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GunStar Zeroes, The Factory, Thurles, 27th August 2003

Mention Thurles, Co Tipperary, to most Irish music fans and they will probably say something along the lines of "I was at the Féile there in (fill in the year)" and that's it, pretty much the only thing this town is remembered for. What most people don't realise, even some people who live here, is that Thurles has a habit of producing good, strong bands who ultimately fail because of the apathetic attitude they are greeted with in the town. The problem is that there are no venues for new bands to play in, Thurles, like most towns, publicans want to stick with what it safe and so they have the same three cover bands on rotation.

That is why you have to respect Thurles youngsters GunStar Zeroes for taking matters in to their own hands. Obviously influenced by the Blast all ages gigs, they organised their own all ages show in the Factory with the proceeds from the door going to charity. They got a crowd in, the venue was about a quarter full and that in itself is an achievement, but that would have been irrelevant if they were shit. In fact, they proved themselves as good musicians and performers. Even the terrible sound towards the end of their set could not keep GunStar Zeroes from battling on, eventually coming out on top regardless and no doubt winning themselves over some new fans.

Support on the night came from their friends in No Big Thing from Maynooth and, believe me, this band will never make it. I hate to be the one to crush a young band's dreams, but guys, give it up and get a job robbing trolleys from Supervalu, please. No Big Thing look and sound like they came out of a brightly packaged and easy to use 'Build your own pop punk band' kit. They look like they should be hanging around outside of the Central Bank in Dublin on a Saturday afternoon complaining about how much they hate their parents because they won't let them stay out late on Saturday night.

Thankfully GunStar Zeroes were better, much better. Confident and energetic on stage their songs may be slightly generic modern punk, but they have the potential to grow. On CD they sound very like Blink-182, but live the vocal and guitar interplay between Kevin Sutton and Roddy Condon is much stronger and rawer. Tracks like 'Phoenix' and 'Man Down' are lively and catchy, easily working their way into your head.

At the moment, GunStar Zeroes sound a little too like Good Charlotte and their ilk, but I would say that given a little time they will develop a more unique sound. All new bands immediately try to emulate their heroes, but it is the ones who can grow into their own skin that survive and at the moment this is still a young band. Remember it took Silverchair three albums to finally find the sound they were comfortable with. Keep an eye on the horizon for GunStar Zeroes, you should be hearing a lot from this band in the future.

Ken McGrath.

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