Bates Motel: Peppermill

Christ where d’ya start? Lets take the name, it should tell you that if you’re into non-threatening armchair beard growing folk noodling then this really ain’t the band for you! If on the other hand you like your Celtic/Folk Rock on the dangerous side of scary then pull up a chair …this could take awhile – ‘cos we’re about to define a whole new genre.

Cornwall, England’s Celtic out-post – sleepy, laid back and easy going picture postcard Cornwall has had the good fortune for us to produce four of the angriest men on the planet. Lucky then they happen to play the fiddle, drums, bass and guitar while screaming out lyrics saturated in uncompromising lucid anger.

Nothing special there I hear you chuckle, yes I know that the Levellers, NMA et al have covered the same ground before but have any done it to a pounding rhythm section that could kick an Elephant into orbit? Have any done it with a big big fiddle sound that owes more to the rolling guitar breaks and riffs of Nirvana and The Cult rather than it does to a twee theme night in an ‘Oirish’ pub? I think not.

Welcome people, we’ve just found ourselves in a brave new world of Celtic grunge, a world where Bates Motel are the un-doubted kings. The opener ‘Here’s To You’ intros with a fiddle line chunky enough to floor Lennox Lewis before tearing the place apart with thumping drums and bass aplenty. Track two ‘Branches’ a tune with more understated menace than the Yorkshire Ripper on a shrinks couch, climbing heights that would give lesser bands vertigo before descending into troughs of near acapella vocals before throwing you on the back of the richest fiddle hook you’ll ever hear and back up to the heights.

They just keep coming, ‘Talking To The Ghost’ a dub-ska number fully loaded with enough crunching fiddle and guitar to keep the average metal-head drooling for weeks. ‘Twistabout’ a full on folk-punk rage against the world, ‘Final Stretch’, ‘Pigs’ and the glorious ‘For The Cause’ only serve to show the band as unique in a mostly bland and tired scene that relies far too much in what’s gone before.

They are hard, they are heavy, they leave the jigs and reels that the middle classes love alone and concentrate instead on producing a power fuelled look into the future of Celtic Rock that would stand tall amongst any other style of music that you could put against it. It’s as commercial as it is credible, It will only take the first major label to sniff around and you’ll be hearing a lot more of Bates Motel.

Harvey- bass, Paul – fiddle, Andy – guitar and vox and Nimbo -drums, stand up I salute you and thank you for restoring my faith.

October 2002

Review by Steve Davies

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