Saturday 28th December 2003
MR: So Shane you have been on tour for the past two weeks, gigging across Ireland, how did the tour
go for you ?
SMacG: 'Yeahwent okay..I am very tired..'
MR: How do these tours affect you nowadays, how do you feel ?
SMacG: 'Knackered !'
MR: Tell me about The Popes, you have been with them now as long as you were with The Pogues.
SMacG: 'Well I started putting the Popes together before I left the Pogues, yeah? I mean I was planning
on leaving anywayPaul and Tommy are the only ones leftthere is Brian Kelly who plays the banjo, the mandolin, basically anything
MR: You recently appeared on the Eamon Dunphy show with another group called the Hell Fire Club, what
is the story with this?
SMacG: 'That's me and Terry Woods, Ronnie Drew and Eamon Campbell and whoever else happens to be about
at the timeyeah?.....that's the basic line-up'
MR: So was this a one off gig or can we expect to see more of this group?
SMacG: 'Ah, yeah..well there'll be gigs coming up - yeah ?'.
MR: Your DVD was released this year and it documents your life.did you prefer this documentary to the
BBC's 'The Great Hunger'?
SMacG: 'Well 'The great Hunger' is crap; it is a load of old po-faced BBC pathological rubbish..yeah?'
MR: What about movies, have you seen your old friend Johnny Depp in the 'Pirates Of The Caribbean'?
SMacG: 'He has always been my friend yeah?...still isIt was okay, but I preferred 'From Hell' you know'
MR: You have collaborated with some great artists throughout your career, Joe Strummer, Kirsty McColl
SMacG: 'Yeah and they're all dead.I must have the kiss of death........./laughs/.'
MR: If you had the chance to collaborate with anyone nowadays who would it be?
SMacG: 'Anyone? it would have to beit would probably have to be.Pete Waterman, Stock-Aitken-Waterman.there's
a good chance they'd die/laughs/'I've been doing loose collaborationsyeah.in fact I'm thinking of giving the whole thing up.'
MR: What, music?
SMacG: '.well I get very tiredand just want to get away from it sometimes.'
MR: You were reared in rural Ireland then spent the second half of your youth in London.which had the
bigger influence on your songs - the rural aspects or the urban aspects?
SMacG: 'ah.everything.people.the biggest influences for my songs is from probably hanging around bars
and the people I meet.you know what I mean, characters'
MR: 'So tell me about 'Sally McLennanne' who was this?
SMacG: 'its about a pub my uncle used to run in Dagenham, yeah?..........I used to stay in it when I was
a kid.they would have one pub for the English and one pub for the Blacks and Irish mainly..it was a rowdy kind of placeyou
know.but Sally McLennane is the spirit of the pubright!'
MR: You have written a lot of songs about London, can you tell me about the song you wrote about Ireland
and the Famine, the one you gave to Ronnie Drew?
SMacG: '.well they are gone now, the dunes, they got blown in a storm a few years back.when I wrote the
song they were still there though..they are in Mayo..right in the bleakest partthey didn't have any earth, they had rocks
and sand, where they had to bury the dead in the famine..yeah?......I had a friend up there and ..ah me and some other friends
went up there visiting and stuff, you know?, years ago, when I was about 14 or so yeah? .and we went to the dunes right?.....well
there are plenty of family graves around here (Tipperary) and everywhere in Ireland yeah?.........but it was particularly
horrificwe were all a bit pissed and stoned and 'codding' about a bit..we got up on the dunes and these bones fell out - which
I've seen before too, right?...........then we started to get that feeling of panicsort of voice inside saying "go away -
fuck off !"and we fucking ran like hell.well we froze first and then ran like hell..I mean it was probably more scary for
the people that were under the dunes./laughs/it was one of those things that stunned us. It was one of the grimmest places
I've been.and the bleakest feelings I've had yeah? .I used to think about it a lot.you know what I mean? And I ended up writing
a song about a guy who comes backwho survived the famine....and sees the bailiff and the landlord..and goes drinking in Westport
MR: You never recorded this songbut Ronnie Drew has?
SMacG: 'Yeah, he recorded it three times now....... '
MR: Another song that you wrote about your home and Ireland was 'The Broad Majestic Shannon'..tell me
what inspired that..?
