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...a brief rollercoaster ride through the history of the Golden Horde...

full throttle

"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


Formed in 1982 by Des, Simon & Caroline Harvey-Kelly as some kind of garage rock-pet sounds-punk rock style hybrid...! Des' unique guitar style (think Jerry Garcia, Frank Black, Wayne Kramer & Buck Dharma!) along with Simon's gift for lyric, would be the main stays of the band throughout it's mutating incarnation...
Simon Carmody
Although not yet a band proper, at the first legendary gig in the Hirschfield Centre in Dublin City, there were 13 members on stage! (See "Early Days 1981-83" for more information)

Eventually settling on a 5-piece line-up in 1983, the band released their first recording, an EP entitled "Dig That Crazy Grave!" on the Dublin indie Hotwire label. This release yielded widespread critical acclaim in Europe and led to notable gigs/support shows in the UK & Ireland.

The following year the band released their first album - The Chocolate Biscuit Conspiracy! - on Hotwire/MediaBurn, featuring conspiracy theorist-futurist-playwright and author of the infamous Illuminatus Trilogy Robert Anton Wilson. Des scored the music for the premiere performance of Wilson's "Wilhelm Reich in Hell" play, which debuted in at the Edmund Burke Hall in Trinity College, Dublin. Apparently, Wilson went on to write the Golden Horde into one of his later books...!

From this album was released the single "Young & Happy" (also the theme for EuroSurf '85!), which received regular daytime radio play - which was rare before what we know today as daytime radio play/MTV!

These releases garnered more UK and Irish shows and saw the continued development of an underground cult following for the band.

The 2nd album was ...In Reality! on Hotwire/Mediaburn Records, which received further positive press reviews and firmly established the band as contenders for the title 'next big thing' (a label attached to the band repeatedly by the NME, Sounds, Melody Maker, Hot Press and other music publications for many years...) and broadened their listenership outward into mainland Europe.

Des Byrne & Simon Carmody During this time the first RTE Radio Session was completed produced by renowned radio producer Ian Wilson, featuring the songs "Teenage Head" (the same Flamin' Groovies classic, a favorite encore of both the band and their audience), as well as "Gatecrashing Your Mind" amongst other Horde original songs.

Following the release of ...In Reality!, Sam Steiger (a Pete Townshend/Johnny Thunders dynamic style player and performer) was recruited as a 2nd guitarist and shortly afterwards bass player Donal Murray was succeeded by John Connor, who played bass in a Ramones-Stones-Motorhead-AC/DC style (differing from the previous 'walking bass' sound of the bands previous recordings). Now the definitive Golden Horde line-up began to take shape!

The Horde gradually became ensconced in the musical underground scene of the day (which was pretty diverse) - from playing with garage rock bands and future longtime friends like The Barracudas, The Headcoats/Thee Milkshakes & The Prisoners, to straight-up punk rock bands, to rockabilly/psychobilly bands of the mid-late 80's British scene like The Meteors, The Cramps, The Sting-Rays & The Guana Batz . . . as well as The Pogues & making friends and acquaintances in the Camden Lock scene, all mixed in with straight up rock'n'roll like The Jacobites. And the list goes on...

Seemingly foolish to some, they did admirably (to their fans and supporters) decline the interest of various major labels buzzing around wishing to sign the band, IF they "toned down" their sound, or "sounded more like" bands in the pop charts at the time such as the Jesus & Mary Chain, or the Manic Street Preachers...

"The live show was 5 Iggy's on stage!" -- music press quote (Hot Press?).
Manic, beautiful melodies fuelled by the ideal rock'n'roll band 2 guitar set-up!


The first (or second?) BBC Radio Session was recorded during this period at the historic BBC Maida Vale Studios in London. Songs recorded included "It is I" and "Positively Nowhere Today!" amongst several other originals (info anybody?).

The Golden Horde's live show at this time also featured The Fabulous Charlottes, who go-go danced in cages, sometimes wearing just day-glo bodypaint!, (they didn't mind, though some women's activist groups did). Bernie Furlong, the last remaining female backing vocalist since the formative days, departed during this period to pursue alternate ambitions.

John Connor
As well as their own shows, the Horde were also touring and/or playing with The Pogues (and frequently over years), Johnny Thunders, The Fall, Doctor & the Medics, The Damned, Zodiac Mindwarp, The Ramones, Shakin' Stevens(!), The James Taylor Quartet, Spaceman 3, The Sting-Rays ( the Horde & the StingRays recorded together, see Solo Projects and Collaborations), Psychic TV(!), The Wonderstuff, The Soup Dragons, The Nomads and many more.

