An Interview with The Radioactive Grandma

The Radioactive Grandma – The whole truth and nothing but the truth.


I witnessed The Radioactive Grandma a while back in Fibber Magees and I am very glad I did as they ROCKED the rock joint. This three piece band who’ve been featured on RTE radio 1, Balcony TV, Hotpress, NME and who’ve been praised in many online reviews, frequently play gigs in the best live venues in Dublin and around the country, two of the most notable gigs they played this year were Electric Picnic and Arthur’s Day in Whelan’s … and YES, this is a definite recommendation to go see them if you get the chance.

As mentioned there are three members in the band; Johno Leader, who actually leads the band on vocals and acoustic guitar, Peter Donohue on vocals and electric guitar and Ben McCarty on vocals and cajon drum. Small but perfectly formed (that’s in reference to the band in its entirety), The Radioactive Grandma have their vocal harmonies, instrument playing and audience interaction down to a tee. Each song I heard over the night I got to see them, was sung and played full of emotion so it is evident that these three not only love what they are doing but they care that they are doing it too. I could go into the whole … they sound like bloc party or the futureheads and harmonise as well as any barbershop quartet … but you can decide for yourself and I’ve provided all the links to do so below.

Their self titled album ‘The Radioactive Grandma’ can be found directly on iTunes and on Bandcamp  and is well worth a listen, a purchase and … before you know it you’ll be looking up tour dates.

One date that you should add to your diary is December 8th when The Radioactive Grandma will officially launch their CD with ChewYourOwnFat Records (CYOF) at Sweeney’s Bar & Venue in Dublin. For regular updates you can connect with CYOF on Facebook here, or visit their site here.

I decided to ‘social media’ connect with the band through Facebook and Twitter (they are also on MySpace). I also decided that I wanted to know more about this three piece indie rock band from Co.Cavan so I asked them for an interview and guess what? … they said yes!

  • You are known as a Cavan band but I understand that two of you originally come from the UK and one from Dublin. Who’s from where? What’s your connection with Cavan? … and how and when did you all meet?

Johno: We are known as a Cavan band and although we hail from Peterborough (Peter and I) and Dublin (Ben) we consider ourselves a Cavan band because we love the town and it reminds us alot of writing the first few tunes together. Peter and I met in England and relocated to Ireland at separate times and met Ben whilst playing country dives around Cavan in a covers band. We started writing tunes as a duo after the covers hit the skids and enlisted Ben as a percussionist after we heard he took the plunge and invested in the mighty cajon.

  • The Radioactive Grandma is an unusual name for a band or for anything for that matter, I like it, many diss it. How did you decide on it? Did your granny glow?

Ben: The name existed before I joined the band and I was told by the lads that is a loose translation of their favourite track by Iranian folk synth player Sheikh-Khan Stevens….. not sure if its true?!

Johno: Thats how it happened!

  • Other than your obvious role in the band what other roles do you fulfill? eg. Song Writer/ Spokesperson/ Magician.

Peter: We all share the roles fairly equally, the writing process is a fairly democratic process and by democratic i mean it’s like American democracy. Johno being the conservative party who ruthlessly gets or takes what he wants and Ben and I (representing the democrats) quietly raising concerns about middle eights when he isn’t around. All joking aside we all put an equal share in to the writing process and other aspects of the band, however Johno works tirelessly promoting the band online and that kind of stuff…. to which i contribute nothing!

  • Who or whom are your biggest musical influence?

Johno: The Brookside theme tune, Arcade Fire, N.W.A, The 2live Crew, William H. Cosby and Sheikh-Khan Stevens.

Ben: Metallica, Right Said Fred, Devin Townsend, Sid Owen, the Coronation Street theme tune, Stephen Gately.

  • You tour frequently and have played in some of the best live music venues that Ireland has to offer, what’s the best and worst thing about being on the road?

Johno: The worst thing about being on the road is not having a van that we can sleep in. We gig quite a lot and constantly drive to-and-from each gig and getting back at 3-4am is common for us. Other than that, there’s nothing bad whatsoever about being on the road, this is what it’s all about – getting out and playing a lot of gigs to a lot of people, and any band worth their salt would agree. We’re about to buy a van too. Happy days.

Peter: I disagree, the worst thing about being on the road is having to listen to Johno’s George Michael CD’s on the way to the gigs. I know all the words now. Please kill me.

Ben: I sleep in the back of the car on the way to gigs, so I can neither confirm nor deny Peter’s claims.

  • If you could play any concert/festival, what would it be?

Johno: Im not really sure to be honest,  We’ve played Electric Picnic and a lot of other festivals this year, and some are very similar to others. Im enjoying playing lots of the smaller gems that Dublin has, Bruxelles (Zodiac Sessions) for example, or even Beggy’s Bar (Jamrock Sessions) in Navan, these gems are really good to play. I dont really have a ‘dream gig’ , I personally just take what comes and get on with it.

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

Johno: Hopefully doing the same thing, but with more people singing along to the songs 🙂

If you’d like to see The Radioactive Grandma be sure to connect with them through Facebook, Twitter or MySpace as they will be playing in Dublin, Drogheda and Portlaoise over the coming weeks/months. Information on the Zodiac Sessions in Bruxelles, Dublin, can be found on their Facebook page here.

Don’t Forget ↓

Edwina O'Connor
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