Mexican Pets, from Dublin, released their debut six track EP some time ago and was titled Nobody's Working Title. Four 7" singles followed on Irish independent label blunt. Meanwhile the band were playmaking regular UK visits to great effect, playing there, and in Ireland with everybody from Fugazi and Girls Against Boys to No Means No, Therapy? and Sebadoh. 1996 saw the band play a string of live UK dates together with a summer tour of Germany and Holland coinciding with the release of a twelve track collection, The Voice Of Trucker Youth. Now the band have their latest CD on release Humbucker.
Pat Clafferty is the vocalist and guitarist with the Mexican Pets. I started our conversation by asking where the title came from.
Well, it's a guitar pickup. Les Pauls and Gibsons have them. It seemed to describe the type of music we do.
How did Mexican Pets come to be?
Initially it was a friend of mine Jill Hahn, who has now moved to America, and myself who formed band . We went through various changes of personnel and then we finally settled on four people and we have been the same since for the last 2 years or so.
Lately the kind of music that the band do is losing favour with many of the young people. That's not to say that the music of the Mexican Pets is bad...far from it. So I asked Pat if the band still feel that there is a market for what they do and will that market hold?
I agree with you. It's quite funny really. When you record an album, you tend to put your head down for six months or whatever and get on with it. When you come up to the surface you find that somebody has changed the goalposts and that can happen to a lot of people. But I feel there is a market for everything at the moment, rock and pop or whatever. I do agree with you, like, what was cool when Nirvana were around is not really cool today. Some of that sound died when Kurt Cobain died. Besides you cannot live on the back of somebody else's sound. You've got to do what you believe in.
The band have recently returned from working in Germany. Did they enjoy the experience?
Oh yes!! It was not a career move or anything like that. It was the first time we had done anything like that and it was funny to see four guys in the back of a van and being able to get on with each other in those circumstances.
Next came the usual bland question. Which does Pat prefer, playing live or out on the road???
I prefer the studio!! I'm a perfectionist and I only get to be a perfectionist when we are in the studio. Having said that I never expect to go out on stage and then get the same sound that we can get in studio. The great thing about the studio is that you have so many chances to get it right. We seem to reproduce the studio sound very well on stage and we are very lucky to be able to do that. There are no overdubs or pickups on the CD sound, its all done live to tape, so reproducing that sound is not as difficult on stage as you might think.
What are the influences on Pat?
I like the music of Beck. These days I am listening to a lot of the Beach Boys, in particular the album Pet Sounds and Tom Waits. I love Roxy Music and I love all the British post punk bands.
How do the band see the Irish Music Industry in relation to what the band does?
There is an anomaly between Hot Press and reality for an Irish band. If you get 10 out of 12 for an album review, which we did. However we did not get the same thing in England, so it's Hot Press championing their own. As for the Irish Music Industry --- I don't see an industry. Certainly if you are the Corrs or Boyzone, then there is an industry. Even then I doubt if they are based in Ireland. I don't think that the Government has given enough support to Irish bands over the years. Film makers recently got the BES, section 31. The Irish Music Industry equivalent is probably still on a table somewhere and the bands are moving on. I feel that young bands need support and if it comes from the Government, just the way film industry was supported, then it would be a great help.
How do a band like the Mexican Pets feel about the likes of Boyzone?
Fair play. I have come around to the fact that if you come from this island, to go abroad is a difficult thing, and make it out there and if I meet you I will shake your hand, because it is hard enough without the backbiting and the like. What they do would not be my cup of tea but good for them. The one thing I would say is that Irish radio has not played enough indigenous Irish music. If you are going to give performances royalties to bands they need to be played on the radio, after all it is how they make their living apart from gigging. Every artist depends on radio play to get them known and I think that many radio stations are afraid to play certain artists for fear of losing advertising.
The current single from the Mexican pets is Supermarket, with its gravelly vocals and soaring guitars and harder rhythms and can be found on the new CD Humbucker.
Mexican Pets at the Open Directory Project
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Last updated 29 April 2002
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Interviews from Roddy Cleere's Irish Music Show