Banter at Quarter Block Party (102, Feb 2015)

Our first outside adventure for the year comes when we visit the Quarter Block Party in Cork on Saturday February 7.

Running from Friday February 6 to Sunday February 8, the Quarter Block Party is a new arts festival shining a light on one of Cork’s oldest quarters and taking over South and North Main Streets for a range of music, theatre, art, discussions and positivity. The aim is to bring crowds to the founding streets of the city during an off-peak time of year and transform the area with creative hubs of artistic activity for everyone in the community to enjoy.


For Banter at Quarter Block Party, we’ve two talks lined up. Inside the Miracle of Sound is an interview with Gavin Dunne, the Cork musician behind the online music project of the same name. What started out as fan-songs for movies and videogames has become a micro-industry where his songs and compositions, all produced in his home studio and covering a vast range of genres, have pulled in over 50 million views across the internet as well as the interest of such industry giants as Ubisoft, Bioware, EA, Epic and Bethesda. His work has been used to promote major titles such as Mass Effect 3, Assassin’s Creed 4 and Watch Dogs and his song “Cries Of A Dead World” is on the soundtrack to Wasteland 2.

We’ll talk to him about getting his start in the business, the power of word of mouth for a musician and composer, the use of social media to create a buzz and what happens when the gaming industry’s big boys come calling.

The second talk is about Alternative Economies and if it’s possible to make a living from doing something you love. For many, the dream is to give up the day job and do something you truly love, but how feasible is it to do this, especially if you have a music, arts or cultural project you want to work on? You may think that there are grants and loans and bursaries which will see you over the line, but the reality is a lot different.

Some folks who’ve found a way to make alternative economics make sense for them – namely James Byrne (Any Other CityVillagers), Eat My Noise ProductionsAoife Potter-Cogan (Cork Community Art Link) and Siobhan Kane (Young Hearts Run Free) – give us their thoughts on going it alone.

It takes place at the Vision Centre at St Peter’s (South Main Street) where doors open at 2.30pm and the talking kicks off at 3pm. Admission is free to Quarter Block Party weekend or day ticket holders and you can get those tickets here.

Banter 101 (101, Feb 2015)

There could only be one topic for Banter 101. Well, actually, that’s not quite true but, in the end, arms were twisted and legs were broken and we are where we are. I’m handing Banter over to my Irish Times colleague (and regular Banter guest) Una Mullally for the night and I’m leaving it to her to explain this one. Over to Una for what the takeover will involve

Over the course of one hundred Banters, Jim Carroll has interviewed countless people, tackled tricky topics, caused several scraps and brought his fast-paced interview style all over the country.

But for Banter 101, we go back to the origins. For this special Banter session, the tables will be turned and questions asked of Jim.



How did he get to where he is now? Are there any truth to the rumours that he once built a working Funktion-One sound system solely out of solicitors’ letters? Was the Choice Music Prize really founded after Jim lost a poker game to Tom Dunne? And what about his murky record label past? Or the fact that he’s from Tipperary?

On Wednesday February 4, the hunter becomes the hunted for Banter 101.

Decidedly uncomfortable with this event, Jim’s reaction when this this topic was suggested initially was “fucking no way. No fucking way. No. Fuck off.” But an incessant bullying/stalking campaign ensued and he finally agreed to give his first ever in-depth interview at Banter as the event goes back to basics: 101.

On the panel are a group of people who know how to wind Jim up.

Molly King, producer of Banter @ Other Voices.

“Me and Jim became an unlikely pair for Other Voices Banter for the last three years. I pretended to know what I was doing and he pretended to know where Benners Hotel was. The first meeting we had, I understood about 50% of what he said. I’m now an excellent JimCarrollinguist, and can translate on cue.”

Derek O’Connor, award-winning writer and filmmaker, co-creator of satirical blog Blogorrah, former director of Darklight Festival and a writer on the BAFTA winning CBBC series Roy.

“In the last century, Jim commissioned me to write music reviews for Eircom’s online hub Rondomondo – we’ve been talking nonsense about stuff ever since.”

Angela Dorgan, founder and director of First Music Contact, which encompasses Hard Working Class Heroes, and Music From Ireland.

“I know Jim as a music journalist whose review of Hard Working Class Heroes once made me cry, and then when I went back to it was full of useful and honest advice”

Ian Wilson. The legend.

More interrogators to be added.

The panel will be moderated by Una.

Before this Banter, we’ll be asking Jim’s colleagues, enemies, friends, and other “revellers” to submit their JIM RAPID-FIRE QUESTION ROUND on Twitter, in order to get the goss, test his knowledge, get under his skin and find out who’s playing Electric Picnic this year.

Banter 101 details: upstairs Twisted Pepper, Wednesday February 4. Doors open 6pm, the hunter gets hunted from 6.30pm. Admission is free (you can reserve a place here), but we’re asking folks to donate some cash at the door and all money raised will be donated to the Peter McVerry Trust.

