Okay, I was gonna… maybe the primary collective emotion in Ireland at the moment is Catholic guilt, based on all the stuff that’s been coming out about abuse, and I was wondering about how it effected you as a person/songwriter to have been… you were raised Catholic right?
Yeah, I was raised Catholic.
Is that present in the way you think. do you think?
Yeah, I mean, i was always very suspicious of the church growing up. I had to go every week until I was 18, like ‘as long as you live under my roof’, my parents would make me go to church every week. I just sort of figured out really, like around 10 or 11, that it’s just ridiculous. You know, the hypocrisy is terrible, and the delusion is out of control, the whole idea of a spiritual hierarchy where someone is… I believe that everyone is equal, everyone is capable of the same spiritual connection to whatever divine force. I never looked up to a priest in my life, I never thought a priest was special. If anything, I thought they were delusional. But I understand that other people have their own belief system and I’m definitely not one to dismantle that or shake things up. I’m not going to say that what I believe is what everyone should believe. When I heard about all the molestation charges, it wasn’t a surprise.
That’s what happens when people put themselves into that situation. Obviously it sucks for the kids, it sucks for the adults as well. It sucks for everybody. It’s a terrible situation. Obviously, what they need to do if they want to make things at all better is to say, okay, priests can get married. The whole sexual repression thing is really what fucks it up. Of course really terrible things happen when you repress your natural desires. If your natural desire is to molest a young boy, you’re fucked anyway. You’re in a place where you can’t realise your terrible, unfortunate desires. But I kind of feel like for the most part, a lot of the priests wouldn’t have been so deranged, sexually, if they were allowed to have just a normal, healthy sex life. It’s a by-product of that repression.
It might be reading too much into it again, but there’s an interesting kind of dualism between you being raised Catholic, and you’ve talked about that, and then the show and the songs, a really overt celebration of sexuality. Do you think there’s anything to that? Like a reaction?
Possibly. You know, there might be a little bit of punk rock rebellion in me. But I don’t think it’s coming from a rebellious place. It’s more just a celebration, like you said. If I’m doing something, I don’t really feel like it’s blasphemous or anything like that. Maybe somewhere deep within my psyche there’s some thought of like… I dunno, it’s different now because my mother, who is the one who was the most vocal about me being involved in the Church is the most supportive. There’s stuff where she looks the other way. She doesn’t really want to see me naked on stage or doing anything too outrageous. But at the same time she’s extremely supportive.
So there’s really nothing to rebel against. It’s coming from a pure place. I mean really with the band, the only agenda I have is to push freedom. I fully support, you know, gay marriage, and I fully support acceptance. I want people to be accepted. I don’t want there to be a situation where anyone is excluded. As long as it’s coming from a positive place. I wouldn’t say that Nazis should be allowed to parade through the streets. And you could say that freedom of speech is important, but on some level we need to look out for each other, and if people are preaching a message of hate, then they shouldn’t be allowed to have the pulpit.
They should be discouraged from it, you know? Like, ‘look man, you shouldn’t be allowed to celebrate your terrible belief system, you should be educated…’ (laughs) That’s a problem, you know, people can’t see beyond themselves? Like, oh, this is what I believe. That’s what I’m saying, I don’t think everyone should believe what I believe. I don’t think I’m the only right person in the world or whatever. Everyone can have their own viewpoint. But I think it should come from a humanistic place. We should care about each other and want to help each other.
You have that verse right at the end of the album, which is pretty much directly addressing religiosity or hardline people. Is that where that comes from?
Yeah, well that’s the whole thing. A lot of people, they think about God, or they think about the afterlife, and it’s more important to them than this life. And the afterlife is something that we can’t know. And when we do know, it’s too late. So the most important thing I think is to feel like this life has value. And our relationships in this life are more important than some perceived God. Some imaginary relationship that we could have with some imaginary figure. Because it’s really just coming from imagination.
A lot of people, like my mother, think that faith has nothing to do with imagination. Like, faith is just as real… Her concept of God is just as real as her concept of me. So for her, if you tried to take away her ability to express that… you know, she always says ‘I’d be lost without my faith’. And that’s probably very common. Everybody who’s connected to some sort of organised religion probably has that sense. Like, the reason they are is because it does give them something positive.
But when that positive thing gets in the way of healthy human interaction, then there’s a problem. So that’s all I’m trying to say. We should look out for each other, basically. (laughs) We shouldn’t put our concept of what God wants us to do in front of what we should do for each other, what makes sense. It should be the natural thing that we look out for each other first, and then, sure, maybe, God exists. But you can’t really get any information from some ancient text. People think that the Bible or the Qu’ran is the word of God or whatever. It makes me kind of a bit sick to my stomach to think about all of these things that were done in the name of some ancient text.