The Dreadnoughts have just announced their new single Problem to support the release of their upcoming full length out June 24th on Stomp Records. The new album “Roll & Go” was written primarily by singer/guitarist Nicholas Smyth in his one bedroom apartment in New York City at the peak of the first wave of the pandemic, with a newborn infant, during lockdown. With band members based in New York, Vancouver, London, and Edmonton, the band decided to record in the unlikely location of Norwalk, Connecticut at the Factory Underground Studios. After ducking and weaving through countless travel restrictions, the Dreadnoughts managed to learn, record and mix an entire album in nine days. It was a harrowing, intense experience, one made even more intense by the fact that six guest musicians were recording their own parts in six different cities around the world, and that all of this had to be coordinated with virtually no time. But they got it done! The result is Roll & Go: the Dreadnoughts fifth, and possibly finest, studio album.
Reflecting on the meaning behind the advance single Problem, Smyth remarks, “This song is about our love-hate-mostly-love-but-sometimes-really-hate relationship with Poland, a country we’ve toured many times. In particular, it’s about a winter tour we did where everything just kept breaking and going wrong, and we kept fighting it and raging against it until we realized that this was normal in Poland, and that you needed to just do what everyone else did: sit back, have a beer and a smoke, and say “to hell with it.” The Poles are amazing at this, it’s actually a really healthy attitude to have in a lot of situations. The song’s title comes from a word that means the same in English and Polish, and we quickly realized that we were going to hear it from our tour manager (who spoke no English) about 18 times a day. ‘Ah…’ he would say, his face scrunching up and worry-creasing his forehead… ‘Problem’.”
1014 is the best place to start Mustard Finnegan’s history of Ireland. It in that year Brian Boru defeated the Danes. For hundreds of years, Ireland was known as the Isle of Saints and Scholars – the image of monks in monasteries; smoking pot, lovingly illustrating copies of the gospels, praying and guiding the heathens in Europe outta of the Dark Ages. Though not all of that is necessarily the true. Ireland was made up of a bunch of small kingdoms with kings more like Afghan warlords or the Bloods and Crips – I’m the king of from here to that rock over there and I’m gonna steal your cattle and run back to my ring fort. Ireland had big problem with the Vikings. The Vikings were a bunch of dudes from Scandinavia with helmets with horns sticking out of them who loved to vacation in Ireland and plunder the Irish monasteries and murder the monks. After a few hundred years of this the Vikings started to stay around and started, like all the cities in Ireland and meddled in Irish politics (bit like the EU these days).
Brian was an ambitious sort of fella and conquered one Irish kingdom after another and made them pay tribute to him (this is not like Michael Jackson’s Tribute, Brian would take hostage of the kid of the lesser kings and if the lesser king didn’t do his bidding and pay taxes and send solders when Brian needed them then that was the end of the young fella). Once the Irish were under his heal he went after the meddling Vikings of Dublin. Coming face to face for battle on Clontarf beach on Good Friday 1014 – the Irish warriors kicked serious Viking ass along with kicking the asses of the Dublin Viking’s mates from the Isle of Mann and Denmark – many of whom after the beat down drown in Dublin Bay trying to escape the Celtic axemen, starting the long tradition of pollution in Dublin bay. Unfortunately, for Brian, who being wicked old (he was about 73) and was praying in his tent as the battle raged so he did not notice a sneaky Viking who suck up on the big B and buried an axe in Brian’s back and that was the end of him.
The Norman Invasion
Belfast Andi – Irish Ways Irish Laws
After 1014, Ireland went back to it petty warlords fighting with each other over this bit of bog and that sheep over there and all was good and dandy until a woman got in the picture. In 1167, Diarmait Mac Murchada (that’s Murphy in English), King of Leinster (the east bit of Ireland) ran off with Derval (the woman in question), the daughter of the King of Meath (the rich bit of Ireland in them days and these day) and the wife of Tighearnán Mór Ua Ruairc (Terry O’Rourke in English), King of Bréifne (a strip of fields and bogs that ran from Meath to Sligo these days called Leitrim). Tighearnán was pissed off of course and with the help of the High King, Rory O’Conner, they ran old Diarmait outta the country. Diarmait being a schemer and a general a-hole approached a Norman Knight called Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke also known by the name Strongbow (Strongbow is much more Knightly and Ciderish name, Richard de Clare sound more like the name of the owner of chain of ladies hair saloons). Diarmait promised Strongbow his daughters hand in marriage, who by all accounts was a pretty hot chick, as well as succession rights as King of Leinster, if he’d help him out. Strongbow not having much going on as the King of England when not hammering the Scots was beating up on his own Knights, took him up on the offer and arrived with his mates (Fitzgerald, Fitzgibbon, Burke, Butler and Prendergast) and the best in 12th century military technology gold pieces could buy. Shortly there after Diarmait was back being King of Leinster but over old England, old Henry II didn’t like the idea of one of his knights becoming a king of anything and setting up a rival kingdom so he called up the Pope and asked for the OK to invade Ireland (of course this is the one time the Pope is a bloody Englishman) and once permission given Henry arrives and declares himself Overlord of Ireland.
