Brummie gypsy pirate punk duo with Jock from GBH on guitar and Sam from Contempt on vocals and fiddle.
The Balsall Heathens are a two piece acoustic duo from Birmingham that have been going for a number of years, playing mainly at punk festivals, but have only just recently released their first record. Made up of Colin ‘Jock’ Blythe, founding member and guitarist/songwriter of punk legends G.B.H. and Sam who has played with countless bands in the past and is currently playing in The Alcohol Licks, Contempt, The Dollcanoes and Canar du Jour. Forming in 2007 and taking their name from Balsall an inner-city area of Birmingham in the West Midlands it is home to a diverse mix of working class people and is the location of the infamous Balti Triangle where the amount of curry houses is legendary enough to warrant its own name!
GBH were one of the wave of original English punk bands that came to be known as ‘UK82’ along with the likes of The Exploited, Discharge and The Varukers. Constantly touring all over the world GBH remain one of the most popular punk bands in existance and they have stayed loyal both to that UK82 sound and their legions of fans worldwide. Obviously this makes Balsall Heathens gigs pretty hard to organise especially with Sam’s busy schedule but their love of the music means they make the time and they actually play a lot more then you would think. Jock plays acoustic guitar and Sam plays fiddle and sings and they describe themselves as ‘gypsy pirate punk’ and began back in the day by playing purely upbeat cover versions of folk and country covers like ‘Whisky in the Jar’ and the ‘Devil Went Down to Georgia’. They began to write some of their own material and so we have the EP ‘Life’s Too Short’, their debut release on Violated Records.
Opening with ‘Whiskey In The Giro’ it’s a re-working of the Thin Lizzy/trad classic ‘Whisky in The Jar’ that I first heard on the B-side of an The Men They Couldn’t Hang single I think. A whopping six and a half minutes long. First impressions are of Sam’s strong female vocals and also her outstanding fiddle playing. Amazingly the song does not outstay its welcome despite its length. This is followed by ‘Life’s Too Short’ and it has a downright country feel to it while telling us to enjoy our lives and to cut the bullshit out as Lifes Too Short. Really enjoyed this track and again Sam’s fiddle is amazing in this anarchist hoedown. The instrumental ‘The River’ comes next and lasts pretty long, over five minutes, for a folk punk song and once again is a joy to listen to. Sounding very celtic its not a million miles away from what we are use to here. They get silly next up with the bluesy ‘Dogfood Blues’ with Jock proving that he can play a mean guitar while the last track ‘Get Jiggy With It’ is not a cover of the Will Smith single (how do I even know that?!?!) but a lovely country folk-punk romp that sped right up till the final second.
Recorded in Birmingham and released on Violated Records the EP lasts a decent twenty-five minutes and trots along at a fine auld pace. Needless to say their is nothing particularly groundbreaking but it’s a solid release and impressive that their is only the two of them playing here. The spirit of punk shines through as well as a sense of humour and a superb DIY attitude. They manage to capture the live sound of the band pretty well and it is live that The Balsall Heathens are at their best. Later this year they will be appearing at the Rude Festival in St. Louis, Missouri, the Rebellion Festival in Blackpool as well as touring mainland Europe as well. Currently writing some new material we can expect another release in the coming year so all being well we will be seeing a whole lot more of the Balsall Heathens.
Get The EP
Contact The Band
Tagged: Balsall Heathens