Archive for May 2015

By day, 55-year-old Paul Burgess is a busy academic in University College Cork.But once he is back home, guitar and drums take over. Burgess is a drummer and lyricist with the punk band Ruefrex and is busy composing new songs.

“We are planning to bring out a new album. It’s important for us to be alive and kicking because there is a genuine passion and appetite for punk music once again in Northern Ireland,” he said.

Burgess, who is often seen in the clubs in Belfast with fellow band members, added: “It’s an amazing feeling that people want to hear us again.”

Ruefrex was formed in 1977 at the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland and played for around eight years until members, Allan Clarke, Tom Coulter, Jackie Forgie and Paul Burgess, went their separate ways in 1985.

Those members performed at informal events a few times afterwards, but the band came together to play once again formally in a concert in June 2014.

“The reunion happened by chance. Tom’s brother, Colin, an academic, invited me to speak in a conference in National University of Ireland Maynooth, in June last year. He proposed, why don’t we perform once again?” said Burgess.

“It looked difficult then but ultimately, we did perform at a fundraising programme in Belfast. That was our second gig in the past 20 years.”

Other old Northern Ireland punk bands such as The Defects, The Outcasts and Stiff Little Fingers, are active. They are either releasing their unreleased old songs or cutting new albums.

“There is a growing nostalgia for punk music in Northern Ireland,” said Gary Fahy, who runs Punkerama Records, a DIY label in Belfast.


He said punk music had been a lifeline for many young people when Northern Ireland was convulsed by conflict.
“There was a bunch of youth, frustrated and angry, who didn’t know what to do during the turmoil. They chose music to be the best medium for expressing their views and opinions on the current scenario,” he said.
The punk scene faded in the mid-80s.

Ian ‘Buck’ Murdock, the vocalist of punk band, The Defects, said: “But then, we reached at a point in life, when we were settled and wanted to go back to our old passion, the punk music.”

The Defects, formed in 1978, have recorded songs such as Dance (Until you Drop), Revelator and Survival.

They reunited in 2010 and found new audiences.
In 2012, they went to perform in Australia and in 2013, they played at the Rebellion Punk Festival in Blackpool, Lancashire.

“We didn’t see this level of success back in the 1970s or the 80s,” Murdock said.

The Outcasts too have played in various parts of Europe this year.New punk bands, such as Aggressors BC, Cadaver Club, Fubar, Fresh Meat, Empty Lungs, Empires, Divisions, Hard Case and Assailants, have also emerged.

“Our society is grappling with various problems such as austerity, unemployment and lack of housing facilities. The punk music of today revolves around these grim realities of urban life,” Gary Fahy said.


Marty Riot, the lyricist of the five-member band Aggressors BC, said: “Our songs are very pro-people. We are anti-fascist and left-wing.

“We react to what we see around us. We chose music as the medium to tell people how the world around us makes us feel,” he added.

For many, the appeal of punk music songs is that they are short and uncomplicated.

“People find it very easy to connect with it,” said Guy Trelford, co-author of It Makes You Want to Spit: The Definitive Guide to Punk in Northern Ireland.

Terri Hooley, known as the godfather of punk in Northern Ireland, said: “The idea is to provoke people to think about what’s happening around.”

( BBC Northern Ireland published the story on April 29. I visited the BBC, Northern Ireland in April, 2015) Here is the link: