Brian Foley, the bassist with the legendary Dublin band The Blades, has released his second album under the name Boy One.
Calm Before The Storm is the follow-up to my 2017 debut album, Red Letter Day, and is available in Tower Records, Freebird, Sound Cellar in Dublin, Music Zone down in Cork and on top digital streaming websites.
Last year, I dedicated Broken Skies, to climate change activist Greta Thunberg – with a little help from David Attenborough.
The recording of the new album was very much a stop-start affair interspersed by lockdowns, restricted travel, and social distancing.
However, most of the songs were written before Covid reared its ugly head and so a variety of topics are tackled including white-collar crime, loneliness, and domestic violence.
On the whole, the album is an optimistic affair sprinkled with its share of love songs such as the opening track Too Blind to See, and glam rock, Summer love song, Footprints in the Sand.
Read my blog post on writing and recording the “Calm Before The Storm“.
The catalyst for this surprising reunion would be a Phil Chevron tribute concert in the Olympia Theatre on August 25th, 2013. Phil, though terminally ill, attended the concert and had requested that some of his favourite artists would perform for him.
Musicians included Shane McGowan, Declan O’Rourke, various Radiators, and Horslips, and many more including Paul Cleary.
Paul plugged in his electric guitar and launched into the old Radiators’ song ‘Enemies’ which went down well. For his only other song of the night, he performed a blistering version of ‘Downmarket’ which had the whole audience singing along. And though the night was tinged with sadness (Phil died 6 weeks later) it was also a night to celebrate Phil’s lasting legacy.
Rehearsals though were tougher than expected. It was a big ask trying to crank up the machine and those creaking parts needed a lot of oiling and greasing and of course, rust was widespread. However gradually the working parts came together and we were astonished to find out we’d sold out the Olympia. A second gig was added and we couldn’t believe it when that also sold out. December 13th and 14th would be our dates with destiny.
The Ministers were unusual in the fact that they had three different lead singers and the music was very quirky with odd, jazzy chords, melodic sax riffs, and lyrics that lived up to their strange song titles such as; ‘I hang from a great big oak’, ‘Oliver Cromwell,’ ‘Six o Clock is Rosary,’ ‘Railroaded,’ ‘a Carriage of Villains’ and ‘Forfeit Trials’ to mention a few. Subject matters are not heard on many Dublin stages or any stages for that matter.
When The Blades broke up in 1986 I got a call from my old Vipers comrade, George Sweeney. He was rehearsing with a singer, Tom O Brien, and a drummer Robert Hamilton who had been gigging as ‘the V Column’ and of course, they were looking for a bass player.
When I was living in London with The Vipers we started hearing about this new band in Dublin called ‘The Blades’ and how one of their favourite bands was The Vipers. We had a lighting technician/roadie, Sean Duffy, who arrived back from a trip to Ireland and one evening we met up with him and he played us The Blade’s debut single ‘Hot for You’ and I remember thinking the singer had a really great voice. I came back to Dublin for Christmas, December 1979 and caught the end of a Blades gig in the Mansion House. I thought they were really tight and had a great pop sound for a three-piece. I introduced myself to the band and that was my first meeting with The Blades.
By 1981 the original drummer Pat Larkin left The Blades. The previous year they had released one of the best Irish singles ever; ‘Ghost of a Chance’. Jake Reilly replaced Pat on drums and then Paul decided that he would switch from bass guitar to rhythm guitar and that’s how I came to join on bass. I had left The Vipers and was living back in Dublin. So the band became a four-piece with Paul on vocals and guitar, his brother Lar on lead guitar, Jake on drums and me on bass.
Our first single as a four-piece was ‘The Bride Wore White’ A gritty pop gem detailing a young, unmarried girl’s dilemma and the stigma attached in holy, Catholic Ireland. The late Bob Collins in RTE made a great black and white video to go with the song. We filmed it around the Liberties. The building we used for most of the song was about to be demolished but words were spoken or maybe money changed hands but the next thing we knew the wrecking crew disappeared and we set our gear up and got the filming done. The next day the building was torn down.
Read the full blog post about me joining The Blades. The Blades… A Cut Above The Rest.
I had lived in London for a few months in those turbulent days of ’77. I had frequented ‘the Vortex’ and ‘the Roundhouse’ and numerous other music venues soaking up the new wave that was infiltrating sleepy London town. The Clash and the Pistols were nowhere to be seen but I got to see bands such as ‘The Vibrators’, ‘999’, ‘Siouxsie and the Banshees’, ‘The Ants’ (before they became Adam and The Ants) and Dublin band ‘The Radiators from Space’.
A guy I worked with knew of a band looking for a bass player so I said I was interested but around this time the Boomtown Rats had broken into the English charts with their first single and I’d heard that the Dublin music scene was buzzing. It was time to come home.
Back in Dublin and I was skint again. That’s how I got sucked into the lucrative cabaret scene. Then as luck would have it, I saw the ad from ‘The Vipers’ looking for a bass player and I knew it was my last chance to break out of this rubber chicken and chips hell. I had seen ‘The Vipers’ supporting ‘the Rats’ in the Olympia and I liked their attitude.
In November 1978 the Vipers signed a record deal with a small Irish folk label called Mulligan records. They agreed to release our first single. Mulligan had somehow gotten the rights to release all of The Boomtown Rats catalogue in Ireland and so, flush with this unexpected bonanza they added us to their roster. They brought over a young engineer from London named Steve Brown who worked for Phonogram and he was to be our producer.
Read my full blog post about joining and rehearsing with The Vipers “Stardust Memories”.
The first instrument I ever learned to play was the piano when I was around seven years old. We lived in Artane, a Northside suburb of Dublin, and an old guy named Mr. McKenna used to call around to the house every Sunday and give lessons to myself, my brother and sister.
He was a scruffy old man with greased back hair, rotten teeth and a woodbine permanently stuck in his mouth. He used to arrive on an ancient, black bike and by the end of the lessons the ashtray would be piled high with cigarette butts and there would be what looked like a fog in the room along with a nauseous smell of stale tobacco. My mother would leave all the windows open for about three hours after he left. He wasn’t a very empathetic teacher and he didn’t like children so it was no surprise when we all gave up the lessons.
When I was twelve years old, myself and my twin brother Seamus joined the Artane Boys Band. The old industrial school was being phased out so they reached out to all the schools in the neighbourhood and recruited boys to replace the orphans and abandoned kids who used to make up the band.
Find out more about my musical adventures, and being around George Best and Muhammad Ali. I admit it, it is a clickbait headline.
Read the full blog post The Early Years – Artane Boys Band and George Best.
I have three bass guitars that I use on a regular basis.
I actually bought the P Bass from Paul Cleary when he switched from bass to guitar with The Blades.