EP REVIEW: THE DISTILLERY RATS – We Are Rats (2022)

German Celtic-Punks The Distillery Rats are back after a five year break with an EP packed full of stories and high-energy songs where they manage to infuse their energy onto their record and immediately get you craving to see one of their infamous live shows.

The Distillery Rats are one of a number of German Celtic-Punk bands who loudly proclaim their Celtic-Punkness to the world. Where as here in England bands hide their genre bending under a rock and the rather vague title of ‘Folk-Punk’ Celtic-Punk is the label of choice for bands on the continent. Formed in the German wine making area of Heilbronn the Distillery Rats have been playing their own brand of Irish Punk since 2005. Regular readers will know that we have our theories about why in Germany Celtic-Punk, Irish / Celtic music and Irish / Celtic culture are so widely celebrated but they certainly love all things Irish over there and the Rats are another in a long line of bands who have managed to take punk rock and Irish folk and unify them together into what we all know to be the ultimate good time music.

The Distillery Rats left to right: left to right: Marcy Mahoney- Vocals, Acoustic Guitar * Mr. Firebeard- Accordion, Drums * Matt O’Killian- Banjo, Mandolin, Whistles, Pipes * Phil McMorning- Vocals, Bass, Accordion, Banjo, Guitars * Josey DiCilento- Accordion, Piano * Toby McWire- Electric Guitar * Mike McMorning- Drums, Percussion * George McGorgeous- Guitars, Backing Vocals *

Formed as 4-piece originally called Commerzpank, The Distillery Rats have played and continue to play all over Germany in pubs, clubs and at festivals large and small. That four piece has grown to include two vocalists, guitars, drums and bass and on the Folk side of the band banjos, mandolin, accordion, piano, bouzouki, whistles and even uilleann pipes. 

Their recording career began with the now long sold out five-track EP Back On The Road in 2010 and it was a full seven years before they followed this up with Tales From County Whiskey in 2017 an excellent album that would make that years Celtic-Punk Top Thirty. So that makes the five year gap between then and the brand new The Distillery Rats release the EP We Are Rats seem small by comparison. The EP starts off with ‘Back On The Road’ and we are back in familiar territory if you are a fellow fan of #ratsstyle Fast and heavy Celtic-Punk. For the rest of you The Distillery Rats are a unique band within the scene as they somehow manage to simultaneously sound like both the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly so something here for even the slightest of Celtic-Punk fans! After two + years of forced retirement its a joyful celebration of returning to playing live. This is followed up by the title song ‘We Are Rats’, with pounding drums and accordion led The Distillery Rats set forth their manifesto!

“You’re praising yourself; you achieved that much goals, you’re strong and surely you are tall.
No matter how you act, in Fact you’re a rat, oh, that isn’t so bad, not at all.
If you would know wherever to go, if you knew who you want to be
Then cats turn to rats, and foes turn to friends,  tonight you’ll all sing with me.”

The Celtic influences are many on We Are Rats and ‘Going Down’ is no different taking in elements of hard Rock on top of everything else alongside some blazing fiddle work and amazing banjo playing. A contender with the next track for the EP’s standout song. The first half of ‘Ratstyle’ takes Celtic-Punk into the territory of The Exploited before settling into more trad Celtic-Punk before returning to fast and heavy! As an aside Wattie out of The Exploited collapsed on stage this week and the band have been forced to cancel all their forthcoming gigs so good luck Wattie and get well soon. Though being a Hearts fan I can be fairly sure he doesn’t read this site! The EP ends with the Country-Irish ‘Workers And Drinkers’ and a song about dreaming of a well earned pint (or two!) at the English working classes favourite pub chain, JD Wetherspoons.

“I think it’s actually unfair
That there are beggars and there are millionaires
I guess some fifteen pints should take me elsewhere”

Starting off with acoustic guitar the song is a nice counterweight to the power of the rest of the EP as The Distillery Rats see us out with a gentle singalong.

SPOTIFY

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