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The Making of...Mental Deficiency

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ATL | 10:54 UK time, Thursday, 25 October 2012

Mental Deficiency


They play a Hallowe'en special (at Auntie Annies on Wed 31st) but, it you're Mental Deficiency, every day is a bit Hallowe'en. Constantly costumed, always unpredictable and reliably odd, this particular five piece don't need a calendar to tell them it's time to act the maverick. Regardless, the Auntie Annies show (with Roysta, The Unprotected, Filthy Angels and Little Miss Skates also on the bill) should be quite the celebration and gives us a wonderful excuse to find out just what makes this most curious of rock bands tick. Mag/Mus-ician and chief axesman Alex Kazam fills us in....


The first record I bought was always going to be a tough decision. There I was, a mere 8 years old dandering through Golden Discs trying to find the best way to spend my hard earned pocket money. Back in those days we had to leave our homes and go to a music shop to buy CDs. I had to pick something good as I knew that in years to come I would be asked about this very moment and my purchase would say a lot about my character, artistic credibility and good taste.

Luckily I stumbled upon an absolute classic with lyrics that bordered on the philosophical. A record that asked fundamental questions about humanity such as, 'Are there any limits?' to which the answer was a resounding 'No!' I walked out of that shop with 2 Unlimited's 'No Limits' album, confident I had made a wise decision.

Trying to work out the last record I bought was a difficult process because who actually buys anything anymore? I pretty much stream everything these days on Spotify so if I stream a full album does that count? If so it was Redline by Lazerhawk, a modern day electro artist with retro sounds that make me want to dress like Crockett and/or Tubbs. Streaming really is class, not only do I legally stream all my music, TV and films. I also stream my electricity, gas and water too! Once the boffins work out how to stream clothes and food into my house the supermarkets are in trouble.

The one gig that made me want to be in a band was Public Enemy at Vicar Street, Dublin. Ironically I was already in a band at that point but I was dating the singer and she was doing my head in. Therefore up until that point I wanted to be out of a band and away from music altogether. Public Enemy's live show blew both me and Mental Deficiency frontman Mr Majestic's minds. We started having delusions that we could rap and contemplated starting our own highly politically and socially conscious hip hop group. Then we wised up and started Mental Deficiency.

When most people in bands are asked which musician inspired them to start performing, they'll often name a respected artist they discovered in their teens. Those guys aren't looking deep enough into their psyche or far enough into their past. The urge to perform is triggered much earlier in life. This is why I can easily say that my first inspiration to perform was the legendary Pugwall from the Australian children's TV programme of the same name. He was always getting up to hi-jinks, tomfoolery and shenanigans with his band The Orange Organics and he was clearly the man. When I was 7 he inspired two friends and I to start our own band, coincidentally also called The Orange Organics. Our gear compromised of a fake microphone, a toy guitar that played itself and a single snare drum with a felt-tip pen for a drumstick. We used to put on gigs in our living rooms for our parents and we ROCKED. 

The one act my band constantly bond over and my favourite local band are both the same hero of NI Music - Roysta. To me, Roysta and his music has always represented the antithesis to the pretentious and sycophantic. He gladly plays the role of devils advocate to the musical consensus, showing the majority of 'rock' bands just how un-rock and roll they are. Even when I've seen him drunk as a skunk, almost naked and stumbling through a set with poor sound in a horrible dive bar he's still more entertaining and more relevant than 95% of NI bands. And yes, I include my own bands in that - past and present. If he teamed up with 2 Unlimited it would be the best thing ever.

The first and last cover version my band tried was the Anthrax/Public Enemy team up version of Bring the Noise. Majestic and I thought we had gotten the hip hop out of our system with the most ill-conceived side-project known to man called The White MCs and scored a minor hit with a protest song entitled 'Boycott Rain.' Unfortunately for the audience we decided to murder Bring The Noise several times live causing several African American civil rights leaders to spin in their graves.

Finally, my biggest guilty pleasure of all time. It's not 2 Unlimited, that's for sure. Those guys are musical geniuses. There's only one band I can genuinely put in that category - a band I'm very close to. They have a lot of good tunes that are overshadowed by one well-known song. They dress up like fools, are controversial for the sake of it and are overrated as far as musical talent goes. They are so embarrassed by their output they have dumb fake names so nobody knows who they really are. Their singer constantly insults and intimidates the audience and their guitarist wears a stupid top hat.

I admit it, my biggest guilty pleasure is Guns N' Roses.


Mental Deficiency play Auntie Annies on Hallowe'en night. Roysta, The Unprotected, Filthy Angels and Little Miss Skates are alos ont he bill.


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