Music interview: Stiff Little Fingers

Stiff Little Fingers. Picture: Ashley Maile
Stiff Little Fingers. Picture: Ashley Maile
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They are one of the most successful punk bands Ireland has produced. Formed in Belfast in 1977, in the midst of the Troubles that were plaguing Ireland, Stiff Little Fingers have released 10 albums since 1979’s Inflammable Material.

Despite numerous line-up changes, singer and guitarist Jake Burns has always been the constant force behind the band.

This year sees the latest incarnation of Stiff Little Fingers release the band’s first studio album in 11 years, No Going Back. Burns explains that the title was taken from a line in one of the album’s songs. “It was written about my struggles with depression. I went through a really bad couple of years where I just didn’t see any point in anything. Even getting up in the morning was a chore. While I don’t think I’ve truly shaken the entire thing off (I’m not sure that anyone ever really does), I’ve reached a stage where I can recognize the symptoms and try to “head them off” before they grow to fruition.”

This album was funded by the fans as part of the Pledge Music campaign. “We set ourselves a realistic target to record the album and gave ourselves two months online to reach that. It was reached within 12 hours, which is testimony to the loyalty and commitment of our audience. I’ve long said that they’re more like a football crowd than a rock audience. Once SLF become ‘their’ band, they stick with us through thick and thin. We can’t thank them enough.”

It is very common for bands to bombard their fans with new material when they take their latest album on the road, but this is an idea that Stiff Little Fingers do not agree with. Burns says: “We try not to make a live show just a walking advert for the new record. At the moment, the plan is to play three new songs in the set.”

Stiff Little Fingers are currently embarked on a UK tour. Burns says that Leeds is always a place they love stopping at. “We always look forward to playing wherever it happens to be. Of course, the UK has a special place in our hearts as it’s where the journey began all those years ago.

“Also, on this tour we get to go back to our home town of Belfast which we didn’t last the couple of times round.

“Having said that, Leeds is always a high point. Fantastic audience and a great venue in the Academy. Bring it on!”

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