The Celtic folk rockers speak to Big Issue North as they release their new single Fear of Fear. They tell us why their music has become less about drinking and more about society.
What informs your music and songwriting?
I have always listened to and been inspired by the melodies and lyrics of Shane McGowan, for his drinking antics and stories, by Dylan’s travelling tales and Bragg’s social commentary. I always looked out of the window at school wondering what was really going on out there. I dreamed of travel and playing music and by the age of 21 I was travelling the world busking for a living through Asia, Australasia and USA. On this journey, I started writing songs about my experiences on the road, the characters I met, the good times and the revelry, but at the same time reflecting over my youth growing up in smalltown England. Though recently they’ve become more socially topical – for example, our latest release Fear of Fear has a little more social outlook about the way of the world and what we are led to believe. With all the war in the world today, propaganda plays a big role in what the average Joe on the street is led to believe. Right-wing news channels and politicians feed us with fake information, breeding hatred and fear, which they use to misguide us. Fear of Fear, as the title suggests, lays out in black and white the lies we are fed. Having a great band behind me also has a part to play in our sound. The instrumentalists in the band all come from a rich folk background from England and Scotland and that is apparent in our sound. Our drummer is Danish and is way better than Mr Lars Ulrich. But I’m also told that isn’t hard.
How has the band evolved over the years?
The band formed in Copenhagen in 2000 and has always been an upbeat live act. We started with a driving fiddle sound but over the years have moved on with a more varied sound incorporating the banjo, mandolin, whistles, squeeze box and pipes. The lyrics seem to have more depth than the early drinking songs. I suppose that comes with more life experience. The lyrics are nearly always the frame of the song with a story to tell and then a catchy melody/riff sits on top a driving rhythm. Though still flirting with the Celtic-folk tradition mixed in with a bit of post-punk drive, the arrangements have more direction.
What are you up to at the moment artistically?
I love the autumn – it’s my favourite writing time. Hopefully I’ll write a couple more songs (maybe a love song) for the new album that we’ll be recording both sides of Christmas in wonderful Copenhagen, and hope to have a new release out next year.
What’s it like to operate in the music industry today?
Bloody hard work. I’m still finding it hard to come to terms with the devaluation of music due to streaming. If Spotify lawyers could get us a £10 monthly subscription with national supermarkets so we could take as much as we like off the shelves as possible, then we might break even. But our chins are up. We soldier on! Hard work is not a problem, we are passionate about what we do, we love touring, playing live and it’s fantastic to stand on a stage at a festival and play your own music (loud) with your best mates to an appreciative crowd.
What’s on your rider?
Beer, whisky, chips ‘n’ gravy – though we have never got all four. The industry could work on that too.
Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.
I broke my ankle falling down the pub staircase on the first day of a 28-day tour through Germany and Scandinavia. I had to do the tour sitting down. The surreal thing is that I was sober when it happened. The up side was that I didn’t have to carry anything, nor drive, and could drown my sorrows for 28 days.
What’s your worst lyric?
This could be the worst or could be the best: “There is a Goth at the Bus Stop, shall I pick him up? My Mum says NO!” Picture it.