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Armagh metal-heads become ‘basket-heads’ in collaborative new music video

'Everyone just put everything into it and the creativity was really high. It will be really and truly start to finish an Armagh production and I'm very proud of it'

Astralnaut, from left to right: Gary Treanor, Glenn Harrison, Jon Joe Harrison, Tony O'Neill and Thomas Mallon

A hard rock band of Armagh-based metal-heads have formed the most unlikely of alliances with Armagh’s famous ‘basket-heads’, the Armagh Rhymers.

The metal-heads – five piece stone metal band Astralnaut – have been fusing elements of heavy metal and psychedelic rock to create their incredibly unique sound for over 12 years.

Comprised of lead singer Thomas Mallon, guitarist and founding member Gary Treanor, guitarist Jon Joe Harrison, Tony O’Neill on bass and Jon Joe’s brother, Glenn Harrison, on drums, the band have gigged ‘ferociously’ all over the island of Ireland.

However, most recently the band announced ‘the collaboration you’ve been waiting for’ after enlisting the help of the Armagh-based ‘mummers’ and several other local talents for production of their latest music video.

The video is a true ‘Armagh production’ – and as Thomas told Armagh I – it came to fruition through a chance meeting with Armagh film producer Conor Toner.

“The universe provides,” he said.

“I was speaking to him [Conor] in the Hole in the Wall in January and he happened to be friends with my sister. He asked about the band and I told him we were getting our album ready to launch this year and we’re going to create a video.

“He said, Funny I’m a director and I’m looking for projects’. If I hadn’t been standing there and he hadn’t have been standing there it wouldn’t have happened.”

According to Thomas, it was Conor’s idea to get the Rhymers involved and Astralnaut – seeing the Rhymers as “part of the fabric of Armagh” – couldn’t say fairer.

Continued Thomas: “I was surprised that they [The Rhymers] wanted to get involved! Conor asked them for a lend of their masks so they provided the costumes.

“The song is called Tipping Point and it’s about climate change or environmental decline.

“In the video we are having a wake for Mother Earth and there’s this trickster character who is a pied piper for the mummers and all us guys from the band are in their costumes with their wicker heads on.

“It’s a bit of a metaphor for climate change. The Rhymers weren’t on the shoot themselves but we couldn’t have done it without them because they took our production value from zero to 100.

“The masks looked amazing and it was really nice for them to help local artists and collaborate. We were really touched to get to use them. We are going 12 years and heavy metal isn’t the biggest genre out there but it’s nice to know that our fellow local musicians are there to support us.”

Band members, cast and crew on site at the video shoot

Support for the video came in all forms and it gave the band their first taste of a professional shoot.

“Conor was just brilliant. He put together such a great team,” added Thomas. “We had Megan McArdle from Middletown and she was involved as our producer, which was refreshing for us because videos we have done in the past have been a fully amateur production and we have been the creative force behind it.

“The lovely thing about this was that Conor was the creative force behind it. He had Megan there to keep everyone right and tell people when they were needed on set and when we were breaking for lunch so it was professionally run and a brilliant experience for us and such a dream.

“Our camera man, Peter Johnston, was from Gilford, and his camera assistant, Oisin Lavery, was from Armagh. My sister Oonagh, who works for Yellow Moon post production house, gave us a hand. Our extra was Jack Murray, from Armagh, and the only person involved who wasn’t from Armagh was our trickster Kane, who was a theatre actor from Dublin.

“The locations were out in Richhill; a friend of ours let us use his house as a location and a lovely family from Caledon offered their farm. Whilst it technically wasn’t Armagh we were on the river Blackwater looking over at Armagh!

Astralnaut performing at a gig in January at Voodoo, Belfast for the Metal to the Masses competition. Inset: Astralnaut’s new album cover.

Not only has the collaborative effort resulted in the band’s first ever fully produced video – it has also proved to be mutually beneficial for the Rhymers.

Said Thomas: “I left their equipment back on Monday and they actually asked us if we would be interested in being extras on a production they are doing in Wicklow in May.

“They really are brilliant. It’s not just that they were doing us a favour for our video but now they are offering us work if we wanted to be extras again.

“There’s not a lot of money in what we do but we do it for the love of it and the passion.

“Everyone just put everything into it and the creativity was really high. It will be really and truly start to finish an Armagh production and I’m very proud of it.”

The video is due to be released next week and will be available to view on Astralnaut’s Facebook page here.

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