Toasted Heretic – How To Do An Album for £400

A slight departure from normal broadcasting today in light of all this talk of irish indie moments over at Hot Press. Sending off £4.99 in 1986 to a postal address in Galway for a copy of Toasted Heretic‘s cassette release Songs For Swinging Celibates was definitely a seminal moment. For the princely sum of £400 irish punts said intrepid band recorded and released an album which caught Dave Fanning and the public’s imagination:


by Julian Gough, singer and novelist.

We were all on the dole. Ireland was banjaxed.

I worked, that summer, in an old Jesuit seminary in Spain, teaching English to the children of the rich. I returned with £400, and opened the Toasted Heretic bank account. We would record and release an album. For £400… We recorded it in Neil’s living room, on cassette. Neil’s mum made us tea whenever we stopped. Gareth did the sleeve, for £20. (He offered to do it for nothing, but that didn’t seem fair.) We printed a few thousand inlays for £240. Just the red and blue, to save £40. We drew in the yellow by hand.

We hadn’t enough money left to mix the album onto a 1/4″ master tape. So I found the RTE studio in Galway, walked in, and asked could we use their mixing desk, to mix our album onto 1/4″ tape. Their tape. Amused, they rang Dublin and asked Ian Wilson, the producer of the Dave Fanning Show, to officially book us in as a Dave Fanning session. We mixed the album to 1/4″, they made another 1/4″ copy for Dave Fanning, and gave us our precious reel… We had a master, and Dave could play us on the radio. Now we just had to make a lot of albums. But we only had a hundred quid left…

As the bank account emptied and we still had no album, I would lie awake at night, pouring cold sweat. Vinyl was far too expensive (you had to pay for metal pressing plates), CD even more expensive. Cassette, then. So we had a hundred cassettes made, for a hundred quid. But we had no distribution…

So I asked would they take some in Gateway Books on Quay Street. Face out, strikingly sleeved, they sold well. Then Star Records took them… Then, to Dublin by bus, and Comet Records in Temple Bar took fifteen… We sold the first hundred, paid for two hundred more, sold them, paid for 400… Dave Fanning was playing us, and reading out Neil’s address! Five pound notes came through the post! We’d send them a cassette and a free packet of Tayto. Soon, we had enough money saved to record another album. Back into Neil’s livingroom… His mum put on the kettle. The room was full of love. And Toasted Heretic began to record Charm & Arrogance…

Black Contact Lenses

Love Theme From Yeats The Movie

Toasted Heretic also recorded a Fanning Session but I have have so far been unable to track it down. If you have a copy and would like to share it please drop a line to fanningsessions at gmail dot com. To hear what they sounded like live wander over here.

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