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Breaking All Boundaries: Republic of Loose

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One miserable Saturday evening back in 2003 while working in my local venue, I saw a bunch of scruffy looking lads stroll in with their gear for their gig that night. I questioned myself for the countless time on why I had chosen bar work. But one sound check, and about a hundred ‘please can I work the back bar tonight boss’s later, I was watching the venue fill as Republic of Loose took to the stage and wordlessly burst into “Kiodin Man”. I was converted, and so will you be if you haven’t seen ‘em yet.

Their songs are laden with catchy, funk filled beats and with more soul that a Marvin Gaye hairpiece, Republic of Loose, or ‘The Loose’ as they are affectingly known as to their fans, are not quite your average Irish band.

Stick any of their LPs into your player, and you’ll find no signs of your typical three-minute spiky guitar pop songs.Instead, funky bass lines, catchy beats and dirty vocal melodies spring forth thumping from your speakers.

And I can image the look of disbelief that crosses your face when you’re told you’re listening to a bunch of Dubliners who “are here to deliver dirty, sleazy, bluesy rock n roll with hip hop ethics”.

Fasting forward three years, award nominations at both the Choice and Meteors Award for second album, ‘Aargh!’ and several mind-blowing performances later at festivals such as ‘T in The Park’, ‘Glastonbury’ and ‘Oxegen’, but Mick Pyro, who looks like he’d rather spend his cash on beer and fags than a razor and a trim, still looks everyway your scruffy mate.

“I’m always as scruffy as fuck, but that’s just me. I mean I like bands that look exciting but to us it’s not that important.” And rightly so, if anything, they have proven that you don’t have to be a cleanly shaved pop outfit dressed in tuxs to achieve fame.

Touring with a three-piece can be draining, but picture touring as a six-man strong band. You’d imagine it would be a

Republic Of Loose

Republic Of Loose

complete bitch. But not Mick, who believes “it takes the pressure off. When its only two or three people it can get kind of intense but when there’s six people, and there’s someone pissing you off, ya can ignore them and go off and talk to someone else”.

After the success of two singles lifted off their second album in 2006, ‘Comeback Girl’ and ‘You Know It’, which were a world apart from the previous album and it’s singles, Republic of Loose quickly found out, like everything else, success also has a downside. Accusations of selling out were loosely thrown around, and their ‘hardcore fans’ began to bitch and moan.

But then again, it didn’t surprise me. We’re a nation famed for resentment and envy of anyone else’s success. Of the overnight success and fame that came to them, he told me that “being recognised by people who think your crap sometimes can get a bit hectic… people giving ya dogs abuse on the street,” but he kinda understand them, saying ‘I’d probably be annoying me myself if some gobshite like me came out trying to sing soul”.

Many of the fans that were around for ‘This is The Tomb of The Juice’ felt ripped off on hearing the singles off their sophomore effort ‘Aargh!’ released on their independent label, Loaded Dice. But this didn’t stop the album debuting in the Irish charts at #2. From what the singles were telling us, gone were the days of Mick Pyro threatening to ‘Fuck You Up’ replaced with the softer grooving undertones of his ‘Comeback’.

Rather than confirming their worst fears by buying the album to really see had the unthinkable happen, to see had ‘The Loose’ actually sold out, many fans just took it for granted that they had. But had they invested, they would of seen that ‘Aargh!’ “Had some of the worst and most controversial language [of Republic of Loose catalogue]. ‘Na Na Na Na Na Na’ is probably some of the most extreme lyrics I’ve ever done”

When asked of his opinion about their fans’ response to their ‘pop songs’ he replied… “I don’t think we were selling out, I think when people listened to the album they realised that, it was just the singles that put people off. I can understand it, especially when you hear a song like ‘Comeback Girl’, its so commercial, I think its too fucking poppy, but at the time we were listening to a lot of pop and R’n’B and that was just the natural progression… I understand why people would be pissed off with the second album and we tried to address that with the third one.”

Republic Of Loose

Republic Of Loose

Apart from alienate their “hardcore fans”, their ‘fucking poppy’ softer side of their music, helped recruit new fans, and at the height of their popularity in 2008, they did a resident stint in The Academy every Friday for a month. Each performance was more mind-blowing and crowded than the last. This residency also saw support coming from other Irish acts such as Jape, The Dirty Epics and Millionaire Boyz.

The release of album number three: ‘Vol IV: Johnny Pyro And The Dance Of Evil’ saw a gang of guest stars appear over the album’s 16 tracks. Guests include Irish folk singer The Mighty Stef, and introduces underground hip-hop group Millionaire Boyz along with appearances from old professionals such as Sinead O’Connor and Isabelle Reyes-Feeney.

This time around on some of their tracks, most notably ‘The Steady Song’ they have effectively thrown out any thoughts of radio play with their questionable lyrical topics. Single ‘Break’, when released in AIDS-ravaged South Africa, caused a major fuss, resulting in the song being banned from its national airwaves due to its lyrical content (an ode to unprotected sex).

One thing’s for certain, not only does Mick Pyro like his moo-sik, he also likes the auld controversy.

New single ‘Awful Cold’ available from 13th March & album Vol. IV Johnny Pyro and The Dance of Evil available now.

See http://www.republicofloose.com for tour dates.

Republic of Loose – You Know It

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