We met up with Henry Cluney former guitarist with Highway Star, which to the uneducated may not seem very interesting. But when Highway Star then turns into Stiff Little Fingers and Henry is involved in some of Punk music’s greatest anthems, now that is interesting. He now fronts his own band XSLF with Jim Riley and Ave Tsarion who can be seen up and down the country, as well as laying down some excellent tracks on the new album “Arrup Bang”.
10-12. How has it been since forming XSLF, has it gone to plan. There seems to have been a good reaction to both live performances and the album?
Henry. It’s really been fun, we love to play and it’s nice seeing people enjoy themselves too.
10-12. Was it a difficult decision to carry on playing in a band after your health issues, or were you always planning on getting back on stage at some point?
Henry. Thankfully the health things haven’t caused any problems for which I am eternally grateful.
10-12. You and Jim are probably on the same wavelength when it comes to music, having been involved in producing some of the best Punk songs you could hope to hear with Stiff Little Fingers. How difficult was it finding a bass player good enough to capture the sound you wanted to return to that. How did Ave Tsarion get involved?
Henry. Well, our original bass player was Petesy Burns who plays for the Outcasts, sometimes we were double booked and he suggested his friend Ave as a fill in. Now he’s permanent!
10-12. Was there a lot of deliberation over the name of the band, were you tempted to choose something that had no connection with SLF?
Henry. Naming the band was a bit of an effort; we could have called ourselves SLF but might have been a bit strange lol.
10-12. The new album “Arrup Bang” has a very striking cover, can you tell us where you found it and why you chose it. What does Arrup Bang actually mean?
Henry. Arrup Bang is the cues I gave Jim while we were recording, we had no lyrics so I just shouted that, like a push in the music. Oh, Jim found that picture (Album Cover) and we thought it was really funny.
10-12. The Album has a few tracks that capture the early punk years sound, “Words” and “Rich Man”, What would you say are the highlights on the album or stand out track, and for what reason?
Henry. Well, we do those two songs plus Catch Yourself On Live, I think we varied the songs a lot on the album. There are some that really sound different, like “Wolftown”, but still has our sound.
Play: XSLF THE RICH MAN
10-12. Was there a theme running through the album when writing it, or was each song written about an individual subject?
Henry. Totally individual ideas, took a while to write them so no time for a theme really.
10-12. I remember buying “Inflammable Material” and at that time getting an album was an experience, looking over the artwork, lyric sheet and playing it to death. How difficult is it to get your music heard in today’s culture of streaming, where songs are given around 10 secs to impress before being skipped?
Henry. Can be difficult without a label backing, like you say the thing now is just to buy certain songs from an album. Glad I grew up when you listened to the whole thing!
10-12. With more achievements than most musically, what would you say was the highlight of your time as a musician?
Henry. I don’t see myself as a musician, but I think being responsible for SLF starting would rank highly. It’s always an honour when people pay good money to come and see me.
10-12. You must have played with hundreds of bands back when Punk was starting out, who would you say had the best set of songs that you would have liked to have written or impressed you the most live?
Henry. Always loved the Starjets, they really should have been huge but it didn’t work out. Other Wee band called the Alarm were good too!
10-12. Which up and coming bands today have made an impression on you, who should we look up?
Henry. I have to own up to not really knowing, I mainly listen to bands I always liked. There are great bands out there as there always was but I’m not a very good authority on that.
10-12. Your favourite band and song of all time, and why?
Henry. T.Rex “Metal Guru”, The first music I was ever into was glam rock. T.Rex will always be my favs.
10-12. Your favourite song you have been involved in and why?
Henry. Fav SLF song is Wait and See, why I’m not sure. Jake wrote a great tune to go with Gordon’s lyrics, that song always stands out for me. Also have to say that I’m happy with the songs on Arrup Bang, turned out well.
10-12. Whats next for XSLF?
Henry. We have a break until mid-March then off creating mayhem again!! See yiz there!