Fight Like Apes are an Irish alternative rock band formed in Dublin in 2006. Their members are Mary-Kate “MayKay” Geraghty (vocals and synth), Jamie “Pockets” Fox (keyboard and vocals), Tom Ryan (bass) and Adrian Mullan (drums). In 2010 they released their second album, The Body Of Christ and The Legs of Tina Turner.
Fight Like Apes have toured the UK with The Von Bondies, The Ting Tings, The Prodigy and Kasabian and have played several Irish and European festivals throughout their career. They have appeared on several television shows in Ireland, including Tubridy Tonight, WeTV, The View, Other Voices and The Cafe. They have also had some success in Asia, where they have been signed up by Sony Music Entertainment Japan for an album release on that continent in April 2009. We talked to the band about their plans for 2011.
TDOA: I really enjoy the concept of combining shoegaze and punk rock. Can you explain where the two meet in your music?
Pockets: I think they only met by accident. Initially when we started the band I thought it was probably gonna be a shoegaze band. I think we were too excitable and obnoxious to let it end that way. We still have good shoegazing intentions it just for some reason makes more sense to play it really fast. I don’t think anger and shoegaze ever worked well together so it kinda had to to be become a bit more punk.
TDOA: What was it like working with Andy Gill? I think I would be too intimidated to make any music.
MK: You would think it would have been intimidating but he made a few key moves that god rid of any weirdness. First of all, he conducted our first phone call with him from the bath. Just him, not us. He always wore sandals in the studio. He always wore his tshirts inside out as he wasn’t too keen on their slogans. About a week before we went over to London to record he came to stay in Dublin for a night & came to a couple rehearsals so we’d already been knee deep in pints with him pre London.
He also from the word go just seemed to really like the band. He knew all the stuff & he didn’t want to change anything, like a lot of producers would like to. He liked the big distorted keyboards, he liked the screams so we felt like we were completely on the same page from the start.
TDOA: Lots of interesting song titles. Sufjan Stevens would be jealous. Where do they come from?
Pockets: Not as jealous as he would have been of and old irish band called the Hitchers. They had a song called “She broke my heart so i ate her liver”. Best song name ever. They come from different places. Alot of the time its the only reasonable thing to call a particular song. I hate short titles, seems like a waste of good space on the back of the album.
TDOA: I really like the idea of punk rock evolving. In the 90s when the “pop-punk” crowd took it over, it really started to suck. Who do you think are the strongest punk rockers still around?
Pockets: The 90s epitaph thing kinda sucked. It started out with decent intentions but there was alot of drivel. Then of course you had bastardised major label versions of these bands, they all had sex with there dads and suddenly we heard the likes of Bowling For Soup on our radar. I love pop punk in theory but jesus christ people take liberties with it. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes need to give me portions of the late 90s back for there crimes against there fellow man.
TDOA: Can you explain to our readers what role humor plays in your music?
MK: I like the healthy does of humour that we use. But I think that we’re lucky we haven’t fallen into a trap of ‘once you start doing it you have to keep doing it’ type of thing that could make us a complete novelty band. We can have a song about fish & chips & then have a pretty serious song about something realistic. But it’s like all my favourite movies or tv shows or bands, there’s nothing like some comic relief to wake you up & to make the more serious moments even more relevant.
TDOA: How do you feel about sampling? What musicians do you think make best use of it these days (you may include yourselves )
Pockets: I like sampling but only when its needed. Theres nothing I hate more than a sample in a song thrown in to make the song more interesting sounding. It’s like putting a plaster on a gunshot wound. If the song is struggling as a song a samples not gonna help its just gonna deviate attention away from the fact that song doesnt work. I like sample when its used as narrative. I think Dj Shadow’s Endtroducing had amazing use of sample. Not too much into what I hear sampled these days.
TDOA: I know that May Kay and Pockets are one hell of a vocal duo, but what is it like working together?
MK: Jamie’s really gotten cocky since he got lead vocals on a track (Waking Up With Robocop) so I think he’s trying to smoke me out. He sounds lush on it so he wants to take over lead vocals now. I’m not sure.
Jamie was the first person I ever worked with musically so I’ve always found it as easy as anything. At the start I used to get nervous showing him lyrics or even singing in front of him but that went very quickly. Now if him or I show the other some bad lyrics one of us just awkwardly says ‘erm, and what else have you got written down there chicken?’ It’s very easily taken care of.
TDOA: I’ve seen several comparisons between Fight Like Apes and other bands, but I’m not interested in those comparisons. Who do you think you sound/write like?
MK: I don’t think I’ve really gotten into a pattern yet. I haven’t written enough for long enough to be able to have an identity in that way. I’ll come back to you on that one.
Pockets writes like a young Burt Bacharach if you ask me. He too is a pianist, composer or co producer of his own music that shows the depth & simplicity of a man many years his senior.
TDOA: You guys are silly, there’s no denying that. How do you think your listeners relate to your songs.
MK: YOU’RE silly! I think people can relate to our songs in loads of different ways. On the surface there are lyrics or melodies that you can catch on to pretty easily (that’s me saying we’re really catchy in case you didn’t get that!). I think a lot of people like the honesty of the lyrics as well. There are some songs where I sing things that a lot of people might be dying to say but it’s not really appropriate most of the time.
TDOA: PLAYLIST! PLAYLIST! PLAYLIST! (Chanting loudly sort of fails via text, no?) What are 5 songs you can’t stop playing?
Wolf Parade – I’ll Believe in Anything
At the Drive In – Invalid Litter Dept
Apples in Stereo – Sun is Out
Clinic – 2nd Foot Stomp
Future Pilot AKA – Witchi Tai To
Billy Joel – We Didn’t Start The Fire
Marilyn Manson – Cake and Sodomy
Pavement – Half a Canyon
Spoon – Metal Detektor
Wannadies – Hit
Our playlist has more tracks than yours…
FLA at Eurosonic live album: