Brian O'Neill: Dimple Discs and the Music of the Diaspora

July 07, 2022 00:50:51
Brian O'Neill: Dimple Discs and the Music of the Diaspora
The Plastic Podcasts
Brian O'Neill: Dimple Discs and the Music of the Diaspora
/

Show Notes

Co-founder of the Dimple Discs label - alongside the similarly named Damien O'Neill (he of The Undertones), Brian O'Neill has a roster of mostly Irish and Irish Diaspora artists including Derry's finest plus Sack, Eileen Gogan, Keeley, Jah Wobble and Telefis and many others. We talk music, Dublin of the 60s, Swastika Laundries, Sinn Fein picnics, The Beatles' works beano, pubbing with Nick Cave and so much more.

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

DOUG (V/O) How you doing? I'm Doug Devaney and you’re listening to The Plastic Podcasts, Tales of the Irish Diaspora. And for the second time in this series, we find ourselves voyaging to the verdant joys of Peckham. This time with our guest Brian O'Neill. Having graduated in Law at Cardiff University, Brian took the sideways step of working at Virgin Records, and then the legendary Rough Trade, before a swift shuffle into housing advice and management. Now retired, Brian has made the move back into music, forming Dimple Discs alongside his friend, the similarly-named Damian O'Neill: he of The Undertones. Dimple has gone on to be the home not just of Derry's finest, but also Cathal Coughlan, Babyshakes, Shed and the remarkable Telefis amongst others. It's quite a journey and he's not done yet, but let's start off by asking him: how you doing? BRIAN (Int): I'm doing very well. I'm still a bit post – COVID, still very tired, but you know, managing to get things done each day. Got a lot going on with the record company. I keep finding things that I want to do. And, whereas I would take a slightly more relaxed point of view about time, my - what would you call him? – my promotion type chap who, who gets everything into order is very quick to start saying, “When are we doing this?” No, I'll be alright. I soon, but you know, it's really beautiful. “No, no, no. I need all these assets from you.” Assets are, like, the photos, the artwork, the tracks and everything. But yeah, I'm fine. I'm very up apart from being run down. I'm very optimistic for the coming year. DOUG: What does the next year hold for you then? BRIAN: This coming year? Well, apart from the ones, you know, there's Mari Dangerfield who is a beautiful sixties-style songwriter and singer, but also plays the stylophone. She's an ex-member of The Stylophone Orchestra. She's marvellous. She's young - anyone's young compared to most of us. I have my friend Neil March: done an EP with a flute player. He does sort of retro sort of eighties types. It is a bit like the instrumentals that Human League used to do with Harold McNair on flute. There'll be a Sack LP. There will be a Damian O'Neil LP. That's done, we've got all the artwork and that sort of thing going forward. And, actually this afternoon, I'm off to meet my mate, Mike, to look at his lockup and in Arthur Daley style, I love the idea of being able to say that I'm looking at a lockup. But Mike manages - he has two record companies really, which are focused on classic British jazz from basically the South African and Ronnie Scott's background. So we've always spoken about maybe doing a jazz compilation on Dimple Discs. I would be very excited about that, cause it's all the guys that Robert Wyatt worships and, you know, very strong connections to Soho jazz, and actually in many ways an overlooked genre, cos they're all dying. And there was, I think, a few documentaries on them 10 years or so ago, but I’m keen to bring those back and be able to say there's a jazz element to our label. so there's a lot. Too much. DOUG: Because the elements of your label are very much Irish or Diaspora Irish. JOHN: Yeah, it is. That’s largely because most of my mates are Irish or Anglo Irish, and also I suppose, because, that’s the idea - I mean the label itself is like a living thing in many ways, as all great labels are. So it will always have a strong Irish element to it, but because, you know, I like going to Dublin, I love going to Belfast and Derry. I've got friends and it's a way of being in touch with them and doing things and offering them a facility that they may not realize or whatever. So, yeah, it will always be largely Anglo Irish because, I think, I try to bring myself to it. I think I've learned that what you do - if you do it well - is largely about harnessing your own strengths, but also your own loves and really setting yourself in there. This is the only interview I've ever done about it. And at the moment would probably be for the foreseeable future, the only one, cause it's not about me. I'm happy to reflect. I mean, it's the Diaspora element of what you’re interested in, equally I'm interested in. I'm more than happy to reflect on all those things, ‘cos it helps continually shape what I do, but there's also a London element. I go to places that do a lot of improvised music or slightly different and I come across people there who are nice people. And I say: maybe, if you are interested and don't mind – ‘cos nobody expects to make money these days really from this sort of thing. So that's been very good and it's very straightforward and that we all know what's gonna happen. So yeah, that's my, circuitous route of