Hot Press - December 10 1998

It’s bad behaviour and combustible substances ahoy, as Olaf Tyaransen joins the Mary Janes on a magical mystery tour. Compromising pix: Peter Mathews

1. “Which one of you gentlemen owns this bag?”

The sight that greeted myself and Mary Janes singer Mic Christopher as we passed wearily but bleeplessly through the metal detector at the entrance to the Departures lounge wasn’t promising. Having decided that, given our rather shambolic and worse for wear state, walking through Customs en masse probably wasn’t a very good idea, our group had split into three separate couples in the hope that at least some of us could make it onto the plane home to Dublin without the hassle and indignity of being searched. Drummer Mark Stanley and bassist Karl Odlum had gone first. Two minutes later, guitarist Simon Good and Hot Press photographer Peter Matthews followed them through.

Oblivious to the final boarding call, Mic and I had remained at the bar, sharing a shaky pint of ice-cold cider bought with our last few sterling coins and trying desperately to pull ourselves together. Once we felt capable of making the short walk through to Departures we rose from our chairs and promptly fell back into them again. This standing business was harder than it looked.

“Just leave me here,” Mic groaned, rubbing the sweat from his brow. “There’s no fucking way I can get onto that plane.”

“Fuck you pal,” I hissed. “I need you to lean against.”

The singer closed his eyes, presumably in the hope that I would just disappear and leave him there to die. I wasn’t having any of it however. Drawing on my last reserves of strength, I reached over the table and hauled him out of the chair. The moment he was upright he began falling over again. I quickly grabbed him, as much to preserve my own balance as to save him from landing in the ashtray on his leather clad ass. We sort of waltzed away from the table in that embrace, like a drunken couple doing a slow dance at a GAA function. Anybody observing us would have presumed that this was a particularly emotional airport farewell. In fact, at that particular moment, we needed each other the way a tightrope walker needs a tightrope.

“Get it together,” I whispered into his ear.

“I think I’m going to be sick,” he whispered back.

“Jesus!” I pulled away from him immediately.

Luckily, by then some kind of adrenal autopilot had kicked in for both of us and together we sort of glided through the terminal and towards Customs.

Mick saw it first. “Oh shit!” I heard him mutter as he passed through the metal detector.

I peered over his shoulder and almost started to giggle. Busted! Our cunning plan had failed. Peter Matthews was looking glumly on as a particularly anal looking Customs officer dismantled his camera and searched through his equipment. To his left, the other three members of the Mary Janes were lined up against the wall having their crotches felt. Of the two hundred or so passengers getting on our plane, the eagle-eyed security had picked our group out with uncanny accuracy. Well, maybe it wasn’t all that uncanny. Collectively we wore the baggy-eyed demeanours of a group of men who had spent the previous night taking various illegal substances, partying and generally behaving badly, mainly because we had spent the previous night taking various illegal substances, partying and generally behaving badly.

For one wonderful moment I thought that we’d get away with it. That through some cosmicly ironic twist Mic and I – the two most badly behaved of the whole bunch – would be the only ones who didn’t get searched. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. A female officer motioned us over.

Suddenly a question occurred to me. “What did you do with that big lump of hash?” I hissed at Mick’s back as we walked over to the table.

“It’s in your bag,” he replied.


The Customs officer smiled coldly at us and held my briefcase up: “Which one of you gentlemen owns this bag?”

Mic pointed at me. “It’s his,” he said.

And that’s all I’m prepared to tell you about that particular incident. Aside from the fact that the plane was a little late taking off.

2. Something Different

I had been asked to interview The Mary Janes on the occasion of their just-released second album Sham. To be honest, the idea didn’t really appeal to me at all. It’s not that I dislike the band or anything, just that the thought of yet another uninspiring encounter with yet another Dublin band on their home turf wasn’t exactly getting my creative juices flowing.

