Just got to hear an advance copy of the new Mahones album, Jameson Street, and it’s really impressive. In some regards it’s a throwback to the early Mahones releases and features multiple guests including Dave from the Peelers and Nick from the Dreadnoughts as well as members of the original legendary Mahones line-up. There is also a special treat on the album for Pogues fans.
SnO – Palace of the Fiend is in my list of top 5 Celtic-punk albums of all time (and depending on the mood sometimes it’s #1). After six plus months of spinning your newest release, Down and Out in the City of Saints, it is catching up fast on Palace of the Fiend. Looking back on the album, were you happy with it? How do you think it compares to Palace? It must have been a disappointment not to be able to go on tour to support.
Dave – Hey John, I understand the question in terms of the tonal differences between the two albums, ‘Down & Out’ being much more guitar driven, and I see how that could isolate fans of ‘Palace’, much like that album is different from ‘Liquordale’. The most obvious explanation for the disparity between the two, is what I was going through at the time; ‘Palace’ is a darker album. I was dealing with some personal issues when I wrote it and that’s evident in the lyrical content. ‘Down & Out’ is me coming to terms with a lot of that, and I think it’s a much more positive album. Maybe that’s why it’s more aggressive?
I am happy with ‘Down & Out’, it’s the album that we needed to make at the time. I think first and foremost, it’s a well written, well performed, and immaculately produced album. The personnel in the band has changed, and that’s a part of the evolution of the sound as well. There are currently only two original members in The Peelers, me and Eric (Irish Whistle/ Organ). When we started the band in Glengarry County in Eastern Ontario, Canada, the players were mostly local musicians whose background was rooted in traditional Irish and Scottish music, and I was as well… but I was also a punk, a fan of The Ramones, Clash, Two-Tone and Oi, and for me ‘The Pogues’ were the perfect melding of both genres. The writing on ‘Boots and Suits’ and ‘Liquordale’ reflects both the lineup and the influences in my opinion. It was always my goal to get a little dirtier in terms of guitars and you can see that through the progression of the last two albums.
The band is now based in a major city, rather than rural, and in a definite way the sound has followed suit. I can tell you that there was a conscious decision to push the guitars on ‘Down & Out’. This was due to the musical stimuluses at the time of writing, so there are some songs with a more traditional punk feel. It was also a concession to the constraints of touring as an independent act. It’s almost impossible to put a seven-piece traditional Celtic punk band on the road in 2021, for a myriad of financial and logistical reasons I’m sure you understand. Driving the sound electrically fills in the holes when you’ve only got one or two trad instruments on stage.
Having this album as the first release for our label Stomp Records, has opened our music up to a whole new audience as well. That is important to me and I was aware of this during production. The last thing, nearest to my heart, is that I made this record with some of the best and closest people in my life. And in the end, that’s what I’m most proud of. And yes, it’s been disappointing not to have toured to support the album yet, but we’ll just call it a delay, and that’ll happen beginning in March. We began recording it in December ’19 and like everyone else, we had no idea what was coming. We just played our first show in 617 days, since we had everything cancelled mid-tour in March 2020. It felt great.
SnO – 617 days! Quebec City, right? How did the show go?
Dave – Quebec City, the old town, very beautiful. The actual performance was ‘acceptable’ lol, a few hiccups here and there but that was to be expected. We could’ve used a few more bodies in the room, but with the Covid numbers jumping back up a bit recently up North, I think people are still a bit wary.
SnO – You mentioned Down & Out being the peelers first release on Stomp and that it’s opening your music to a whole new audience. Who is this new audience? Down & Out also came out on vinyl. Has the vinyl release been successful? Any chance the peelers back catalog gets the vinyl treatment?
Dave – When I say “a whole new audience”, I mean it in terms of music fans being exposed to us who might not have been without the exposure of the label, lovers of our genre or not. I feel like we’ve always kind of floated in this netherworld doomed to wander aimlessly between trad and Celtic punk with no real definition. Stomp Records, have given us a platform and admittedly credibility on the scene and we’re grateful for that. I’ve had people say, “we had no idea there was a Celtic punk band in Montréal” lol despite the fact we’ve been around for 22yrs. So yes, visibility has been a big part of the label experience.
