not nearly all about us, but...
Joe Ambrose works as a writer, filmmaker, and arts agitator. A member of Islamic Diggers, described as "rai-hop terrorists" by The Wire, he co-produced the CD 10%; File Under Burroughs which features tracks by Paul Bowles, Bill Laswell, The Master Musicians of Joujouka, Marianne Faithfull, Chuck Prophet, John Cale, Scanner, and William Burroughs.
After a turbulent career as a Dublin student activist - working on Trotskyist, feminist, and anti-imperialist campaigns - he ran The Irish Writer's CoOp in the 80s. This writers collective published early work by Neil Jordan. Sebastian Barry, and Desmond Hogan. Ambrose edited - for the Co Op - an anthology of new Irish short stories and three volumes of modern Irish drama.
While working with the Co Op he met Eamon Carr, drummer with Horslips. This meeting brought about Joe's first dalliances with the music industry via tours, pranks, and albums.
Throughout the 80s Ambrose had a career as a literary journalist, interviewing, amongst others, Nina Simone. Nick Cave, Anthony Burgess, James Ellroy, Michael Herr, Bill Wyman, and William Gibson. He became a controversial columnist with In Dublin, the city's alternative listings magazine.
His first book, in 1981, was a biography of Dan Breen, the I.RA leader who started the Irish War of Independence in 1919. The history of Irish separatism remains an interest, and he has written three books on Irish history.
While working as a journalist he met a musician, Frank Rynne, who became a major artistic collaborator. Ambrose managed Rynne's punk rock band, The Baby Snakes, as they made a series of albums and singles. The Baby Snakes recorded Four Toe Tapping Greats, a homage to Johnny Cash. Ambrose, along with the band, subsequently met with Cash, who endorsed the band's work.
It was as manager of The Baby Snakes that Ambrose moved to London in 1986. He lived in a Brixton squat - the emergent hip hop scene he observed made a profound impression and much of his work in the 90s was inspired by the remorseless urban beat and style absorbed from Brixton's Afro Caribbean community.
Returning briefly to Dublin in 1992, Ambrose helped organise The Here to Go Show, a celebration of the wild cultural experimentation of William Burroughs and Brion Gysin. Collaborators on this included Iggy Pop, Hamri The Painter of Morocco, Marianne Faithfull, The Master Musicians of Joujouka, and Burroughs. The Here To Go Show gave rise to the movie Destroy All Rational Thought. This was subsequently issued as a sell-through video in Europe and the U.S.A. It is now available on DVD.
Man From Nowhere, the book which accompanied The Here To Go Show, was written by Ambrose, Rynne, and Terry Wilson. Now considered something of a collector's item, it features handwritten texts by Burroughs, Iggy Pop, Keith Haring, Paul Bowles, and others. The album 10%; File Under Burroughs developed out of the work undertaken at this time.
In 1993 Ambrose helped launch The China White Show, an anti-art exhibition involving graffiti artist China White, William Burroughs, Genesis P. Orridge, and Hakim Bey. This project was catalogued in Radio Alamut, a counterculture zine featuring Patrick McCabe, Allen Ginsberg, Negativland, Stanley Booth, Lydia Lunch and Ira Cohen.
In 1993 Ambrose also began managing The Master Musicians of Joujouka with Frank Rynne. He conceived and realised a major political publicity campaign on behalf of the Musicians - whose copyrights were being undermined by powerful music industry figures like Philip Glass - leading to a global debate on ethics in the corrupt World Music industry.
Ambrose recenlty jold a Greek journalist that, "while the Master Musicians are probably the best-known Moroccan musicians in the world, they're virtually unknown within the country. People in Ksar el Kebir, the nearest city to Joujouka, know all about them of course. That's where Hamri, their "founding father" in terms of there being a recognizable band putting out records and doing gigs, came from... I had lunch with a very senior and well-connected member of the Moroccan Royal Family last year. This individual made it clear to me that Joujouka was not part of the Moroccan cultural heritage. I argued otherwise to no avail."
His books include two novels for Pulp Books, Serious Time (1998) and Too Much Too Soon (2000). his punk rock books for Omnibus Press are Moshpit Culture (2001), an investigation of covert punk culture from inside the moshpit, and Gimme Danger (2004), a biography of punk icon Iggy Pop. He contributed, along with Brion Gysin and Genesis P. Orridge, to Flickers of the Dreamachine (1996). His short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies published by Serpent's Tail, Hodder and Stoughton, etc.
In 2000 Islamic Diggers promoted No Expectations, an evening of 60s Super 8 movies by Anita Pallenberg accompanied by a live DJ soundscape created by the Diggers and Anita. These films, featuring Pallenberg's pals like Keith Richards, Allen Klein, Marianne Faithfull, Mick Jagger and Brian Jones were shown at the ICA and The Chamber of Pop Culture in London. During these years Islamic Diggers toured extensively in Europe.