Occasionally, you reach a point in this job where you don’t really see the point in this job. I explained this to Mark Stanley when he rang to arrange a time and a place. He seemed pleased when I said I wanted to do something different.

But not as pleased as I was when he took me aside backstage at their Whelan’s album launch and said, “we’re taking you away tomorrow. You won’t need any money, just bring your passport.”

“Where are we going?” I asked.

“Away,” he smiled.

So did I.

3. A Brief History Of The Mary Janes

Although they’re only two albums old, the band have been around since the beginning of the ’90s. Their first few years of existence were spent building up a reputation as a fearsome and hard gigging live act, playing an average of 300 shows a year back when dance was still underground and gigs were plentiful. Fronted by the then-dreadlocked (and often seated) Mic Christopher, the band distinguished themselves by being the only rock act in the country without a drummer. Their debut album, Bored of Their Laughing, was released, critically acclaimed and promptly forgotten about back in 1994.

Mark Stanley, an Australian, joined the group in 1995. The addition of a drummer changed the band’s sound completely – moving it on from fairly straightforward folk rock onto a madly electric fusion of hip-hop, folk, dance samples and hard rock and, in the process, giving Christopher’s eccentric, tortured and occasionally warped ballads a solid backbeat backbone as well as a heart and a soul. The Robin Evans co-produced Sham has just been released on their own Loza Records label, to mixed but generally positive reviews. Personally I feel it’s more of a fan item than a genuine classic. But I also know that this is a band who some day very soon are going to produce something really special – an Irish OK Computer or something.


4. Knock & Roll

“Where the fuck are we going?”

At 10 o’clock (10 o’clock!) the following morning the band picked me up from my home in Simon’s white transit van, grinning like particularly stoned Cheshire cats and still resolutely refusing to tell me where this proposed magical Mary Jane mystery tour would be taking us. The back of the van was still loaded with the previous night’s lighting rig and with the windows blacked out and the equipment all around me, I couldn’t see out the window. When we picked Peter Matthews up, he was as ignorant as I was. Every time we asked a band member where we were going, they’d just smile and say, ‘you’ll see’.

“Bet we’re going to London,” I whispered to Peter, who nodded his agreement.

As it happens I was right. But I didn’t actually know for sure until we were actually at the gate (Mark having somehow convinced the airport security to assist him in keeping me in the dark). In the meantime, much fun was had teasing me about flights to Knock.

“You’re not serious,” I said, my stomach suddenly tightening into knots.

“Ah come on, man, you said you wanted to do something different,” Mic smiled with a devilishly evil grin. “How many rock bands would think of taking you to Knock?”

“None who know me,” I replied. I was seriously worried. Maybe I’d misjudged their sense of humour. Maybe they’d misjudged mine. Fortunately, even though the joke eventually sees us queuing at the Knock gate for several minutes, Mark finally hands me a boarding pass for the London flight at the next gate. Just as well really. If he’d handed me a ticket to Knock I would’ve gone back home.

5. Flashback!

As it happens, I’ve been to London with the Mary Janes before. Four years ago I used to manage a band called the Far Canals who, along with the MJ’s, were signed to Hunter S. Records. Both acts played an Irish night (alongside a very young Ash) in the Powerhouse in November 1994. Both acts also partied so heavily on the night that the record company weren’t at all pleased.

“I remember that night,” Simon smiled, when I mentioned it.

So do I. But it’s a completely different story.

5. “We’re Going To Cut Your Fucking Hands Off!”

The party started in mid-air. Well, actually it started at the bar in Dublin airport but it really got going at 30,000 feet. Mark had bought a bottle of vodka and a bottle of Baileys in Duty Free and had begun liberally dispensing bottle-cap cocktails before we even took off. By the time the seven towers had disappeared beneath us we were all well on our way in every sense of the word. All of us except for Karl, that is, whose fear of flying had turned his face green.

