The Zen Arcade
KASBAH Social Club - Limerick, V94 KX51, Ireland
The Zen Arcade are a garage rock band from Ireland that play original and prawn cocktail
The band is comprised of three ex-members of The Strypes, an outfit that enjoyed 2 Top 20 Uk
albums with Universal, appearances on Jools Holland, The Late Show With David Letterman,
Conan, Music Station in Japan, Glastonbury and supported the Arctic Monkeys on their UK/EU
AM tour. The band also embarked on extensive sold out headline tours of the UK, EU, US, South
America and Japan averaging a work rate of 200 shows a year. Before calling it quits, the band
contributed to (and landed parts in) the Elton John biopic, ‘Rocketman’. Hollywood came
knocking and then stopped knocking after it realised it had the wrong house.
The Zen Arcade have done none of this but I can assure you are very good.
Tired of the -luxury- of independence, The Zen Arcade decided the embrace the -pressure- of
independence by starting their own zine, Cro Mag Non, and podcast, Higher Fidelity, offering
the band with the bandwidth for more, the airwaves to do so.
Cro Mag Non is a fanzine that’s so DIY you have to make it yourself. Publishing the PDFs
online, the zine has managed to make it to tabletops in England, Germany, America and Japan
whilst also being physically available from miniature kiosks in Tower Records, Rage Records and
the Irish Writers Centre.
Higher Fidelity is a podcast focusing on music analysis in the form of segments like ‘When
Should They Have Stopped’, (your favourite bands and the point at which they cacked it) ‘Guilty
Hatreds’ (bands you feel bad about disliking) and ‘Never Mind The Fuzzbox’ (the guess the intros
round from Never Mind The Buzzcocks but with a fuzz pedal thrown into to avoid any litigious tv
execs) enjoys a dedicated listenership in equal measures from Ireland, UK, America and Japan.
Committing to a monthly release schedule for both, the 1st Tuesday of every month sees a new
issue of Cro Mag Non grace shelves and printers while the 3rd Tuesday is Higher Fidelity’s time to
Ignoring advice to tone it back a bit the band instead toned it forward by establishing their own
label Dental Records under the advice, guidance and general anaesthetic of Kevin Colgate, the
local dentist who was inspired to start the label as a grass roots canal effort to highlight the great
musical output but poor oral hygiene of the bands in his waiting room.
The flagship release on the label ‘Don’t Say A Word’ (DENT 001) held water all the way to the top
spot of the iTunes Singles Chart on the day of release and entered the National Singles Chart at
No.12 the following Friday, before ly leaving it the following following Friday. Accompanied
by a physical cassette release the track enjoyed significant airplay on Irish and American radio. So
It’s sophomore of the same for the follow up. The second release on Dental Records, (DENT
002), ‘High Fidelity’, started life as the intro to their Higher Fidelity podcast but graduated from
jingle to single in a fashion unheard of since the Minder theme. It also went to No. 1. Speaks
for itself AND speaks volumes.
Influences for the music, zine, podcast and label include The Hoodoo Gurus, Jesus And Mary
Chain, Teenage Fanclub, Graham Coxon, Dinosaur Jr, Viz, Nick Hornby and Listerine along
with a vested and cardiganed interest in cow-punk and power-pop.