A little look back in time from one of my books. This time its from 50/50 and two Waterford bands of the Eighties...
TASC (1984-88) (reunion gig 2008)
Ah the eighties...big hair, shoulder pads and hairspray, lipstick and make-up. And that was just the men! Back in a decade were males wore more foundation than women and fights regularly broke out between both genders over a set of curling tongs, the rise of 80’s rock bands like Bon Jovi, Guns N’ Roses and alarmingly, Europe, meant that you really had to look close at that ‘bird’ you were checking out from the back in the Peppermint Grove on a Saturday night.
Not that I’ve ever made that mistake (quick change of subject now Brian!)
Coming out on an age of big hair and falsetto voices were Waterford’s own answer to their American counterparts. TASC were a five-piece hard rock band who veered away from local bands and stuck true to their hard rock roots, carving out their own little niche in Waterford music history. A group which started by pure chance, played support to Def Leppard and ended when the age old ‘musical differences’ reared its inevitable head, Tasc’s story is one of hard work and endeavour which concluded in a happy ending, even if it took 20 years to reach that point.
Clive Bolger likes his music; otherwise he wouldn’t have been shuffling through a stack of vinyl in Sinnott’s record shop in early 1984 where he came across Tony Brennan and his cousin Tommy, who just happened to be wading through everything from Kiss to Deep Purple at the same time. Clive struck up a conversation with them and the origins of Tasc where formed that day right under the noses of the rock Gods they worshipped (I think they met somewhere between the “V” and “W” section, so Van Halen & Whitesnake would have witnessed this glorious union).
Like most groups, coincidence played a part in the forming of Tasc. Not only had these teenagers the same musical tastes, Clive played drums, Anthony played guitar and Tommy could stretch the vocal cords. Young, full of testosterone, and sporting the necessary hairdos, the boys roped in George Kennedy on bass and hard rock heaven was formed on the banks of the Suir.
Practice began and gigs followed thereafter. Being one of the only bands playing their brand of hard rock meant Tasc soon gathered their own little following around the town. One of the very first gigs, which unbelievably I somehow managed to be at, in the Cleaboy Lounge was attended by family, friends and a small gathering of nutcases willing to make devil gestures and shake their heads until they almost separated from their shoulders. It was a smart move. Not only were the group performing a labour of love, it also set them apart from a lot of local acts.
After over a year of gigging, the band landed a slot on Lark in the Park – Waterford’s highly popular showcase for local acts of the day. Being an open-air concert and free to the public, it gave Tasc even more exposure. On the 24th July 1986, Tasc took to the stage at 2.20 that day (sandwiched between ‘Supreme Beings’ and ‘Al La Carte’) and played a rocking 40 minute set much to the delight of their growing following, who by now carried a pack of Panadol everywhere to deal with standard head-banging drawbacks!
It was around this time that word had got out about English rock group Def Leppard were to play six Irish dates. The Sheffield outfit, which had huge international success since forming in 1977, had relocated to Ireland in 1984 to write their latest album “Hysteria” and were warming up before going out internationally with the release.
Word got back to Bolger from local act Soul Reazon who were recording a single in the same studio at the exact time Joe Elliot and his gang were also rehearsing there.
‘Skinner’ Flynn contacted Clive about the meeting and shared with him an unfortunate incident with Leppard’s one-armed drummer Rick Allen.
I remember Skinner telling me about it. He said “I made an awful arse of myself Clive. The drummer was walking in with a bag and let it down to open the door and I walked up and said, ‘can I give you a hand!’ You just had to laugh” CLIVE BOLGER
Having an idea, Bolger made it his business to find out where and what the multi-million album selling act were up to and wrote to lead singer Joe Elliot about Tasc appearing as special guests at their Waterford show.
Three weeks later he received an envelope, some signed photos and Elliot wishing the band good luck along with some names and numbers regarding the guest slot. Normally the nationwide promoters (MCD) would decide the support slots for an international band on a nationwide tour, but on this occasion, they let the decision with the local promoter. Local entrepreneur Martin Colebert was using Katie Reilly’s to host Def Leppard and being the only hard rock band in Waterford at the time, Tasc secured the right to open for Def Leppard.
This was a huge gig for the local band. Although Def Leppard had been out of the public gaze for a few years due to writing and waiting for Rick Allen to recover from the unfortunate loss of his arm (he subsequently invented a revolutionary customized drum kit to enable him to continue as the band’s drummer), it was still a massive honour for the Waterfordian’s to open for them.
Now although Clive, George, Anthony were over the moon about the gig, lead singer Tommy had a problem. Ironically, he was due to travel to the UK to watch Def Leppard the week of Tasc’s big break. He’d already booked and paid for the trip to England.
Obvious solution? Naturally Tommy was going to cancel the trip.
Oh, to be young and foolish! Faced with the chance to meet, greet and then open for one of the biggest rock bands in the entire solar system, Tasc’s 17 year old lead singer opted to stand in a field with 79,999 other headbanger’s two days later and actually WATCH Def Leppard on stage instead!!!
