There’s a confidence flowing around Limerick city these days. Creative people are no longer waiting for support or validation from outside forces, thanks to a grassroots, DIY approach. Artists, musicians, and other creatives are realising they have the talent and skills to make things happen for themselves.
A fine example of this is DIY LK, a non-profit music collective running gigs to support local bands. In addition to local support, they bring national and international performers to the city each month. Most importantly, they have spawned and nurtured the emergence of local bands such as Cruiser, Cassavetes and Post Punk Podge & the Technohippies.
Post Punk Podge & the Technohippies’ music is hard to pin down. Above all, it’s raw, energetic, and urgent. Underpinned with grungy guitars, thumping drum beats, distorted violin and brass, hints of metal and dance, and wonderfully infectious stick-in-the-head choruses, all delivered with a defiant punk attitude.
Post Punk Podge is the songwriter and front-man of the group, while DJ Jurassic Park 2 and vocalist Dr. Asparagus Montague make up the Technohippies. They create songs full of uncomfortable truths about political corruption, mental health problems, homelessness and domestic violence. These themes are wrapped in an unspoken assertion that the way forward is through speaking out and collectively taking action.
Their gigs are loud, frenetic affairs best experienced in small, sweaty venues that force the audience to give themselves over completely to the energy of the music. But they are equally at home on the bigger stage, having honed their live set in 2018 with festival appearances at the likes of Knockanstokan, Body & Soul and Electric Picnic. This year will see them make their first Glastonbury appearance.
On stage, the topless and towering Post Punk Podge covers his face with a large brown envelope, while the other members wear masks. It would be all too easy to draw comparisons to Limerick’s most famous plastic-bag wearing personality, but it really does heighten the live experience. Here are talismanic figures imparting an important message to the audience. This is not a band who care about looking pretty but one that wants to confront the audience and give it a good shake.
Post Millennium Tension is Post Punk Podge & the Technohippies’ latest release. Unsurprisingly, it’s a high-octane set of songs exploring the challenges of life in modern Ireland, and Limerick in particular. The EP opens with ‘Full-Time Mad Bastard’, a foot stamping, air-thumper of a song that signals the pace and tone of the collection. ‘Stab City’s Burning’ is a celebration, throwing off the shackles of the old negative narratives about Limerick and coming together to contribute to the creativity and positivity now flowing through the city.
“How do we channel our frustration? Not with guns and knives but with pens and paper? Feed your mind and be wise…Our hearts beat as one with the flow of the Shannon, instilling pride yeah take up the mantle. This city needs you and me. To be the best that we can be. This city needs you and me. To spread positivity.”
Its infectious chorus “Stab city’s burning, burning with desire. To burn that name and the shame, throw them on the fire” has anthemic potential. They also shout out Music Generation here, the Limerick music education initiative spawning many young bands, producers and MCs in recent years.
This isn’t just an inward looking EP about Limerick. ‘Seamstress’ is a song about the sweat shops behind many of our leading clothes manufacturers, “Maximise profits at all costs. The blood on our hands will come out in the wash.”
If it already seems we’ve reached an absurd dystopia in ‘Seamstress’, we travel even further along this line in ‘Pause for the Apocalypse’, a dark track about the state of the world today, where “living has us running scared.” The unrelenting pace of its beat sucks the listener in to the oppressive sense of disaffection provoked in the lyrics, “There are the days of fascist revival. We’re racist, sexist, ignorant bastards, waiting for another natural disaster.”
The CD version of the EP comes with two bonus tracks, a swirling noise-fest called ‘Revolution! Yeah!’ and ‘Home is Where the Heart Bleeds’, a tuneful acoustic guitar song. Released last year as a single to raise money for a local homeless charity, it looks at issues around homelessness. Never one to shy away from confrontation, lead singer Podge spits out the unforgettable line, “Cold shoulder from the Blue-shirts. Cold shoulder from Labour. You’re all just a massive Fianna Failure.”
Post Millennium Tension is an EP to be listened to full blast, preferably with friends to jump around the room and plan revolutions with. It is available on CD from Steamboat Quay Music in Limerick, and from Bandcamp and Spotify.