Category Archives: Interview

Philip Chevron (Pogues/Radiators From Space) Interview

March 4, 2012

It may have taken nearly 30 years for the seminal Irish punk band Radiators From Space to cut their third album, but don’t tell Phil Chevron that they sound any different than before. “To me, it doesn’t sound any different,” says Chevron. To him, even though their debut, T.V. Tube Heart, had a sound more like their contemporaries in the late 70’s punk scene, the fact that their latest, Trouble Pilgrim, has slower-tempo songs and more of a pop sensibility has more to do with their growth as musicians, as well as their changing influences over the years. “When you’re young, you start out playing what you can, and eventually you end up playing what you want.”

And don’t call this a “Reunion Album.” “We really never actually split up,” he says. “We just ran out of road…but it was always the idea that, when the opportunity arose, we would get back together. And we have done a few times before this.” The difference now? Says Chevron: “There isn’t that sort of pressure to return to the hamster wheel of commercial grunt work. We do what we like, without the pressure of having to have a career plan, as such.” And in that spirit, the Radiators have gotten back together several times in recent years. Does the fact that they’re older, and not trying to compete in the same markets as younger bands? “Oh, of course,” he says. “None of us, at this point, have any interest in going back in the factory line. We’re competing with no one.”
Chevron, as a member of the Pogues, has toured the world many times over the years. Are the Radiators planning on touring behind this release? “If someone wanted to arrange that, we’d definitely be interested, but it doesn’t seem very feasible at this point.” And as for the gap between the new CD’s release in Ireland and it’s appearance in the States, Chevron says this has more to do with the fact that the band has no plans to try and sign with any major distributors. “The album’s been out there, available for anyone who wanted to release it. We knew that Shite ‘N’ Onions were champions of the album when it was first released. When you own your own masters, which we do now, you have the freedom to license to whoever you want.”

That the album makes references to US foreign policy is only natural, says Chevron, but “America has such a huge footprint on the world, it has to accept people commenting about it.” He points to the fact that Shannon airport is now virtually being run like a US military installation as a reason that someone from Ireland might have cause to make their feelings about the conflicts going in the Middle East known.

The track most likely to get people’s attention this time around is the song “Joe Strummer,” the subject of which should be obvious to anyone with ears. According to Chevron, it’s a kind of musing about what the great Clash front man and solo artist (and, for a brief period, a member of the Pogues) would have to say about the state of the world today. “We started out admiring him, as everyone did at the time, to working with him as our producer, to being mates with him. We introduced him to football.” Strummer’s ability to, as Chevron puts it, “put that point of view across,” makes to world a completely different place for not having him in it.

Trouble Pilgrim may not sound like your classic 1-2-3-4 punk rock album, but the subject matter is as passionate and as pointed as the Radiators From Space have always been. The nearly 30-year gap between albums has only served to ensure that the band put its best foot forward.

Trouble Pilgrim is available in the US from Shite’n’Onions

Interview by: John Curtin – Comedian, Irish Musician, Dork

6 Questions – PRYDEIN

July 19, 2012

(SNO) So who are PRYDEIN (when formed, band members, where are you from)?
(Pryden – Aron) Prydein actually started out as a band I formed with some friends back in college in 1995 out of a desire for something new in the music scene. There weren’t too many rock bands with bagpipers back then so we thought we’d give it a shot. That band was called Whisky Before Breakfast. After that band split up in 1998 I got to keep the bagpiper in the divorce settlement. Our fiddler, Ellery Klein, went on to play with Gaelic Storm and we became Prydein. Prydein now consists of myself (Aron Garceau) on Guitar, Vocals and other random things found round a studio, Iain MacHarg on Highland Bagpipes, flute and pennywhistle, Andy Smith on Bass and Caleb Bronz on drums. We recently a new member to the band, Dan Houghton of the band Cantrip also plays highland bagpipes as well as bouzuki, flute, whistle, etc. As we say on our website, the sound of two bagpipers playing tight harmonies backed by a rock band is enough to make the blood shoot right out of your eyes!