The other 3 band members were not amused. Having giving Tommy an ultimatum, (and then watching their lead singer head off on a ferry from Rosslare), Tasc had to draft in a last-minute emergency lead vocalist to cover for them. Fortunately, Clive’s brother Paul Bolger could hold a note or two and filled in for Brennan and Tasc rocked Katie Reilly’s on a balmy August Monday evening in 1986.
Again, my path accidentally crossed with the local outfit as I was one of the eager crowd that night. My abiding memory will always be my tone-deaf idiot English cousin Richie Albert listening to “Pour Some Sugar on Me”, “Animal” & “Love Bites” and announcing, “This fucking band are woeful, they’ll be back in Katie’s next year; working behind the bar!”
Def Leppard’s “Hysteria” went on to sell 25 million albums worldwide.
“Pour Some Sugar” & “Animal” were top ten hits in both Britain and Stateside.
“Love Bites” was a US number 1.
Richie now works in a bank, is still tone deaf, and of course, still an idiot.
Auditions were then held for a replacement lead vocalist. Local lad Stephen O’Hanlon fitted the bill a month later, and the band added another guitar when Terry O’Neill joined around the same time.
The emphasis now was to try record some original material and, in the summer of 1987, Tasc went to Cooleycall Recording Studios in Bridgetown, Co Wexford to record a two track demo tape funded by Music Moves.
The result was ‘One Heart/One Love’ and ‘For Eternity’, which Clive, Steve & Tony collaborated on. It proved to be an extra string to Tasc’s ever expanding bow and the band got heavy airplay on ABC at the time (championed of course by the ever-supportive DJ Roddy Cleere.) The demo also proved a financial output and was successfully sold at several gigs.
Late that year the prodigal (if slightly foolish) son returned when original lead singer Tommy Brennan rejoined the group, taking over on bass after original bass player George Kennedy left the band.
Tasc broadened their base and went on to gig in Carlow, Kilkenny, Kildare & Wexford. Given the fact Aerosmith had made a comeback and the permed Adonis (my wife’s words-not mine) Jon Bon Jovi was howling to stadiums worldwide, Tasc’s hard rock style was in keeping with the times. Lead vocalist O’Hanlon fitted seamlessly into his role and the band’s playlist included everything from original material to Deep Purple & Black Sabbath to Thin Lizzy and Guns N’ Roses. Despite occasional disagreements, the monolithic Led Zeppelin would be the main source of Tasc’s inspiration.
Sadly, musical differences in the group eventually led to the band calling it a day in 1988, but not before they played to a 500 strong crowd in the Bridge Hotel. Their final gig on October 18th proved to be a bitter-sweet moment for the five-piece group. Obvious delighted at drawing such a sizeable crowd yet tinged with sadness at the parting of their ways.
Clive Bolger, Stephen O’Hanlon and Terry O’Neill went on to form Raging Angels but that outfit lasted just a year. Another reincarnation appeared in 1992 when Steve and Clive formed Kashmir, again it was short lived. Stephen went on to sing with Dublin based band Spirit Nation (with featured Doug Brockie, ex-Ginger Baker Band, and former Thin Lizzy drummer Brian Downey.) Later on, through his connection with Stephen, Clive replaced Brian Downey as Spirit Nation’s drummer.
Soon after, Stephen O’Hanlon fronted local band Sweet Leaf in 2001 before moving to America but it was Clive, the oldest member of the clan who fared best (musically speaking), moving to Dublin then Britain and becoming a well-respected session musician. During this period, he got heavily involved in traditional Irish music whilst in Dublin, teaching himself to play the Bodhran. He formed a country band with his brother and released one well-received album in 1995.
Just for good measure he also played in several Blues and Jazz outfits!
Rock, Trad, Country, Blues, Jazz. Sweet Jesus! (If I interview him again, I’m sure he’ll say he popped up in a punk/folk crossover band called Violent Fiddle!)
In 2008, twenty years after they’d parted ways, Tasc reformed. Again, coincidence played a part when an accidental jam session between Bolger, now back in Waterford after 16 years away and playing with The Moss House and Tony Brennan (currently with The Waxies), coupled with some nostalgic friends wanting them to reform.
Former lead singer O’Hanlon flew over from the US, whilst Mick Wall (San Fran Fiasco) and John Kelter (The Moss House) filled in guitar and bass respectfully, just for the gig and on March 13th 2008 a new incarnation of Waterford’s first hard rock band was reborn.
Electric Avenue’s walls reverberated to the sound of some fine hard rock that night and the band haven’t ruled out doing more gigs in the near future.
Having had a successful, if short, lifespan and supporting one of the planet’s biggest rock bands in their heyday, I wondered did the band have any regrets about not making it, having had such a prestigious platform to launch a possible career.
