A cross between James Joyce and James Brown? Sally Hayden meets Mik Pyro of Republic of Loose
Rapper. UCD alumnus. Libertarian philosopher. Alcoholic. Mik Pyro of Republic of Loose is a complex arrangement of all of these things and more. The Loose are three albums and hundreds of gigs down, and yet haven’t expanded beyond the home scene. Pyro is gloomily cynical about their chances in the US and beyond.
“I don’t know if anything’s going to happen to be honest because [of] the way I look… If I had had my teeth fixed a few years ago I might have been alright, but I’m too old. To really try and do that properly you’re going to need half a million quid, and we’ve had some good interest, but we don’t know if anyone’s going to put up that kind of cash.”
With hopes of international stardom apparently buried, I ask about Pyro’s college days. UCD Pyro-style, I would have thought, was electrifying to say the least. However, spending six years traipsing the concrete jungle and earning a MA, the outspoken singer says he missed out socially. “I didn’t really join any societies or anything. I joined the Rock Soc but that was a load of me arse, so I stopped. I went to the Literary Society [sic] a few times but that was full of idiots. But I loved it there, I loved being in college, I loved having access to the library, we go back there and play gigs loads and have a great time.”
Continuing his trend of severe humility, Pyro declares The Irish Times’ branding of him as a cross between James Joyce and James Brown something that involved a “hint of irony”: “I wanted to be a writer but then I realised you had to be intelligent to do that so. I been obsessed with music since I was seven – I mean I tried to do other things; I tried to do the Higher Diploma and I lasted four days, I’m not built for that type of thing. Doing music is really the only thing that makes me happy.”
Pyro is tragically candid about his fight with alcoholism, a drug that has powered his performances and sucked his intellect. “I haven’t drank since October 11th of last year and I don’t intend to ever drink again. Alcohol has ruined my life, it caused me a lot of problems, so I had to stop. Quitting was tough but it’s easier than being drunk.”
otwo asks what advice Pyro might offer music-makers thinking about popularity. “X Factor? That show’s about humiliation. The problem with Irish bands is everyone’s so worried about what will fly in a foreign country. In a place like Jamaica they don’t give a bollocks really, they just make music for themselves.”
Pyro, in conversation, is the exact alter-ego of his on-stage persona. Whether he’s too old and too unintelligent for worldwide success remains to be seen, but one suspects this man has a lot more to give.