(SNO) What inspired the formation of the band?

(Pryden – Aron) In the 90s, all the music being played on the radio either sounded like Sound Garden or R&B Hip hop pop-a-lop. Not for us. We wanted something different… very different. I think we found it! We also noticed quite a lack of young kids in the trad music scene, we felt like this was a way to trick them into getting interested in what was going on.

(SNO) Describe your sound (and influences)?

(Pryden – Aron) We are a Celtic rock band blending the influences of our piper Iain (who grew up listening to NOTHING but bagpipe music, Tannahil Weavers, Bothy Band, Battlefield Band, Gordon Duncan) and myself who grew up listening to… well, everything else. I was a huge Zeppelin fan as a kid as well as Jethro Tull and so I think of this as Scottish-Folk-Zeppelin.

(SNO) What going on with the band right now (recording, touring etc)?

(Pryden – Aron) Since the lot of us are a bunch of public school music teachers, we keep our tours heaviest in the summer time. With that being said we’re in the season deep now with a Scottish Festival in Northampton Mass this Saturday (The Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival) with Enter the Haggis, a highland games in Detroit as well as Maine and our home-state of Vermont. The big news this year is that we’re about a month away from releasing our first live album; Prydein: Live From the Fort. We can’t wait!

(SNO) What song in you catalog best defines your sound (and why)?

(Pryden – Aron) Our fans would say “Stairway to Scotland”, it’s our show ending mashup of Amazing Grace and Scotland the Brave. However I think that the reel rocker, “Loud Pipes (save lives)” is probably the one that captures it best. A couple of reels put to a pretty straight ahead rock background, it’s strong, it’s solid and I think it is, in its entirety, Celtic Rock. It’s also the video on youtube that has gotten over 100,000 hits and has introduced our music to the world. We recently found out that there is a band in Russia who is covering our stuff! The internet is amazing.

(SNO) Soapbox – anything you’d like to say?

(Pryden – Aron) We’re pretty lucky, I think, to have found the niche that we’re in. It’s tough you know, often times we find that we’re too “rock” for folk festivals but at the same time we’re too “folk” for mainstream rock festivals. Heck, sometimes we find that we’re too Irish for Scottish Festivals and too Scottish for Irish Festivals. We take the gigs as they come and love talking to the crowd both before, during and after the show and found that we’ve got some amazing, dedicated and loyal fans and we strive to bring them 110% all of the time. Every new show brings more folks into the fold and we look forward to doing so for a long, long time.

Thanks John, and thanks for all that you do to introduce folks to new music. Your efforts are



Kevin Flynn and the Avondale Ramblers

July 21, 2012

(S’n’O) So who are Kevin Flynn and the Avondale Ramblers?
(KF) The Avondale Ramblers had been around for a year or two before I joined them in 06′. They had been backing a girl who was supposed to be the next Shania Twain – or something like that… Andrew Gerber plays the mandolin, Frederick Frey is the percussionist, Nils St. Cyr plays guitars and Sean Mulroney plays stand-up baby-bass. The band hails from the Avondale neighborhood in Chicago. I was born, raised and died (time of death TBD..) in the Windy City.

(S’n’O) What inspired the formation of the band?Describe your sound (and influences)?

Andy was looking for someone to replace their frontwoman after she fled to the West Coast. He had always wanted to do Irish music and knew I was available. I had been recording with him for years and we used to talk about Irish music and our Irish heritage all the time. Andy called me up and we got together and talked about the Pogues, Clancy Brothers, Dubliners, and the Tossers (who he had been recording in his studio for the past coupke of years). I said that I wanted to sing songs about Chicago. My family’s been here a long time – we can’t even trace the Flynn roots back to Ireland. Chicago’s all I’ve ever known… By the next week, we were rehearsing. Andy had hand-picked these guys from his years of playing and recording. We sounded great right off the bat.
(S’n’O) What going on with the band right now (recording, touring etc)?
We’re a couple of weeks away from finishing the album. It sounds terrific. This is the first time we’ve done a full-length and I think we nalied it. We’re looking to tour the East Coast and Midwest in the fall to help promote it. The Avondale Ramblers and I just played Irish Fest at the Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago – and killed it! We’ve got a couple more fests to play this summer and Guinness Fest here in September.