The vinyl release of “Down & Out” has been successful in as much as people are actually buying records anymore. Record sales are still not staggering, but we’re stoked to have the option. And moreover, as child of the waning years of the heyday of vinyl, it’s still hard to believe there’s a 33 rpm option with our music on it. And we had fun doing the artwork and content. As far as the back catalog; I have spoken to our business manager Eric, who also plays Irish whistle and organ in the band, as well as our producer and it’s a definite possibility. At least for ‘Liquordale’ and ‘Palace’. We wanted to wait and see how the new album worked out first. The problem with vinyl right now, is that Covid has created a massive backlog in production. So we’ll concern ourselves with the upcoming album and then address the old stuff later.
SnO – You mention the upcoming album. Where are you in that process and what can we expect from the new album?
Dave – We are still in pre-production. Songs and lyrics are written, and tracked for recording. Drums are up first, probably just after Christmas. I would say it’ll be similar to ‘Down & Out’ in style, maybe a bit less guitar driven. But it’s hard to say until we start laying down tracks and hearing the songs develop in the studio. I think I mentioned before that there’s a big backlog on vinyl production right now, so we want to get it recorded asap, but also not compromise anything by rushing
SnO – Thanks Dave. Final question. Will we every get you across the border and playing shows in the US (esp. Boston) when the world gets back to normal?
Dave – Ha!! Well we used to play quite a bit in the U.S. before we took that hiatus. But strangely enough, we’ve never played in Massachusetts. I’d like to, Boston is a city close to my heart, wandered her streets many times. So yes, we want to get back to playing U.S. dates, and we’ve been looking for a booker down there. We have Canada and Europe covered, but nothing stateside, as we always booked ourselves. So if anyone knows a good agent… wink wink.
The other impediment to crossing the border that no one likes to talk about is the red tape for Canadian bands. A work visa is required for all members, and the initial admin and application costs before we even set foot there put us way behind before playing a show. It’s not easy. And it’s disappointing. I understand completely the goal of keeping jobs in country, but I love travelling stateside. I write about the places I’ve been before, and we just want to spread the love and see all the faces. It’s not a monetary thing at all. Hopefully we can get back at it once the border opens up fully. And we’ll make Boston a priority. Thanks John
Palace Of The Fiend, the 2017 release by The Peelers was an absolute masterpiece, one of the best Celtic-punk albums ever made. Having played Palace Of The Fiend almost daily over the last three years it makes it difficult for me to objectively review Down and out in the City of Saints. So to be fair, I’m going to pretend I’ve never heard the Peelers before and review Down and out in the City of Saints like it’s a debut release.
Down and out in the City of Saints is an album full of big dirty-fuzzy guitars, thumping bass, growling vocals, fast and powerful street punk with great hooks and Celtic undertones. This is relentless, fighting music – both bare-knuckle and Queensbury rules. Lead single, Prizefight, grabs you hard and beats you around the head into submission. The bagpipe laden, Spirits Seldom Sober, is an ode to the hard-drinking life. Stick and Move (Spike O’Sullivan), packs a punch as hard as anything the Celtic Warrior, Spike O’Sullivan, can throw. The Last Glass, slows things down (just a little) before The Peelers are back to full force Celtic-punk with, Harder They Fall, and no matter how hard they fall The Peelers, pick themselves back up and keep swinging.
Down and out in the City of Saints is a really great piece of Celtic-punk rock. As good as Palace Of The Fiend? Maybe. I need to live with, Down and out in the City of Saints, for a while before I can really judge – I’ll let you know next year.
Prizefight the new single from The Peelers is now available on Spotify. The new album ‘Down & Out in the City of Saints’ out March 12th.
‘Down and Out in the City of Saints’ features 10 songs, recorded in Montreal, Dundee Scotland, and Vancouver between December 2019 and June 2020. In keeping with their more recent material, Dave Barton’s songs reflect the North American experience of the diaspora with a tip of the newsboy cap to the Quebecois narrative and the lure of Boston and New York; blending truth and fiction, glory and sport, love and loss, darkness and despair, while introducing composites of individuals, companions, friends and foes met along the punk rock journey.