saying yes, it's, heavily Irish ‘cos I feel very comfortable with that. I feel comfortable with most people, but I suppose it does help keep one in touch with the past and the future, not to sound too lofty, you know. I remember being on tour with - we did a few dates - Eileen Gogan and Sean O’Hagan. And when we stopped in the border area, there, I thought a garage - oh, they're rebuilding. Then it began to dawn on me that they weren't rebuilding at all: they just lifted the ATM machine. There was that period of that going on. So that kind of dare I say reality check - you know, just keeping out there, doing things, being part of it - with all due modesty type of thing. It's all perspectives, isn't it? Everything helps shape what you want to do. I’m slightly conceptual about all that sort of thing. DOUG: So looking back and gaining perspective there, when was it that music first took a hold of you? BRIAN: Oh, definitely hearing the Beatles. Though I did love Harry Belafonte and Jim Reeves when I was a kid - very small. We did the armed forces radio in Germany when dad in the RAF was stationed there. But no, The Beatles, definitely a million times seismic event. We used to – ‘cos I never went to Catholic schools when we were little - my sister and I, when we lived in York, we would go for instruction with the priest before and then cut through the back ways. And I really distinctly remember one of those little garages and that you have in the snickets and backways in any Yorkshire town and the guy had his transistor radio on and, blaring out was “Please Please Me”. I remember stopping with my sister and we listened to it. We looked like the little Start Rite kids and, yeah, that was it. The Beatles were sort of straight in there as they were for many millions, I think, you know? So that was the start and it was a gift to have The Beatles when you were young, ‘cos you sort of grew up with them and they grew up and changed. So, I've always made sure that each of my children had the complete set of Beatles stuff on their iPhones or whatever they had in those days. Because I reckon if you've got the Beatles, you've got a complete introduction and basis for almost every sort of music imaginable. DOUG: They're very Irish too, aren't they? BRIAN: Yeah, very much so. I mean I love that photo of George with his mum in O’Connell Street, by the famous street photographer there. I mean there's, there's one of my parents taken by the same guy - that was pretty amazing. But yeah, I don't think I really noticed - it was only in later years that it really struck me how Irish the Beatles were. To me, they're kind of, and still will always be for me, you know, the touchstone of it all, really: The Beatles. A great gift to have at that particular - It would've be nice to have Elvis, but I think I slightly lucked out more with The Beatles. They stand over everything for me and, yeah, the Irishness and actually how they dealt with it. People criticize them, but I think the Beatles did actually also manage to do everything with dignity, which a tremendous achievement in the situation they were in. But yeah, that George's mum , I think they - were they from Drumcondra or Phibsborough? Certainly just up the road from where my mother's family was from. It’s a shame that everyone's passed now, otherwise I'd have asked, I'm sure. I would've been able to ask my grandmother and she’d have gone “Oh yeah…”. You know, everyone used to go dancing together. The kids - a bit like Southeast London - the kids link up a lot, but, yeah, the Irishness of the Beatles is still, I guess something that, not to sound too lofty, something you're still coming to terms with. Their great gift: you know, the idea it was only 10, 15 years ago, you realize one of the reasons that they were actually very happy and looked so happy doing Magical Mystery tour was that it was basically a works beano for them. You know, a very traditional working class thing to do. You know, sort of very much rooted in where they came from and how brilliant is that? That there's still undiscovered sort of reflections and insights into who they were. So, anyway, that's enough advertising for the Beatles. DOUG: Yes, I hope they benefit from your words of praise. The lads could do with a push, but speaking of your mum there, both your parents are Irish, yes? BRIAN: Yeah. My mom was, from Cabra just up off the North Circular and my dad, they always say Phibsborough, but I remember the house being in Drumcondra: just a short walk from my grandmother’s. We'd usually stay with my grandmother in the two-up two-down, which was stuffed with uncles and things. How we all fitted in when we went there on holiday, I don't know. But yeah, it's still there. It's a corporation house with my aunt living on the same road. They're all ageing now of course, but it's still a bit of a family. I do walk, they're usually away with their children, but, if I'm in and have a bit of time in striking distance, I do go for a walk in Animo Drive. Yeah. I've got long memories of a childhood in Dublin with unexpected things like the cattle market. I remember cattle being driven in that far to go to the cattle market – the North Circular, which was quite an amazing sight. And I remember Swastika Laundry vans, which came as a huge shock to me. I don’t know if you know about those? 