Whether it is Adele castigating Donald Trump during his presidential campaign or Radiohead’s Thom Yorke saying he would sue David Cameron, musicians boiling over at the thought of their work being used to political ends is nothing new.
So when a recent event pitching an Irish exit from the EU – “Irexit” – featured a song from Horslips, the resulting war of words may not have surprised many from the worlds of politics or entertainment.
In fact, the spat and its accompanying publicity may be seen to benefit both.
“Some of you may have spotted that the saddos in the Eirexit (sic) conference had the feckin’ temerity to use Dearg Doom as a soundtrack and to show the image of the album cover on the big screen. Needless to say, they didn’t ask us,” the band posted on its Facebook page following last week’s Irexit: Freedom to Prosper conference at the RDS in Dublin.
Event organisers claim 600 people turned up, buoyed by the prospect of a similar Irish movement to that which precipitated the UK’s departure from Europe in a controversial 2016 referendum.
Horslips, it would seem, are not so enthusiastic about the idea, or the organisers’ use of Dearg Doom – whose guitar riff was famously used in the Italia ‘90 World Cup anthem Put ’Em Under Pressure.
“If they had [asked us], we’d have pointed out that we wouldn’t piss on them if they were on fire -which they’re unlikely to be, anytime soon,” they said.
Describing those who attended last Saturday’s event as a “fearful, xenophobic” gathering of “Little Islanders”, the band said they would now explore whether there was grounds for a copyright infringement case.
Horslips, who became famous in the 1970s for their blend of rock and traditional Irish music, said they had “stood for a hopeful, outward looking, inclusive vision of Ireland”.
However, their lyrical rebuke was met head on by the conference organisers who said that like most “glam rock” bands, Horslips’ music is great but their political views are “crap”.
“They should be damn thankful we played their music, few other people listen to it now,” said Hermann Kelly, spokesman for the EFDD (Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy) group in the European Parliament, which counts Nigel Farage among its members.
“Horslips political views are as out of touch as their 1970’s flop hairstyles,” he added, using the opportunity to reiterate many of the platform issues espoused by the group, including European expansionism and bureaucracy.
“Stop acting as a warm-up act for a single EU Super-state, which dictates the majority of our laws and bleeds us dry with the increasing contributions we have to fork out for,” Kelly said – music to the ears of Eurosceptics everywhere.