Fight Like Apes - Man the battlestations, the New Year approaches

FOR THE second year running, the mighty Fight Like Apes will ring in the New Year at the Róisín Dubh - and this time they will have the added joy of also ringing in the new decade - when they headline the venue’s Strange Brew New Year’s Eve 2009 party.

“Playing New Year’s in the Róisín Dubh last year was amazing,” MayKay tells me during our Monday afternoon conversation. “We’ll be playing new songs - we played some last week in London which went down great. We hope to bring down some of the wrestling stuff and spark a few ideas from that.”

Wrestling stuff? What the hell? Then again this is Fight Like Apes! It turns out the band - MayKay (vocals ), Pockets (keyboards/vocals ), Tom (bass ), and Adrian (drums ) - will take part in a wrestling match of sorts in The Academy in Dublin on December 18 and 19.

“It’s not technically wrestling,” she explains, “but we are turning the Academy into a wrestling ring with all the trimmings and we’ll be performing in the ring.

“The lads are all big wrestling fans, Pockets in particular. When he was a child he used to organise backyard wrestling matches at his house. People ended up in hospital over them! I love wrestling but was a late comer to it, then, I was five years after everyone else before I got into Nirvana! For a guy that would be like your voice not dropping until you’re 20!”

It’s been a frantic 18 months for MayKay and the boys as they have been on a near non-stop schedule of touring. It is only quite recently the band finally had some time off and were able too decamp to Ballycumber, Co Offaly, to write new material for their second album, the follow up to their debut Fight Like Apes And The Mystery O f The Golden Medallion.

“We were thinking the last day that ‘Jake Summers’ was written a couple of years ago!” MayKay says. “Most bands have a guitarist and can write in the van when travelling but we can’t do that with our equipment, but you can’t just sit around, waiting for songs to come to you. You have it in you, just get it out.

“I was worried about us turning into a completely different band as it’s been a while since we’ve written new songs but they are just as immature and full of tantrums as before, just with more words and the music is not just out of the womb. I don’t feel we have to prove anything, but playing live over the past two and a half years has seen us develop as musicians.”

Given FLA’s penchant for outrageous album and EP titles (the debut EP was How Am I Supposed To Kill You If You Have All The Guns? and the second was David Carradine Is A One Armed Bounty Hunter Whose Robotic Arm Hates Your Crotch ), what magnificent moniker will the second album bear?

“I’d be shot if I gave any of out title ideas away at this stage,” says MayKay. “We may just have a one syllable word to p*** everybody off. It will be a big surprise.”

In a previous interview MayKay told me that the band’s heros are American actor Jay Anthony Franke who played ‘Jake Summers’ in the NBC show California Dreams, martial arts expert and actress Cynthia Rothrock, and Corey Feldman of The Goonies and Stand By Me fame.

Franke and Rothrock have actually been in touch with the band to say that they like their music and appreciate being name dropped in their songs. However in a new twist on ‘never meet your heroes’, MayKay now fears that if “Corey Feldman gets in touch we’re over, we’ll have nothing to write about”. So has he made contact with the band?

“He’s not got in touch with us. It would be devastating if he did,” she says. “We’d have to call it a day with Fight Likes Apes. If he did get in touch I’d have to tell the band, they’d only be able to hear it from me.”

Splitting up would not be answer, especially now that the band are starting to gain attention internationally. Why not instead get a new ‘holy trinity’ of low brow icons? “What a good idea!” replies MayKay. “Tom Selleck is one of our new gods and we will conjure up some more!”

When I last spoke to MayKay, FLA were only beginning to tour Britain and try to get their name about, in what is one of the major international music markets. Since then the band have played support on tours by The Prodigy and The Ting Tings and been hailed by BBC Radio 1’s Steve Lamaq. They have also enjoyed attention in Belgium and Holland, and signed distribution deals for the lucrative Australian and Japanese markets.

“It’s been a mad year and a half,” says MayKay. “It’s hard to look at it in any way chronologically. You remember little pieces. The summer, playing the festivals, was amazing. Germany was quite an experience. It was different from home or the UK, in terms of food and lifestyle and all that - but in a good way. Currywursts were the number one food item for us. Pockets had them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He’s an expert on currywursts now.”

Still, touring can take its toll on the best of bands. Former friendships can become strained as the same four/five people are couped together constantly, worn out from ‘cabin fever’, late nights, and constant travelling. How are FLA bearing up to the demands and pressures of touring?

“We’ve seen each other every day for the best part of two and a half years,” says May Kay, “so when someone gets p****d off it’s not worth having a fight. We give each other space and then go for chips or a coffee and sort it out.

“We’re very lucky. We all know each other so well we’re more like family. I feel sympathy for people who land in an established band to replace the guitarist who has quit. I think if we ever did get a guitarist it would have to be my dad as it would be very difficult to bring anyone else into that kind of atmosphere.”

Speaking of family, MayKay recently told The Sunday Business Post that when Pocket’s family first heard the band’s music they considered it “disgusting”. How did MayKay’s own parents react on their first experience of their daughter’s band?

“I think there were two very different reactions,” she tells me. “When they heard it they were just so happy we had recorded a half decent album. When they heard the lyrics there were problems and a few questions asked. They were hearing me singing these intimate, angry songs about guys I had been with and that’s hard for parents to hear, but when they saw us live they got it.

“I’m always excited before shows but I was so incredibly nervous before the album launch show in Whelan’s as my parents were coming. I had to move back home when we started the band as I couldn’t afford to live in town anymore and so it was important they liked us for so many reasons. Now they’re suggesting song ideas! They’re extremely supportive.”

Doors are at 7.30pm on Thursday December 31. Also on the bill are Messiah J & The Expert, Disconnect 4, Le Galaxie, and Feed The Bears. Gugai will be DJing afterwards. Tickets are available from the Róisín Dubh and Zhivago.

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