1913, the founding of Swastika Laundry, which was a Hindu sign then, and it was the Hindu sign on the van, but I was walking into O’Connell from Cabra Street and suddenly this van with a Swastika on it. Walked past. And there was no explanation of it for me and nobody else seemed to notice it, which of course they wouldn't. And I could only think that - hey, sort of time travel or something or that’s come from something, you know, cos I just couldn't in fact - I was so stunned, I didn't mention it for about two days to my dad till eventually I said, I just saw a van with a Swastika on it. I know it sounds - but then he said, oh no, that's the laundry. That precedes the Nazis taking over the Swastika. But yeah. Great, great sights when you were a kid going into Dublin. The horses, you know - very inner city, my family on both sides. Big Dubs. MUSIC DOUG (V/O): You're listening to The Plastic Podcasts. We all come from somewhere else. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The past, as they say is another country, particularly when it's actually in another country. Brian O'Neill's tales of things being done differently in the Ireland of his parents' youth doesn't simply stop at the Swastika Laundry. There's also the little matter of the pair of the meeting at a Sinn Fein picnic. BRIAN (Int): Revolutionary parties always do that. They try and have their youth division, but yeah, it was only towards the end when my mother was in a home. I would visit her every Sunday and I would ask her things, you know, and that's when she - only then, cos it wouldn't normally have cropped up really - that while I was asking her what she did as a child and a young person that that came up and gave a completely different insight for me into it. I must ask some of my cousins more because it’s all oral history really, you know. None of this stuff's written down. I've never seen it in books. But we've all got a different aspect on it, according to what our parents did or whatever. I think there was - yeah, , my generation was very much left to themselves much more than running through the established political thought I think. But then I know most of my cousins through meeting when we were children, we certainly didn't talk about politics then. And it's only now as - because so much is not written down that some of the cousins and that have been questioning and asking on my mother's side. They checked up on - they went and found my grandfather's statements about where he claims the pension for having been in the rising and the civil war. You can, you know, you can go and get the statements and the supporting statements so you could get the pension, which are fascinating. I don’t know whether it's apposite to your broadcast - my mother's father was one of Michael Collins' gunmen and a proper - he was actually part of the shooting of all the British agents that famous day. He was one of “The Apostles”, I think they were called. Yeah, so that's kind of in his statements and the backups for it include witness-verified some of the things that he did. It's quite dark, but it's almost filmic. He was out in the morning and he got married in the afternoon. It was somebody who was there said to me: “Oh yes, they all turned up, they had blood on their shoes” and then they all buzzed off to Wicklow for a few weeks to let the fuss die down. Lots of hidden stuff with Irish families, I think, cos of course the civil war and that was never really was hidden and many people in denial because of the unpleasantness and literally, I mean on my mother's side, my grandad was pro-treaty and rest of his family were anti-treaty. So yeah, another little, I guess, insight into how things have changed almost within living memory and so much gone, especially when the IRA burnt down - was it the Customs House with all the records? DOUG: Did you know your grandfather? BRIAN: No. The, the maternal one died in 1940. He wasn't a nice man. He was very difficult, but I mean he became - because he was pro treaty and he was one of Michael Collins’ - he became one of Michael Collins' secret police. So he was chasing people and interrogating them - except interrogating wouldn't quite cover what they were doing. So he died an alcoholic. I met my father's father quite a few times. Yeah, he was very much the remote figure sitting in a chair in this room full of books in Drumcondra. Yeah. Yeah. But quite a mixed family background DOUG: So your parents meet at this picnic, obviously romance, marry and so forth. And they come across to England? BRIAN: Yep. My mother - they kind of made an escape plan, I think. None of them - I mean, there was nothing much in Ireland then for people. It would be about 1946, 47. My mother had very unpleasant times with her dad ‘cos he wasn't a good father and she then - in those days the British manufacturers and factories used to have recruitment drives in Dublin. So she went along and got a job with Lucases the spare parts manufacturer in Birmingham. They do headlights and things. And as part of the deal, they would find you accommodation in Birmingham. And so she met my Auntie Marge then, who took her in after announcing she didn't really like Catholics, but Sinead was different and good. My Auntie Marge was a great Birmingham working class woman. Got great memories of Birmingham, of those people, those great people. My dad went against all his things. Thought the entire Republican