Thursday, February 18, 2010

Niall Quinn of The Hitchers reinvents himself as Theme Tune Boy

THE CHAMELEON-like Niall Quinn, former drummer with The Hitchers and late of local rock band The Pennywhores, has re-invented himself again, returning to Irish stages as frontman with his “Theme Tune Boy” moniker. The Hitchers, arguably one of the finest bands to emerge from the Limerick music scene, celebrated the 20th anniversary of their formation with their annual Christmas gig last December, a gig the punk-rock foursome have played every year since they formally disbanded in 2001.
From their beginnings playing a gig as a raw band in Limerick Youth Service in 1989, the band went on to bigger and better things; debut album 'It's All Fun and Games ‘Till Someone Loses an Eye' got rave reviews and was hailed by NME as “a work of lyrical genius”, while debut UK release 'Killed It With My Bare Hands' was heralded by BBC1 DJ John Peel, who continued to play the Limerick band’s single ‘Strachan’ right up until his untimely death.
This was the original Limerick rock group, formed as the Hogan brothers and Mr Lawler also started getting their act together and auditioned one Ms O’Riordan, but they decided to call it a day in 2001.
However, the band released a single, Austin Cusack, to coincide with their Christmas gig, and thinking about it now, Quinn says “if we had taken a longer look at it, we probably wouldn't have split up at all”.
“When we broke up we were of the opinion that it was not going to be practical to run this band, but nowadays with the internet and so on, I can record here, Andy (Gallagher) can record in France, Hoss (Carnage) can record in Dublin and we bring it all together.
It is possible we will do something again, I'd love to do something again, but it depends on what humour they are in when I meet up with them this week,” laughs Niall.
Looking back, the amusing Quinn clearly has fond memories of his time with The Hitchers, who also included Eric Fitzgerald.
“We had some great craic with it. In some ways I feel a bit like Johnny Giles about it, looking back on the Irish teams of the 60s and 70s - we had the players, but just didn't get the bounce of the ball, dodgy refs or whatever,” he laughs.
His former band aside, Quinn has re-invented himself with the moniker of Theme Tune Boy, enlisting the help of Dutch punk legends Cooper to fill the void of his former bandmates. The moniker was a necessary one, for obvious reasons.
“I have been working on a record under that name,” says Quinn, “I needed something else to go as, because if you do a Google search for Niall Quinn, the first 20 pages don't pertain to me at all. Even after the soccer player, there is a playwright called Niall Quinn, a racing driver and a singer songwriter from London as well,” he laughs.
The involvement of the Dutch punk band has “taken me out of my comfort zone”, he explains.
“I was going to do it all myself, because I am a bit of a jack of all, master of none when it comes to instruments, but a few mates of mine, including Cooper, heard the demos and were in the humour to help out. I am very happy with it.
To a degree you kind of have to give them the ball and let them run with it, which I found very threatening initially but now I am settling into it. It is comfortable and exciting that somebody else is taking a producer and arranger role on the thing, and you just have to roll with it a little bit.”
The first single from Quinn’s new solo offering was the short, frenetic burst called ‘Rose’, which clocked in at a mere 53-seconds, but was typically high-octane. The debut Theme Tune Boy album will be The Return of the Living Dead, but don’t expect Quinn to conform to anything resembling fashionable music.
“It is just me writing songs, there has never been a ten year plan. I just write and I am too long in the tooth to be trying to follow anything fashionable, so what is written is written basically,” he laughs.
The singer-former drummer will have his work cut out for him this Saturday night - and fans of the Hitchers should take note; not only will Niall Quinn take to the stage as Theme Tune Boy, his old bandmates will also regroup for the gig, and will be joined on the night by Cooper themselves. The Hitchers, Theme Tune Boy and Cooper play in Baker Place this Saturday night.

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