They delivered one of the albums of the year and a live show to restore anyone's faith in guitars, bass and drums. Harry Guerin talks to Tony Hajjar from At The Drive-In, the band who made 2000 their own.
They came, they rocked, they made 500 kids pick up a guitar. Thus will be remembered At The Drive-In's December shows in Belfast and Dublin, where sweat and sentiment mixed with rough magic as the quintet powered through the finest salvo of rebel sounds since Nirvana's 'Nevermind'. Gigs come and go, but the special ones, the ones where people shut up, live and learn, have become the exceptions to treasure: that weekend no-one had the mouth or mind to steal the thunder of these Texan tearaways. From the loose groove dancing and finger pointing righteousness of vocalist Cedric, to the manic riffery of guitarists Omar and Jim and the muscular workouts of bassist Paul and drummer Tony, half the excitement was knowing that you weren't seeing the finished article, that this was just the start of something great. Or as vocalist Cedric breathlessly put it: 'a prairie fire can start with a single spark'.
They grew up in the dead-end of El Paso, Texas (or 'Hell Paso' as they dubbed it on their first single), playing in a succession of garage bands before getting together with an 'anywhere but here' philosophy. Day jobs were chucked, college studies dropped and apartments given up as they piled in a van and played to whoever, wherever. A ferocious live reputation was built and low-key albums released to the faithful.
The graft and guile eventually paid off when they hooked up with the Beastie Boys' label, Grand Royal, for this year's standout album 'Relationship Of Command'. Their guts and invention, clawing back the faith of a generation, giving rock a new lesson in urgency.