The Pale and Beyond
Blood or Whiskey – Follow Me up to Carlow/Holt’s Way
BibleCodeSundays – Clew Bay Pirates
The Dreadnoughts – Grace O’Malley
We can skip ahead to the 1590’s now, the Norman Knight have gone native (more Irish then the Irish themselves) and the English rule is now pushed back to the general Dublin Area – known as The Pale. Ever heard the expression “Beyond The Pale”? Meaning being outside proper behavior, well that was where the wild Irish lived with their new Norman mates, fighting with each other over this bog and that bog and the odd goat.
One of those Chieftains was a woman called Grace O’Malley, the Pirate Queen who was so fearsome that she show up bare breasted in Queen Lizzy’s court in London to demand the removal of the Queens representative in Connacht.
The Flight Of The Earls
Black 47 – Red Hugh
Queen Elizabeth was a tough old boot in her own right and took a leaf outta ol’ Brian’s book raising the sons of the Gaelic Chieftains in her court. One of these lads was Red Hugh O’Donnell of the Tyrone. Hugh and his mate O’Neill of Ulster (The O’Neills are the oldest and biggest family in Europe, there is something like 3,000,000 descendants of Niall of the Nine Hostages the original Neill running about, the O’ meaning descended from, talk about virile) played a good game with the Queen. When in her court they played along by English rules and when back home in Ulster they did what ever they bloody pleased. But Lizzie’s henchmen in Ireland keep pushing in on O’Neill and O’Donnell business and enough to piss’ em off that they stopped playing the game and rebelled. The Irish chieftains were able to push the Perfidious Albion almost out of the country but were finally defeated a the Battle of Kinsale in 1601 – Kinsale is as far as you can get from Ulster, being on the south coast in Cork. O’Neill and O’Donnell and most of the other O’s fled the country for Spain and that was the end of Gaelic Ireland.
The Plantation Of Ulster
Being traitors to the crown, all of the lands of the O’Neill and O’Donnell went to the crown who decided that the best way to control the Irish was to get rid of ‘em and replace ‘em with good English protestants – this was after the reformation of course.
“Here’s a health to the Protestant Minister And his church without meaning or faith For the foundation stones of his temple are The bollocks of Henry the Eight” – Brendan Behan
This plan didn’t work out so well as most of the smart English with ambitions for advancement went to the America’s and stole the Indians land so in Ulster the numbers had to be made up with low class, lowland Scots. The Irish got kicked out and the planters got the good land (and the natives the views).
Cromwell in Ireland
Flogging Molly – Tobacco Island
The Fisticuffs – Young Ned of The Hill
The 1600’s was an ugly time to live in Ireland. When the civil war broke out in England the Catholics of Ireland, Gaelic and Old English supported the cause of Charles I and took the opportunity to try and get their lands back from the planters – much slaughter followed. With the end of the war in England and Chuck’s head on a spike Cromwell turned his eye on Ireland and took revenge in the Irish for rebelling and waged holy war on the population. Cromwell was by far the biggest Fu#ker in Irish history, his soldiers laid wasted to much of the county, butchering the citizens of Wexford and Drogheda when the garrison of those cities didn’t surrender fast enough. When he didn’t murder you, then he transported you to Barbados to your death as a slave in the sugar plantations or worse to Connacht and eternity as a bogger. Allegedly Rihanna is descended from one of those Irish transported to Barbados…..I told you Cromwell was a fu#ker. Cromwell eventually dies (of malaria of all things) and the Stuarts are back on the throne of England. Cromwell’s body exhumed, hung, drawn and quartered.