thing was not going anywhere and not very good. And he joined the Air Force. He got up to Belfast, but to show what innocent days they were, he went the first time he got to Belfast, everywhere was closed. Cause it was the Glorious 12th. He didn't know, you know, they really - they didn't actually know a lot, you know, quite innocent days in many, you know, I mean, how innocent is that? So he had to come back again and then go off, go off back again. He signed up when he was 16. Eventually him and my mum got married here quite quickly after. They were young and then embarked on the family, but they kind of managed to - they made a life for themselves here, you know, they became Anglo-Irish really. But my dad always, you know, he used to tell me the stories when I was little in bed. You know, that phrase you learn your republicanism at your daddy’s knee? He was always, you know, - he never didn't believe in a united Ireland, but he just didn't think that violence was a terribly effective way to go about it. DOUG: And yet he joined the British armed forces. BRIAN: Yeah. Well, I mean, that was quite normal then. I mean the armed forces when I was a kid were full of Irish, Poles - I mean, I had this very strange idea about how many Roman Catholics there were in society because you know, there was a lot there. My dad's best mate, John Cleary from Dublin, he was a bit older than my dad. He was a remarkable character. He left Dublin to go and fight the fascists in Spain. He got to Paris where people would go. And they said, I can't remember whether he was 14 or 16. Must have been 16, I think. And they said, well, you're a bit young, go away. So he came back as far as London and joined the Air Force cause he felt that there was going to be a massive war against, you know, Nazis basically. So, you know, there was people like - marvellous people like John Cleary, with his wife May Cleary: archetypal Dublin politicized, working class who lived that life. I mean, John ended up in Crete when the British - when the Air Force - retreated down through Greece and across Crete at night. Took him three days before they eventually got picked up and taken to Egypt. So I mean, I think. Covered in the past. For me, politics and life are interwoven and I'm not prescriptive about people, how people should enjoy - be active because life is political, you know? I think - cos I don't usually talk about my family so much. This, I suppose fair enough in this context. I think cos if, you know, hopefully your listenership will gain interest or whatever, but you know, you do what you can within where you are. I've never been a great one for, oh, you've all got to join up and be in the rev - cause people do people do what they can. That's kind of how I lead my life. Anyway you just do what you can in the place you can according to your time and conscience. I’ve never been a great one for the revolution really. MUSIC DOUG (V.O.): We'll be back with Brian O'Neill shortly, but first is time for The Plastic Pedestal: that part of the podcast where I ask one of my interviewees to talk about a member of the Diaspora of personal, cultural or political significance to them. For the second time in this series, we join Warren Reilly as he discusses a member of the Diaspora of personal inspiration. WARREN (Int): Okay. So for the Plastic Pedestal, I have decided to nominate Simone Rocha. She is a fashion designer of Chinese and Irish descent and I am very, very inspired by her and her style. She's very expressive of Victoriana, but also explores the history of Chinese dynasties within her clothing and kind of combines those two elements together. And within my own work it's something that I feel that I have been really inspired by and something that I am also looking to do with my Irish and Jamaican/African descent as well. Her collections are something that I really connect with. I think there's a lot of emotion in the collections, but there's also a lot of historical references from photographs, from styles of dress, from different kind of vantage points as well. And I think that her, you know, inclusiveness of models that she uses to portray the narratives within her clothes is really fascinating. She explores Irish history a lot as well. There is a lot of lace work in her work and embroidery, and the shapes of the garments as well in terms of the colours that she uses. I think she's really interested in the widest sphere of Asian fashion, but she very much references Chinese fabrication and styles of dress. Her father, John Rocha, I've discovered on my visit to Waterford was a collaborator of Waterford crystal, which was really interesting. So on the tour I found out that he helped develop a series of crystalware that was inspired by his design work. And I thought that was really beautiful. That was there. It was, it was a very dark black with designs that they had on display. And again, that was really interesting cause on my visit to Waterford, I didn't think that I would discover the family that I'm really fascinated by in terms of fashion. But yeah, it was great. It was a really, really beautiful experience to go there and to explore a little bit more of Simone's actual family history as well, where perhaps some of her references have come from also. So for me, I think Simone Rocha is a really, really good nominee for The Plastic Pedestal