Way back in 2009 I trotted off to a Neck gig down County Holloway way and, having finished my can and a roll-up, wandered into the venue only to catch the last couple of songs of the first band on. Well having been suitably impressed I set out to track them down and after a short while i found The Lagan doing their stuff in Kingston on the south-east fringes of London and have been booking them to play gigs for no money ever since!
So we’re as happy as Larry to give you an interview with founder member and vocalist/guitarist Brendan.
First things first can you give us a wee potted history of the band? You know- the who, what, why and how? Were any of you in other bands previously and what happened to suddenly make the leap to forming The Lagan?
Well, Me and Matt met about ten years ago when we were playing in a 3 piece band called “Doin’ Time”, so we go back a fair way, around that time I met Gareth (either at gigs or in the pub) then we were playing in a ska band (Danny Fontaine and The Horns Of Fury), and it was around that time that I met Andy. I got a bit restless and moved on and joined a punk band (Beyond Reasonable Doubt). Thanks to all of us being slackers, that fell on its arse. I had been getting back into folk music around that time, and had only recently gotten into the folk punk thing, so I put together a band which turned out to be The Lagan.
Just as The Lagan seemed on the verge of taking off quite spectacularly you had bit of a run of bad luck with a couple of members leaving. Are things now back on a even keel or you still casting your net out for replacements?
Yeah, that was a bit of a fucker! That’s the way it goes, though. We never really planned on it taking off the way it did, so the boys couldn’t put in the same amount of time as the rest of us. We’re still looking for a permanent fiddle player, but Stan and Morgan help us out whenever they can.
You’re based in Kingston but is there much of an Irish community there? People say that the Irish population of London is getting smaller and the most obvious sign of that is Irish boozers closing down but has there been a noticeable decline, especially with emigration from Ireland reaching all-time high records again?
To be honest, I don’t recall there ever being much of an Irish community around here. But, even the areas which had a high Irish population aren’t the same, Over the years, every community will get absorbed. Might not be a bad thing, I suppose…
You play a good few trad Irish songs in your set. Obviously that’s been a influence in The Lagan but who do you think has been the important links between rock and traditional folk music?
I’ve always thought that The Dubliners are the ones who started it all. They had the rebellious attitude and the delivery which would later define punk. But, Moving Hearts, Planxty (anything with Christy involved), and the Pogues, obviously!
The celtic-punk scene is very parochial in my opinion, as evidenced every year we do a Best Of chart! Brit/Irish bands dominate our chart, Euro ones dominate CelticFolkPunk (from Spain) and the American blogs are full of North American bands. I suppose this is only natural and touring is a big part getting around this. Whats your plans to leave blighty’s shores and whats the story with the aborted 2014 St Patrick’s tour of the US of A?
We’re off to Germany in July, Austria in August and anywhere else we can. Just need all the pieces to fall into place, really. We all still have day jobs, and if one person doesn’t have holiday time, another’s fuckin’ skint ‘cos they’re self-employed and not earning fuck all while we’re on tour. The US thing fucking blew, but we wanted to do everything above board, and the visas might not have gone through, and we’d only have found out 5 days before the tour started, which would have meant 6 grand down the shitter. So we had to bail. Really fucked off about that, still. Mike Bermingham (Rockin’ Irish) had put in a lot of ground work for us, and we felt like shit for bailing.
How have sales of the album been going? Have you been happy with the deal with Banquet records? Its only garnered f’ing great reviews as far as I’ve seen. It landed quite high in all the various celtic-punk blogs Best Of charts but, pray tell, what exactly is the story behind the albums title ‘Wheres Your Messiah Now?’
Better than we expected, but we only recorded it to have something to sell at shows, and just to have done it, really. “Where’s Your Messiah Now?” is line from Sailin’ East, but I might as well come clean and tell you it’s a quote from The Simpsons! Banquet records are great, but if they hadn’t asked, we’d have just gone DIY. We went with them ‘cos they’re local, we trust them, and they rule.
When you began as a band, only Neck and yourselves played the kind of music you do in the whole of London. Since then a couple of other bands have come and gone and now again its just Neck and youse. Do you consider yourselves a celtic-punk band anymore or is it even important to label yourselves as anything?
I guess I’d look at us as Folk-Punk, but I don’t think it matters. Well, not to me, anyway. Celtic punk/Folk punk, whatever people want to call it, it’s all good. Actually, as long as it’s under the ‘punk’ banner, it doesn’t matter to me
Does it piss you off the dominance of the Murphys/Mollys in the celtic-punk scene. Are you out to impress their fans or is it more important to get away from the celtic-punk ‘ghetto’?
Not at all, they’ve worked their arses off at it, and they write great songs. Obviously, playing to their audience would be good, as not all punk fans want o hear diddly diddly, but getting heard by as many people as possible is a good thing.
Got any bands you can recommend to us? (and remember its a big worldwide scene out there!!!)
Against Me!, The Wonder Beers, Gaslight Anthem, Roughneck Riot, The Forum Walters… erm…. too many to mention!
Well thanks lads for your time anything else you’d like to add or plug?
Thanks to Martin Bell, Matt McConnell, Stan Stan Stan Stanley (or whatever he’s calling himself these days) and Morgan Shaw for helping us out over the years and being our pals. Yourself and the LCP family for all the support, anyone who has put us up or booked us, BCS for being great to us, Mike Bermingham (Rockin Irish) and Banquet Records for their support.