“Karl – do you want a drink?” Mark kept asking from the seat ahead, leaning back and waving a bottle-cap of vodka under the airsick bassist’s nose.

“If you do that once more I’m leaving the band,” Karl groaned.

Talk turned to Ian Brown’s recent arrest and subsequent conviction for abusing an air-hostess. Every time a trolley-dolly passed us, we emitted a quiet chorus of “we’re gonna cut your fucking hands off”. Fortunately, they never heard us.

We were drunk but we weren’t that drunk. Not at that stage anyway.

6. Bosnia

A number of the tracks on Sham – the stunning ‘Queen Of Hearts’ in particular – were influenced by the Mary Janes trip to Bosnia in 1997. In October of last year, the band (minus Karl whose fear of flying prohibited him from making the trip) embarked on a visit to Mostar Square for a series of free gigs in support of Brian Eno’s Warchild charity.

“Mick and I went there for ten days last September,” Mark explained. “We went to scout the place out and make sure that we weren’t doing something completely foolish and make sure that it was actually safe. We went there to have a great time and to hope that our great time would rub off and influence people that had had a really bad time, something that we could never imagine. So we went there and had a fucking great laugh and they joined in and that made Bosnia worth it.

“We did a great gig. We did a large gig. We did the biggest gig of our lives. 3,000 people came of their own accord and it was really important for us to be able to play, because some of these people . . . I remember sitting in rooms full of people having drinks and telling stories about where we come from and them telling stories about what they’d been through and just thinking you’re a human being and you’ve experienced something I could never fathom. This is too heavy for people. You can’t sit down and try and make them explain it. It just sounds like some Jeremy Bowen documentary on CNN or something like that.

“So I think Bosnia was the actual foundation for the album in a spiritual sense and I use that word very carefully,” he continued with a smile. “I think we learned a lot as people in Bosnia. You know, our problem wasn’t musical. We didn’t not have the songs. We didn’t not know how to play them. We didn’t even not have new ideas. We had all the ingredients. But at the same time, before we went there a lot of things had gone wrong for us and we were probably at our lowest ebb. And Bosnia really refuelled us. There was no way we would have had the energy to go out and get the finance to make this album and to spend three, four weeks at a time in a studio to make it without that. Personally it did an awful lot for me.”

Having said that, the band’s trip was greeted with sneers in some quarters, with certain cynical journalists and bitchy musicians accusing them of holidaying in other people’s misery and attempting to ride in the slipstream of bigger Warchild bands like U2. It’s something that Mic and Mark have actually discussed with Bono (when he first arrived in Ireland, Mark used to work in The Kitchen nightclub where he got to know the U2 singer).

“I can’t really imagine what it feels like when the media kicks up about it. I mean, we had some silly comments but bigger bands really got some stick. I’ll give you an example. The classic example is the day after U2 played Sarajevo the headline in The Evening Herald was ‘U2’s CHARITY GIG IN SARAJEVO ONLY RAISED £8,000’. And we all sat there and thought ‘wow, we did Warchild and it raised £2,500 and they’re the biggest band in the world, how can that be?’

“But I think people missed the point. They thought they were going there to take money off the Bosnians. It wasn’t a charity gig, it was a free gig and they needed to cover their costs and if there was any excess money left over from that they gave it back. They could have used it to refuel the jet, whatever. That’s an extreme. And with us we kind of announced, not so largely, but we announced we’re going to Bosnia, this is our agenda, we’ve brought it into public light to do the gig purely so we could get some money for Bosnia. We gave that money to Warchild. We raised the money to go to Bosnia ourselves.

“We almost feel a bit scared to talk about it now because people think still . . . We sat down with a journalist the other night and she said ‘So, how much of Bosnia was an actual sham? This is what we’re told’. And I was so insulted. We’d bankrupted ourselves to go to Bosnia, do you know what I mean? We could have made an album with a budget of £25,000 if we hadn’t gone to Bosnia.”