and, yeah, she's of constant inspiration to me. DOUG (V.O: Warren Reilly there. And if you want to hear more of what Warren had to say, why not find his interview on the Episodes page at www.plasticpodcasts.com - also available on Spotify, Amazon and Apple Podcasts. But while you're on the website, why not subscribe? Just go to the Home page at www.plasticpodcasts.com, scroll down, insert your details in the space provided. And one confirmatory email click later, the plastic loot of the world will be yours. Now back to Brian O'Neill. From itinerant armed forces kid, Brian eventually ended up at boarding school in Wales and then studying Law at Cardiff University. I wonder what his own music tastes were during those vital years. BRIAN INT: Mostly the classic John Peel stuff, I guess as a student. It was just pre punk. It was 73 to 76 sort of thing. So there was lots of Canterbury Robert Wyatt, always a huge Beach Boys fan, Sparks, always loved glam rock, some classical, but, yeah, mostly in that range, that sort of - I've always loved pop music. So there was always a huge amount of, kind of say glam rock. And when we were at school, we used to - the prefects on a Saturday morning used to come around and extract six p from everybody. So we'd been given our pocket money and two of them would hitchhike into Cardiff to buy two singles and they'd buy one sort of rock one and one soul one then. So, that was pretty much it, you know. We had complete collections of Tamla Motown stuff and that, so, yeah. And in Cardiff, a lot of listening, but you know, we used to go out dancing on the weekend and that was great. I'll always love disco, a lot of disco, everything really. I'm a bit omnivorous with music. It's all grist to the mill. But I think, John Peel was obviously the big, huge influence. DOUG: Yeah. Because the label almost feels like a curated John Peel sort of thing. BRIAN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I can sort of see that. DOUG: I mean, you just say the words “Fatima Mansions” and I'm automatically taken back to listening to Peel in the eighties. BRIAN: That's true. But the label really is more the people I come across. I was very influenced by working at Rough Trade where I was in the distribution section, not the record label. So obviously I knew Jeff Travis very well cause we were just in and around and I was one of the people who would be from distribution at Rough Trade record company meetings. But it did mean I got to know Tony from Factory and Daniel Miller from Mute and the very early days of Creation. I mean, I still see Doug from the Mary Chain. Douglas, you know, he’s remained a friend. Occasionally I'll see Bobby cos him and Douglas are still - Bobby Gillespie, that is - him and Douglas are still very friendly. So those guys, I was kind of watching them and of course Richard Boone was working in distribution in doing a lot of the manufacturing stuff. And Richard was a fine art person who was part of the partnership the New Hormones that put out a Spiral Scratch by The Buzzcocks and that whole thing. There's such a strong element of fine art. I mean, you had Bob Last from Fast who wasn't around much, so I never really met Bob per se. I mean, Fast was a fine art project. And so you had these things and people were always fascinated at Rough Trade about how it all actually worked. You know, how did this thing, this business, function and sniping in around it. And also how do bands function? This way people organize themselves into a structure to go and do things, make music, - all those fascinations were there. And that's all very Dimple Disc. ‘Cos I can talk to the artists a lot and try to draw things out, make sure it goes their way, but the label itself – yeah, I hadn't really thought of John Peel. I was thinking more the production values of Factory - can't quite forward all of it, but we tried to get there. The business approach of Mute. Geoff's way of meandering through his marvellous A&R capability. Alan McGee's huge enthusiasm. Huge - still is. I saw Alan a few weeks ago and Dick Green from Creation’s really supporting Alan. So I have to be Dick and Alan, but, you know - Nick Cliff who does a lot of my marketing is kind of another figure. Yeah. So that was kind of quite an education working there, you know? I mean, I'd go down the pub and I'd meet all the people like Mark Smith and Nick Cave and that across a table having a beer. So they weren't, you know, I just - they would just accept you as not a fan type of thing. You know what I mean, you weren't in that sort of relationship with them. So, you know, you learn how to treat people as human beings. in the nicest possible way. I don’t know if you know what I mean, but I wouldn't be intimidated by them. DOUG: And so you went from Virgin to Rough Trade, but then started working in social housing. BRIAN: Yeah. Well there was quite a few years. I kind of, I don’t know why, I felt my time had come to an end. I'd done a couple of years there, so I left and was just doing this and that. And Alan from Creation said: “Do you want to come and work for me?” He said,” I won't have money for six months”. Oh yeah. Okay. So I went and worked in St. Thomas' Hospital as Admissions Office for six months. ‘Cos I thought I'll take a break, go and do things. I ended up staying there a year cos Alan didn't have the money after a while and luckily I