Opening 8 May 2014
In the early 1970s in Northern Ireland Terri Hooley opens up his record shop “Good Vibrations”. He opens it on one of the most violent streets in Belfast hoping to offer a place of peace where music is important, not religious beliefs. The record shop has few customers and Terri struggles to keep it open. When teenagers start asking for bands Terri has never heard of he follows them to a Punk concert in an abandoned building. The concert is packed with the new generation and on stage is a band playing music Terri has never heard before but immediately recognizes as the new vibration for the new generation. He decides to record the bands on his own label and Good Vibrations, the record shop and recording label, become the new meeting place of the up and coming Northern Ireland Punk scene with bands like The Undertones, Rudi and The Outcasts. Terri brings the bands on tour throughout Northern Ireland introducing teenagers to the new sound.
Unlike other Punk bands of the time such as the Sex Pistols, The Northern Ireland Punk scene is not interested in violence and rebellion, something they experience every day on the streets with fighting between Catholics and Protestants. The Northern Ireland Punks are more interested in escape and unity, bringing a more melodic almost close to Pop sound to their music. Unfortunately, this is not the kind of punk music big record labels are looking for as Terri discovers when he tries to bring the music over to London. He does manage to bring the song “Teenage Kicks” from The Undertones to the attention of John Peele, a popular radio DJ for BBC Radio 1. John Peele plays the song not one time but two times after another, a radio music sensation back then. Sire Records offers Terri 20,000 Pounds for the rights to the song. But Terri is not interested in money, he is happy that the music is recognized for its potential and accepts only 500 pounds from the record company, enough to buy a new bus for the band. Because Terri gets caught up in the moment, not on business details, he soon finds himself broke and on the verge of losing his record shop, label and house. His wife has already left him with their infant daughter after she realizes that Terri’s family is, and always will be, the music scene.
To raise enough money to save his business and house, Terri organizes a concert at the Ulster Hall. This is Belfast’s biggest concert location and bands such as the Rolling Stones have played there. While waiting inside an empty Hall, everything seems lost until Terri and the bands realize there are hundreds of people outside. The security won’t let them in because most are drunk and have no tickets. Terri manages to get them in saying most of them are on the guest list. The concert is a huge success music wise but a fiasco financially. Terri actually comes out owing more money than earned from the concert. In the following years up to July 2011 the shop “Good Vibrations” will close down and open again in four different locations. Terri Hooley, the “Godfather of Punk”, has always remained faithful to his love of music and pioneered the way for modern northern Irish bands.
This is not a film for everyone. But if you want to escape for a little while into the movement of Punk in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and experience how believing in something can bring about success (maybe not success how other people see it) then sit back and enjoy the good vibrations of Terri Hooley’s story. (Alana Leichert)