7. Drum On Bass (Mark on Karl)

“Why didn’t Karl go to Bosnia? Scared of the flight, scared of the country, scared of the towns. He’s probably one of the most intelligent human beings you’ve ever met in your life, and because his brain works the way it works, he overthinks things. He analyses things. And he’s scared to be on a plane because if the plane crashes . . . but he still smokes 20 fags a day, you know. Karl actually did a lot of research on the Internet. Karl played a really active part of putting the whole Bosnia thing together. Fair dues to him. And even after we were in Bosnia he still assisted us. Karl was going through a thing that only Karl could explain. We don’t resent him for it and like I said to you last night, I wouldn’t have made this album without him. He’s the best bass player in this country as far as I’m concerned. We actually met a bass player the other night in the Mean Fiddler who will remain unknown (Adam! – O.T.) who said that very thing to us, and he’s a bass player for quite a well-known band.”

8. London Hotel Room

Our first five or six hours in London were spent in the hotel room – talking, drinking, smoking. There was no real reason for us to be there, the band didn’t have a gig or anything. “We just thought it’d be fun to take you somewhere different to do the interview,” Simon explained. “If we’d had more time to organise it, we would’ve brought you to Amsterdam.”

“The idea of taking you to London wasn’t to try and get a massive story for Hot Press,” said Mark. “The idea was to demonstrate that we like to try and do things that people don’t normally bother doing. Like our gig in Whelan’s last night. People don’t usually bother putting a lot of effort into making rooms look like they’re not real any more. We wrapped the place in tinfoil. Most bands wouldn’t bother their arses. It’s just not important to them. It’s not a big enough venue and it’s not a big enough deal. But to us, if we’re going to have 300 people in a room, we want them to see an event, not just another gig.”

We actually attempted to begin the interview in the hotel. I began jumping up and down on my bed and throwing freeform questions out. It didn’t actually work. But I hadn’t jumped on a bed like that since I was six(teen).

9. What’s In A Name?

“So why did you call the album Sham?” I asked the room.

“Because it is a fucking sham!” Mark snarled. “The whole thing is a fucking sham. The music business is a sham. It’s a load of bollocks. We’re supposed to be four guys who get together and play music, play songs and it’s great fun. And then your friends come and listen to your songs and they jump around and you get drunk and that’s the foundation of the music. And all of a sudden it’s a political business, where you have to do this, you have to look like this, you have to sound like this. And it’s really hard because we’re trying to do all the right things as well as trying to be true to ourselves and you sometimes get a bit lost. Maybe that’s why we haven’t got a record deal. Maybe we need to be a proper band. That’s my opinion. Mic and Karl and Simon may differ. But I think it is a fucking sham.”

Mic and Karl and Simon didn’t really differ.

10. Mic’s Hair

Up until a couple of years ago Mic Christopher used to have dreadlocks down to his waist. Nowadays he looks more like a raver. “I told everybody I was going to do it for ages,” he said, running his hand through his hair. “Years I’ve been building up to doing it. Then I went to India and I told everybody I was going to do and then I kind of had to.”

His dreadlocks often resulted in people who hadn’t actually heard the Mary Janes live tagging the band as crusties. In fact, the dreads were more to do with Mics association with the Hare Krishnas than any kind of fashion statement. “I wasn’t officially in the Hares. Like I didn’t shave off my hair. I worked in the restaurant and stuff. I was just there all the time basically.”

How did you become involved?

“I got involved with them when we were buskers. We used to do what they call paranam in the street. I don’t think they’re allowed do it anymore, but they used to give out sweets free. That’s how we met them first. They used to put piles of sweets in our case when we were busking. We became friends with some of them. There was a guy called Prita. Prita was a big German geezer. He brought the movement to Ireland. He was about 50, or something like that. Basically in the ’60s he played in all these acid rock bands in the States and he’d supposedly taken 15,000 trips and mescaline and he had a lot to say. We were all quite young and basically they make incredible food which gets to you straightaway (laughs).