(S’n’O) What song in you catalog best defines your sound (and why)?

There’s a song on the new album titled “Notes From an Insomniac/Insomniac Blues” that sounds like the Clancy Brothers playing with Ry Cooder. It has that,”Irish folk meets-barroom rockabilly” sound that’s often prevalent in our music. The Avondale Ramblers come from a rock, blues and country background. Combine that with my acoustic storytelling, and there you have it! If you’re looking for one on our existing catalogue, I would say “Stand Tall” does it.
Soapbox – anything you’d like to say?
Cheers – Here’s to you!


July 25, 2012

(S’n’O) So who are LEXINGTON FIELD (when formed, band members, where are you from)?

Beau Gray – Vocals, Guitar
Cami Smith – Violin
Bryan Hane – Lead Guitar
Casey Jones – Bass
Vincent West – Drums
Lexington Field is from San Diego, CA and formed in 2009.

(S’n’O) What inspired the formation of the band?

After experimenting in pubs around San Diego as Fiffin Market for a couple years (2007-2008), playing more of an acoustic/folk style of the classics, a turn of fortunate events in 2009 led to the formation of Lexington Field. We wanted to write our own original sound, that we call American Fiddle Rock, and with our punk roots and our folk experience, we brought that to our live show and have been rocking it that way ever since. Lexington Field was named after a song Beau wrote called “The Spirit of Lexington Field”. He wrote it for his grandfather, who passed away in 2005. A true love from your family and friends that is constant and will last forever, seemed like an appropriate, and well-timed, reason to name for the band. We are five people with a goal to make catchy, original, high energy, unique music that will stand the test of time, and bring happiness to as many people as we can. That is the spirit of Lexington Field.

(S’n’O) Describe your sound (and influences)?

American Fiddle Rock

Definition: Using the influences we learned from bands such as Young Dubliners, Flogging Molly, and Great Big Sea and taking elements from all over North America (punk, rock, country, bluegrass) and blend it with the Irish traditional music we all love.

Other influences are Gogol Bordello, Dropkick Murphys, Rise Against, Dave Matthews, Good Old War, The Tossers, and many, many more.

(S’n’O) What’s going on with the band right now (recording, touring etc)?

In March we released our new 6-song EP, Poor Troubled Life, on New Folk Records. We also re-released our debut full length Old Dirt Road, on New Folk Records this year. In August 2012 we will embark on our first national tour! We will be playing 22 shows in 20 cities as we bring our American Fiddle Rock to the rest of the country. We are calling is the “2012 Midwest Missile Tour”! We also have been real busy writing new songs for a brand new full length album. We already have half of the album written and will be playing some of the new songs on our tour. When we get back from the road we will finish writing and head back to the studio in the first quarter of 2013. If you like the songs off Poor Troubled Life, then you will love what we have in store for everyone next year! We plan on releasing the new album in the Summer of 2013!

(S’n’O) What song in you catalog best defines your sound (and why)?

“Tracy Boys Fight The World”

Its a song about a bunch of thugs up to no good! From the fiddle intro to the sing along choruses, this song captures the energy and excitement of our live show. The music video we did for it pretty much says it all! 1-2-3…FIGHT!
See it here:

Dublin Public – Interview

August 5, 2012

(Shite’n’Onions) So who are Dublin Public (when formed, band members, where are you from)?

(Shea – Dublin Public) I started Dublin Public in March of 2011 a few months after my previous project broke up. I have always had a love of Irish songs and I have booked many a St. Patrick’s Day party over the years, but the real reason I started this project was to expand my skill set as a musician and venture into a genre I had no experience with. The first year was pretty much shite, as I tried out many, many musicians, but no one quite fit the group. In November of 2011 I met our current upright bass player Nate Morefield and lead multi-instrumentalist Steve Lorentzen in the same week! I was almost floored by what I had found, and as we came together as a group over the next few months we played our first show on February 2nd, 2012 in Long Beach where we are all from.

