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Pogues Biography

Last updated: 07/22/2012 12:00:00 PM

As I had mentioned in the Nips bio, Shane started working at a record store and sometimes filled in on guitar and vocals for Spider Stacey's band, "The Millwall Chainsaws."

Around 1981 Shane was part of a nameless band led by a school teacher, which was not going anywhere and soon hit a dead end. Shane played bass, his good friend Jem Finer played guitar and Chainsaws member Ollie played drums.

As time passed by Shane became more partial to Irish traditional music than punk. In the company of his friends (namingly Jem and Spider), Shane would always play or sing Irish songs which began to rub off on them. On many a drunken night Shane and Spider would sit in their flat listening to The Dubliners and other various Irish traditional groups.

One night, Shane and Ollie went to the Cabaret Futura to have a few drinks. Ollie, who was feeling a bit tipsy walked up to Richard Strange, the manager of the Futura, and told him that he is in a band which plays Irish music and asked if they could play a gig there sometime. Richard, who was open to any type of music agreed to the proposal.

In two weeks time they had come up with a set list of Irish rebel songs to play for their debut show. Shane got on guitar and vocals, Matt Jacobson, another member of the Millwall Chainsaws got on bass , John (last name?) also got on guitar and Ollie played drums. Jem Finer was not a part of this line up. Spider had lost his voice before the show, so he proved useless. That night they presented themselves as the New Republicans.

As they went through their set of Irish rebel songs, the crowd flung French fries at the band. Despite the hostility of the audience, Shane was still inspired by the performance. The management pulled the plugs on the gig and the New Republicans seased to exist.

Although the Caberet Futura show was just a temporary arrangement, Shane still wanted to do Irish music more than ever. It was at that he decided to start an Irish traditional band. After a few months, Jem asked Shane if he could play guitar for this new band of his and he happily agreed. The first original song Shane had written was "Streams of Whiskey." After arranging a good amount of songs (mostly covers), they played for money wherever they could. Many places didn't think the music was appropriate and the audiences were few, but that would'nt last for long.

In the early summer of 82' Jem and Shane began searching for more members. The first member they found was Andrew Ranken, a drummer who was already in a Cajun R 'n' B band called "The Operation." Although he was perfect for the job, Andrew was going to be away for the whole summer so they had to find someone else for the time being.

Near the end of the summer they sought out for an Accordian player. Shane remembered that his fellow band mate from the Nips, James Fearnley. He was a very skilled pianist so Shane was convinced that he could get the hang of the accordian easily. So Shane and Jem showed up at Fearnley's doorstep and presented him with an accordian. At first James took the whole idea as a joke. For one, he hadn't the slightest idea how to play the accordian and secondly, he was in the midst of his writing career. But, after he gave the accordian a go and and after he learned the songs that Shane and Jem had come up with, his enthusiasm increased considerably.

Just as James had learned an instrument that was completely foriegn to him, Jem decided to lose the guitar and pick up the banjo. He learned Irish songs by playing the banjo in a country style, which he was more atuned to.

A month later they found a temporary drummer, John Hasler. Though not as skilled as Ranken, he would do for the time being. Jem and Shane set up a show on October 4, 1982 at the Pinder of Wakefield. All they needed then was a band name. They thought up a few different names but couldn't decide on which was the best. This was taken care of by Spider Stacey who suggested Pogue Mahone, which in Gaelic terms means, "Kiss my ass." They agreed that Pogue Mahone was the right title for them.

On the night of the Pinder of Wakefield show, they played a set of mostly Irish traditional covers with a couple orignials such as "Streams of Whiskey" and "Dark Streets of London." Spider was included as part of the line up for the show. At the time, he couldn't play any instruments so he just screamed into the microphone and acted obnoxious on stage. Although the show turned out to be a success, Jem and James were less than thrilled by the behaviour of Spider. Shane, who still wanted Spider to stay in the band, presented him with a tin whistle. Spider had never played one before in his life, but after daily practice he soon proved excellent.

The following day Shane was at the "Hog in the Pound" on South Molton Street, where he ran into Caitlin O'Riordan. Cait, being a Nips fan noticed Shane. As he talked on about the Pinder of Wakefield gig with some people, Cait listened in. When Shane had mentioned that the band was minus a bass player, she interupted the conversation, and told him that she could play. Shane, as well as the rest of Pogue Mahone decided to give her a chance. After a couple of practices with Cait, the band gave her acceptance. Cait's first gig with Pogue Mahone was on October, 23 at the 101 club.

By December, Pogue Mahone had played a few more shows and it became clear to them that they needed a new drummer. John Hasler was unreliable and useless to them and before they could even tell him he was out of the band, he quit. While they were searching for another drummer, they transformed the drums into a two piece kit, consisting of a floor tom-tom and a snare drum. This proved to be more suitable for their upbeat style of Irish music. Remembering their first choice they sought out to find Andrew Ranken. Once they found Andrew and talked it over with him, he agreed to give it a second go. After his first practice with the band and the new drum set, Andrew was obviously Pogue Mahone material. Although he was still in his outlet "The Operation", he still wanted to stay a part of Pogue Mahone.

Within the next few months, the band had played several more shows around London, and their following grew rapidly and had earned quite a reputation for their unique sound, essence and drunkeness. That's what people loved about them. They were unlike anything anyone had ever heard before. "Irish music played with the spirit of punk" is the way most fans describe their musical creation. To hear them live you'd think it was Stiff Little Fingers playing with Irish traditional instruments! Although the members were usually trashed during most gigs, they still gave the crowd their money's worth. And no matter how bad they were at times they always got great cheers. As with most bands, the members got into arguments and brawls with one another over certain disagreements, but despite this, Pogue Mahone managed to remain a tight band.

Mid summer had come and it was at that time that they decided to record a demo. Of the five songs recorded, "Streams of Whiskey" proved to be the best.