SMacG: '.the widest part of the Shannon is just down the road from where I liveright.yeah?.......and all
the places in the song are local places.Shinrone...yeah'
MR: Okay, what about 'The Sick Bed Of Chuchulann'.tell me about this song..what inspired it.?
SMacG: 'it's about Frank Ryan..who was the leader of an Irish contingent in the Spanish civil war..yeah.do
you know the lyrics?.....well it is about an old 'dosser' dying right?........you always get old dodgers dying on the streetbut
the people don't think that they lived through a whole century and was at war and all.so like.well the first verse is self
explanatorythen he gets on the death train..he's in Germanyin Colognethe second verse is more real lifeme and my Dad were
drinking in the Euston Tavern and a small wiry Irish guy walks in..yeahyou know the kinda really pissed up Irish guy.really
small, you know what I mean, small but well builtblack greasy hair..right!..very determined, very angry and very drunkthey
wouldn't serve himhe was actually offering to buy the bar a round of drink..yeahthen he jumped over into the bar and started
smashing up all the bottlesit took four big fat English bastards to drag him outside and kick him senseless..we could hear
the thumps from inside.and then they came back in and sort of clapping their hands you know "a job well done" and then he
comes banging through the door again and kicks the hell out of them'.
MR: You have written songs like the 'Birmingham Six' and maybe even 'Paddy Public Enemy Number 1'. Would
you class yourself as a political artist?
SMacG: '..ahno..I write about lifeyeah?, the things that are going on in life around me at the time..like
the traditional style of writing.and politics is a big part of life in Ireland.yeah.'
MR: We know you like Patrick Kavanagh and especially 'Raglan Road. Tell me what other Kavanagh stuff you
like and what about 'If ever you come to Dublin Town'?
SMacG: 'Can you not work it out?...........well he is predicting what they are going to be saying about
him when he's dead.in years..yeahand he was right about everythingthey did call him an old pervert cause he used to hang around
schools, yeah?.....they did call him an old "culchie"he was taking the piss out of themyeah?.......have you ever read Tarry
Flynn? I think that's the best..I don't like the great hunger much.it's really depressing, right !.........Tarry Flynn is
really funny..it is a story based on himself, rightyou know.stuck on the farm up in Monaghanhis mother thinking he's around
the fucking twist writing poetry..its about all the goings on yeah..all the land deals they are trying to sort outand worrying
about getting the daughters married off yeah?.it's a real savage piss-take, of not so much country people but ofit shows exactly
what happened.how life was thenyou should read it'
MR: What about the other poet, Seamus Heaney. He is similar to Kavanagh. Do you like him?
SMacG: 'YesI do like Seamus HeaneyI like the way he never apologies for anything he has written..Seamus
Heaney does take the piss out of various things too..but he never knocks Ireland'
MR: You are just forty-six passed there, you have been in the music business for 30 years now
SMacG: 'well I have been singing all my lifebut I have been in bands since I was 16 or 17.and I have been
a professional musician since I was 25, in other words that's when I give up my day job..that's when The Pogues got loads
of money..with publishing and all..with the first album..right yeah?'
MR: Fairytale of New York is playing everywhere you go this time of year. Do you ever get sick listening
SMacG: 'For some reason I never get sick of that oneI get pissed of having to sing it all the timeyeahbut
that's alright because most people seem to know it and it's good to hear them singing it..'
MR: Does it ever annoy you that the general public just know you for 'Fairytale Of New York' ?
SMacG: 'No.like I'm bloody lucky they know me at allyou know what I mean..'
MR: What is your take on the current music scene nowadays?
SMacG: 'I don't think you need to ask me that oneI mean all fucking popular music is in a lullevery where.'
MR: Not too many bands seem to play Irish music anyway?
SMacG: 'Well I am still playing it./laughs/'
MR: So what about 2004..what does that hold for Shane MacGowan?
SMacG: '.i have ideas for a lot of things.I am in no rush.I mean I am in no hurry to put out an albumId
like to get back to touring in Europe..I like Germany..'
MR: What about America.will you tour there again..?
SMacG: '..ah.no I'm fucking sick of America..well maybe a gig in New York'
MR: Okay Shane, thanks for your time and information to FOS