Drummers had been an issue as our previous guy also played in another Irish band so we went on the hunt, while still playing shows, for a few months until we came across Smilin’ Jack DeBaun who has a great feel for the music and brings his unique “cocktail-style” drum kit to the group. At the same time we happened upon our fiddle player, Carrie Mock, who runs a talented string quartet as well and things finally felt complete after over a year! It was rough wading through tons and tons of Craigslist postings but every member was found there and drunken good times have been had ever since!

(Shite’n’Onions) What inspired the formation of the band?

(Shea – Dublin Public) I have been pretty inspired by both the legends [Dubliners, Clancy Brothers, Pogues] as well as local bands like The Leperkhanz, The Mighty Regis, The Mahones, Shillaly Brothers, etc]. It was the local bands that really got me into the music as I do booking in my city for various venues. I saw how much fun everyone was having, drinking and singing along and that really pushed me to start a project of my own.

(Shite’n’Onions) Describe your sound (and influences)?

(Shea – Dublin Public) We are very Folk/Traditional rooted but add a tinge of rock to our arrangements. We try to make the songs feel modern while keeping all the traditional stuff in. The Clancy’s Brothers are one of my favorites, but I we draw influence from other great bands like the Dubliners, The Irish Rovers, Pogues, Wolfe Tones, Great Big Sea, and more.

(Shite’n’Onions) What going on with the band right now (recording, touring etc)?

(Shea – Dublin Public)   We just finished our debut album of Irish drinking standards that you can pick up online for just $7! That’s 14 tracks of some of your favorite songs like The Wild Rover, Fields of Athenry, and Finnegan’s Wake to name a few. Besides that we are just starting to work on originals and get our name out there in the local scene!

(Shite’n’Onions) What song in you catalog best defines your sound (and why)?

(Shea – Dublin Public) I think our song “Beer, Beer, Beer” really reflects what we are going for. We love to drink and get the party going and this song exemplifies that pretty well!

(Shite’n’Onions) Soapbox – anything you’d like to say?

(Shea – Dublin Public) I love stout!

The Langer’s Ball – Interview

August 14, 2012

(Shite’n’Onions) So who are The Langer’s Ball?
We are from Saint Paul, MN – a hotbed of great Irish music of all sorts! We started out as a Duo, Hannah & Michael, doing pub shows and parties, but over the years, as we started recording, we started wanting to amp up the sound and add musicians. In 2010 we made the jump and put together a 5-piece band, we recorded a live album (Drunk, Sick, Tired) but shortly after that recording the band fell apart as bands do sometimes.

We went back to the core Duo and continued to perform for about another year thatway. But at the end of 2011 we joined up with Drew Miller (Boiled in Lead) Derek Jaimes (ex-Wild Colonial Bhoy) and Trevor Jurgens (Code 13 and other various Punk & Rockabilly bands) and went after the full band sound again. We just finished recording our 1st studio album together (The Devil or the Barrel) it hits stored Aug 1st, 2012.

(Shite’n’Onions) What inspired the formation of the band?
The Duo kept hearing other instruments and parts that weren’t happening, and we wanted to put what we could hear in our heads up on stage. That and free drinks from the venues!

(Shite’n’Onions) Describe your sound?
I dunno, each of us brings different influences. From Folk, Rockabilly, Punk, Hardcore, Baroque, Klezmer, Rrague Rock and a bunch of other stuff, we are drawing from everywhere. If it’s good, we’re happy with it. Most of our music is fast, and a little dark, but we can slow it down and can do some really pretty songs too. When we approach a song, we try to mix it up a bit, like our fast, dark minor key “All For Me Grog” or our
version of “the Wild Rover”, a classic drinking song – well, we made it into a Polka with strong German roots.