Ambrose has performed live with Lydia Lunch, John Cale, Daniel Figgis, John Giorno, Scanner, Howard Marks, Tav Falco, Richard Hell, and The Master Musicians of Joujouka.
In 2005 he appeared, with Chrissie Hynde, on a BBC Radio 2 documentary about Iggy Pop. He has written for The Guardian, Time Out, The Idler, The Irish Times, and Metal Hammer. In 2007 he was invited by Iggy Pop to write the sleeve notes for an Iggy and the Stooges DVD, Escaped Maniacs. Chelsea Hotel Manhattan (Headpress) came out in 2007; Ambrose wrote the main text and there were ancillary texts by Ira Cohen, Herbert Huncke, and Barry Miles.
In 2008 Joe Ambrose went to live in Tangier, Morocco, and took time out from writing, performing, and promoting. "I did a bit of DJing in Marrakesh," he recalls, "just to keep my hand in. I'd been living in London for decades and needed a break. I'd dialled a few wrong numbers, personally and professionally, so I sought the freedom of Morocco in order to rearrange my priorities.n I spent a fiar bit of time in Marrakesh and in Ksar El Kebir."
In 2010 he participated in the London gallery show, Dead Fingers talk - The Tape Experiments of William S. Burroughs. This marked the commencement of his musical collaboration with Portugese duo Alma on an ambitous project inspired by his Chelsea Hotel Manhattan book. The Alma/Joe Ambrose single Radio E/He Also Took That Boat was released in October 2010 with vocals by Arthur Baker and Ira Cohen.
In 2012 Ambrose contributed the essay Festimad to Academy 23, a homage to William Burroughs which also featured Jack Sargeant and Gerard Malanga. He organised FINAL ACADEMY / 2012 with help from Raymond Salvatore Harmon, Gerard Malanga, Liliane Lijn, Tony White and Scanner. His short story, Whatever Happened to the Teenage Dream? Is due for publication shortly in Antibothis, a Portugese literary journal also featuring Scanner, Joe Coleman, Raymond Salvatore Harmon, and Mike Diana.
Visit Joe's web site, JoeAmbrose.info
Queens of the Underground - The Rolling Stones 11.14.2012
Magic, Egypt, and Sting - Books of the Year 12.31.2010
Dark Star 10.18.2010
Proud to be Irish 08.11.2010
Talking About Dan Breen 08.03.2010
Busarus Saturday Morning 05.05.2010
My Rival - Alex Chilton Remembered 03.29.2010
Heavy Metal Kid Neil Daniels 03.04.2010
Ireland in the Rain (Part 2) 02.25.2010
Ireland in the Rain (Part 1) 02.23.2010
Bob Dylan in Tangier 12.24.2009
Inside Outsider Girls 10.09.2009
The Enniscorthy Echo 09.28.2009
Brotherhoods of Breath - Moroccan Sufi Trance Today 07.22.2009
Bye Bye Bata, Ciao Charley 05.15.2009
No We Can't 04.21.2009
Love and Napalm - the Actual World of J.G. Ballard 04.20.2009
Bow Wow Wow! - Mighty Doglude 03.20.2009
Who Was David Thornley? 03.02.2009
Somebody Got Murdered II 02.16.2009
Panther Burns and Howls 01.12.2009
Great '08 12.22.2008
Zen and the Art of Roy Keane 12.03.2008
Van Damme Takes Over 08.12.2008
Youth and Young Manhood Part 2 07.21.2008
Youth & Young Manhood Part 1 07.19.2008
Summer Dress 07.08.2008
Chelsea Hotel Manhattan - Outtake 2 04.24.2008
Chelsea Hotel Manhattan, Neon Liam 04.18.2008
Chelsea Hotel Manhattan, an outtake 04.16.2008
Chelsea Hotel Manhattan, A Selective Glossary, Part One 04.11.2008
Red Square 04.08.2008
A Simple Twist of Fate 04.03.2008
Joe Dolan: He Sent Them Home Sweating 01.03.2008
Sultanas of Swing, Eric Clipton, and Mick Jugger 12.29.2007
One Less White Negro 11.18.2007
Mister Wallow is Dead 11.09.2007
Lonely Planet Part II 11.03.2007
Lonely Planet (Part 1) 10.30.2007
