Here an article Edel Coffey wrote about us in the Irish Independent which appeared in print on June 20th 2008 and can also be viewed online here:
Part musicians, part performance artists, part… well… party, the unusual duo You’re Only Massive are taking Dubliners by storm and are coming soon to a town near you. Get your dancing shoes on says, Edel Coffey
Gigs by Waterford band You’re Only Massive tend to be a little unusual. So unusual, in fact, that its creators don’t even call them gigs, or refer to themselves as a band for that matter. “The first time we saw ourselves being called a band, we were laughing for, like, half an hour, because we’re not a band, we don’t really play instruments,” says Maebh Cheasty, one half of the female duo. Megan Nolan, the other half of the band, is back home in Waterford doing her Leaving Cert.
Seventeen-year-old Nolan and 23-year-old Cheasty first came to most people’s attention when You’re Only Massive played the Hard Working Class Heroes festival last year. Part band, part performance art, part DJ and part MC, this precocious, shambolic and always goodtime duo did away with the usual requirements of musical skill and posturing and instead offered a window into their bedroom-style party, as they sang along with their favourite records, skewed so-called post-feminist lyrics, all while hula-hooping and dancing their way through their sets.
The speed of band’s progress from germinal idea to live performance is illustrative of their approach in general. “The first time we had a gig we literally practiced for that day. It was all very slapdash at the start.” This is one of the areas where You’re Only Massive diverge from their contemporaries. For them, it’s not about achieving perfection. “Trying is good, I think,” says Cheasty. “What I like is just to see a performer at risk; really invested at that moment and trying hard. Some people want to see something different. You can’t please everyone.”
Indeed, they have their detractors and the word ‘amateur’ has been thrown around. “I’m proud and happy to be an amateur,” says Cheasty. “The second something is perfect, that’s when it’s dead, that’s the moment it loses interest for you. Ideally, you’d never perfect it. The second you have something finished, then you’re just Beyonce. I just really enjoy the feeling of going beyond that and saying, ‘Look, this is what we are. We’re not pretending to be virtuoso — if you want something polished and to see someone do an amazing skill, that’s not what we are’.”
And that is where their unique appeal lies. It’s liberating for both performers and audience to experience something a little less uptight than studied performances in cool. “There is a kind of liberation in that. I love it, it’s so much fun.”
You’re Only Massive’s main ambition, says Cheasty, is a simple one; to get the party started. But their lyrics have a socio-political dimension and the band has strong echoes of New York’s Le Tigre and Berlin’s Chicks On Speed. “There’s so many great songs out there already, why would you add to that unless you have something to say?” asks Cheasty. One popular live song called Booty deals with the current taste in music for the female posterior.
“Fergie and Beyonce, their lyrics are just like, ‘I’ve got an ass. You wanna look at my ass’. There’s something really kind of weird and fetishised about it, and it’s all about money. And Kelly Rowland’s song, Like This, it’s like, ‘what are you saying?’ I’m so emancipated because I’ve got a boob job? And really it’s, like, ‘no you’re not, you fool’. Booty is a song that just came out of that.”
This outspokenness comes across in their performances too, although Cheasty’s seniority and background in youth theatre make her the more forthright performer of the two. Their latest project is called Disco-nnect and is part of the Dublin Docklands festival We Are Here 3.0. It combines elements of their current stage performance with a guided walking tour around the Docklands, culminating with a gig and a party.
“The idea of the audience as kind of an active member of the whole thing is my ideal. Obviously, it doesn’t always happen at gigs, because you turn up at your normal indie gig and it’s, like, ‘okay everyone, do this,’ and they’re, like ‘It’s Friday night! Don’t make us do that!’
“With the walking tour, the idea is to prepare people for the gig, so when they arrive they know the dances, they’re psyched up and ready to go. I think there is a tendency to go to something with your arms folded, to be engaged with something mentally but not physically. It is a stereotype about the Dublin indie crowd just standing there, but it is kind of true too.”
Setting their show in different spaces to the norm (where norms of behaviour are also observed) is important to them. “I think people do create their own cultural spaces at house parties. One thing I missed when I moved to Dublin was the sessions that take place in Waterford, because people just have fun and dance.”
Their plans for the short-term future include releasing a 12″ with Dublin-based Cork band Queen Kong, and Cheasty has another show in development, too. “It is a lot more domestic and involves cooking,” she says coyly. The 12″ release will be all original, considering the kind of licensing headache that would come with releasing songs that feature the samples they use live. (The Go! Team, for example, had to re-release a remixed version of their debut album Thunder, Lightning, Strike because of sample clearance issues.) “We used two of Ed Chamberlain’s beats, he’s written some really nice emails giving us his support, but obviously releasing is a whole other thing.”
In the meantime, they’re planning to take Disco-nnect to New York Conflux festival in September and to do a 32 county tour of Ireland, although some counties are not so sure about them yet. “At the moment it’s an 18 county tour,” says Cheasty. “Mullingar are not feeling You’re Only Massive. I was quite disappointed; the town that gave us Joe Dolan doesn’t have time for You’re Only Massive.”
One thing is sure: this maverick duo certainly has a few surprises in store for those attending Disco-nnect, although they claim no one will be made do anything they don’t want to…
Disco-nnect June 30-July 5, Sir John Rogerson’s Quay. €10/8. www.wearehere.ie
– Edel Coffey