5 things you may not know about As­lan

They were orig­i­nally named af­ter a Leon Uris novel. Their re­hearsal room was an ac­tual pig sty. And Bono turned them down for a record deal. Tony Clay­ton-lea has the facts on the Dublin band

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

1 Be­fore they were called As­lan, they were known as Mee­lah XVIII (de­rived from Leon Uris’s sec­ond World War novel Mila 18). The name change to As­lan came about through the influence of the spir­i­tu­ally-driven chil­dren’s book se­ries

The Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia by North­ern Ir­ish writer CS Lewis. In the books, As­lan is a Christ fig­ure in the form of a lion – aka the King of Beasts – that comes back from the dead to save the fic­tional land of Nar­nia. The down­side? The band have been on the re­ceiv­ing end of head­lines that in­clude the word “roar” more times than they care to re­mem­ber. 2 In 1986, the band’s re­hearsal space was a build­ing close to Dublin Air­port; the build­ing was a dis­used pig sty to which they would trans­port their equip­ment in shop­ping trol­leys. It was in this build­ing that the band wrote their de­but al­bum, Feel No Shame, which con­tained their first hit sin­gle, This Is. 3 The demo of This Is was shopped around a num­ber of record la­bels, in­clud­ing the then U2-owned Mother Records. In the mid-1980s, at a meet­ing in the Docker’s Pub – close to U2’s of­fices on Dublin’s quays – band mem­bers Christy Dig­nam and Joe Jewell met up with Bono, only to be told by the U2 singer that he didn’t think the song was good enough. Bono of­fered As­lan the loan of a four-track record­ing ma­chine to help them with their song­writ­ing, but the band de­clined. 4 As­lan have played some un­usual gigs in their 30 years. These in­clude per­form­ing in Kosovo for the Ir­ish troops, per­form­ing for the Ir­ish soc­cer team

“Christy and Joe met up with Bono in the Dock­ers, only to be told by the U2 singer that he didn’t think This is was good enough”

(un­der Brian Kerr’s stew­ard­ship), and play­ing in both Moun­tjoy and Wheat­field pris­ons. Ru­mours that the band was mis­taken for a bunch of in­mates are un­founded. 5 Back in the day, the band used to suf­fer from offensive crit­i­cal snob­bery. Here’s an in­ter­est­ing 1994 quote from Dig­nam about it: “The me­dia think we’re five guys who, in be­tween rob­bing cars and liv­ing in slums, make records that are fairly good. No one ever ques­tioned where Hot­house Flow­ers came from, but it was al­ways an is­sue with us. That was par­tially our own fault in that we wanted to cel­e­brate the joys of work­ing-class Ire­land. But that was turned into what’s just been men­tioned – we’re the scum­bags who make mu­sic. Just be­cause you’re work­ing class doesn’t mean that you’re a per­son who was reared in a place where there wasn’t a lot of money or jobs around.” As­lan’s lat­est al­bum, Nudie Books

and Frenchies, is on re­lease through EMI. The band play Dublin’s Olympia The­atre, Au­gust 10th and 11th as part of their 30th-an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions

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