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The Undertones: John O’Neill talks new material & retrospective bundle

Published on May 27th, 2013 | Theo Gorst

When Rocksucker’s Theo Gorst spoke to The Undertones guitarist and songwriter John O’Neill, he asked some questions pertaining to the legendary Derry group’s activities in 2013, including new material, scoring a play, marking their hometown’s year as European Capital of Culture and forthcoming retrospective bundle An Introduction to The Undertones, which incidentally comprises of:

* A 22-track CD

* A two-hour DVD featuring Teenage Kicks: The Story Of The Undertones, in which John Peel makes a pilgrimage to meet the band in Derry

* Exclusive live footage from 1979′s Northern Irish Shell Shock Rock documentary and France’s Chorus: The Undertones – Live at Le Palace (1980)

* Seven promo videos and studio performances from The Old Grey Whistle Test and The Tube

Not bad, eh? Anyway, take it away Theo and John…

An Introduction to The Undertones is coming out soon. How did you chose which songs and live sets to include?

I left it up to Damian to choose. When we play live now you know which songs are more popular, so that’s pretty much how he chose it: which songs get the best response when we play live. The majority of the songs are from the first two records.

You released a new single, “Much Too Late”, for Record Store Day. Have you stockpiled many other new songs? If so, can we expect another studio album any time soon?

Another EP could possibly be in the pipeline for later on in the year, I suppose. We did release a couple of records, but they’re okay; there are some good songs and some not so good songs. We’re aware that with the name The Undertones people are always going to associate it with Feargal Sharkey as the vocalist. Any new records we’ve made as The Undertones I’ve never bothered to take seriously. Any new records we’ve made we probably should have called it a new project. I regret not doing that.

This year your home town of Derry is the European capital of culture. Will you do anything to mark this?

Yes, around Christmas. There’s a hall called the St Columbs Hall that’s been refurbished, we’re going to do a show in there with a band called The Moondogs who played around the same time. In fact, one of the first tours we did was with The Moondogs. They’re going to reform so we’ll do a punk retrospective.

You’re involved in a play too?

Yes, myself and Damian wrote the music. It’s about a band who reformed in Belfast who never made it. It’s a really good play, it has got a lot of universal points in it. Gary Mitchell had written the play and these songs without any music, and we were approached then about whether we could write some music for these words. Basically there are about five or six songs in the play, and the band play live these songs that we wrote the music for.

It was a good experience for me; it was interesting having someone else’s lyrics to mess around with. Gary is really pleased with the songs and the play had packed audiences every night it was on last week. There may be a show in Belfast and hopefully in London too. It’s worth seeing!

John O’Neill, thank you.

Read the rest of Rocksucker’s interview with John O’Neill

Read Rocksucker’s interview with The Undertones drummer Billy Doherty

An Introduction to The Undertones will be released on June 3rd by Salvo Sound & Vision.

For more information, please visit The Undertones’ official website.

An Introduction to The Undertones


About the Author

Living on a sonic diet of Belle and Sebastian, Pavement and Yo La Tengo, Theo resides in London and when not writing for Rocksucker studies English at Goldsmiths University.

One Response to The Undertones: John O’Neill talks new material & retrospective bundle

  1. Pingback: Interview: The Undertones (part 2: John O'Neill) - Rocksucker

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