(Shite’n’Onions) What going on with the band right now (recording, touring etc)?
We are just releasing “The Devil or the Barrel” and we have a few Midwestern Irish Festivals this summer. We just got picked up by New Folk
Records, so we’ll see what this album brings. Having been a duo for the past 5 years, it’s interesting trying to get the word out that the band
has grown and taken a turn for loud. Some of the places we’ve played before are less appropriate for the full band, and some of the places that
want full bands still think we’re a duo. So we’re trying to get the word out to festivals and a new group of venues that The Langer’s Ball is big!

(Shite’n’Onions) What song in you catalog best defines your sound?
There are a few sides to us, like I mentioned before. I think our main sound and a great example is our version of “Johnny Jump Up”, kind of a
main stay in Irish Music, but again we’ve re-written the melody line, changed up the rhythm added some creepy psychobilly guitar and given that
song a pair! We also have some originals that are fast & fun like “Whiskey Chaser” & “Mackey’s Daughter” these can get a little chaotic, they are
amped up drinking songs. We also have a lighter softer side with songs like “The Little Vagabond”, the lyrics were taken from a William Blake
poem and the music was written by Folk singer Greg Brown – this song offers a breather to the high paced music we usually play.

(Shite’n’Onions) Soapbox – anything you’d like to say?
If you think you know The Langer’s Ball, check us out, we’ve grown into ourselves and I think you’ll like what we do. If you don’t know The Langer’s Ball…same thing, check it out.

Sharks Come Cruising: Providence Sea Shanty Punk

August 16, 2012

(Shite’n’Onions)  So who are Sharks Come Cruising?
Sharks Come Cruisin formed in 2002 in Providence RI. The current lineup is Mark Lambert – Vocals, guitar, Erik Wohlgemuth – Banjo, vocals , Michael Bilodeau – Bass, vocals, Erica Sachs Lambert – Melodica, vocals and James Toomey – Drums, vocals.

(Shite’n’Onions) What inspired the formation of the band?
The shark hunter Quint’s rendition of the sea shanty Spanish Ladies in the film Jaws

(Shite’n’Onions) Describe your sound (and influences)?
Energetic mix of original and traditional sing-along songs, keeping the themes of audience participation and celebration at the center of the music and live performances. We’ve been compared to Flogging Molly, The Pogues, and Great Big Sea and we have been described as sea shanty punk, Irish punk, and folk punk.

(Shite’n’Onions) What going on with the band right now?
Just released the Hardtack EP (issues with limited edition authentic sailor hardtack). For the remainder of 2012, we’re performing throughout New England in support of the EP. Dates include monthly summer concerts on the Schooner Quinnipiack in New Haven, CT, and September festival appearances at Prescott Park (Portsmouth, NH) and the Working Waterfront Festival in New Bedford, MA.

We hope to record new material 2012/2013. We’re also working on a live DVD of footage from our St. Pats 2012 show in Providence.

(Shite’n’Onions) What song in you catalog best defines your sound (and why)?
Probably Bully in the Alley. It’s got a lot of energy, it’s a great sing-along and I never get tired of playing it.

(Shite’n’Onions) Soapbox – anything you’d like to say?
Sea Shanties are a New England folk tradition; they are songs of work and celebration. I’m happy that SCC has had the opportunity to play these songs to people who would have not normally had the opportunity to hear them.

Nick Burbridge of McDermott’s Two Hours interviewed

August 29, 2012

Shite’n’Onions – Can you give Shite’n’Onions a brief background on who you are and who are McDermotts Two Hours? You have released albums first as “McDermotts Two Hours” in late 80’s then the band dissolved and reformed later in partnership with the Levellers as “McDermotts Two Hours Vs The Levellers” for 3 albums then you went back to the moniker “McDermotts Two Hours” for “Goodbye To The Madhouse” and now you have collaborated with Tim Cotterell as Nick Burbridge – what makes an album a McDermott’s and what make it a Nick Burbridge?