“We were young, naive and doing it for the hell of it. Sure, we could have had a manager and made a push for it, but it was a labour of love and too much damn fun!” CLIVE J. BOLGER
DEFIANT POSE (1984-1987) (2017 Reunion)
Collapsing drummers, exploding P.A’s, and blowing the heads off of Nun’s in the convent – ah yes sometimes its fun to be in a band. The guys in Defiant Pose thought so. For three years the local lads lived their own adolescent dream; rock stars, outdoor concerts, the odd groupie! before disbanding and leaving their teenage years behind them for life in the mundane 9-5 like the rest of us mugs.
George O’ Mahony and Kieran O’Halloran where the impetus behind the band initially. George had learnt guitar at an early age whilst cousin Kieran had started drumming in the Waterford pipe band. Both boys were around 14 years old at the time and wanted to have fun (these days that means vandalising cars, drinking Buckfast and abusing old age pensioners; the youth of today- bastards!) Being young, carefree and full of testosterone the lads decided to put together a band.
Approaching Neil Power (bass) and Pat Ryan (vocals) and with influences ranging from Simple Minds to Thin Lizzy (someone even classed George Michael as an influence but we won’t go into that one), Defiant Pose was formed in the autumn of 1984.
The lads practiced in Neil’s garden shed in Clun Na li (ah the innocence of it all) but far from being a covers band of predictable artists, the four piece wrote almost all original material.
“We loved the Norris Minor and were always hanging around there (we’d managed the odd drink there thanks to the old reliable; an older guy going to the bar!) A mate of ours knew Louis Quinlain who was putting together a “Rock against Dole” Benefit night in the Norris Minor in support of the miner’s strike in England and we managed to get on the bill. It was a great night, bands and poetry readings in-between. We got to play two songs, both originals and that was our introduction to Waterford!” GEORGE O’MAHONY
For that gig the group became a five piece with the inclusion of Andrew Cusack on guitar, though they reverted back to a quartet directly after.
Possibly the biggest gig the boys would nab however was a support slot to 80’s Irish group “Those Nervous Animals”.
At their peak the Sligo rock band where a hugely popular outfit (they had a residency in The Baggot Inn every Thursday and released six singles without ever being signed to a major label ; if you can’t remember “The Business Enterprise (My Friend John) then it’s doubtful you were born before 1980 – or you hadn’t a clue about Irish music!
This however left the Waterford lads with a problem. With only three songs laid down, Defiant Pose had to get their arse in gear and come up with another seven in order to have enough of a playlist to support the Sligo band. The gig, which took place in Katie Reilly’s, attracted a huge crowd and with half a dozen originals and a couple of U2 covers, Defiant Pose played a solid gig and word of mouth got around.
“We had our odd share of disasters. Once we were playing a gig in the Cleaboy and our P.A. blew up on us (mind you that was a regular thing). Then we played on the same bill as Cry before Dawn and The Golden Hoarde in Wexford’s version of Lark in the Park. That was where we lost Kieran our drummer during a set! We were playing on a bandstand which was basically just one big lump of concrete with no railings. We had a few bottles in us but we were fine. Half way through the set we found it funny there was no drumbeat. Probably because Kieran had disappeared off the bandstand and collapsed on the ground”
GEORGE O’ MAHONY
But the group did get noticed and managed to play several spots around town, brought three buses full of people to a gig in New Ross and played on the bill in three consecutive years at “Lark in the Park”. Woodstock it mightn’t have been but when you’re 16 years old ,walking out on a stage and playing to an appreciative home town crowd you may have well of been in Madison Square Garden !
Another incident involved the group playing possibly the strangest residency in the history of music when in 1986 they played two nights in one week at the Presentation Convent. Every year the school put on a show for a week which literally catered for first infants up to sixth years, and Defiant Pose where asked to play during the interval on the Wednesday night, whilst they would close the show after Friday night’s performance. On the Wednesday night they blew the head off of every granny there, whilst on Friday the nuns were threatening to turn the power off on the lads as they blew them away as well.
In 1987, after three years of gigging the band parted ways in slightly strange circumstances.
“Our ending was news to the entire band, bar Pat! It was at “The Lark in the Park” and prior to the gig Pat (or “Bob” as we called him) wasn’t acting strange. Then when it was our turn to perform, out he walked, took the microphone and said “This is my last gig with Defiant Pose!” Talk about a shock!” GEORGE O’MAHONY
Kieran O’ Halloran went on to play with Fran Sarsfield in The Flat Tops (and had gigged with him this year as well), whilst Pat finished, Neil eventually went to New York, where he lives now and George O’Mahony ran Kilbarry Rangers Football Club for a while and specialised in robbing other people’s goals by running from defence to get the last touch on a ball that yours truly was destined to score from! Just last month (October 2008) Neil flew over from New York and the band reformed for the first time in 21 years. They did it again for a special gig in Downes Pub in 2017.
So if you do happen to here of exploding P.A’s, drummers falling off stage our a habit of nuns wanting to take a restraining order out of a group of middle-aged men, watch out... that means Defiant Pose are back in town.