himself by appearing in such a show. They don't get it. Shane has more credibility in the bank than he could ever possibly spend in his lifetime. As far as I'm concerned, if you've written a song as good as Fairytale of New York, you can do whatever the hell you like. Short of joining Fianna Fail.


To the Laughter Lounge in the Roisin Dubh to see Dave McSavage. His new RTE sketch show, The Savage Eye, is one of the funniest, darkest and most irreverent comedies the national broadcaster has ever produced (that is intentional comedies, mind).

He's very good, but politically incorrect joke of the night goes to MC John Colleary, who does a very funny routine about Travellers playing at Wimbledon. "The match would never get started," he says. "You'd have a Traveller standing at one end of the court going, 'Come on, boss -- why won't you serve me?'"


The OZone scored a bit of a journalistic coup last week when notoriously publicity-shy musician Damien Rice finally agreed to do an interview. It was his first in three years, went very well, and I spend this morning writing it up.

Rice has certainly had an interesting decade. When his debut album O was released in 2002, he realistically expected it to shift something in the region of 1,000 copies. It has now sold more than two million worldwide.

The singer still seems somewhat bemused at O's massive success. "Well yeah, obviously it went a lot bigger than any of us had thought. Because I do remember a funny scenario where I was trying to figure out a payment for the band, you know, and I said to them, 'Do you want to get a percentage, or do you want to get payment?' And so we sat down and tried to calculate how many copies we thought we'd sell. So we tried to figure out if I paid them £100 a song, or something, would that be fair.

"And Shane [Fitzsimons], the bass player, who had been used to doing sessions for a number of different bands around Dublin said, 'I'll take the money' [laughs]. And I was like, 'Okay'. And then everyone else went on the percentage, and it was very funny . . . but we put him on a percentage later on, as a token gesture. It was funny. So, nobody had any idea."


Although the Dail is packed to the rafters with chancers, yahoos, corner boys and communists, it's rarely entertaining to watch them go about their business. However, at 4pm today, there were some serious fireworks when outspoken Green Party backbencher Paul Gogarty lost the rag with Labour's Emmet Stagg during the Dail debate on social welfare cuts. "F**k you, Deputy Stagg!" he roared. "F**k you!"

Unfortunately, Gogarty somewhat ruined its effect by apologising immediately afterwards: "It's most unparliamentary language and I now withdraw it and apologise for it, but I am outraged that someone dares question my sincerity on this issue."

An hour later, having consulted the rulebook -- Dail Eireann's Salient Rulings of the Chair -- Gogarty announced that the word 'f**k' isn't actually featured on the list of curse-words disallowed in the Dail, though 'communist', 'corner boy', 'yahoo' and 'chancer' are all verboten.

"Under the rulebook of the chair, number 428, the terminology I used was not included in the list," he announced. "So you can all go and f**k yourselves, you useless f**king shower of f**king motherf**kers!"

Actually, he didn't really say that last bit. But I bet that's what he was thinking.


Evening phone interview with The Edge about U2's noughties. Despite having spent much of this year on the 360° tour, he and Bono are holed up in a studio in freezing New York, working on some new songs.

At the turn of the millennium, Bono announced that U2 were reapplying for the job of best band in the world. I ask The Edge does he feel they got the job? "I have to say, I think we did -- and probably still do by the skin of our teeth! I know a lot of people would argue, but taking the entire scope into account of the songs we have already, the songs we are writing now, and the touring etc, etc. I think there's a lot of bands coming up behind us though, and it's good. I like that sense of competitiveness and competition. It's healthy. So, maybe, by the skin of our teeth.

"But I think, also, that was a statement of intent, and also acknowledging that we don't take anything for granted, and that's actually very important in U2 psychology. There's no one relaxing here!"


Phew! Headache's gone. So get your kit off. If you're this week's lucky reader, I'll be along presently.

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