Grass Mud Horse are one of the newest additions to the Celtic Punk Scene. Strong song-writing and a fascinating backstory has helped this China based three piece turn a lot of heads.
Grass Mud Horse was originally just a group of mates who got together each week for beer and BBQ. They would come up with song ideas and even rap about their lives in the “Big Red” (China). Chris turned these ideas into punk songs and started recording some of the better ones. The band is comprised of expats living in Northern China, Chris Barry (Guitars Mando, Tin Whistle, Vocals) from the UK/Canada, Will Wyld (Drums) from Texas and Rocca Desta (Bass) from Scotland.
Their debut single “Christmas Time in China” was a catchy and hilarious fish out of water Christmas sing-along. Since then Chris and Grass Mud Horse have released a second single, the pirate punk “No Prey No Pay” (we exclusively released the video here on London Celtic Punks), and an Acoustic EP “The Quarantine Sessions.”
The EP, a mix of originals and traditional folk songs, was written and recorded on a porta-studio in an Inner Mongolian kitchen with whatever instruments Chris could find whilst the band was split up on lockdown in various parts of China. Like I said this band has a very interesting back story…
“…Where I was food ran out, we had martial law basically. I saw a woman push past a government check point and get battered by a dude in combats. We lost a lot as band, some big opportunities, including a tour opening for a big headliner….”
Chris on how the CORONAVIRUS has affected Grass Mud Horse. Things are now getting better in China, Chris and Will are back together jamming again (Rocco is still stuck in Scotland) and released their third single on May 15th “The Hill I Chose to Die on.”
(You can stream The Hill I Chose To Die On on the Bandcamp player below. It is also now available on most other download/ stream sites)
The new single is a welcome return to the “plugged-in” full-band sound for Grass Mud Horse. The song begins with a single mandolin, which is quickly joined by thunderous toms, accordion and thick punk rock guitar. The Intro peaks when the tin-whistle jumps in with a catchy riff. The first verse sees the arrangement reduced as the accordion and tin whistle drop out. Chris’s snarling vocals from “No Prey No Pay” return belting out the first lines “This is the hill I chose to die on, This is where you’ll find my grave…” The hook and content of the song has a bit of a story behind it too.
“…It was a Facebook fight! Two keyboard warriors where going at it, calling each other “millennial”, “boomer”, “gammon” etc. Somehow that whole thing with the bakery refusing to make a cake for a gay couple had come up again and the “millennial” posted about how he was amazed that this was the hill so many “gammon”, “boomers”…(or whatever I can’t remember exactly)….chose to die on. I’d heard the phrase before, but it hit me that in the context of this “generation war” that’s going on, it was very poetic and I grabbed me notebook and starting writing…”
The second half of the verse builds again with the reintroduction of the Accordion, before a brief dropout announces the arrival of the PreChorus. Yet another shift in dynamics brings the tin whistle back, but this time it sits back and harmonises with the catchy vocal Refrain “The World is changing so fast without me…” Another dynamic breakdown leads us into the first Chorus and the arrangement now includes all the instruments together in support of the hook. Following the first Chorus the tin whistle takes the lead again, with a return off the riff from the intro and then we have a repeat of the first verse, but this time the arrangement is broken down to just a little guitar, mando’ and light drums. The last few bars of this verse feature an energetic build up over the lines “…quiet, reserved, with not much to say…” and then we go back to the pre-chorus and repeat the chorus twice to see the song out.
The Hill I Chose To Die On is about keyboard warriors in an angry exchange and that is how the song plays out. The song builds as the anger builds, ending in a crescendo of passionate exchanges. The protagonists are angered and spent but the listener is exhilarated and excited like a near death experience. At just under two and a half minutes it’s a short but sweet song that will have you wanting to listen again. “The Hill I chose to Die on” is a well-produced song, but I’m left hungry for a full length release from Grass Mud Horse, which is something they do have in the works apparently.
The future for Grass Mud Horse like many bands right now is fairly uncertain. Chris tells me they have more songs from the Quarantine Sessions that they plan to release as a Part Two and possibly even Part Three EP. However the real focus will be finishing a full length Celtic Punk Record comprised of the singles so far and new material, which Chris hopes they will release later this year.