And we’d go there and we’d sing and you basically come out of this place and I’ve never experienced a drug that has the same high as dancing and singing and doing that thing. At the festival at Glastonbury I just couldn’t believe the effect they had. There were fellas dying of heart attacks from jumping around so much. It’s amazing. I was with them for quite a while and after I went to India I’d kind of done the thing that most people who are with them want to do. It kind of changed my whole opinion.”

What is that thing?

“Get to India. Get to where Krishna was born. But once I’d done it I kind of looked at it in a completely different way. I came back and just stopped going.”

So what’s your feeling on religion now?

“It’s completely the opposite to what it was then. I don’t actually think about it ever, now. But I’d say I’d be more of the opinion now that there’s no God.”

11. Simon Says

“The gigging scene in Ireland isn’t as good as it used to be but it’s getting better again. Even certain clubs are really starting to make an effort again – places like Powderbubble and Lovetrain. Those are things where people are making a real effort to entertain instead of just trying to suck ten quid out of people for no good reason. That’s what we’re into. We’re probably one of the smaller bands in the country. We’re not fooling ourselves. We know exactly what we are and what we’re about. But if someone’s gonna pay six quid in to see us, we want them to remember it. Because it’s fun for us as well.”

12. Astoria

We arrived at the Astoria sometime after 11 PM. “This is gonna blow your mind!” Mark enthused. I looked up at the sign. There were two clubs on – ‘Camp Attack’ and ‘The Gay Capitaine’. “Er, right,” I said. Admission to Camp Attack came free through an old friend of Mic’s – some strange toothless thirtysomething creature in a tartan skirt. The club turned out to be a ’70s revival night.

Out of politeness, Peter and I decided not to mention that we had actually covered a similar night – the Brutus Gold Lovetrain – in Dublin just a couple of weeks before. “Bring back any memories,” he smiled as we surveyed the medallion encrusted crowd. Still, a good time was had by all anyway.

13. The Gospel According To Mark

Mark Stanley is the most obviously committed member of the band. Certainly he’s the one who takes all the reality responsibilities for our London trip. At times I felt sorry for him. We were all getting shitfaced drunk and high as kites while he was out sorting taxis and so on. Maybe that’s why he came across as the most passionate and ambitious member of the band – everybody else was too out of it to talk properly.

“I heard a criticism of Mic once in a musical capacity that I agreed with at the time but now understand completely differently,” he told me. “Mic needs to celebrate the songs more. In other words, Mic needs to climb the PA stack and jump into the crowd. But my understanding of Mic now after talking to him at great length is that he does celebrate the fucking songs. He celebrates his arse off but he celebrates on the inside. We’re not a visually boring band. Mic sings with passion. Simon plays with passion and so does Karl. That doesn’t make for a boring gig. I’ve paid £22 into The Point to see really boring shit in my time.

“But I said this to you last night. I’ll stand on any fucking stage next to anyone who wants to proclaim themselves. We’re not gonna start proclaiming ourselves as the biggest band in the world but what I will say is that if there was ever a situation where Radiohead, The Verve, U2 and The Mary Janes could all stand on a stage and play a song each, I’d take that challenge. Maybe that sounds ridiculous but basically the bottom line is that we’ve got a lot of passion for what we do.”

14. He Is Evil Homer

Around ten drinks past midnight, we found ourselves somewhere deep in the neon-lit heart of central London, just floating around with no particular plan of action. Mark and I were discussing how much Piccadilly Circus resembled a scene from Wim Wender’s Until The End Of The World. Peter and Karl were looking for a cab. Meanwhile, Mic Christopher was out jaywalking, a skinny figure in leather pants weaving his way in and out of the late night traffic. When we eventually went to rescue him, we found that he was chanting a mantra to himself.

“I am evil Homer, I am evil Homer, I am evil Homer, I am evil . . .”