Nick Burbridge – I’m, primarily, a writer. I work in different forms. As well as poetry, songs, short stories and plays, I’ve had a political thriller about The Troubles in Northern Ireland published under a pseudonym, and I was co-writer on the revelations of a military intelligence officer working there in the 70s; I also write somewhat eccentric articles and reviews for R2. This explains why I’ve dipped in and out of the music industry so much. McDermott’s Two Hours were born in Brighton U.K. out of the first folk-punk movement. I’d been playing guitar, mandolin, bodhran etc in Irish sessions, busking around Europe, and singing in folk clubs for many years; I hadn’t intended being the lead figure, but the bloke who wanted the job couldn’t sing in tune and had no sense of rhythm, so I was ‘volunteered’! The band were one of the Levellers’ main inspirations. The different collaborations have come about according to what, or who could be conveniently involved. For a long time I’ve written all the material – in that sense there’s no fundamental difference for me when it’s being conceived. But the albums can get heavy duty treatment, as on Goodbye To The Madhouse, or emerge as pure acoustic records, like the latest one, Gathered. It’s all down to what seems right. I’m glad I’ve managed to keep a foot in both camps as a result.

Shite’n’Onions – How did the collaboration with Tim (The Electrics) Cotterell on GATHERED come about? How has the album been received? What’s the story behind the cover art……its different to say the least. Any plans to tour to support the release?

Nick Burbridge – The current collaboration is a perfect example of how it goes. Al Scott (producer of albums from Levelling The Land to Ragged Kingdom) is still committed to bringing out a new full-on McDermotts’ record soon, involving members of The Levellers and the Oysterband, among others, but for different reasons it’s taking a long time to materialise. Meanwhile, I thought I’d write the stripped back acoustic album that’s been in me for some time, and so I turned to Tim, who’s played with the band on various instruments, a very good sound engineer and producer as well. The CD artwork? To keep it ‘in house’ I asked my son Ben (who once as a child sang a fragment of ‘Harry Brewer’ on The Enemy Within, but is now an Art History university lecturer) to bring in one of his favourite photographers. The front cover is a direct allusion to my song, ‘Fox On The Run’. It’s dark, as you say, but an apt image for someone who’s spent a lifetime battling with clinical depression, which as I get older, seems to be gaining the upper hand, and whose brutal demands probably account for my relative obscurity. When the band were playing big festivals, I had a publishing deal with Joe Boyd, and the Mean Fiddler organisation had taken us under their wing, by rights we should have hit the international folk-punk scene in a big way. Instead we’ve skirted the edges for decades. This leads directly to your other question: are we going to tour this album? No! Don’t get me wrong. I love playing live, and still do local sessions. It’s just getting out there and dealing with the industry that stand in my way! As it happens, I don’t think that’s so inappropriate when we’re talking about ethnic music, especially the Irish tradition, where the people who’ve kept it alive for centuries would hardly have been found on brightly lit stages with huge sound systems. And of course there’s always been a deep melancholic, even self-destructive strain running through the culture.

Shite’n’Onions – When I listen to your songs they are often focused on those who drew the short stick in life and often those who’s short stick seems to be getting shorter and in many cases like Shane MacGowan you write about the Irish in the Britain but your songs are like short stories – what influences you to write the lyrics you do and are the folks you sing about people you have know (like Johnny and the Jubilee) ….they seem so realistic?

Nick Burbridge – Most of the songs are based on real characters. And, yes, short sticks abound! Three of my grandparents were Irish, and moved over to England, so that explains many of my preoccupations. I do tend to think narratively – in short stories themselves – poems, or songs. ‘Johnny and the Jubilee’ is a good example: it concerns a mingling of characters I’ve known, with a dose of artistic licence. My favourite literary genre is what they call American Dirty Realism – Raymond Carver, Joyce Carol Oates, Jayne Anne Phillips etc – so that’s a factor, too.

Shite’n’Onions – Have you ever had the inclination to write a happy song about someone who wins the lottery or say an Irish property developer who skips out on the banks and his debts and continues to live the good life in Mayfair or Chelsea?

Nick Burbridge – Unless it was a complete piss-take, I wouldn’t have any interest at all in either of those characters, would you? Happy songs, though, can be found on the albums, if you look hard! But, as you say, my purpose is to speak up for those in adversity, one way or another, though their stories may be set, ironically or otherwise, to upbeat traditional-type jigs, reels and hornpipes.