During this period they also appeared at the Eurorock Festival in Holland (November 1988), a major showcase of European underground/ independent music, about which 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" (anyone have photos or any other memorabilia for this event?). Following their intense one hour and forty-five minute set, the band took off for a local club venue (Vera, Groningen) and played for a further two hours!

Another high-profile appearance was headlining The European Skateboarding Expo held in Dublin in 1991 (photos anybody???).

The Horde also headlined the first of an annual international bikers show The Freewheelers MC Custom and Classic Show (held in June, see gigs list) where Hells Angels, Satan Slaves, Devils Disciples & thousands of international motorcycle club members & freestyle knitting enthusiasts descending upon the city of Waterford in Ireland. The festival's attendance grew rapidly over the years, and the Horde became close friends with the organizers (Waterford Freewheelers MC), gladly returning to play 5+ years in a row! (can anyone confirm this?)

Other recording projects and collaborations during this time period were the sessions that spawned the songs "Solar System" & "Repetition!", written & recorded with Mick Blood of The Lime Spiders, engineered by Paul Thomas (U2, Clannad, Moving Hearts, Davy Spillane) and produced by the Horde.

Peter A perennial satellite Golden Horde project was The Last Bandits, which allowed the Horde to further explore their more acoustic side, and which spawned singles and albums with guests and collaborators as varied as Nikki Sudden (Swell Maps/Jacobites), members of The Waterboys, Johnny Fean of Horslips/Zen Alligators, Henry McCullough (of Paul McCartney's Wings & solo reknown), Mark Shepard of The Barracudas and others...

Other recording projects included almost a year in the studio recording an album (never released!) with Paul Thomas again engineering & co-producing, on which the band went into a state similar to Brian Wilson's mid-sixties 'sandbox' period...
(if anyone has tapes of this material, PLEASE get in touch immediately!)

Yet another session of unreleased / lost recordings were conducted with the (late) great Denny Cordell (Marc Bolan, Bob Dylan, The Move, Tom Petty, Procul Harem, Joe Cocker, Leon Russell....) at the helm producing. These recordings are out there somewhere...? (As your laywer, I strongly advise you to share any copies of these recordings you may have.)

At this time the Horde recorded a tribute single to their good friend, young artist-filmmaker Carl Stephenson, who passed away Christmas Eve 1988. This was released under the Last Bandits moniker, entitled "The Angels are Calling".

Other BBC Sessions including one produced by punk-new wave icon Bob Andrews were completed in this period featuring an early version of 'Paula', 'Born to be Dead', 'I Knew Sky'(?), 'I Live for the Sun'(?), 'Codeine'(?), 'Friends in Time'(?), 'Rendevous with Destiny'(?) and 'Collette'(?) amongst the tracks recorded.

Yet another external project were recordings by Aidan Walsh, Master of the Universe & Emperor of all Eagles!, who sounds somewhere between the Legendary Stardust Cowboy, Daniel Johnson & a K-Tel hits album!

Sam Steiger
On Dec 11th 1988, joining friends the Hothouse Flowers, The Pogues, The Dubliners, Mary Coughlan, Something Happens and The Waterboys, the Golden Horde participated in a benefit gig at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin in aid of the Temple Street Children's Hospital. Also present was a host of comedians, DJ's & entertainers who gave freely of their time.
The Horde played a roaring set and their audience leapt all over the ornate and historic theatre and it's plush seating, stage-diving and generally had a good time! The set culminated in the near total devastation of the stage, as monitors, speakers, trashed microphone stands, speakers & guitars ended up in a smoking heap between the stage and the crash barriers.
The Golden Horde received legal documentation banning them from the venue for life.

Simon within this same time-frame recorded a duet cover version of the Rolling Stones "You Can't Always Get What You Want" with Gavin Friday (ex-Virgin Prunes), with members of the Horde contributing to the music, along with operatic chanteuse Miriam Bleinerhassett, Anthony Thistletwhaite, Steve Wickham, Max (female backing singer on The Waterboys "The Whole of the Moon") and keyboardist Maurice Rycroft aka The Man Seezer, some of whom also appeared on "The Angels are Calling" single mentioned above. This session was engineered and co-produced by Pat McCarthy, later engineer and co-producer for REM and U2.


In 1989 the Horde were approached by U2's record label Mother Records & invited to join their roster. Mother had originally been set up as a one-off single "launching pad" label, but had now reorganized itself as a true independent distributed by Island Records. The Golden Horde was chosen to be the label's album debut artist.

