Spinner Magazine - SXSW 2010 Interview

"I like Erasure, have you ever heard of them? I was into that sort of a thing when I was younger. I would be in a drunken state at parties and get really into it, and people would take photos and blackmail me."

Fighting With Wire's song 'Everyone Needs a Nemesis' topped MTV's Myspace chart in 2008. The Irish band is now recording their newest album and will be playing at SXSW for the second time. Spinner recently interviewed lead singer Cahir O'Doherty.


How would you describe your band's sound?


Difficult question. We're a rock band. We're an enhanced, three-piece band. We're influenced partially by early '90s rock bands like Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr., Fugazi.That's what we grew up listening to. I suppose we're like a modern version of that. We're a rock band, basically.


How did your band form?


We're from a small town called Derry, and it's really kind of boring. Music kind of brought us together, all our friends, and we had the bright idea to start a band. We've gone through a million different names, but we're basically the same band.


How long have you all been together?


This band has been together for about five years. We've gone through about five bass players. I suppose about three and a half years with this lineup.


How did you come up with your band name?


Funny story, actually. I was in another band called Jetplane Landing, and we were recording our second album, and 'Fighting With Wire' was the name that the bass player put forward as a name for the album. I was already working on this project and I didn't have a name yet, so I used Fighting With Wire. He made me promise, though, that I'd tell the story if anyone asked.


Basically, he lived in London with his girlfriend and his girlfriend worked for a magazine, and people would call her and ask for photos. And she came home from work one day and she was in a bad mood. He said, "What's wrong?" and she said, "I've been fighting with Wire all day." Like, Wire Magazine. That's the story I promised him I'd tell any time anyone asked. Making up band names is the worst time ever if you're in a band. It's horrific. It's demented. But it's great that he had that name.


It kind of makes you picture fighting with the wire on your guitar.


At first, every venue had our name in barbed wire and razor wire, and I'm like, "What the hell?" We had to get rid of that whole barbed wire thing. It took us ages. But yeah, some people have said that about fighting with the wire on the guitar.


You mentioned Nirvana, Fugazi and Dinosaur, Jr. What are some of your other musical influences?


We're a three-piece band, so we just make as much noise as humanly possible. It's mostly rock. I wasn't really a big fan of cheesy rock like Guns N' Roses and Metallica.I was influenced by dance music, 'cause it's big down here with like remixers and DJs, which is really pathetic, I know. It made a comeback with the whole electro scene. I was into that before I discovered rock. And I like a lot of sort of black music -- blues, jazz and stuff. That's the music side of me trying to be all cool. I've got a weird taste in music, but I like the basic elements of rock music; very sort of primal. I'm a fan of big melodies -- pop, blues. When you see us live, it's three people being really loud, but there's some semblance of a pop song as well. I'm a fan of catchy choruses.


What's your musical guilty pleasure?


I like a lot of really cheesy '80s pop music that no one knows about. I'll give you an example: Go West. You ever heard of Go West? They had a couple really cool songs. I actually can't remember them, but they're brilliant, and I have their album somewhere. And like Erasure, have you ever heard of them? I was into that sort of a thing when I was younger. I would be in a drunken state at parties and get really into it, and people would take photos and blackmail me.


So, what's in your festival survival kit?


Underwear, socks, toothbrush and beer.


What's your favorite kind of beer?


As long as it's wet and it's got alcohol in it, I like it. You know, I'm Irish, so that's kind of a given. If it's got alcohol, I'm there. I like Guinness. I'm so typically Irish. Whenever I'm in America, I always look for a pint of Guinness that's drinkable. I'm a Guinness connoisseur, I guess, if that's possible. So yeah, that's me beer of choice.


Who was your first celebrity crush?


Seriously? I have no idea. I don't really have celebrity crushes. I actually hate celebrities with a passion. Maybe Sigourney Weaver, which is kind of weird, but I love 'Aliens'and 'Ghostbusters.'When I tell people I fancy Sigourney Weaver, they think I'm weird and I'm like, "I think she's hot," and they're like, "What? Are you insane? Are you serious?" And maybe Whitney Houston, late '80s, which is sort of weird because she turned into a crackhead. But back then she was hot.


Do you prefer the Beatlesor the Stones?


Tricky question. I'd have to go with the Beatlesbecause I think they were a bit more experimental than the Rolling Stones. I'm not really a super fan of either one, but I can appreciate their music.


What's the craziest thing you've seen or experienced while on tour?


I really don't know where to begin. I don't know if I can pick one particular moment. I remember one time, we were on tour with this band in the UK and we started this ridiculous sort of band war so we would get each other on stage every night. One night, we dressed up as giant babies. We fashioned nappies out of towels in the dressing room, drew all over ourselves, went out onstage and jumped on [the other band], tackled them to the ground and taped the singer to this pole. Someone filmed it and put it on YouTube, I think. And that was the most horrific. After that, no one would take us seriously. That was pretty demented. There's been many incidents of general drunkenness and debauchery. I don't know why that particular one comes to mind.


Whenever you're on the road, you lose your mind a little with the monotony of touring. I can understand how artists in '80s got alcohol and drug problems, 'cause it's boring. Everything boils up for that one hour a day, and other than that you're sitting around just bored, driving some of the time and doing the same thing every day. It's like cabin fever, but traveling cabin fever. People wonder why musicians are weirdos. It's a traveling freak show, basically.