Between The Wars
As an Australian of Irish descent, I get mixed feelings around Saint Patrick's day. On one hand, I can't wait to get outside and start drinking singing and head butting my cousins, on the other, I despair at how everyone in Melbourne suddenly claims Irish heritage as an excuse to get fuck-eyed. It's kind of insulting - they don't realise that's there's more to being Irish than Jimeoin, leprechauns and Guinness. There's also a lot of heartbreak, a lot of oppression and broken dream, a lot of inbreeding and eating diseased potatoes.
Between The Wars play Irish folk punk, and are firmly in the latter camp. Stylistically, their sound lies somewhere between The Pogues and Butterfingers, lyrically they steer towards the folk storytelling of songwriters like Frank Tuner, Billy Bragg and Shane MacGowen. Frontman of the group, Jay Stevens, is quick to explain how he got into the socially conscious Irish punk racket, "I'd always been in punk rock bands in the past, singing songs about girls. Why not do something a little different? Our ukulele player and my best friend, Jason, came on board and he really pushed me to make this a little more genuine, you know, a little less pandering and little more organic and true. Irish music to me, especially the rebel music of the Wolfe Tones or The Dubliners, really showcases a side of the world that not many people are aware of. People think of Ireland and they think of leprechauns and Guinness, straight up. I think of Ireland and I think of The Troubles, of heroes like Michael Collins and Bobby Sands, people willing to literally put their neck on the line for something they believe in. [It's] pretty awesome and inspiring stuff."
In 2009 Jay and his best friend Jason got together in a room and started writing songs, trying to bring back the lost art of storytelling to their song writing. It snowballed as more likeminded musicians came on board, all with their own projects, all eager to bring a touch of Springsteen and Stummer to their blend of Irish punk. "I love the fact that back in the old days, you went out and fought in battles and then you came home and someone would write a song about your exploits. People don't seem to do that nowadays. I want to write my own fictional account of what happened, you know?"
The result is their new record The Rats, a 7 track EP that mixes upbeat punk aesthetic with themes ranging from Irish nationalism inIrish Rebel Song, war in Lone Pine or reimaged convict balladry with a rock 'n' roll aesthetic found within The Tail of The Rats and The Ballad of The First Fleet. To say Stevens if vastly excited for the launch of their new record would be a vast understatement. "Overall, you'll see a wide variety of bands. Shoes for Strings are an awesome rock band, followed by Dapplegrim, who are some of our good friends playing nautical folk music, similar to The Decemberists. Then you've got The Ramshackle Army and us. Ramshackle are our best friends in this scene, we love them to bits and we think they're amazingly talented human beings. Our bands together on a show always assure you of a hell of a good time."
Between The Wars launch their new 7 track EP The Rats at the The John Curtain on the Friday August 26.