|XSLF: From left, Ave Tsarion, Jim Reilly and Henry Cluney at Tintern Abbey in Wales. (Courtesy of XSLF)|
"As it was meant to be."
That's the tagline on the website for XSLF, which features former Stiff Little Fingers members Henry Cluney on guitar/vocals and Jim Reilly on drums along with Ave Tsarion on bass.
As we all know, original SLF members Jake Burns and Ali McMordie still have that band going strong these days 38 years since its inception in Belfast. But Cluney (also a founding member) hasn't been a part of the group since 1993 and wanted to get back on board with some of those classic songs with him at the helm. Reilly, SLF's second drummer, left the band in 1981 and later played with such units as Red Rockers and The Raindogs in the United States.
I first caught SLF in action on July 4, 1981 at Perkins Palace in Pasadena, Calif., and Cluney, Reilly, Burns and McMordie were in top form on the "Go For It" tour.
So, now we've got SLF and XSLF, and below we've got Cluney's take on things in an email interview.
What matters to me is that these vigorous, stirring and insightful songs still resonate with so many fans these days. Roll on, guys!
* Why did you decide to form XSLF? When did you start? Where are you all living?
Decided to form XSLF after Jim wouldn't stop bugging me!! Our first gig was August 2013 and the band is based in Belfast.
* What were the initial conversations like with you and Jim about doing this band?
Jim really wanted to play and at the time I was doing solo gigs. He is a persistent man!!
* We know who you and Jim are, who's the bassist and how does he fit in with you guys?
Ave is the bass player. He is a guitarist first, but we had one of those...a bad one. We all get along really well, so it really is fun.
* How has the reaction been from fans and how have the gigs been?
People seem to love the gigs. We are really easy going and like to have fun with the music.
* What's it like for you to revisit these songs? What's the setlist and why did you choose those songs?
It's strange singing the songs, but I love it. Our set is from the first three SLF albums...we only play songs Jim and I were involved in. (Songs include "Barbed Wire Love," "Nobody's Hero," "At the Edge," "Alternative Ulster" and more.)
* I've heard XSLF's new song "Inflammable Material," tell me about that song? What's on the horizon for XSLF?
"Inflammable Material" is about how people think the whole Northern Ireland problem is over...but it's really not.
Writing new songs for an album hopefully this summer.
* When was the last time you spoke with Jake and Ali, and what do they think about XSLF?
Spoke to Ali last when he came to see us in Belfast last July. Jake I haven't spoken to for a while... They have no problem with XSLF...which they shouldn't have-- lol.
Editor's note: In an email to us, Jake wrote: "Obviously I don't have anything to do with XSLF, so I couldn't possibly comment on them."
* How do you feel about SLF and what they've done after you were no longer a member of the band? (Why did you part ways?)
Take too long to tell my SLF story, but they had the manager tell me that my services were no longer required.
I think they have had some great songs, but not with the feel we used to have.
We play the songs raw and as energetic as they used to be...hopefully people enjoy it!
Tsarion gigged with punk band Stalag 17 a few years ago, and also delved into the thrash-metal circuit and was a session musician in America for almost two decades. Currently, he's also playing in projects with Belfast stalwart Petesy Burns and other solid musicians.
He chipped in on his involvement with XSLF:
"Haven’t laughed as much in years! Jim and Henry are beyond hilarious...it's a Norn Irish schism, one I missed dearly whilst in America.
"Both on the road and in studio, we share that Belfast affinity that makes XSLF what it is -- real, raw & rockin’. Personally, I love blasting out tunes to such enthusiastic rockers who appreciate the music, as we do. It feels natural, which makes all the difference."
For information, visit: http://www.xslf.co.uk/Xslf/