‘Bands had said to the organisers that our presence made them feel uncomfortable and I thought that was brilliant – that’s exactly what it’s about’ – Niall McGuirk spoke with Colin Jerwood of Conflict ahead of their first ever gig in Dublin next Saturday. I have been racking my brains since deciding to do this interview with Colin from Conflict as to when I first came across the Anarcho-punk activists. Was it as a 14 year old when my brother brought home their first single “The House That Man Built”? It was always great when my bros would come home from their weekly trip to Golden Discs on Liffey Street or Advance in Stephens Green or Freebird or Base X. They had the bus trip home to go through the vinyl and the gatefold sleeves. I then had the opportunity to feed off their vinyl when they left the house that evening.
Because of that I wanted to find out what life was like for a young Colin Jerwood, what gave him the anger and the wish to express his views.
These words are very interesting to me. The Clash, for me, are the band that kick started everything. It was a different era and if I was writing the script I would have them down as releasing their own records, putting on their own gigs, leading the way. Fugazi stepped into that mantle, but it was interesting to hear Colin pour praise on the Clash. If I had more time we could have spoken about my dog called Strummer and how these 4 men playing music had such a profound effect. Instead we moved on to another group that left a huge mark on music and the way it operates: Crass.
I remember going to gigs in Dublin in the early to mid 80’s and then getting involved in organising them. There was always an edge, an undercurrent of violence. It was something you could generally avoid being involved in but not avoid seeing. Many of Paranoid Visions gigs were filled with violence, whether that was on the dancefloor or on stage or outside – it was always ready to rear its head. First time I saw the Visions in what was then the Ivy Rooms (now Fibber Magees) I was rooted to the back wall watching with a mixture of fear and excitment. These folks are crazy on stage, everyone is crazy in the audience but somehow we all belong. Outside the venue there was someone going round on a bike with a baseball bat in hand. It was terrifying but adrenaline fuelled. Another example was when Conflict were billed to play in the TV Club in Dublin, a punk event not too dissimilar to what is due in the Button Factory next week. It was pre mobile phones and internet so people travelled to the gig only to find out on the night that Conflict were a no-show. There was no internet forums to fuel rumurs, there was no direct contact with Conflict to find out the truth so word of mouth was they hadn’t bothered to show up:
The Conflict gig that night ended up in a near riot. Paranoid Visions, Defoetus Attitude, Golden Horde all got to play but violence put an end to My Bloody Valentine’s set. Not for the first time a gig was abandoned due to trouble. With that picture of Dublin I asked about Conflicts early gigs
Punk gigs back then seemed to be different. Many took place in unestablished venues. Many things happened at them that would be wiped out at conventional gigs. Punks were doing things for themselves. I asked Colin does he think punk is still a form of rebellion or is that rebellion one that can be and is now commodified:
Back as a teenager in the mid 80’s it was amazing getting a Crass, or Conflict or a Flux single and reading about vivisection. It had a huge influence and was instrumental in shaping peoples lives. I asked Colin was he aware of this:
Plus special guests
2:30pm, Saturday May 11th
Tickets are on sale now priced €20 from http://www.tickets.ie/umack & Sound Cellar.