Blood or Whiskey: Barney Murray, Leixlips Finest

October 2001

Leixlip County Kildare’s Blood or Whiskey are one of the finest if not finest Folk-Punk bands on the planet (and I’m not just saying that because I discovered I went to the same High School as Barney). Their second CD “No Time to Explain” is out on Eire Records. Thanks to Barney for taking the time to answer my questions.

(S’n’O) First some band history questions. Can you give me a brief history of the band, how did you get together and who’s in the band?

(BM) “We have been together since 1993. I knew a few of the lads and we got together for a jam and played a few of each other’s songs and it went from there. My feeling was that The Pogues had lost their way after “If I Should Fall From Fall From Grace..” and that we should take it from where they left off. We recorded the first album in 1996. It was all done in three days. Then we went on a never ending or going anywhere tour for about three years till we called a halt to do the second CD. Nearly everyone in the band is from Leixlip, Co Kildare.
The line up is: Barney Murray – Vocals, Bouzouki; Dugs Mullooly – Vocals, Guitar; Paul Walshe – Banjo; Chris – O’Meara – Drums; Tom Touhy – Bass; Aishling De Claire, Tin Whistle (the only girl and the only one not from Leixlip!)”

(S’n’O) Are you happy with the new CD and how would you compare it to the first? It’s an Irish only release right? Any plans for a US release?

(BM) “I’m totally happy with it. The first one was a hard act to follow but I think we have done it. I think there is a greater variance of styles on “No Time to Explain” but I didn’t want to loose our basic sound or compromise the songwriting. It was a hard album to make because with the first one we didn’t have much choice, we were put in the studio, we had to get it done in three days and we were kept away from the mixing. This time we had complete control and loads of time and all these choices to make ourselves and it wrecked our heads. That said, I love the first one and I love this one. I wouldn’t have let them be released if I didn’t. We are trying to get it released in the US and hopefully it will be soon.”

(S’n’O) How’s the CD doing in Ireland, did you get any airplay or support from the Irish music establishment (2FM, Hot Press, Etc.)?

(BM) “The CD is selling well but we have not got much (if any) support from the Irish music establishment. The Punks have kept us going over here. The established media is now just an extension of the major labels marketing arm. It’s been like that for a long time.”

(S’n’O) What do you think of the current state (or non-state of) of Irish rock right now?

(BM) “Non-state is right. It’s rubbish. The bands here just copy the latest trend from England or America. When we started out they were all trying to be Nirvana, now they want to be Coldplay or Blink 182. Next year it will be something else. They have no balls. If it wasn’t for the Punk bands there would be nothing.”

(S’n’O) Do Blood or Whiskey listen to any of you peers (Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys)? What do you think of the whole scene that’s developing stateside?

(BM) “We played support to The Dropkicks in Dublin in 1999 so we know them fairly well and I listened a lot to Flogging Molly. I was surprised how big the whole thing is in America. It’s different in that its a lot more guitar driven than we are. Maybe we are Trad. with Punk influences and they are Punk with Trad. influences or that could be just me talking more shite.”

(S’n’O) You just completed an American tour, how did the tour go, any particular high points?

(BM) “Despite everything it was the best tour we ever did. All the gigs were great and I’ve never been able to say that about any other tour. The Irish bars that we played in never once asked us to do any cover versions or to tone it down and we got a great response in the venues that were pure Punk despite us not having electric guitars and stacks of amps.”

(S’n’O) The WTC disaster took place right in the middle of the tour and I know you actually visited the WTC a couple of days before. Any thoughts, opinions about what happened, did you feel there was a noticeable effect on the remainder of the tour?

(BM) “Like millions of people I still cannot get my head around the whole thing. I’d never been to Manhattan before and I’m sort of tired of cities so I didn’t expect to like it but it struck me as a really vibrant and multi-cultural place with an energy all its own. I still can’t believe what happened. We didn’t know what to do so we just said to the venues that if they wanted to cancel we would be ok with that. They all wanted us to play. It seemed that people just wanted to keep going. I never said a word about it from the stage. It was like everyone wanted us to shut up and play, so that’s what we did. We didn’t play the last gig in Yonkers, it was supposed to have been a benefit night for Firefighters and it was understandably cancelled.”

(S’n’O) Any plans to return to the US in the near future?

(BM) “We would love to go back. It’s the most accepted we have ever been anywhere. More than Ireland. It would likely be next year though at the earliest.”

(S’n’O) What are the future plans for Blood or Whiskey?

(BM) “Its very unPunk of me but I’d love to make it big just to show the bastards that we can do it. I’d love to be doing this in twenty years or more. The lads feel the same. Why should Bono, Britney and all the other talentless wonders live in mansions while Punks go around broke ?”

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