Banter 100 (100, Jan 2015)

Hands up: I never expected to be writing this. When we started Banter back in July 2009 in the upstairs room of the Twisted Pepper in Dublin, I thought we’d get a few months out of it. Trevor O’Shea from Bodytonic Music wanted “talky stuff” so I came up with a few ideas for discussions and panels. Our first one was about Irish music radio featuring Paul McLoone from Today FM and The Golden Maverick from Power FM. I’d say we’d about 30 people in the room (please say hello if you were there) and we were off and running.

Since then, we’ve done 98 other Banters. The Twisted Pepper remains our spiritual home and Dublin HQ, but we’ve been invited to a ton of festivals and events up and down the country to do our thing. The Earagail Arts Festival was the first one outside the capital to take a leap of faith in Banter and we’ve had a blast in one way or another with every single event we’ve done.

There are many, many Banters which stand out in the memory: the one with Utah Saints on the Derry city walls when a lad dressed as a muskateer fired his gun with no warning, the one in the kitchen in Donegal where there was a Picasso on the wall, all the ones in Foxy John’s in Dingle as part of Other Voices, the one with Nile Rodgers in a packed Galway hotel function room where he slagged me and my questions off and got the crowd chanting along, the one with Paul Morley in a former bomb shelter in London (another Other Voices’ joint), the one with Angela Scanlon and Sonya Lennon talking about fashion and style in Kilkenny in front of a 99 per cent female audience, the one about sustainable farming in a room in the middle of the Burren packed with farmers, the one in Charles Fort in Kinsale with Philip King (which we stupidly didn’t record), the one in the Workman’s Club with Tony Fenton (which we also didn’t record). Yep, loads to remember.

And, of course, we fondly remember a whole rake of Banters in the Pepper, where we’ve done them upstairs, downstairs and especially in the main room. It’s where the Banter thing has been finessed and finetuned, this thing where we either get a bunch of people together to have a lively discussion about something or other or bring in someone for an informal, casual, no-holds-barred one-on-one interview.

It all happens in front of an audience who are there to be entertained, educated, amused, bemused, engaged and very occasionally provoked. There’s a school of thought out there amongst some folks that questions from the audience often bring down the tone of an event, but I have absolutely no truck with that notion. It’s the audience who often give a Banter event its energy and mojo with a well-placed question or observation. After all, without the audience, we’d just be talking to ourselves.

All of which brings us to Banter 100. It takes place on Wednesday January 28 at the Twisted Pepper in Dublin from 6.30pm. There will be three secions in all, plus some very special musical guests, who we’ll be announcing nearer the date.

From the Editor’s Office

We’ve held many Banter talks about media issues over the last five years so we’ve decided to go right to the top for this one. We’ve gathered together a number of editors from various national publications and news outlets to talk about what they do, the pressures and decisions they face and make on an average day, their views on the news management agenda and their opinions on the Irish media landscape.

The panel: Kevin O’Sullivan (editor, The Irish Times), Ian Kehoe (editor, Sunday Business Post), Des Gibson (editor, Irish Daily Star) and Kevin Bakhurst (RTE Managing Director News and Current Affairs and Deputy Director General)

Living for the City: Loving Dublin

Since September 2013, the Living for the City series has delved into many nooks and crannies of living, working and playing in Dublin in the 21st century, from transportmedia and housing to foodimmigration and creativity.

For Banter 100, we’ve invited Aisling Rogerson (The Fumbally Cafe), Lynn Daly (Dublin City Council events and tourism team) and John Mahon (The Locals) to come along to talk about what they think really makes Dublin tick and the things they believe can be done simply and quickly to improve the everyday life of the city.

An interview with Timo

Chances are if you’re a Dublin-based music fan, you’ve been to a couple of memorable shows over the last two decades promoted by the man called Timo. Under the U:mack banner (and Ultramack before that), Timo has been responsible for hundreds – maybe thousands – of events by bands, DJs and live electronic acts in the city, from Aphex Twin, Fugazi, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Battles, Autechre, Shellac, Caribou and Moderat to 100% Dynamite, Rocket from the Crypt, Konono No 1, Jello Biafra, The Ex, Atari Teenage Riot, Andy Weatherall, Plaid, Squarepusher and zillions more.

2015 marks U:mack’s 21st birthday so we thought it would be a good idea to kick off the year of Timo (#um21) with an interview with the man himself about his life and times. Trust us, you will not want to miss this.

Tickets for Banter 100 are now on sale (please note the event is now sold out). By the way, when we did Banter 50 back in May 2013, Trevor O’Shea, the geezer who set the whole thing in motion originally when he went looking for talky stuff, promised loads of cake when we hit 100. We’re going to hold him to that.