Julian Gough’s Free Sex Chocolate
By Kernan Andrews
NOVELIST, LYRICIST, singer, poet, raconteur, entertainer, and genuine colourful character, Julian Gough deserves the title Galway indie Renaissance man.
Julian is based in Berlin these days but for the Cúirt International Festival of Literature he will be coming back to Galway for the launch of his new book, Free Sex Chocolate - poems and songs (Salmon), which will be launched in the Galway Arts Centre next Tuesday at 3pm.
Free Sex Chocolate has the colour, humour, imagination, and irreverence that marked his best work with the legendary Galway alternative band Toasted Heretic and his novels Juno & Juliet and Jude: Level 1.
The book features 47 poems Julian has written in recent times (including those posted on The Guardian’s blog), but there are also many older works here which will be enormously popular among those who were in their teens and 20s during the 1990s.
Back then The Castle in Salthill was the place to be, especially on Thursdays when the Psychedelia was on - the clubnight which gave many Galwegians their first taste of Pavement, the Pixies, Radiohead, and Nick Cave. The nights were organised by Stephen Lydon and he commissioned Julian to write poems on the flyers for Psychedelia. Those poems, The Anorexic Body Builder, The Fashion Column, The Drug Column, and Letter To My Kids, are now made available again through their inclusion in Free Sex Chocolate.
A few years ago, Toasted Heretic briefly reformed to promote the lavish re-release of their marvellous debut album Songs for Swinging Celibates (1988) and its even better follow-up Charm & Arrogance (1989) in the double CD package Now In New Nostalgia Flavour.
The re-release displayed just how creative and imaginative the band were and what a lyricist Julian was - witty, irreverent, literate, clever, and funny. Many hoped the band’s subsequent releases - The Smug EP (1990), Another Day, Another Riot (1992), and Mindless Optimism (1994) would also be re-released, but to date there is no sign of them being let loose from the vaults.
Thankfully though Free Sex Chocolate does fans a great service by including the lyrics to all the songs from the band’s four albums, as well as from The Smug EP. As an extra treat there are eight lyrics from Julian for songs which featured as B-sides or were unreleased, as well as a couple of songs Julian wrote after the band called it a day.
Free Sex Chocolate has much for the nineties’ nostalgist, but more importantly it is a celebration of one of the most original and imaginative young Irish writers at work right now, here today. Go on, indulge.