Metal Guru 10.18.2007
Boom Shakka Lakka - Live in London - Sly Stone Now 07.23.2007
Rebel Art Too 06.23.2007
Rebel Art 06.23.2007
Free Your Mind and Your Art Will Follow 06.05.2007
On Moshing 04.30.2007
Harry Potter and the Sword of Love 04.29.2007
Hamri the Painter of Morocco (part 3 of 3) 04.16.2007
Hamri The Painter of Morocco (Part 2 of 3) 04.11.2007
Hamri, the Painter of Morocco 04.10.2007
Home Thoughts from Abroad on Saint Patrick's Day 03.21.2007
Dan Sartain at The 100 Club 02.18.2007
Wembley Stadium - Architecture / Regeneration / Gentrification 02.10.2007
A Tangier Christmas Whipping 01.13.2007
The Black Michael Jackson 01.05.2007
Her Haunch 12.11.2006
Casino Royale - License to Ill or Ill Communication? 11.24.2006
Outside Books #5: Outsiders 10.29.2006
From the Moshpit #13 - LL Cool J - Still Hard as Hell 10.16.2006
IRA COHEN - Media Shaman 10.12.2006
Laughing All the Way to the Banksy? 08.27.2006
I Hate Radiohead 08.19.2006
ART ROCK LONDON 08.10.2006
Coney Island Baby 08.01.2006
I Met Johnny Cash 07.10.2006
In Bono's Hotel - Ireland Now 06.06.2006
From the Moshpit # 12 - Test Icicles 04.25.2006
Outsidebooks #5 - Revolutionaries 04.24.2006
Mister Freedom with Jimi Tenor 03.22.2006
Kate Moss, Aged 15 02.22.2006
Outsidebooks #4: In Pete's Doherty's Crack Den, Tara Telephone, and Pseudo-City 02.13.2006
Pussy Power - Nein Danke 02.05.2006
Hold Everything - Pete Doherty Busted Twice in One Day 01.28.2006
Outsidebooks #3 - Best books of 2005 01.04.2006
The Best Cock and Pussy in Town - Larry Clark Now! 12.24.2005
From the Moshpit #11 - Covered in Punk Blood 12.15.2005
BEST OUTSIDELEFT 11.25.2005
Taking Me to Marrakesh 11.20.2005
Man vs Cheap Sunglasses 11.16.2005
Man vs. Chicken 11.08.2005
Kleenex Dirham 10.06.2005
From the Moshpit #10 - Rolling Stones 09.25.2005
Balachadha.com - Pete Doherty's New Website 09.08.2005
OUTSIDEBOOKS #2 - Tangier Beat Generation 08.15.2005
Calico Girl 08.15.2005
From the Moshpit #9: Whiter than White 07.31.2005
OUTSIDEBOOKS - Japanese Cult Movies, Tattoo, and Self Publishing 07.27.2005
From the Moshpit # 8: Ska Punk, Ska, and Grindcore 07.23.2005
London Calling - 7 Days Later 07.14.2005
Michael Caine Goes Shopping 07.09.2005
Decadence, Madness, And Blow Job Furniture 07.01.2005
Meltdown with Patti, Song & Dance with Yoko 06.19.2005
I Walk With The Homeless 06.15.2005
Bird Flu - a poem of sorts 06.13.2005
Miles Davis - Bitches, Boxing, Cooking and Painting 06.12.2005
From The Moshpit #7: When The Music's Over 06.02.2005
Nathan Solid Takes It From Behind. 05.26.2005
Holidays with the Moroccan Rent Boy 05.18.2005
CHELSEA HOTEL MANHATTAN: PART 4 OF 4 05.16.2005
CHELSEA HOTEL MANHATTAN: PART 3 OF 4 05.09.2005
CHELSEA HOTEL MANHATTAN: Part 2 of 4 05.02.2005
Chelsea Hotel Manhattan 04.25.2005
From the Moshpit #6: System of a Down 04.11.2005
The Clancy Brothers 04.06.2005
Ah Yes, But Is It Art? 04.04.2005
By The Time I Get To Memphis 03.30.2005
Writing about Punk Rock, Junk Rock, and Fag Rock 03.25.2005
From the Moshpit #5: Pete and Shane's, secret St. Patrick's Show 03.21.2005
Moroccan Gardens, Roads and Dungeons 03.18.2005
Elizabeth Peyton 03.11.2005
In The Moshpit with Cheb Khaled, the King of Rai 03.07.2005
From the Moshpit #3: Presidents of the United States of America 03.03.2005
The Present Will Now Be the Past 02.23.2005
From the Moshpit: Merch Rock 02.22.2005
Three Nights Deep Inside the Moshpit 02.17.2005
Paris Trance 02.14.2005
Jenny Holzer: Space Ambassador 02.07.2005
The Ghost of Jeffrey Lee, Coming Back to Haunt Me 02.02.2005