The Golden Horde (band)

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The Golden Horde, live:(left to right): Des O'Byrne, Peter O'Kennedy, Simon Carmody, John Connor & Sam Steiger.

The Golden Horde (1982–1994) were a punk, neo-psychedelic, garage rock band based in Dublin, Ireland:

Simon Carmody, John Connor, Des O'Byrne, Peter O'Kennedy & Sam Steiger, are the most renowned line-up of the band, although the first live performance featured thirteen band members on stage.

"The Golden Horde are the group to break all rules, owing allegiance to none, sworn to weirdness & quite determined to steal every idea that ain't tied down...inestimably brilliant." - Sounds Magazine (UK)[1]

The group disbanded in spring 1994, members going their separate ways to pursue a variety of personal projects. Golden Horde supporters maintain an internet presence across social media - SoundCloud, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Bandcamp and fan sites, with previously unreleased studio, live and rare performances being discovered and made available perpetually.

  • Simon Carmody now pursues a career in screenwriting.
  • John Connor is now based in New York City. One of his solo music projects is under the alias 'messyheads' [2][3]
  • Sam Steiger now performs with The Sultans of Ping FC.
  • Des O'Byrne is a performing DJ in the US.
  • Peter O'Kennedy now works in sculpture, art and design.[4]


Regarded as some of the few musicians to stick so resolutely to their principles that they arguably did a disservice to their career. Regardless, the band did attain some commercial success. Yet, that in itself has always been surpassed by the cult underground following The Golden Horde still retain to the present day.

More significant again is their influence across a variety of alternative musical acts, which continues to propagate further with the digitization of rare, unreleased, and live recordings, and performances. Their own music was inspired by such artists such as The Ramones, The Velvet Underground, Johnny Thunders, Big Star, The Faces, The Byrds, Slade, The Damned, The Rolling Stones, Scott Walker, The Cramps, T-Rex and The Stooges.

The first recording, the art punk, garage, surf rock EP: Dig That Crazy Grave, was released in 1983. Followed by the first EP-album, The Chocolate Biscuit Conspiracy!, in 1984, and featuring spoken-word contributions from futurist and satirist Robert Anton Wilson. From this album, the single, "Young & Happy", was chosen as the theme song for the EuroSurf '85 championships.[clarification needed]

The Golden Horde's Des O' Byrne scored the music for the premiere performance of Robert Anton Wilson's "Wilhelm Reich in Hell" play, which debuted at the Edmund Burke Hall in Trinity College, Dublin. Wilson later went on to include 'The Golden Horde' (as a fictitious rock group performing at a music festival) in The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles.

Donald Murray bass guitarist since 1982 departed late 1985. Succeeded by John Connor, and along with the addition of second guitarist, Sam Steiger, calibrating what was to become the most acclaimed[citation needed] line-up of The Golden Horde 1985–1994. The second EP-album Reality, recorded throughout 1985, was released in 1986.

Numerous BBC and RTÉ Radio Sessions were completed between 1985–1993, featuring Golden Horde originals as well as their own often eclectic choice of one-off cover songs. In 1988 they appeared at the "Eurorock (EuroSonic) Festival" in Groningen, Holland, where respected journalist and music critic Wierd Duk wrote:

"Apart from the solid Ramones-like rock'n'roll of The Golden Horde, the rest of Europe had no bands worth mentioning"[5]

That night, the Horde followed up their intense one-hour-and-forty-five-minute set performance at the festival, with a second, now legendary, secret free show at "Club Vera", a venue in Groningen. Bootleg recordings of these shows circulate amongst GH supporters and collectors. In 1988, the band contributed to the Temple St Children's Charity Concert, performing along with The Dubliners and The Pogues.

During this period the band played with acts as varied as The Fall, The Prisoners, The Ramones, The Pogues, The Damned, Johnny Thunders, The Mighty Caesars, The Cramps and The Nomads.[6]

Recording under the pseudonym 'The Last Bandits (in the World') i.e. the Golden Horde and friends, including: Henry McCullough, Steve Wickham, Johnny Fean, Nikki Sudden and Anthony Thistlethwaite, yielded the recordings "The Angels are Calling", "Christmas Morning", "Til The Next Goodbye" and the album "The Last Bandits" (see YouTube). All recordings were remastered and re-released in 2018. Other recording projects/collaborations during this time period were the sessions written & recorded with Mick Blood of Australian band the Lime Spiders, as well as sessions with Producer Denny Cordell.

From April–May 1990, Johnny Thunders during an acoustic tour of the UK and Ireland joining up with John Connor, Sam Steiger & Peter O'Kennedy of The Golden Horde for electric performances. Johnny had befriended and performed with the Horde previously in 1984 at the TV Club, Dublin and Belfast and both acts were concurrently on tour (of the UK & Ireland) at that time.

After declining years of major label 'sell-out' offers, The Golden Horde finally signed to Mother/Island Records label. The independent-style label had been established by U2. Recordings for the singles "100 Boys" and "I Never Came Down" were initiated with producer Daniel Rey, and completed with co-producer Andy Shernoff for the album that would be titled The Golden Horde.

Music videos for "100 Boys" and "Friends in Time" (see YouTube etc.) were shot with director Richie Smith The Siege of Jadotville.

Released in 1991, the (eponymously-titled) album "The Golden Horde" was voted joint No. 1 record with U2's Achtung Baby in the Hot Press Irish Music Awards for that year.[7] Singer and Golden Horde cohort Maria McKee, contributed vocals to the song "Friends in Time" and "Hell" amongst others on the album. The album was again celebrated in the book 101 Irish Records You Must Hear Before You Die (2012). " of the very few Irish Rock Singers that you could have easily imagined charming the pants off arena members...the coolest cohorts of any Irish rock act before or since" - Tony Clayton-Lea [8][9]

During this time period The Golden Horde performed at many European festivals, as well as the 'SunStroke Festival' at Dalymount Park with Sonic Youth, Hole, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Ice Cube, the infamous 'Fleadh Mór (1993) at Tramore Stadium' and numerous 'Feile' festivals at Semple Stadium (between 1990–1993). They also headlined 'The European Skateboarding Expo Festival' — in 1991 at The Point Depot, Dublin.[10] In 1992 Tim McGrath succeeded Peter O'Kennedy as drummer. The band played with U2 on their Zoo TV Zooropa tour in 1993.

The final Golden Horde performance was as part of the 'Cradle Benefit for Bosnian Children', City Hall, Cork (the event also featured Shane MacGowan and Nick Cave).[11] The Golden Horde disbanded in 1994.

Previous members have included:

  • Tim McGrath – drums 1992–94
  • Justin Healy – drums 1992
  • Simon Walker – drums 1982
  • Bernie Furlong – backing/co-vocals 1982–1986
  • Adrienne Foley – backing/co-vocals 1982
  • Caroline Kelly – backing/co-vocals 1982