didn't say, “Oh, it doesn't matter. I'll just go and sign on and come and work for you at Creation anyway.” Cos I think that could have - judging by the way things went so crazy at Creation, you know, in a wonderful way and God bless them all. But yeah, I did give up smoking, so... And then I sort of freelances as a press person because the contacts I'd made at Rough Trade with, and that seemed fun for a while, but then we had children and I realized that I couldn't just exist with, you know, my rent in my pocket and a few bob for beers. There was these bigger responsibilities coming on. And luckily I had what you'd call the crossover skills to work in housing and did that for 21 years. But, you know, my mates were all the same people anyway. So I kind of knew what was going on and what they were doing. And so that was it for 21 years. Quite, you know, housing, pretty tough, Rotherhithe and Bermondsey, again, gave me great insights into the attitudes and thinking of working class people in those areas as they dealt with change, you know. I think everything you do in life should make you more sympathetic to people. I mean, when I first went, there was – Bermondsey and Rotherhithe were still very white. I mean, I started there in July and I thought – What? People have forgotten to take down their St George's flags? Then after a while I realized that they were up all year . But you know, you learn from what happened with the docks and why people wouldn't like outsiders because they were picked for work all the time. So historically outsiders were a huge threat to dockers. They would gang together and push people away at the gates. As you know, they'd be in the families, pushing people away cause they were a threat to their livelihood. And you kind of saw that down through the generations. I mean, I always felt quite sad when I was talking to a guy from Cork who I thought must have been born here. I spent quite a lot of time with him cos his son sadly died a hero's death in Iraq. And when I was talking to him one day, I had just assumed it teaches you never to assume things - that he was born here, but he'd actually come over here as a young man. He’d completely and utterly lost his Cork accent. I'd never really met - apart from people that I've known from working class backgrounds or one American girl that I met who'd had elocution lessons - I'd never met somebody who'd just lost their accent completely. So utterly and completely. ‘Cos you have to work quite hard at that, even though he denied it, you know, to have absolutely no trace. ‘Cos I mean I still find because the one bit of my accent from there that I find it very difficult to say “Rs”. Ors . I'll say “Arran or” I can't say it as other people. You know, it's very difficult for me and that's from my parents. So yeah. You just meet people, all shapes and sizes in public housing and sad to say usually tends to have the sadder side of life attached to it. MUSIC DOUG (V.O): You're listening to The Plastic Podcasts, Tales of the Irish Diaspora. Now one of the pleasures of presenting The Plastic Podcasts is the connections it presents. I was introduced to the work of Telefis, the collaboration between Cathal Coughlan and Jacknife Lee by another interviewee, which in turn led me to contacting Brian and in turn led to the chat that we're having here. And in this section, we are going to talk more about Brian's plans for Dimple Discs. However, sadly, between interview and broadcast Cathal Coughlan of Telefis died of cancer. And so this interview will conclude with an extract from one of my favourite of Telefis’ tracks, “The Symphonies of Danny La Rue”. Before we get there, we talk with Brian O'Neill more about Dimple Discs’ identity as a Diaspora record label. BRIAN (Int): It's not a hard and fast rule that it has to be Diaspora stuff, but I think it's just a natural way as you come together with people that culturally you can communicate that much more quickly with people who've got some sort of similar education and cultural background to you. And certainly, yeah, there is a little bit of trying to, I guess, express Irish culture in a different way. Forward looking, you know. We're not a reissue label: we've done Sack because that was deserving of it. But that's kind of a one off, I mean, some things will be slight reissues of stuff people have already had on Bandcamp, but yeah. For example, we're waiting to do a John O'Neill record, which he's done with Locky Morris and Locky's a leading artist from Derry. The thing I love about John and Locky is they're both very based in - they are Derry people. They’re part of it, and I really strongly want to exhibit what they can do because we can do a beautiful thing using Locky's artwork and John and Locky's music. So yeah, it's kind of - I guess if I think that it's going to add to the mix in presentation of people, Irish and Anglo-Irish, and from wherever really, but obviously there's a great, dare I say romantic in the old fashioned way. Not chivalry, but looking back thinking but moving forward, and I guess in a way trying to in some small way, present a view of Ireland for everyone. I mean, you can't attempt to do everything, but I sort of figured I can do what I can and there will be a natural flow from that. Yeah. So I kind of made – a bit is having the record company the way it is, and you sort of set the environment