Johnny Piper answers some question on the loudest band in Celtic-punk.
Can you give us some background on the band? Your musical history, who is in the band and how did the band come together, what release have the Alternative Ulster put out?
In January of 2015, I met our original bass player for the first time at Ulster County AOH Pipes and Drums practice. He was a student piper and we got to talking. When the talk turned to why we started piping, I made reference to Dropkick Murphys, The Real McKenzies, etc… I told him it was my goal to start a bagpipe punk rock band. To illustrate my point, I pulled up the YouTube video of Pipes & Pints performing The Gael. Another AOH piper, Jerry McCluskey, was also a long-time guitarist in punk rock bands. Jerry joined and recruited his friend to play drums. Jerry came up with the name “Alternative Ulster” which tied Old School 70s era punk, ala Stiff Little Fingers, together with our home, Ulster County, NY.
Actually a 2018 release but I missed the opportunity to review in that seasonal window but Christmas comes but once a year so here it is.
Merry Feckin’ Christmas is the musical equivalent of that once a year uncle who shows up with bagpipes, drunk for Christmas dinner, gropes the hostess, scares the kids and old people, knocks over the Christmas tree and pukes on the presents.
12 tracks in all with both the standards we all expect (Fairtytale of New York, Auld Lang Syne, 12 Days of Christmas) and some originals coming to Christmas carolers near you (All I Want For Christmas is A Divorce and The Gale Killed Christmas)
I remember reading a quote about the original line-up of Motorhead (Lemmy, Larry Wallis and Lucas Fox). It went something like “If this band moved in next door to you, your lawn would die”. This quote comes to mind as I listen to Boobies, Banjos, Bagpipes & Beer the third full length by Kingston New York’s Alternative Ulster, however I’m thinking not only would your lawn die but your house would feckin fall down cos Alternative Ulster have bagpipes that go
Pog Mo Thoin is the second full length from Ulster county New York’s Alternative Ulster. Pog Mo Thoin is hard as hell. Reminiscent of NYHC meets lo-fi proto-punk at its rawest colliding with the pipes and drums of the NYPD Emerald Society. There are no frills or niceties on Pog Mo Thoin – this is probably the sound Sir Henry de Bohun heard when Robert the Bruce split his head in two with a battle-axe at Bannockburn – skull crushing and wailing bagpipes. Though Alternative Ulster in fairness are not just kilt wearing brutes they do have a #metoo moment and share it on the sensitive “Self Appointed Kilt Inspector”.
Alternative Ulster are a Celtic-punk band from Ulster County, New York and Rebellion is their first album. I would describe the sound of Rebellion as snot, spit and safety-pins punk rock of the 1982 variety being held ransom by a manic, whiskey swigging highland piper. The whole album is a ton of energy and enjoyment. 16 tracks in all with 10 originals based on Tip O’Neill’s political mantra that all politics good music is local (“Riot in the Rondout” tells about the Kingston, NY waterfront area notorious for street brawls. “Ten Guns for Kingston” is about their home town and “The British are Burning Kingston” recalls October 17 of 1777 when the British put Kingston to the torch. “Bannerman Island Ghost Wench” tells the story of a haunted island in the Hudson River) and six covers; Sham 69‘s “If The Kids Were United”, The Ramones “Blitzkrieg Bop”, The Sex Pistols “Seventeen” (though I would like to hear’em do Winger’s “Seventeen”) and an amazing cover Black Sabbath’s “Supernaut”.