The Stars are Underground

**Low budget documentary film in the tradition of John T. Davis’ “Shell Shock Rock” about Dublin DIY/Hardcore scene, released 1996.

Produced and Directed by Daragh McCarthy. Duration 26 mins

Featuring: Mexican Pets, Jubilee All Stars, Ian Mackaye, Andy Cairns, Wormhole, Cruiser, Female Hercules, Tension, Pet Lamb, Luggage and SunBear.

In 2000 Leagues, then presenter/producer of essential alternative music show NoDisco (RTE TV Cork)and the author of the fantastic The Humours of Planxty, wrote a companion piece to the VHS release of Stars…. on Folkrum Records.

It is printed in full below. …………………………….

“In 1996, filmaker Daragh McCarthy directed a documentary inspired by the noises emanating from Dublin’s independent rock scene. At the time, we didn’t know if this urgent groundswell in activity was destined to be just an ephemeral phenomenon or whether it was the foundation for a future infrastructure.
All we knew was that it was some of the best and most pro-active music making in a country other wise smothered by corporate bandwagoneering and post-U2 tail-chasing. The Stars We Are Ibiza Underground was, quite simply a film crying out to be made. In retrospect, it has become a prescient foretaste of the depth of fine music being made in Ireland, four years later.

Stars… is a film about dreamers, visionaries, wannabe Warhols and shoe-string svengalis. A film about punk-rock, country outlaws, decadent discordance and slack jaw stoners. It’s about people relearning the DIY process and starting to get it right. Releasing their own records, making their own videos, designing their own sleeves, organising their own events and basically doing the complete opposite to those who so willingly bowed down to the industry before them.

But this documentary doesn’t wallow in underground romance. It details with the day-to-day hands-on banalities of being in a band, the lure of the corporate dollar and the struggle to be heard. The music ranges from brash and formative excorcisms of anger, to sophisticated, aspirational creations, to probing, vehement experimentation. Jubliee All Stars’ initial releases on their own Hi-Tone label and Dead Elvis, sound as fantastic as the first time they shambled revolutions round your record player. As does Wormhole’s low-slung primitive hypnosis and Luggage’s muffled and debonair series of Eps on Blunt Records. And Female Hercules and Bambi and the Great Western Squares and Pet Lamb and The Idiots and Mexican Pets.

Some of them have gone, some still here, in one form or another. Label owners and media-mouths such as Colm O’Callaghan, Dan Oggly and Eamonn Crudden have their say too, discussing the naivete that fuels these records, and questioning the magnitude of the independent structure.

International figures such as Therapy’s Andy Cairns and Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye express words of wisdom and, well, words of simple enthusiasm.
The latter warns us not to expect to make any money in this industry. But what’s probably most satisfying about The Stars Are Underground is how the artists themselves define this whole time with a sense of community. It’s almost politically incorrect to use the word “scene” these days, but whatever it was , this time and place, it was where connections were made that ring true to this day. The year 2000 has already seen several great Irish records, and all going according to plan, 2001 will be better again. The roots lie here in this film, and for those aware or interested in these facts, this is essential viewing.

A low-budget film about a low-budget scene. It won’t be forgotten quickly.”

Leagues October 2000

Via The Wormholes

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