Ollie Cromwell, Lord Protector and general bastard. Warts’n’all
The Battle Of The Boyne
Roaring Jack – The Old Divide And Rule
Hugh Morrison – Ye Jacobites By Name
Prydein – Minstrel Boy
The Tossers – Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
The Stuarts were bad new. It would have been in everyone’s favor if Guy Fawkes had his way……BOOM! Things calmed down under Chuck II but there are problem when his brother Jimmy II replaces him. Well wee Jimmy was a Celtic support and the England parliament, Huns. They manage to live with him until a son was born and then they realism the Catholics won’t be going away. Jimmy is given short shift and exiled to France with his daughter Mary and her Dutch son-in-law William of Orange put in his place. Jimmy II raises any army with the support of the King of France and sails for Ireland to join up with his Irish supporters.
James manages to set back peace, love and understanding 1,000 years in Ireland when he lays siege to the walled city of Londonderry. The siege is only lifted when Williams ships arrive with solders and supply’s . The two sides play cat and mouse for a little while and finally meet on the banks of the river Boyne on July 12th, 1690. James’ French and Irish army verses Willies Dutch, German, English troops. William wins and James runs away. The most ironic thing about this is the bad history that still abates- the brethren up in Ulster regard this a a victory over the Pope and Popery, yet the Pope was playing politics here not religion and supported the protestant William and most of Williams army was Catholic – the Pope was trying to stick it to the French. With Jimmy gone, the Irish fell back to Aughrim under the command of Patrick Sarsfield, defeat followed and then on to Limerick. The City of Limerick was put under siege (that it still needs to clean up after) but William didn’t want to wait it out and offered a fairly decent treaty – join me or go to France and join the French army. The Irish took the French route and spent the next hundred years dying on the battlefields of Europe for the ungrateful French. With Willie back in England and Sarfield and his men dying for France. The over loards in Ireland we left to their own devices to introduce the penal laws
“Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach!” – “Remember Limerick and Saxon Perfidy”
I totally lucked out on this show. I just happened to be up in Vancouver, when I noticed The Dreadnoughts were scheduled to play at the infamous Railway Club that very same night. I recently picked up their fantastic debut album “Legends Never Die” and was blown away. Now, when I say fantastic, I mean to say Fan-fucking-tastic!
While cruising the streets of downtown Vancouver, I played the album for a friend of mine. He instantly muttered something along the lines of “The Dreadnoughts??? These guys kick fucking ass, man! Let’s go! ” Eventually, we arrive at the gig, walk up to the bar and order some drinks. Turn around, and watch one of the opening bands. To be honest, I could not tell you who they were. I didn’t really care. We decide to hang out at the bar and wait it out. Shit… Another forgettable opening band. Then eventually, another, and another, another… It’s starting to get late. The drinks are slowly catching up to us… We begin to wonder if there’s been a mistake.
Then I hear a familiar voice. It sounds like that guy (Nick) from Siobhan. (Great band, btw!) and current mastermind behind the Dreadnoughts. We walk up and say hello. After a pint or two, Nick finally stumbles up from the bar and gets ready for the gig. We figure the Dreadnoughts deliberately took as long as possible so everyone present would be a drunken mess, and ready to party. I think the plan worked, because I was literally shaking in anticipation. If these guys sound anything even remotely close to the album, I’d be a happy fucking camper.
Boom, off they go. The Railway literally starts bouncing. It’s a sea of drunken scallywags. The music is soaring, the crowd is roaring. In a matter of moments the entire place has gone insane. Tables and chairs are knocked over. Folks are flying atop the crowd. The building is going to crumble. You can see people trying to protect their pints by holding them in the air. It’s no use, the beer is spilt in every direction, every second or two. The entire club is a drunken mess. By about the second or third song, dancing in the middle of the mayhem, I’m covered in beer, sweat, and god knows what else, and I’m loving every moment of it. As a matter of fact, we all are!
I give no effort in remembering the set list. Fuck that, I’m having too much fun. I’m too loaded anyway. Tonight is all about watching a brilliant band tear the roof off. The sound these guys make over the course of the night is amazing. The energy is almost unmatched. I have seen a few shows in my day, and I will say this… The Dreadnoughts have “it”… And, if you have to ask what “it’ is, I’d suggest seeing them for yourself and you’ll find yer answer…
Holy shit. Get the album “Legends Never Die” and pray to whatever God you believe in, that the Dreadnoughts will hopefully go on tour near your town!
