ELEMENTS IN the employ of CBS Records
seem keen to inform the press ranks that
the Shillelagh Sisters met in a toilet. A
gentlemen's toilet. Personally, I feel
this not to be wholly significant and
amusing to an even lesser degree. Still,
such is the stuff of legends...
was at a party. There was a queue a mile
long outside the gals and there was
no one in the blokes' so we went in
there. We knew each other before that but
that was the first time we'd discussed a
rather I see.
debate occurred just prior to Christmas
1983. Trisha (vocs), Jacqui (sax), Mitzi
(drums) and Lynder (double bass; stricken
with a raging virus on the day of our
meeting and consequently absent) became
the Shillelagh Sisters.
more recently they appeared on TVs The
Tube. A brief but courageous
shambles which, I guess, woke up a few of
the countless millions into breathless
living room shimmying.
I stumbled out to see them at Camden's
salubrious Irish Centre. A packed floor,
a busy bar and the Shillelagh Sisters
were a joy. All eight of them.
It was a
slight shock soon after to find them
contractually obliged to CBS and a little
boring to witness the predictable,
cynical lumping of the cuties into the
cowpoke and hay bale camp.
Big Company and reek strongly of
Opportunism and Hype.
"One of the secretaries at CBS came
to see us just for a night out I think,
and told somebody in A&R there about
us. Four weeks later, at the end of
November, they had the contracts drawn
up. It was the best deal, there were
all this major label interest surprising?
"Yeah, we couldn't really understand
it. We had a lot of press all of a sudden
and it was when people started ringing up
to get on the guest list we realised
there must be something going on."
you think the collected A&R
departments saw in you?
"The 'girl aspect must have
had a lot to do with it. People thought
ha, Ive gotta see this girl
band'. A lot of people on the rocking
circuit thought girls playing rock and
roll would be good for a laugh.
get lumped in with Pogue Mahone (now
re-named The Pogues) and the Boot Hill
Foot Tappers and we don't play anything
like them at all. Maybe we wear cowboy
shirts sometimes. But people lump us in
with Yip Yip Coyote, I've heard their
single and it don't sound like country to
"Yip Yip Coyote are like Bow Wow
Wow. We've played with Pogue Mahone and
the Boot Hills before and it's the same
sort of crowd who go to see the different
bands. Except for Yip Yip Coyote who seem
to be... apart."
"We wouldn't want to classify
ourselves as a hillbilly band or anything
like that because we all like different
types of music. Our single is different
from the rest of our stuff and we've got
a Latin American song so..."
"What we're playing at the moment,
is traditional rockabilly but the new
numbers aren't really as rocking. They're
rockabilly, soully, country and a bit of
fussy over 'product', CBS nixed the
original recording of the debut single,
the assertive throb-abilly (with
trumpets!) of 'Give Me My Freedom',
demanding the thing be re-done with a
different producer. Its easy to
wonder why and speculate on company
desire for a 'just so' acceptably
(cowish) pat sound.
"They weren't sure of it, that's
"Because the whole company wasn't
saying 'ah, this is a wonderful
"People seem to be waiting to say
'they can't play' and they don't think of
the production being separate but, in
fact, it is."
"The song's brilliant but they
werent sure of the production on
it. Whether it was what they wanted it to
London, the Shillelagh Sisters attract a
regular coterie which turns their gigs
into the rave-ups which make for such
pleasurable occasions. Are they possessed
of sufficient zap (a vital ingredient) to
counter the missing friends and
positively sway potentially doubting
"Since The Tube a wider
crowd has come to see us, out of
"We're getting itchy to go outside
London, we get bored with the same clubs.
We get accused of holding parties on
stage because we have such fun people
want to get up and join in. At Dingwalls
we invited a low people up and the whole
of the audience got on stage."
"We invite people up to play
washboard if they're brave enough."
"I'm the drummer so I play at the
back. I looked up and there was about six
people right in front of me dancing.
Amazing, all I can see is their
"it's not really music to sit down
and concentrate on. It's... mindless, I
"If we have any trouble at gigs we
handle it quite well. A kick up the
backside and they soon behave."