Monday, November 29, 2010

THE DUTCH IRISH BASTARD - Interview





The great accordionist DutchIrishBastard spent recently some days in Spain. Unfortunately I couldn't meet him. However I contacted him via MySpace for an interview and these are his answers. The photos are taken from his MySpace site and were shot in Madrid when Bastards on Parade opened for Pipes and Pints.


Enjoy!

First of all, Dutch Irish Bastard or Andries?

In personal conversation it's Andries, but as soon as I pick up the box it is the DutchIrishBastard. I had the privilege to pump the box for six months with German band Mr Irish Bastard in 2008. Me being Dutch, that's where I got the nickname. It was great fun, they gave me the fully unexpected opportunity to make my debut in a band and on stage in the 50th year of my life, it was a great surprise and a great eye-opener, which changed my life quiet a bit.

When I read your blog at your MySpace site,you are always writing “Yer man” instead of “I”. Why?

In songs I do write "I" at times, but somehow on the myspace it seemed fun to write about myself as "yer man", which, if I am not mistaken, is not uncommon in Ireland.

You picked up the box when you were at home because of an illness. Why did you choose the accordion? Why not a fiddle or a tin whistle?

The box was there. I had bought an old one at a flea market a few years before, after a holiday in Ireland. I never touched an instrument before, but the locals playing at their sessions in Irish pubs had so much fun, I wanted to be part of that fun too. And the box, to me, gives a nice touch to songs. But in fact, the box had largely been gathering dust until I was forced to be at home for a few months, after suffering blood cloths in lungs and brains. Potentially that is very dangerous, so I was well aware to be lucky to be still alive and kicking. Listening to PaddyPunk helped me through that period quiet bit (thanx to one and all, at the time especially Mahones, Greenland Whalefishers and Flogging Molly). Having had the shit scared out of me, there was some reshifting of priorities in life, and with a lot of time on my hands, picking up the box just seemed kind of the logical thing to do ...

At your website you mention that your main influences are Shane and The Pogues, Flogging Molly and Mr. Irish Bastard. But I guess that you also have some traditional folk influences. Which are your favourite Scottish and Irish folk bands?

No, I have no folk influences 'proper', am not even too fond of it. Neither do I have any punk heroes or am I very fond of punk. But the combination of the two, the energy of punk and the melody of folk, just seems to fit perfectly, to my ears at least.

And which are your “accordion heroes”?


Have none, really. Admire especially James Fearnley from the Pogues. And I like the story how he got to play the box. Basically, Shane MacGowan forced him to, since he could play the piano
:-)

Now everybody knows how the Dutch Irish Bastard was born. You got a mail from Mr. Irish Bastard asking you if you were interested in joining them for their next tour. I feel that a previous explanation would be needed to understand the whole thing. Apparently, you had met them before. How did it happen? And why did they know that you played the accordion?

"Yer man and his lassie" were (and still are) going to a great deal of PaddyPunk gigs after the aforementioned period. She having health issues too, on a good day for us there is nothing that comes close to attending a PaddyPunk gig. She especially likes the shouts some singers have, to her Finny McConnell (Mahones) and Arvid Grov (Greenland Whalefishers) have the best shout. But back to the question: having somehow learned about them, we were probably among the first to order their first EP, and probably also among the first to travel all the way to Germany to see them gig. I think they thought that was pretty weird. Anyhow we talked a bit after show, the accordion must have been mentioned at some occasion. And then shortly before the Shamrock Clash tour in spring 2008, when they suddenly were without accordion player, they send me this mail "Do you want to join us for this tour". Still can't believe it. In fact, I first wrote a lengthy mail telling them I wouldn't, but luckily I never sent that one. So instead, I just said I would, and asked which songs would be played (this was shortly after "Bastard Brotherhood" was released). They send a list of 13 songs, so I had one day for each song to practice playing, at home, their CD blasting through the sound system. We had one rehearsal (I had never seen a rehearsal room before !!) and then we were on the road with Blood or Whiskey and with Fiddler's Green, touring Germany on a night liner bus. My debut.

Did they offer you to be the accordion player on a permanent basis or was the deal only for that tour? Do you still play some gigs with MIB?