Tracks 1. Give Us A Roar 2. Down and Out in the City of Saints 3. Prizefight 4. Spirits Seldom Sober 5. Stick and Move 6. Rakes Around The Point 7. Glad To See The Back Of You 8. Last Glass 9. Harder They Fall 10. From Here To Halifax
Neck – Every Day’s St Patrick’s Day The Skels – Have A Drink Ya Bastards Black 47 – Green Suede Shoes The Muckers – Let’s All Go To The Bar BibleCodeSundays – Drinking All Day Sons Of O’Flaherty – Dead and Gone The Rumjacks – An Irish Pub song The Mahones – Shakespeare Road Big Bad Bollocks – Guinness Bodh’aktan – Black Velvet Band Featuring Paddy Moloney Charm City Saints – Dicey Riley Bill Grogan’s Goat – The Galway Races Jackdaw – Come out you Black And Tans The Pourmen – Too Old To Die Young Murshee Durkin – The Pogues & Whiskey The Woods Band – Finnegan’s Wake Irish Whispa – Bold O’Donohue Pat Chessell – The Mother-in-Law Greenland Whalefishers – Joe’s Town The Tossers – St Patrick’s Day Sharky Doyles – Everybody’s Irish Kilkenny Knights – Dance! The Gobshites – Alcohol Horslips – The High Reel Horslips – Dearg Doom Kilmaine Saints – Foggy Dew The Bucks – Psycho Ceiled In Claremorris Blood Or Whiskey – Follow Me up to Carlow-Holt’s Way The Peelers – A1A FLA The Electrics – Seventeen Bottles Of Porter Sir Reg – Stereotypical Drunken Feckin’ Irish Song The Templars Of Doom – Mamma Weer All Crazee Now
I’d like to begin this review with a small message for our American readers. And that message is this:
Oh, look at us. We’re the United States. We’re big and powerful. We have most of the money in the world. We grab all the headlines. Our military could conquer Canada 50 times in a week and still have enough time for a relaxing weekend in Bermuda. We have the Dropkicks. We have The Tossers. We have Flogging Molly. We’re the centre of the universe!
Well, let’s just be clear here: Terry Woods and Phil Chevron just did a tour in CANADA. And it rocked both folk and punk ASS.
I mean, The Mahones were awesome, they always are. The Peelers kicked ass. The only real let-down was Siobhan, who played some of the worst music I had ever heard. I mean, I don’t want to be cruel here, but these guys were worse than Creed. They make Creed sound like the Mahones. But anyway, let me get down to the nitty-gritty, the real stuff. The Pogues.
On each night, Terry, Phil and their bad-ass Irish accordion player, James, followed up the Mahones’ set with an acoustic set of their own. This set included some tunes I’d never heard, such as beautiful instrumental “The Lament for Grosse Point” and “Brave New World”, a rousing folk number. And each night, they turned the house lights down, and Phil sang Thousands Are Sailing in an “Unplugged” style.
This was the song that first roused my interest in the Pogues, the song that started me on that long, dark, and drunken road to having a band. And to hear Phil himself sing it was beyond incredible. Shane was great on the album, but seeing this old, frail man sing his own song (on North American soil, even!) gives the tune a whole new power. He also did another song of his, “Faithful Departed”, a Radiators From Space tune that has become an underground classic in Irish music.
The Mahones jumped on stage again as the backing band, and out came “If I Should Fall From Grace With God”, “Young Ned Of The Hill” and “Gartloney Rats”, among others. Those of us in the room who understood what was going on were mesmerized, while those who had never heard the Pogues were amazed to hear Irish music being played so well, better then any band in Canada or the U.S. does. Terry’s fingers absolutely flew on the bouzouki, and his concertina work was masterful. Occasionally, when the sound was bad, I would turn to a band-mate and say, “I wonder if the sound guy realizes he’s fucking up the bouzouki sound for one of the five best players in the world.”
In the end, the shows were magical, and we all have Finny MacConnell from the Mahones to thank for organizing them. The last time Terry and Phil were on this continent, they were playing to five or six thousand people a night, and here they were, in dark underground clubs and halls, playing their hearts out to anyone who would listen. They weren’t trying to get famous, they were trying to show people what Irish music could and should be.
I’ll never forget seeing these guys, and getting to play banjo with them on “Gartloney Rats” is something I’ll take to my grave. But the experience was also humbling for all of us who play this music: there are still giants across the broad Atlantic who play far better than we do. Leave it to the Pogues to put a bunch of Canadians in their place. Health to you, boys, and don’t stay away too long.
Review by: -Ol’ Jimmy (whose efforts to get Phil to say “Oooh Terrence! You farted!” in a high pitched, squeaky voice were sadly in vain)
To the Peelers’ credit, they had just arrived in town a couple hours prior to the show after an eight-hour drive from Savannah, Ga., and went on to play nearly FOUR FREAKING HOURS (admittedly, with a couple of short breaks thrown in, but still!).
First, a bit about the venue. The Celtic Ray Public House — by the time you read this, management may have already completely split off the music room into a separate smoking bar called the Temple Bar Public House — is a small pub in Punta Gorda, Fla., which is about 90 minutes south of Tampa. It serves no domestic beer (!) and has the feel of a country pub in Ireland. It’s not a huge room, and the pub has traditional Irish music a few nights a week.