Shite’n’Onions – Finally, who was McDermott and what was he doing for his 2 hours?

Nick Burbridge – Tommy McDermott had his two hours of fame in the riots in Derry in 1968, as recorded in the book, War and an Irish Town, by Eamonn McCann. Left alone at the controls of Radio Free Derry for a couple of hours before he was hauled off, instead of playing the Falls Road hit parade, he put on the Incredible String Band etc and told people to “love one another an’ keep cool”. When we were looking for one of those macho folk-punk names beloved of most outfits, I came up with McDermott’s Two Hours. I think it betokens the different angle we were coming from, alludes to the politics we’ve always been concerned with, but at the same associates with someone who, in conventional terms, got it wrong. My kind of bloke…

Larry Kirwan does HARD TIMES, A Civil War Musical

August 30, 2012

Black 47’s Larry Kirwan has written a musical set in Civil War era New York during the Draft Riots. The Federal Government hard pressed for army recruits introduced the draft but gave a exception to anyone who could afford to pay $300 to buy their away out. The poor (often newly arrived Irish immigrants) rioted over 3 days burning draft stations and attacking the wealthy Yankee upper class and African-American who they feared would take their jobs if slavery ended. The rioting only ended when Federal troops were bought into the city to squash the riot.

S’n’O – Larry, I know you are the author of many off Broadway plays over the years. Is Hard Times your first musical?

Larry Kirwan – No, I’ve written a number of them including, Days of Rage, Rockin’ The Bronx and Mister Parnell, so I guess I’m an old hand. It’s a bitch of a genre. Plays are tough enough but you have to be totally daft to do musicals, there’s just so much to pull together. I suppose it’s like anything though, the more you do it, the better you get.

S’n’O – Hard Times is set during the American Civil War and specifically during the New York Draft Riots. Can you give the readers a little back ground on the Riots. What caused the riots? And what happened during the riots.

Larry Kirwan – Hard Times is set during the Draft Riots of 1863 but it’s not really about them, per se. Basically, I feel that the US in general, and NYC in particular was changed on July 13, 1863. Up until then Irish women and African-American men lived together and were often married in the Five Points area of downtown NYC. They were called “amalgamationists.” After the burning of the Colored Children’s Asylum the fluidity that existed between different people in NYC was squashed and the US set out on a path of 100 years of segregation and discrimination. That’s the setting for a moment when Stephen Foster meets someone from his past.

S’n’O – What was the inspiration for the play – the New York Draft Riots were possibly the lowest point in the Irish-American experience (arguably something best forgotten)- one group on the bottom rung of the social order turning on the group not yet on the bottom rung while the elite buy their way out of danger yet still make the decisions – is there a message that resonates in today’s political climate? (Anti-immigrant sentiments, racial politics and the Tea Party or class divisions and the Occupy movement)

Larry Kirwan – With the exception of the Occupy Movement all of those things you mention were present in 1863 and I suppose Abolitionist feeling could double for the Occupy Movement. History is never black & white but a million shades of grey. Awful things happened that day but that’s not what the play is about. It’s about five people trapped inside a saloon and how they react to the events happening outside. Stephen Foster, the composer, happens to be one of them.

S’n’O – The music was co-written with Stephen Foster which is a great achievement given Stephen is nearly 150 years dead. Who was Stephen Foster and why was his music so important? What type of stamp did Larry Kirwan put onto the mega hits of the 1860’s? Will Celtic rocks fans enjoy?

Larry Kirwan – Yeah, I should probably have phrased the “written by Stephen Foster & Larry Kirwan” differently but it’s what actually happened. I wanted to use his songs and was able to find a dozen that fitted well with, and moved along, the story. But most of his songs had been frozen and calcified by their treatment in the Victorian years. I wanted to let them breathe again. One of the ways of doing that was to write contrapuntal intros and bridges – in Foster’s era those devices hadn’t been introduced into popular music yet. I had done that quite a bit when Black 47 updated Irish melodies and added new words to them – I always added original intros and bridges to add flavor to the songs and make them more interesting musically So, I knew how to do it. Amazingly – to me at any rate – most of Foster’s songs veered towards Gospel or Irish when unmoored. I think these new versions will make Foster’s songs more palatable to Celtic Rock fans. But who cares what other people think. I’ve always done what I wanted and luckily there’s always been an audience for the end result.

