NOT many bands have charted the demise of the Catholic church’s authority in the Republic of Ireland.
But while the subject seems a far cry from the rock and roll pop song, the Saw Doctors took one of the most pivotal moments in the Catholic Church’s history and immortalised it in one of their most popular hits, Howya Julia.
The song’s about Eamon Casey, the Roman Catholic Bishop Emiratus of Galway and Kilmacduagh, Ireland, who had a sexual relationship with an American divorcee, who fell pregnant and told the Irish Times the story.
Leo Moran, the Saw Doctor’s lead guitarist, explains. “That was a real historic episode in the culture of the Catholic church and the bishop was completely found out in public. He was having an affair with a woman and it was the first time that they had to admit that they had not been practising what they preached.”
“That opened the gates for other investigations into the church. Before this, everyone believed everything they were told by the church – it had so much power over everybody.”
Moran even recalls the strictly-run Catholic youth club he went to. “If you were dancing too close to a girl a priest would come over and separate you. They preached about everything.”
Yet, despite having grown up in a church-monitored Catholic culture, the Saw Doctors created Irish-tinged ‘punk’ pop, which satirised the very culture from which the band emerged.
Indeed, witty, sharp observations and rich characters have defined the Saw Doctors’ lyrics throughout the band’s career. I Used to Love her described a former lover who collected for ‘Concern’ on Christmas Eve.
Inspiration comes when Moran has his ‘songwriting goggles on’. “Unfortunately there isn’t always the time or opportunities for the songwriting goggles to come out – it’s like waiting for a little bird to come and sit on your shoulder. But if you sit down quietly it may come over.”
Saw Doctors will be bringing their muiscal schemes to Sheffield this week as part of a full UK tour.
The band plays at Plug on Sunday.