I only tell you this to demonstrate just how far down the road of excess we had travelled at that stage.

15. Where Will The Band Be In Two Years Time?

Mark: “That’s a tough one! Much larger venues, much bigger crowds. That’s where I see it but really I’ve no idea. I’d just like to be doing things on a bigger scale. We’re good at that. We’re good at concocting parties and having a laugh basically. But so long as we’re still connecting with people and entertaining them, I don’t really care. Obviously making more money would be nice too but it’s not our main concern.”

16. Licking Windows

Naturally we were late getting it together for the airport the following afternoon (substances to polish off and all that). By the time we found a cab big enough to carry us all, we should already have been checked in. As the car belted along the London Orbital, I suddenly realised how thirsty I was. I needed water badly.

“Sorry mate – if you want to catch the plane I can’t pull off the road,” the driver explained.

“Uhhh. . .” I replied.

It wasn’t funny. My throat was as dry as an elderly nun’s crotch. I was completely parched. I thought I was going to die. There was only one thing for it. I leaned my face against the window and attempted to lick the condensation off it. Simon watched me with great amusement for about three minutes.

Then he said, “Would you like some of my water?”


17. A Last Word On The Album (Leeson Street, Dublin)

Mark: “There’s a lot of material on this album that’s been around for quite a while. In some respects it’s clearing things out and putting it to bed. But I think it puts us at a very exciting stage. You know, we’ve struck a nice medium with this one. I guess it’s kind of a balance. You said it yourself last night – maybe it’s not necessarily the album that’s going to change our lives, but it’s a good step, it’s a good productive step and I think it will show people what we’re capable of doing. We have a sense of pride about it. And while we’re still not sure what’s coming next, Sham is going to be the springboard. So watch this space!”

Olaf Tyaransen


Sorted Magazine - December 1997

The Mary Janes - on Warchild and copyright laws

They've lost their bass player, are being sued by an American company for copyright on their name, but the Mary Janes are still contented because they're on their way to Bosnia again.

The Mary Janes have found a new focus for their lives, and it involves helping re-unite the West and East sides of Mostar, a city smack bang in the middle of the formerly war-torn but still war-weary Yugoslavia.

Lending their name to the 'Warchild' cause, the Mary Janes will find themselves setting flight on a cheap ticket with Croatian air-lines, and 10,000 pounds worth of kiddies Doc Martens in tow.

SORTED magAZine caught up with Mick Christopher and Mark Stanley before they set off.

"We've had some internal conflict, and we've been left with no bass player", says Mick. "But I don't see that as really being a problem", says Mark.

"As well as that we're being threatened with a major law suit over our name by an American company. We are going to sit down until they decide to fuck us and we will change our name then, maybe to something like the Artists formerly known as the Mary Janes", or AFKATMJ as they would surely be known.

"But then again we might change our name to Sham because that's what the music industry is, a total sham".

They're not totally distraught by the threats and the losses though. "With Warchild, all of a sudden playing a gig in Whelan's doesn't matter anymore," says Mark.

"We've been needing some inspiration and we have found the place to get it. It's a great opportunity for us to have a bit of fun."

"We've already helped pave the way for a lot of bands to do this," says Mick.

"It may seem really egotistical, but we have done more for Warchild in four days with a handicam than Warchild have done with a massive budget, and a team of staff in two or three years. They've even said so. We're just doing our bit to help both sides get together," says Mark.

The plan at present for the Mary Janes is to play a massive gig in a new music centre in Mostar. They're hoping to get a band from both sides of the city to play with them - the only thing the two sides are presently united in, is their mutual hatred of each other.

The project is funded by luminaries like Pavarotti, and Brian Eno, with whom the Mary Janes share a common belief in the power of music to unite.

"The function of the project is music therapy for children that have been through the war. Warchild does classes with the children to teach them a million different things. Our free open air concert will just be part of the effort," says Mick.

