Galway punk act Slyrydes are one of the great leftfield success stories of the west coast’s ever-vibrant music scene. Sitting outside of the city’s usual niches, and happily ploughing their own furrow, the band have been building a reputation through relentless and pulsating gigs, and some key backing in the media.
Frontman Mark Raftery points to Paul McLoone as being key to the band coming to more national prominence – they were getting bigger and bigger shows in the run up to lockdown, and had been booked to play new rock festival Sunstroke.
“If Paul had not picked us up there is a very good chance we would have finished up ages ago,” he says. “It is a story of complete chance. We recorded our first single ‘Mental Health’ in November 2018 and then we sort of realised we had no idea what we were supposed to do with it, so Fuz suggested we approach people in Irish media.”
“One of the people we were told who might be receptive to listening to new music was Kate Brennan Harding who at the time was working for the Paul McLoone Show. Kate heard it, liked it and passed it onto Paul. Within a couple of days we were getting regular national airplay and we got a McCloone session. When an Irish band starts getting that sort of exposure on Irish radio the entire way you are perceived by bookers/agents/venues changes and opens up all sorts of doors. Paul gave us the same level of support with all the singles that followed too. He is one of the good guys. It is a tragedy for independent Irish music that Paul’s show is no longer on national radio.”
Mental health, incidentally, is a core theme of Slyrydes music, and something they’re particularly keen on talking about.
“it has been the most important and most regularly ignored social issue in Ireland for at least two decades,” Raftery says “If, like me, you have had to deal with the HSE psychiatric services, you will know how ridiculously inefficient and under-funded they are, the “awareness campaigns” they insist on running are a total cop out.”
“If you are mentally ill to the point of killing yourself, no amount of “it’s ok not to be ok” messaging is going to help, you need professional treatment, not some banal slogan dreamt up in a marketing meeting. There will be a huge fall out from the pandemic mentally. But let us be clear here, being down in the dumps because you cannot go to the pub is not a mental illness. One of the most depressing and cynical aspects of the pandemic has been lobby groups (IBEC I am looking at you) using mental health issues to push their own selfish agendas.”
There have been plenty of positives for the band, too, though, if only temporary ones.
“When we locked down in March 2020, we were five songs short for the album and at the moment only two of us live in Galway. Now this was a problem because we had written absolutely everything up until this point in rehearsal spaces. Normally our guitar player Mark or our bass player Fuz would bring in a riff and we would thrash it out.”
“The other three lads started sending each other ideas on their phones and they started putting songs together by emailing each other files and building the songs on music software. Then when they thought the song was finished I received it. I am hopeless with all that sort of thing so the lads did not hear my contribution and lyrics until we went to the rehearsal studio a week before we went to record. It really worked great this time around, but I personally would not like it to become the norm moving forward.”