by / December 8th, 2009 /

Circuit Breakers – U:Mack

For fifteen years, independent promoter U:mack have been ‘handing out flyers in the rain’, promoting a multitude of diverse international artists to the capital. Genres may come and go, venues may close, bands may split up but U:mack have established themselves as an authorative Irish promoter of alternative rock, electronic and dance DJs operating under the radar of the mainstream and showcasing challenging music regardless of genre.

Founder Paul Timoney with help from his friends Gib and Mo run the shows which vary in size from the likes of post-hardcore heroes Fugazi in Vicar Street (2002) to the electronic experimental visions of Venetian Snares in The Hub (2006). Timoney insists he’s ‘never really done anything except promote gigs’. It’s a tribute to his hard-working, self-sustaining ethic that as an independent promoter he is able to hire out a large-scale venues like Vicar Street and Tripod and pack those rooms to capacity. The U:mack name is now synonymous with unique, off-the-radar and respected musicians so audiences know that even if they haven’t heard the band, they are to expect a high standard.

U:mack’s seed was planted in 1994 when Timoney began helping Alan O’ Boyle and Dennis McNulty (then of Decal) run the record label Ultramack Productions which segued into the promotion of gigs. The first gig took place in now defunct venue, The Funnel, City Quay in Dublin with the UK’s highly original electronic duo Plaid in 1997. Timoney was inspired by Hope Promotions, an independent collective who operated from 1987 until 1999. U:mack were one of the first promoters to extend their remit to electronic acts, bringing over acts like Autechre, Luke Vibert, Mu-Ziq and Two Lone Swordsmen in a regular club night environment called Phunk City, also in The Funnel every Friday night – ‘When we started that club it was really important to us to do things slightly different to other clubs going on in Dublin at the time, most of whom ran nights with a strict music policy of either House music, Techno, Break Beats etc. We tried to have a more diverse music policy. Because of this It took us quite a long time to attract a regular audience but eventually people started to come every week without knowing who was going to be playing, or what style of music they’d hear. One week it would be someone quite experimental like Autechre or Richard H Kirk, and the following week it might be an Alex Patterson Dub Reggae set, or a Techno Dj like Cristian Vogel.’

Timoney was also inspired by John Loder, the recording engineer, who produced Crass as well as the man responsible for their record label and a distribution wing Southern Records. ‘My favourite ten seconds of recorded music is the opening ten seconds of ‘Punk is Dead’ by Crass. His way of dealing with things was quite influential on me. He helped U:mack out a lot, by recommending us to bands as being good people to work with in Ireland, One of the bands he hooked us up with was Shellac.’

Timoney enjoys a good working relationship with the bands that visit, and many of them have returned a number of times, thanks to his hospitality – ‘There’s artists that we’ve been working with for more than ten years, such as No Means No, Plaid, Autechre, Rob Hall & Andrew Weatherall. When I confirm concerts with a lot of the acts we’ve known for a long time it’s as much about old friends coming to visit as it is about the actual performance. There’s other artists who we haven’t known for as long who are such a pleasure to be around that it always makes me happy to hear they’ll be coming back. Bands such as Caribou, Battles, The Ex, The Melvins and Wolf Eyes would immediately spring to mind, but there’s plenty more.’

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