Garry O’Neill, who brought us the glorious Where Were You? back in 2011, is busy with a batch of projects. In the pipeline is his book on the history of Dublin record shops, another on Irish 7” singles artwork, a special on photography and design and two follow-ups to the aforementioned Where Were You? But due this month is Vox, a 400+ page opus featuring the complete collection of the revered 1980s Dublin fanzine. The book is another collaboration between Garry and graphic designer/illustrator Niall McCormack. I spoke to Garry about the new book and the 38-year-old fanzine.
What was Vox?
Vox was a seminal, independently published, early eighties Dublin fanzine that featured leftfield art and music, alongside features on Dublin subcultures. The first issue came out in March 1980 and the last issue (#15) in September 1983. It was sold on the street initially, at select spots in the city centre, then in shops like Freebird Records on Grafton Street and Advance Records on South King Street.
There were many notable Dublin fanzines from that period. Why do a book on Vox?
Others, like Heat, Black & White and Imprint were all good in their own way. Vox had a certain ethos and ideals influenced by punk. It was submerged in the alternative arts and experimental music community within Dublin. It allowed artist expression and communication of ideas, that wouldn’t necessary manifest in the mainstream. It staged gigs, arts shows, talks and discussions and released Stano’s first record. It was more than just a magazine.
Who were the main people involved?
Dave Clifford was the main person behind it; He was its editor. Ray Murphy did design; he worked on the first five issues before Dave continued on alone. Dave’s wife Celia typed it.
Have they remained active in the arts world?
Dave does some film and video work now, Ray Murphy is an established painter, while regular contributors Cathal and Sean from Microdisney recently reformed that band for some live shows.
Was it a commercial venture or was it totally a labour of love?
I don’t think any fanzine sets out to be commercial venture. They are, by essence, a labour of love.
What are your favourite articles/photos from the collection?
The Throbbing Gristle and Michael O’Shea features; The Mark Perry and Mark E Smith’s contributions; Dave’s Alternative Expression pieces plus the subculture photography which was a huge influence on the Where Were You? book.
Which is your favourite cover?
Issue ten. It’s a still from the Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 silent film Battleship Potemkin. I also like the Viennese Actionist on issue five and Linder from Ludas on issue eleven.
Why do you think this book is important?
It’s an outstanding cultural document of a very vibrant and creative period in the city. Hopefully it will inspire young people to see that they can develop and produce something independent and credible.
Published by Hitone Books, Vox can be bought online at www.wherewereyou.ie or over the counter at Freebird Records in Wicklow St and Spindizzy Records in George’s Arcade.
Words: Brian McMahon Brand New Retro