S’n’O – Who is the audience that will enjoy Hard Times – Irish Americans, New Yorkers or is there a wider audience (and message)?

Larry Kirwan – God, I don’t know. I guess I tend not to think in those terms. Let’s just say that Stephen Foster was gifted with a particular genius. I’m not quite sure what it is but when unleashed it tends to move you in the most soulful manner. It’s like being touched by something from another world so I would imagine anyone with a bit of soul will feel it. I know I do. Foster was a complicated person – our first professional songwriter – he died 6 months after the events in Hard Times at the age of 37 with 38 cents in his pocket. I think anyone who has been touched by the music business will identify with the story of this brilliant, tortured man.

S’n’O – Any plans to tour with Hard Times or bring it beyond Manhattan?

Larry Kirwan – Not at this point. It’s an achievement to even get the project up and breathing. I couldn’t have done it at all without the support of the wonderful people at The Cell, including Nancy Manocherian, artistic director and Kira Simring the director.

S’n’O – Cheers Larry! I”m going to try make it down.

Larry Kirwan – A pleasure, John. I think it will be well worth the trip. The six actors are so committed to their roles. I think we’ll create some magic and hopefully re-introduce Foster to a very different world.

Hard Times will be performed at The Cell, 338 W. 23rd St., NYC Sept. 13-30th as part of the First Irish Theatre Festival. For info

Directed by Kira Simring and produced by Nancy Manocherian of The Cell, performances Sept 13, 14, 15, 19, 21, 22, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30.

Hard Times stars Jed Peterson as Stephen Foster, Erin West as Jane Foster, Almeria Campbell as Nelly Blythe, Phillip Callen as Michael Jenkins, Stephane Duret as Thomas Jefferson and John Charles McLaughlin as Owen Duignan.

Three Day Threshold – Good Country Gone Terribly, Terribly Bad

September 12, 2012

(S’n’O) So who are Three Day Threshold?

Kier Byrnes Three Day Threshold was formed in 1996 when I moved down from New Hampshire to the city. Over the years, we’ve gone through some lineup changes as well as musical changes. We wobble back and forth between Celtic, Country, Americana, Gypsy and Punk, depending on who’s playing and how we are feeling that day. We have been gigging 50-100 gigs a year since then. Last month, The Noise Magazine (New England’s oldest running music magazine) called us the longest running active local band. We plan to drop down to about 30 shows this year though.

(S’n’O) What inspired the formation of the band?

Kier Byrnes I just saw a need for it, for myself creatively to get out the songs I had stuck in my head and because at the time I didn’t see a whole lot of people out there doing what I wanted to do.

(S’n’O) Describe your sound (and influences)?

Kier Byrnes I’m heavily influenced by my travels. I’ve been lucky enough to make it to 48 of the 50 states and about 19 countries internationally. Everywhere I go I’d like to think I pick something up.

(S’n’O) What going on with the band right now (recording, touring etc)?

Kier Byrnes Ha, that’s tough to say. It’s a rebuilding year for the band; we are writing new tunes and exploring different musical collaborations. I got a lot of stuff going on outside of music, like a wife and a baby on the way too. That one is a biggie. Totally changes the way you think.

(S’n’O) What song in you catalog best defines your sound (and why)?
“My Favorite Titty Bar” is a new one we really like a lot reflecting some of the new styles of the band.

Kier Byrnes “Pub with No Beer” is a great blend of high energy Celtic rock and it’s a song we like to end our sets with; especially at last call.

(S’n’O) Soapbox – anything you’d like to say?
Nah, short and sweet, today. Thanks for thinking of us and good luck!