The Dreadnoughts, those ballsy balladeers of Vancouver City are returned for this, ‘Polka’s Not Dead’, arriving hot on the heels of 2009’s ‘Victory Square.’
For those unaware of The Dreadnoughts, the band emerged from the ashes of Siobhan in earnest with their 2007 release, ‘Legends Never Die’. Leaving that band’s primarily Celtic shores and traveling seaward, The Dreadnoughts’ sound encompassed more of a sea shanties and nautical feel to it, while still maintaining an Irish/Celtic punk feel.
As the band sailed on, their styles shifted with the trade winds, until this, their third and most recent full-length release, ‘Polka’s Not Dead,’ which sees the captain’s lay of the tracks to have distinctly Eastern European leanings: gypsy fiddle tunes, and not surprisingly, Polish, (the title of the album is “Polka’s Not Dead,” after all!)
Oh, the shanties are still there, rest assured, (“Randy Dandy Oh,”) nestled neatly among the hyper-kinetic Gypsy-styled fiddle workouts, (“Goblin Humppa,”) a Celtic track reminiscent of the band’s earlier material, (“Black Sea Gale,”) and a blatant punk-polka track, (“Polka Never Dies.”) The other nine tracks are a little harder to pigeon hole, containing two or more elements of the above styles, (such as my personal fave, “Turbo Island,” with its great and immediately catchy chorus,) all stirred up nicely and served at a pace whirling somewhere between dervish and maelstrom.
The Dreadnoughts still come armed with their full arsenal of fiddle, tin whistle, mandolin, guitar, bass, drums, and a pervasive accordion buoying the distinctive and powerful vocals of the band’s singer, (currently listed on their MySpace page as “Uncle Touchy.”)
The Dreadnoughts are not a band whose name can be used in the same sentence as the word “predictable,” (except as in contrast, like I did just there!) as they continue to blur the lines between their ethnic influences. And “safe” seems to be the one way they don’t play it.
I do find myself wondering, though, is ‘Polka’s Not Dead’s Eastern European-influence blended sound the band’s destination, or just another port of call? After all, the band does seem to be forcing an evolution of itself, but in the process creating a shipload of great tunes along the way!
Review by Christopher Toler, THE Blathering Gommel
One word – incredible! Two words – really incredible! Three – really fuckin incredible. You get the gist?. Seriously though, the 2nd release by Vancouver’s The Dreadnoughts just blows away every other Celt punk release I’ve heard this year. Fast, furious and tight as a Scottish Canadian’s wallet. Celtic punk with occasional touches of Eastern Europe (ala the late great Canadian band Siobhan – Ol Jimmy RIP, long live The Fang) that meets the Canadian maritime sea shanty sounds of Great Big Sea – on steroids of course. If your going to buy one CD this year ‘cos your totally hard up then this is it.
This highly-anticipated release, (well, by me, anyways!) grabbed me immediately upon my first play through, living up to and even surpassing my expectations. No “How-do-you-dos” or needing to grow on me, No! Just here it is… BAM! A favorite new disc that I hadn’t heard before!
The Dreadnoughts’ sound is one of a driving, crunchy guitar at the helm of a tight and kinetic rhythm section that provides a dynamic underscore for the combination of traditional instruments that define each tune, specifically mandolin, fiddle, and one monster accordion. All these elements come together for an intricate and engaging backdrop for Ol’ Jimmy’s distinctive, rolling roar.
But at the end of the day, its the songs that carry the CD, and here is where Legends Never Die really shines! The disc’s 11 tracks include frantic and frenzied hornpipe and reel-based Celtic songs, and crashing and forceful whaling and maritime rants full of folk-tale, storytelling lyrics sung with fiery urgency, that blur the lines between contemporary songs and traditional tunes past the point of knowing where one ends and the other begins.
Legends Never Die may be the debut release by Vancouver quintet The Dreadnoughts, but it possesses all the confidence, muscle, and production of a seasoned outfit in the prime of their career.
Recommendation: You should really own this. Seriously.
Review by Christopher Toler, THE Blathering Gommel