knowing that it will attract things I'm trying to get - there's a great mini LP up on Bandcamp called Exile On Dame Street, which is amazing. A great name, you’ve got to admit. And I love it. So I'm trying to persuade the main guy to let me reissue this on Dimple Discs, but he's not coming back yet, but I know he would like it. I would urge you to go and listen to it. It is tremendous. Eileen Gogan’s got a great set of ears. Anything Eileen puts me onto is usually absolutely fantastic. So, yeah, there's that. And there's also another guy from Dublin who I can't remember what his working name is, but he is great lyricist. The one that - I’d quite like to do his stuff at some point. He wrote the marvellous lyric. “I'm going to love you,, till the novelty wears off”. You can't beat that. You just sort of listen, just think, wow, that is absolutely amazing and great tunes. I guess I find it a difficult question to answer about the Diaspora ‘cos I still feel that there's plenty out there to be explored. Yeah. I suppose in the way that JG Ballard used to say that the greatest - just to sort of paraphrase - that the greatest science fiction and strangest places were the suburbs. So I've always been a bit of a one for it's on your doorstep. Everything's on your doorstep. The strangeness of Ireland’s on your doorstep. British culture can be very strange, you know, but good strange in that it is so mixed. I had no idea really. I don’t know if you've read Jah Wobble’s book, “Memoirs Of A Geezer” - a title he might want to change - but his sort of meditations on the family history going back to Cork were fascinating. I've known John for many, many years. I'd watched, even when I didn't see him for quite a few years, his writing, you know, so we're sort of doing some things with John - with Jah Wobble - but that's really, that's not because I think, oh, wow, I've got to get this ex-member of Public Image on my label - far from it. That’s absolutely got nothing to do with it. It's to do with John and I doing things together and him - with both of us - being very happy about that. And John actually, I think, very much appreciating the Irishness of it. I introduced him to Telefis. He does say that his greatest, most fun times with music are when he is, he wouldn't say with his own, but in that thing, he said his great musical things have come through that. Yeah, he would include, I think I can safely say, Johnny Lydon in that. Huge with Sinead O’Connor and he just absolutely loved Telefis when he came across it, you know. The boys as he calls them. So yeah, it's not, like I say, I'm going to engage with the Diaspora. It's more that I'm going to engage with people I know and like, but what can make it a lot easier is to have that “oh, wow” moment with friends where you just go: Yep. I know that. But that can equally happen with people that are from backgrounds that I've come across before in my life. We've had Marry Waterson from The Waterson Family make a few videos for us and everybody is absolutely delighted about that. That we've got some semblance of a connection to The Watersons. And, occasionally Eliza Carthy, Marry's cousin, will retweet one of our things and we're like: this is as good as it gets. You know, it really is: these giants are sort of, kind of aware of who we are. I still think is a very exciting time, but then I always think music is a very exciting time. I guess I'm seeing more and more of people being spontaneous because people are older now and they still make music ‘cos they want to, they're driven to make it. I think that's why there's a, you know, slightly older profile of people working on Dimple Discs. ‘Cos I think what they're doing is as valid as – well, I know it is, you know, there's not even much point in me saying that: it is as valid as anything anywhere else. That music is as good, if not better, than anything else. I'm very proud of everything that's on Dimple Discs. I think it's marvellous. We have yet to put out anything I thought that isn't quite good enough. DOUG: Okay. So a couple of final questions. What's the dimple? BRIAN: What's the dimple? It's the dimple on Damian's cheek. DOUG: Ah! BRIAN: Damian's got dimples on his cheeks. That's where it came from. DOUG: I thought there was a dimple in the old record making process, because you call yourselves discs. I mean, it's, it's a very old fashioned name. Isn't it? Dimple Discs? BRIAN: Yeah. Well Damian came up with it really. And obviously I was absolutely delighted. It's perfect. Perfect. It was perfect. As soon as he said it, I, we were like “has to be”. DOUG: And finally, and it's my standard question. What does being a member of the Irish Diaspora mean to you? BRIAN: Learning. I guess I like to think of myself as a learning person. So my connections with Irish and Anglo-Irish people are that they will always teach me something that can add to the mix of things. It means there's a lot of life to live EXTRACT OF THE SYMPHONIES OF DANNY LA RUE OUTRO MUSIC DOUG (V.O): You’ve been listening to The Plastic Podcasts with me, Doug Devaney and my guest Brian O’Neill. The Plastic Pedestal was provided by Warren Reilly and music by Jack Devaney. Find us at www.plasticpodcasts.com. Email us at [email protected] or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The Plastic Podcasts are supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

