As Irish guitarist Leo Moran recalls, it all started with a Joe Jackson concert he caught in Galway. “He was going through the second phase of his career, so he did ‘Is She Really Going Out With Him,’ but a cappella, and I thought it was fabulous,” says the Saw Doctors founder. So he added a vocal-only version of the band’s early hit “Red Cortina” to their recent tour, then decided to record it. “So we put it out as a single, and it worked really well — it was a real joy and people liked listening to it,” he says of their surprise chart hit. As the Irish economy tanks, the band will bolster expat spirits in San Francisco on Friday.
So the Celtic Tiger economy is now a bedraggled housecat? Yeah. It was so horrible, it really was. It was just money moving around in circles, getting faster and faster, without any value being added to it. So there was nothing being produced, nothing being sold. People were coming over from Poland to build houses, but it all came full circle and they went back to Poland, and the houses are there but nobody’s living in ’em now. They’re ghost estates, and they’re so ugly and depressing, it’s unbelievable. There’s an estate built within a few hundred yards of my house in Tuam, and I counted 54 houses one evening, without a light on or a car outside. They’re just going into ruin.
How has it affected you, personally? Or your friends? Some people are prisoners in their own home, because they can’t afford to leave the house. They’re paying off a mortgage that they can’t afford, in the first place. And now they don’t even have the money to go down to the bar and have a pint — it’s terrible. People’s incomes are just completely depleted by these mortgages that were overinflated prices of buildings. And the banks in Ireland won’t even take the houses back, because they have no value to them.
So Saw Doctors music is probably providing some comfort, correct? Well, I think people are more interested in music in harder times — I think it means more to them. And it’s definitely not doing us any harm. But we’re lucky, as well, because we never charged high ticket prices, so we don’t have to go out groveling now. I’d like to think that even if somebody’s on welfare, they should still be able to afford to go and see the band that they like.
IF YOU GO
The Saw Doctors
Where: Slim’s, 333 11th St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Contact: (415) 522-0333, www.slimstickets.com