Jinx Lennon’s trauma themes and idiot times

WHEN DUNDALK agit-folk singer David ‘Jinx’ Lennon arrived on the Irish music scene in the 1990s his spoken word diatribes poked at the back of what he called the Septic Tiger.

Through his experiences of working at a regional hospital he was able to see at first-hand the underbelly of the boom and he didn’t like what he saw.

His words did not fall upon deaf ears and through constant gigging he has built up a loyal legion of fans. This month he celebrates the release of his latest album Trauma Themes: Idiot Times and will play the Róisín Dubh on Monday April 13 at 9pm.

Among the songs on the new album are ‘Protect Thyself and Home’, ‘Big Protest Day’, ‘Everyone’s Got A Mental Home Inside Their Head’, and ‘The Men Who Saved The Face Of Football’.

The last named refers to a supporter of Dundalk FC by the name of Mark ‘Maxi’ McAllister who in 2006 threatened to set himself on fire at FAI Headquarters to protest Galway United gaining promotion to the Eircom Premier Division ahead of his beloved team.

“This guy thought that nobody was doing anything about it and being the sort of man he is he took matters into his own hands,” says Jinx. “I do think it’s a good thing where you have a father and son going along to support their local team but when you get a little bit misguided like Maxi did it can be pretty dangerous.

“The thing about growing up in Dundalk is that if you aren’t into football you might as well have leprosy! The song itself is about these people that are so into football that they can’t talk about anything else.

“I regularly have a situation where I have people coming up to me, a non-football fan, and asking me ‘Who won last night?’ You also have these guys going around the town saying ‘Oh, we won the match last week’. The ‘we’ they’re referring to are these millionaire footballers in England who don’t give a damn about anything and yet ‘they’ are struggling to pay their mortgages! It’s ridiculous!”

‘Protect Thyself and Home’ alludes to the case in Mayo farmer Padraig Nally who shot dead John ‘Frog’ Ward who had trespassed on his property. Many other cases where personal security has become an issue have begun to emerge in rural Ireland with increasing frequency.

“The case of Mr Nally was one of the incidents that presented themselves to me when I was writing the song,” says Jinx. “I think it’s a very common thing now in modern Ireland for people to have their houses wired up like Fort Knox because they don’t feel safe anymore.”

With the new album Jinx has made a massive leap forward, both lyrically and musically.

“The lyrics are more hard-biting and dark so the music had to be a bit more upbeat,” he says. “I feel the last album was maybe a little bit rawer lyrically and the music was more skeletal and sparse.”

Many notable names including novelist Pat McCabe and musician Christy Moore have sung the praises of Jinx Lennon. English actor Keith Allen (father of Lilly Allen ) has added to the plaudits by describing Jinx as “a cross between Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer, and Ian Paisley”.

In 2008 Jinx’s girlfriend and backing singer Paula Flynn made a foray into the pop charts when her cover of David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ featured in a TV advertisement for Ballygowan.

“I sort of wasn’t prepared for how well it took off,” says Flynn. “It’s quite different from the original and it seemed to really connect with people. Apparently Bowie heard the song because he had to approve it before it was released but I’ve no idea what he thought about it either way. I’d love to get a quote from him though.”

Paula is currently recording her debut album which is due for release in September.

Meanwhile though Jinx and Paula are back on the road promoting Trauma Themes: Idiot Times and will probably have an even more captive audience in the current economic climate.

“The one thing that always struck me about Brian Cowen,” says Jinx, “is that he always looks like someone who is more concerned with thinking about going down to The Bridge House in Tullamore at the weekend than worrying about what’s happening in the country.”

Tickets are available from the Róisín Dubh and Zhivago.

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