"Nobody's interested in Bosnia, not even the U.N. forces that are there. In ten years you couldn't count the number of bullet-holes in the city, buildings don't have windows let alone rooves, but Mostar is still a beautiful city, it's got a great spirit," says Mark.

The two are also hoping to put together some kind of documentary for Irish television on their experiences over there. No Disco have already said they're interested, as well as another Irish programme, the name of which escapes them.

Summing up, singer Mick Christopher puts it: "The whole thing out there changes your whole focus, it's great for us because we're getting away from being just another band. You realise that there's more than just playing music."

Ken Foxe Interview

Today Dublin, tomorrow Bosnia. Cat Hughes finds out what The Mary Janes were doing out there.

They sure don't seem like peacekeeping types to me. The Mary Janes' Mic (vocals/guitar) and Mark (drums) are nursing sore heads and in desperate need of sleep following their late-night video shoot. Still, they manage to fit more words into a minute than anyone I've ever met.

It's hard to believe that these are the boys who've been slated by some of the press for taking themselves too seriously simply because they went to Bosnia. As Mark explains, "A lot of people really like to think that we felt we could change the situation, have them all live in harmony again. But we went there 'cos we're a pack of mad bastards who like to have fun, and that's exactly what we did when we got there." "We got them all drunk," adds Mic, with a chuckle. "That's about as heavy as it gets".

The band were working with Brian Eno's War Child charity, helping to build a new recording studio and doing what The Mary Janes do best, entertaining the people. Mark puts it simply, "People donated their hands for labour, their brains for ideas, their spirits for support - we went out there and donated fun for fun!"

Watching these lads struggle to keep things together as they sup on their hang-over remedies of cider and gin, it's difficult to imagine that they could be thought of as anything other than the loveable pop urchins they are. But in many places, opinions seem to be divided. The band have either undertaken a Superman-style world-saving mission, or they're a cynical bunch of chancers, hell bent on self-promotion and saving a few pound. But as one of Mic's many random anecdotes goes, their motives couldn't have been simpler.

"We had this concert on the last day, and all these people flew into Bosnia, like Bono, Pavarotti - different rock stars from all over. For the two weeks we'd been planning it, everyone told us not to do it 'cos it's a perfect position for snipers. You could plant a hundred snipers in the place and no one would have seen any of them. It's an ex-war zone so the whole place is swarming with UN and S4. All of these people driving around in tanks, soldiers with guns, and we asked them all to do security, and none of them would. As soon as people started arriving on the day, all the police just left. So basically, the only security that Pavarotti and his cohorts had was us, the band. We did the gig and when we came off, we did security. I don't know how much of a sham that is, putting yourself up against a sniper and doing a gig where you could've been shot in a second for nothing except to have fun."

Back from their Bosnian adventures, The Mary Janes have just released their second album. "SHAM" is packed with giant rock tunes and sweet acoustic numbers and is easily one of the most important Irish releases in years. And from Mic's account, it seems as though they've learned a thing or two from their experiences. "It's our attempt at not being the musical wankers we were on the first record! This time around, we just did what we wanted and tried to have a giggle. That's all that matters. That's why I want to play music, so I can have fun and other people can have fun listening to it".

"SHAM" is out now on Loza Records. - Bosnia

"We went out to Bosnia for six weeks or so, to work with this charity Warchild, with Pavarotti and those kind of people. I spent six weeks working with kids, they do music therapy and art therapy. And then we put on this concert, there was this big official day on the 21st of December of that year, it was a big thing, this big building was being opened. All these people were coming like Pavarotti and Bono and Brian Eno were guests for it, they were all involved in it. So we put on a concert that day in the middle of this big square with us and Dodgy from England and then some local bands, bands that hadn't been to a concert basically because of the war, hadn't been to a concert like this since before the war. So we did it for that and to bring bands of "opposing" sides together, it was good."