AS THEIR NAME might suggest, Dublin punks The Lee Harveys – made up of musicians who have been hanging around the Irish punk scene since the early 80s – were originally very much about American political protest songs. An odd niche for a Dublin-based band, perhaps, if one most punks would agree offers fertile ground.
The band are angry, firing off two-minute, politically potent tracks on themes like Israel and Palestine, gun crime and a certain Donald Trump. Their latest EP, due shortly, is entitled ‘Resistance is Not Terrorism’, and – amongst other themes – rounds on Eurovision’s visit to Israel with an ‘alternative Eurovision’ track.
“One of things that I loved about the Dead Kennedy’s was the sense of mischief they had, and that’s what we’re doing here, throwing the cat amongst the pigeons,” guitarist Peter Jones says of the song. “It’s not against the Eurovision, it’s in support of Palestine.”
“We’re not against the Israeli people, we’re against what’s happening over there. I think it’s like holding the Eurovision on the Shankill Road in the middle of the troubles,” Bitzy Fitzgerald explains.
“We have submitted the track to RTE, but we haven’t had a response. I’m not sure we really wanted one. But the whole thing was to make a point about it, really, a bit of subversion and a bit of craic.”
There’s a real punk ethos to the way the Lee Harveys release their music, too, with circumstances seeing the band cram their new ‘EP’ with old classics because they can.
“Officially it’s an EP, but we wanted to put out a vinyl,” vocalist Bitzy explains, “so we went on social media and asked friends which songs by the band they’d like to hear on it, and stuck in whatever we could get on the 24 minutes on the other half.”
“Initially, the aim of The Lee Harveys was to be outsiders offering a view on what’s happening in America, hence the name. There are lots of great things about America, and unfortunately some really awful things, a lot worse since Trump got into power.”
“Some of the songs we’ve written have come into fruition, like Gun City. I think there have been 30 plus school shootings in American in the last year. That God given right to bear arms against people they have… basically, America is killing itself from the inside.”
“There’s always been a political slant. People say there shouldn’t be politics in sport or music. Of course there should. We’re of a generation of protest. I find when we’re writing stuff, it’s really hard not to say something. Nothing changes, and there’s so much to talk about.”
The Lee Harveys have a substantial local fanbase, but don’t really engage with popular radio shows or mainstream media. “My other band, Paranoid Visions, entered the chart at number six, and didn’t get a review in Hot Press, or a single bit of airplay,” Peter Jones says of the lack of relationship.
“To be honest, we did try and get some airplay that time. Since then, we haven’t bothered. It’s not worth it for a play at 4am in the morning. The one time we went in and played on Nova, we talked about Joe Strummer smoking in the middle of the afternoon, and we were never asked back. We’ve given up on the media, to be honest.”
The popular, but under-represented punk scene that exists on the fringes of Dublin is full of bands like The Lee Harveys: interesting, pointed, and giving little consideration to their own success. They’re all the more interesting for it.
Highly limited copies of ‘Resistance Is Not Terrorism’ are out on FOAD records on vinyl now.
This article is one of my weekly music columns for the Dublin Gazette, reproduced here with permission. Note: this column is published in the Dublin Gazette several days ahead of on this website. The Gazette is a freesheet paper available across Dublin, published on a Thursday. Pick up copies at these locations.
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