Tag

Paranoid Visions

Browsing

Paranoid Visions: “all the old sacred cows have been challenged and broken down”

Forty years into a career as arguably Ireland’s best-known punk act, Paranoid Visions are in the mood for celebration, and a little bit of nostalgia. It is, after all, forty years of change that the sometimes-abrasive act have endured and explored, commenting, in their distinctive style, on whatever social issues were prominent at the time. 

Their latest incarnation, closely linked to punk icons Crass through collaboration with their vocalist Steve Ignorant, are still producing cutting, snarling music at a spectacular rate.

“Back when we started, punk was a confused, angry, and volatile beast, with bands like The Sex Pistols, and The Clash sowing the seeds of young protest, and revolution,” vocalist Declan Dachau recalls, “but it hadn’t really discovered which political direction it was aligning itself with, as both the far right, and the far left wings recruited from the vast pool of disgruntled and disaffected youth of the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was through bands like TRB [Tom Robinson Band] and Crass that punks found their voice, and direction, as a left leaning movement.”

“Punk is a voice for young disillusioned kids to try and reclaim their lives and voices,” he continues, “and make some difference in their own world, and it is always changing, and evolving, and that is why we have stuck with it, and grown with it. All the old barriers, and sacred cows, have been challenged and broken down, and this has made gigs and gatherings a safe and peaceful environment for getting to know new people, and swapping ideas.”

The band have always sat firmly outside of the mainstream, something that they’re aware of, but not overly concerned by. “Punk has always been a persona non grata within the Irish media,” guitarist PA Jones says. “It’s always been misunderstood. We have always been treated like a substandard band from a substandard genre.” 

“One media personality described us as being the Scunthorpe United of the Irish rock industry. To be honest, that’s been a blessing. We‘ve never been this year’s thing, we’ve never pandered to it or tried to seek mainstream success because it simply doesn’t interest us.”

And yet, with shows like their sold out Button Factory 40th year celebration, and regular trips to the US and UK, the band have found substantial success in their own niche.

Paranoid Visions: Dublin’s original punks power on…

The fusion of Paranoid Visions with Steve Ignorant of their heroes Crass has the Dubliners fired up.

Paranoid Visions were punks almost before the concept even existing in Ireland. Breaking through in the early 80s, their early gigs were chaotic in nature; often descending into riots at stage front, with the band spat, demonised and in many cases banned from appearing in venues.

“We ended up playing ‘Battle of the Bands’ gigs just for somewhere to play,” guitarist Peter Jones recalls. “We’d be on between these acoustic guitar acts, and there’d be 80 punks there waiting for us to come on stage. All hell would break loose for the four songs we got to play, and then all our fans, who would be most of the audience, would just leave. Usually we’d come second, as they had to admit we’d had a lot of impact, but didn’t want to give the prize to us after we’d unleashed that kind of chaos.”

“I vividly remember a complaint going in at one of those competitions saying that we only rehearsed once a week, and shouldn’t be allowed to win. The man who said that is still involved in the Dublin music scene. He was right about the rehearsing to be honest.”

There’s plenty of water under the bridge since those days: Paranoid Visions broke up for a decade, reformed, went through an extended campaign of Bono-criticism (including the release of punk parody ‘I Will Wallow’), courted controversy by promoting an album with an image of Brian Cowen’s head aligned in gun sites, and wrote an entire album slamming what they saw as a parochial, Catholic church-led rot in the country.

They are, in short, not afraid to go hard against the political status quo in true punk fashion, with vocalist Declan Dachau famed for both the bluntness of his vocals, and harsh quips in which he espouses staunchly anti-nationalist, inclusive principles.