Other Episodes

Episode

October 28, 2021 00:50:49
Episode Cover

Tony Frisby - Football and Poetry, Past and Present

Born in Waterford, and having moved to London at the age of 19, along with the rest of his family, Tony Frisby is a poet, raconteur and delight. His latest collection “A Boreen In Waterford” takes us from ancient Irish history to a childhood in Tramore and walks across the Sussex Downs, then back again. Seventh in a selection of six episodes for our fifth series. Plus Jessica Martin raises actor and writer Caroline Cooke onto The Plastic Pedestal ...

Listen

Episode

June 30, 2022 00:56:27
Episode Cover

Warren Reilly: Design, Discovery and a Duchess

Designer Warren Reilly is a rising star in the world of textiles and fashion. A queer, gender-fluid artist of Irish and Afro-Caribbean heritage, his work examines the intersections of identity, taking particular inspiration from the 18th Century. He has been creative director of Fashioning Our History, a headliner for the Queer Georgian Social Season at Burgh House and is currently the curator of the digital exhibition By The Cut Of Our Cloth at The Mixed Museum. He also has strong views in gravy. And as we head towards our second birthday, we return to the first ever Plastic Pedestal - John O' Donoghue on Brian Behan ...

Listen

Episode

August 27, 2020 00:53:00
Episode Cover

Nick Burbridge: Secrets of Family and State

The full plastic with Nick: singer, songwriter, playwright, documentarian and anarchist. It’s a freewheeling, at times hard-hitting, discussion, drawing in music, politics, medical care, home, hearth, family and an old bloke taking a dump on the street. ...

Listen