John, Sam & Peter became Johnny Thunders band (amongst other shows he performed in Ireland while touring Europe). His final show was in Dublin on April 23rd 1990 - eerily, one year later to the day he was dead! In the following weeks while simultaneously touring in the UK, the Horde & Thunders had intended to meet up and record together in London - one of the songs intended was a cover version of (the Archies) 'Sugar, Sugar'. Arrangements were made and studio time booked in a London studio, but on the day of the recording Johnny had slept on his arm (?) & couldn't move it, his show that night was also postponed and due to conflicting touring schedules the recording was never completed! Simon's obituary for Thunders was printed in the pages of Hot Press.

John Connor
Another of the Horde's several notorious tours was embarked upon during this period.... This one was sponsored by Tennents Beer and along with friends The Honey Thieves & The Blue Angels (ex Blue In Heaven), they set forth over the next month demolishing towns & minds (both theirs and their audiences!) across the UK & Ireland. The final show was at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin which had banned them for life in 1988. The Horde succeeded in being banned for a second time from the venue - apparently, this time the audience ripped out the first couple of rows of that ornate red velvet seating!
(comically, members of the Horde ended up on it's stage a 3rd time as guests of An Emotional Fish')

At this time a 2nd RTE Radio Session (again produced by Ian Wilson) was recorded to much acclaim, winning top positions in that years listener's & critic's polls, featuring early versions of the songs "I Reject You", "100 Boys " & "Rorschach".

The Horde made frontpage news while headlining an open-air music-arts festival in Longford, Ireland. They hit the stage at around 10pm and had soon whipped their audience into such a frenzy that the fearful local organizers stupidly pulled the electrical power supply (literally) to the outdoor stage while the band was still performing! - almost electrocuting anybody on and around the stage with a power surge backlash! The organizers claimed the Horde used 'bad language' and incited a riot! This wasn't helped by an episode earlier on in the day when local police tried to arrest John for carrying a clear-blue water pistol (really!), but were dissuaded by the presence of press photographers and a journalist writing a story on the band for a japanese publication.
Nevertheless, not even 24 hours later, it was front page news. One publication in particular, the Sunday World, ran the headline "Cops Swoop On Foul Mouth Rock Star". The audience who attended the performance in support of the band & escorted them out of the town like some kind of presidential motorcade (as well as a personal band escort of Hell's Angels - the Freewheelers MC, now part of the Horde 'family'). The band were allowed to pick up their (water) pistols as they left 'Dodge'....


With producer Daniel Rey (Ramones, Ronnie Spector, Misfits) the band recorded the single's "100 Boys" & "I Never Came Down", finally capturing their true 'live' sound.

The following album entitled simply "The Golden Horde" released in 1991 was completed with producer Andy Shernoff (Dictators, Figgs, Barracudas) as well as the Daniel Rey produced recordings, and received accolades and critical acclaim in music awards and polls from radio and the music press.
It went on to win the prestigious Hot Press Award for Best Album of The Year tied with U2's "Achtung Baby". For the years preceeding, U2 had consistently been sole winners of this award.
From this album the semi-acoustic single "Friends in Time" was released (featuring Maria McKee on backing vocals) and ironically proved to be the band's biggest hit to date!
Videos for "100 Boys" and "Friends in Time" were directed by Ritchie Smith (produced by 'Dreamchaser') who later collaborated on video's for U2's "The Fly" & "Until the End of The World"
Other singles released from this album were "Hell", "I Never Came Down" and "Endless Weekend".

Being longtime fans of the Byrds, a stripped-down Horde (Sam, Des & Simon) supported Roger McGuinn at a now legendary intimate show in Dublin around this time...

A BBC Northern Ireland Radio Session was recorded during this period which as well as several Horde originals included dynamic covers of two Blue Oyster Cult favorites the band occasionally performed live - "Black Blade" & "E.T.I".

Following the success of their debut album for Mother, demo recordings were conducted for the next album between touring obligations.
Being not quite a 'realized' independent label or able to promote the band in their best interests, the Horde parted ways amicably with Mother Records in '93-'94.
Elongated discussions with several interested international record labels took up the next year....

Meanwhile the band was always on the road! - playing tours, festivals, shows across Europe at this time with Sugar, Sonic Youth, Belly, The Disposable Heroes of Hipocracy, The Cramps, The Waterboys, Faith No More, Iggy pop a.o. ... headlining stages at various festivals as well as opening for U2 on the ZOOTV Tour.
There was also an eventful performance at Wheatfield Prison in Dublin and a Bosnian Benefit show featuring on the bill The Golden Horde, Shane MacGowan & the Popes, Nick Cave and a Fashion Show amongst other attractions!
As well as all of this the frequent 'acoustic' shows that had started sporadically (and sometimes spontaneously!) years previously had now evolved into whole "acoustic" tours! The road DID go on forever....

Feb 1994 the Golden Horde disbanded.

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