(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!
(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:
(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?
(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.
(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.
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…
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 http://www.thecelltheatre.org
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.
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!
So who are Between The Wars?We are a Celtic folk punk band from Melbourne, Australia. Jason (uke) and I started this thing in 2009 so we’re coming up on four years old this year. Our lineup is myself (Jay Stevens) on vocals and guitar, Jason Hatcher on uke and vocals, Aaron V. Allen on mandolin, electric guitar and vocals, Paul Trevorrow on bass and vocals, Hayley Anderson on the violin and Dan Scalpelli on the tubs.
What inspired the formation of the band?Just a wish to write stories and to push ourselves in a different creative direction than what we’d been used to in the past. We’ve all been in a bunch of bands before so this just seemed like a good option moving forward. Most of the band members have their own side-projects (or BTW is their side-project) so we make sure that we get ourselves creatively fulfilled.Describe your sound?The main musical and lyrical influences on this band have remained storytellers like Billy Bragg, Bruce Springsteen, the Wolfe Tones, the Dubliners, Christy Moore and Frank Turner. We try to write stories instead of just songs – giving each protagonist a back story and perhaps involving them slightly in other songs. I’m a big fan of the Decemberists as well. We basically put all of those influences together and see what comes out the other side. Many of our members are huge fans of punk rock bands as well, so we maintain a bit of that aesthetic as well.What going on with the band right now ?We’re just preparing to release our new album “Won’t Go Quietly” on St Patrick’s Day 2013. The pre-order will have begun by the time you read this (11/2/2013) so head over and pre-order your copy now! Currently, we’re playing a heap of shows around Melbourne and branching out into the rest of Australia over the rest of the year. I’m also heading over to the UK to play some dates in mid-October with the Lagan and the Roughneck Riot, which should be a blast!
What song in you catalog best defines your sound?Between The Wars is a constantly evolving unit – so we consistently try to change up our sound a little bit from album to album. Currently, I’d say “The Tail of the Rats” from 2010’s “The Rats” EP or “Goodnight Sweetheart” from our new album fits into the best over-arching idea of what we try to do.Soapbox – anything you’d like to say? Thanks to everyone that’s supported us over the past four years. Can’t wait for you all to hear this new record, we’re so psyched for it and hope you enjoy it as much as we do!!https://www.facebook.com/betweenthewars
I recently caught up with rising stars of the Celtic Punk scene, Kingston UK’s The Lagan prior to their support slot to The Mahones at the Black Heart in Camden, London. What followed was a pleasant hour, holed up in The Brew Dog pub, talking music, life on the road, anti-fascism and pasties. Recently joined by a new drummer and the addition of an accordion player borrowed from south-coast folk-pirates, the Jack Ratts, the lads from The Lagan were on good form.
So, how did the good ship Lagan come to be launched?
We started out after spending St. Patricks Day in Boston about five years ago where Brendan (O’Prey, lead vocals and guitar) and Martin (Bell, bass) had gone to see the Dropkick Murphys. Here we bumped in to and ended up becoming good friends with the BibleCodeSundays, who were playing a support slot at the Murphys’ Paddy’s Day bash. Inspired and encouraged by the Biblecodes, we started to think that we could do something similar, once we escaped the pubs of Boston. The line in “Sunny Day in Southie” on the debut album sums up the trip. We spent about a week living in McGann’s pub…”McGann’s could be the death of us”.
Both Brendan and Martin had been in separate bands but we realized that what we really wanted to play was Celtic influenced punk, so we gathered like minded, hairy, hard drinking lads and The Lagan was born.
The new album is doing well and has had good reviews, is it all good?
Reception of the album has been good, although one reviewer did accused us of Islamophobia! We can only guess that this person mis-understood the sentiment behind the title of the debut album- Where’s Your Messiah Now?
Typically for these lads, the misunderstanding was sorted out over a beer and an apology was made.
“I have been told that my name is on Red Watch”, comments Brendan.
Red Watch is a website of the British far right which publishes the details of potential targets for fascists.
The racism thing is stupid. We are an Anti-Fa band. We are happy for people to see as anti-fascist. One guy who turned up at a gig with an EDL shirt (English Defense League: Far right group) was told to remove it or leave. He removed it! We don’t however want to be thought of as just another band playing rebel songs. We play punk songs inspired by an Irish musical tradition but we’ll also put a stop to shouts of “Up the IRA”. This has happened at a gig in central London but we aren’t pandering to that mentality either.
As well as Irish traditional music, we are also influenced by ska bands. A lot of the songs Brendan is currently writing sound more like Irish tinged street punk than straight forward trad. Someone recently described us as “Mumford and Sons if they were really angry”.
What’s the most frustrating thing about being in The Lagan?
Juggling full-time jobs in offices and on building sites with the demands of and the desire to tour and play live gigs as much as we can. Having to get up for work the next morning limits how far from home we can play gigs.
However, we have been talking to Mike Bermingham (founder of Rockin Irish tour promotions, http://rockinirish.com ) about the possibility of doing a No Sleep til St.Patrick’s Day tour in America.
The problem with getting over to America is it’s expensive…but we’ve all booked holidays from work, so something will happen. We’d love to get out there and play some of the big Irish festivals.
You all live in Kingston…is it as rough as you make it sound in the song “Same Shite Different Night”?
It can be! There is always somebody looking for trouble. The town is split in two…the pubs down by the river are nice. It’s not a war zone but it can be a bit edgy.
Any final words?
Yeah, we wanted to give a thank you and a shout out to Shite’n’Onions. It was the first Irish Punk blog we ever saw and it sets the standard for promoting the type of music we all love. It’s really good to feel that we can be part of something that awesome.
And the pasties?
Check out Martin’s reviews on twitter @ThePastyReview