That said, The Peelers were a bit of a departure for the pub. It was only the second time it’s charged a cover for an event (the first was Black 47 in February), and owner Kevin Doyle was a little apprehensive about bringing in a band that was a large unknown.
(As the show approached, many friends from the pub were calling me “The Guy Who Brought The Peelers To The Celtic Ray,” as I had played a limited role as a matchmaker between the band and the pub. A lot of people asked me about the band, whom I’d never seen live before. I merely told them, I’d just heard their CD, which was very good, but I had very high expectations for their live show. I was nervous as an expectant dad.)
The Peelers, making their Florida debut, were also a little nervous. “We really didn’t know what to expect,” said lead singer Dave Barton. “We didn’t know whether to expect a young audience or old. A lot of these southern cities are known for older crowds.” They needn’t have worried. The band drew enough people of a variety of ages to make the room comfortably crowded. If the crowd was a little tentative as the show started, so was the band, which started at about 9:40 p.m. with no opening act to warm up the crowd.
If the band has a weakness (if you want to call it that) at this point, it’s their limited amount of original material, which I’ll go into later. They started with The Waterboys’ “Bang on the Ear” — halfway through, Kevin yelled out, “I fucking love these guys already!” A look around the room indicated this was a common theme. They opened with a set of standards, including “Finnegan’s Wake” and “Dirty Old Town,” and threw in a version of the “Broad Majestic Shannon” — the first of several Pogues songs that was played that night. They also did a song from their upcoming CD “Plastic Paddy” that I did not recognize or know the name of.
As the night grew longer, the crowd got younger, the Peelers got faster. They did their versions of “Irish Rover” (obviously minus Ol’ Jimmy of Siobhan, who guested for the song on their CD), Flogging Molly’s “Salty Dog” and allowed me to go up with them and do “Streams of Whiskey” (which I’d wanted to sing with a live band for a long time). The band also let Leslie, Kevin’s girlfriend, sing on a well-received version of “Fairytale of New York.”
All hell broke loose toward the end, with a mosh pit erupted in this small Irish pub, much to the delight of those that stayed until the last. A few people got knocked into a table near the stage with fish and chips for the band, and the fish went flying. They finished with some Clash songs — “London Calling” and “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” to a rousing, rowdy ovation.
“I thought at first, they (the crowd) was a little reserved. We were a little unsure where to go with the whole thing,” Barton said after the show. “In the end, it turned out to be a Peelers show.”
One could dismiss the Peelers as a cover band (which is how one newspaper alluded to them) if you wanted to look at it that way, as they’re still working on a repartory of original stuff. (Then again, when the Pogues were in their infancy, they did a lot of Dubliners stuff and traditional tunes, not to compare the two.)
I just look at The Peelers as a smoking live band. My body is still stiff from all the dancing/moshing that erupted toward the end. And I have no doubt that their original stuff, as it comes, will be fine, too. As a side note, they are really cool guys.
There’s a strong rumor that The Peelers will be coming back at some point. (“As soon as possible,” Kevin told me. “If they’re available, next week.”) They may have also opened the door for other bands of that ilk for the Celtic Ray, oops, sorry, Temple Bar. (I REALLY hope so.)
When The Peelers make their return appearance to Punta Gorda, I can’t freaking wait. And from the feedback I’ve received since the show, I know I won’t be the only one.
In 2004 The Peelers album Liquordale was Shite’n’Onions album of the year – always a good launching point for fame and fortune in the Celtic-punk genre. Then……… nothing………nothing for 13 years!!! Now we have have the follow-up, ‘Palace of the Fiend’. Thirteen tracks in all. That’s one for for every year since Liquordale.
So where have the Peelers been? New York, The Bronx and Afghanistan. San Diego, Harlem, Dublin and on to the Spanish Coast. Down south, up north. From St. Johns to Boston and back to Ballingarry.
What have they being doing? Fighting at Vinegar Hill and with General Meagher, pub crawling to Baltimore. Brawling with the Westies and hanging St. Michael. Sailing with St. Brendan. Drinking Guinness, snorting…., getting clean and sober, falling again. Fighting the Devil, fighting the final round, finding redemption.
And is ‘Palace of the Fiend’ any good? Fuck yeah. Double fuck yeah. This is Celtic-punk at it’s very, very best, fast, powerful, raw, the poetry of those who have really lived – part Pogues, part Mahones and part Behan. I know it’s only May but I’m prepared to call ‘Palace of the Fiend’ album of the year for 2017. See yah in 2030 lads.