This year's Dublin ABSOLUTE Fringe Festival 2012 kicked off this week and JOE had a chat with a lad called Ronan Leonard ahead of his hilarious new show.
JOE: What is your show ‘1 GUY, 2 WORLD CUPS’ all about?
Ronan Leonard: Immediately, it's not about soccer, it's about the songs released to support the Irish soccer team for the World Cups in ‘90 & ‘94. If I could turn back time (as Cher sang about…) I'd give it a more accessible name!
It's about a music nerd - that’s me - deconstructing songs and finding fun in them, not making fun of them, and generally entertaining people. I take the songs that were released in Ireland for World Cup ‘90 and ‘94, and entertain people with my findings.
I will show you how Apple, Nokia & Skype stole their ringtones from our songs; how Tony Cascarino will be a future Ireland manager and how Paul McGrath is a terrible rapper…
JOE: Sounds interesting alright… So what gave you the idea to write a show about the various footie tunes most of us would remember from our childhood/early teens.
R.L.: Honestly? For my 30th birthday I made a 'megamix' of world cup songs from 1990 & 1994… and by God it was the best dancing I've seen my closest friends ever do, including their first dances with their wives.
I listened to that playlist a lot, be it housecleaning or strutting around town, and over time funny ideas came to me about what I was listening to. I didn't think other people would find my ideas funny, but then I did the show a few times and honestly, it's across-the-board positivity. I don't want to make this a gender thing, as in "even girls like it" which is such a reductive thing to say, but if you bring your girlfriend to see it, then she'll enjoy my show more than you enjoyed what ever bullshit movie she made you go to. Fact!
JOE: Haha, brilliant. So how has music changed in sport over the past 20 years? Is it easier to get a song out there thanks to social media? Or do you think social media makes it harder to get recognised? Take the Euro’s for example…
R.L.: That's an interesting question, I was 12-years-old twenty years ago and back then I really thought that your abilities were enough to rise to the top and I didn't know about your talents not appealing to people who might play you (*cough, cough* James MacClean), but getting back to your question, the songs of 1990 made me think we could win the world cup, mainly because no one released a song that advocated a more cautious approach to the tournament.
Would you believe most songs released back then were celebrating our "winning team", even though we didn't even manage a win at all!
Regarding social media, while accepting the fact I am writing this hoping I will become a trending topic, I don't really have an answer to that. As a singular person, I think that most of stuff that becomes a 'big social media thing' is generally kind of pointless and stupid (wow, Darth Vader playing bagpipes) whereas the stuff that slowly resonates takes time. I urge everyone who reads this towards The Sawdoctor's ‘To Win Just Once’, that is the closest to sport being personified in song I've heard, (particularly 'the latent hurlers on the ditch' line… trolls beware).
Regarding the Euros, my son is 2 and I am delighted he will never remember how bad the Irish performance was; but being bad is one thing and being forgettable is another thing. The official song was forgettable. I wonder why any of the people involved didn't ask any follow-on questions about what they were doing.
JOE: So what did you make of the songs from the Euros then? Did any stand out at all?
R.L.: Honestly, no. I'm not trying to be clever or ironic, just no. I'm going to suggest that once you accept the offside trap you give up the romance of sport, and therefore the songs celebrating it. What did warm my heart was that Celtic-fans-sponsored school kids video. Class… literally.
JOE: What’s your favourite football song from Italia 90? What made it special compared to the rest?
R.L.: Jeez Louise, I can't answer that. The whole show is about all the songs, some of which are songs you won't have heard of; I found 27 songs that were released over the two tournaments. But I will say, that if I had a girlfriend who didn't like ‘Put Them Under Pressure’ then we clearly would never get married.
JOE: And what about USA ‘94?
R.L.: If you come to the show, I'll show you how Paul McGrath was the worst rapper ever. By virtue of doing the show I have grown to love that song so much. Therefore, it is ‘Ooh Ah Paul McGrath’ by Watch Your House For Ireland.
JOE: So how are the Irish at writing football songs in general?
R.L.: Football??? Scoff, scoff… This is Ireland fella, I'm writing and making comedy about songs from soccer, not football. Jaysus, Michael Collins didn't die for it to be called football!
Ah no, it’s hard to say, I only know a few... First off, Scotland's 'Ally's Army' is at least 1/3 of Ireland's most epic World Cup song (the "we're all part of Jackie's Army bit" is a direct lift from that)... Then the gorgeous song ‘Don't Come Home Too Soon’ by Del Amitri for Scotland in world cup 94 that was released... after the Scotland team had already been eliminated... and were on their way home.
And then ‘Three Lions’ (by Lightning Seeds and Skinner & Baddiel), which genuinely probably was the milestone when I dropped the 800 years schtick and stopped supporting whomever England were playing against (time has shown us that they can sabotage themselves without malevolent Irish people wishing it on them).
JOE: So where can we check out more of your work?
R.L.: Funnily enough, I am doing a run of the show right now! In Dublin, till next Saturday here are the deets, as follows...
My entire web presence can be found here on Facebook. And I am available to gig all over the country... if you like the idea of what I do, get in touch and maybe I can do a show in your town/city/front room.
ABSOLUTE Fringe 2012 - "ADVENTURES OF A MUSIC NERD: 1 GUY, 2 WORLD CUPS" runs at The New Theatre until Sep 15 - Bookings : Click here or Tel: 1850 374 643