The initial invitation was for the Shamrock Clash tour, but it was such good fun that I continued playing with them throughout the summer and autumn of 2008. With pain in my heart, however, it became obvious that I really lived too far away from them (three hours one way) to keep going like that. So I played a goodbye-gig in the night I turned 50, seemed like a nice moment for goodbye and a nice way of turning 50 !! Altogether I played some 30 gigs with them in those months, great fun with great people !! But that's in the past now, a nice memory.

The next step was to join The Mahones on their Euro Tour 2008. When did you meet them before and how did Finny know that you played the accordion?

Mahones were without accordion player for their European tour in 2008 (they now have the prettiest in the scene !!), so Finny McConnell sent me a mail. Couldn't believe it. Especially not as he gave me about 5 days for learning 30 songs. I admit, there have been songs I hadn't rehearsed at all and that learned to play only on stage. It was in the same crazy summer I was playing with Mr Irish Bastard, so there were a few days when I had to chose whether that evening I would play with Mr Irish Bastard or with Mahones. One day in Dortmund, Mr Irish Bastard opened for Mahones, and I played with both bands, that was pretty tiring !!

I had talked to Finny a bit after a Mahones show about a year before that. I commented that he never played one of my favourite songs "You're the one". He said he was afraid he didn't recall how to play it. My answer was that I could play it with him to refresh his memory. So there we were, backstage, I playing the accordion of the Mahones player at the time, Finny playing the guitar and singing. He must have remembered. A great guy, by the way.

Which are your best recollections of gigging with Mr. Irish Bastard and the Mahones?

All of time was weird and wonderful, hard to pick out a best memory. There I was, never having played in a band, in the 50th summer in my life, playing Holland, Germany, UK and Switzerland with two of my favourite bands. Travelling to London with the Mahones, to be joined on stage by some of the guys from The Popes is among the highlights, as is flying to Milan with Mr Irish Bastard to headline a very drunken night in Chiazzo (Switzerland). And once the network was there, meeting the guys from Flogging Molly back stage a couple of times. But maybe best of all was playing an open air gig in Münster, hometown of Mr Irish Bastard, in front of 4000 people.

A Dutch accordion player touring with foreign bands. But then you joined a Dutch band, Circle J. You toured with them and even wrote some material that you recorded with them on their last album “Weekend Warriors”. Normally you should have stayed with them. What did happen? Was their touring schedule too much for you? (You say in your MySpace that they kicked you out, but I guess that this is a joke, isn’t it?)

It was impossible to keep playing with Mr Irish Bastard because of the distance, regrettably, and the Mahones appearances were for that tour only. But I was hooked on gigging solidly by then, so started thinking of alternatives. I saw only one in Holland and that was Circle J, a band I'd seen playing a number of times, and that once opened for 'me' (-: when I played with Mahones. They'd seen me play with the two other bands, so I kinda suggested that maybe they could do with some accordion. I joined some rehearsals and after a few try out gigs, I joined the band. Was a great time, at times we played with Mr Irish Bastard and Mahones, so I would meet old friends, and we had a wonderful tour of Germany and Holland with Dreadnoughts. Within a few months with the band, I had suggested lyrics for four songs and melody for two, all to be heard on Weekend Warriors. After recording, which of course also was all new to me, but which went above expectation, something must have made some of the guys think twice. I honestly do not know what exactly, apart from one gig having been very tired and next gig having played with numb fingers as the door of the van had been closed with my fingers in between shortly before showtime. Word was that there was doubt in the band and among some fans whether I was good enough, and that was the end of the story. Not nice, I guess breaking up is never easy, but this was especially clumsy. CD was being mixed at the time, there is much less accordion on it than there was on the demo's, not too sure myself whether that is an improvement, but by that time I was no longer part of the process. So no: the being kicked out is not a joke. Anyhow, within one-and-a-half years, I sure accumulated a lot of new experiences: gigging with bands, writing songs, recording a CD, being kicked out of a band. There was some catching up to do, and I did :-).

And after two years being a guest or a part-time member of different bands, you started a project with different bands (The Ceili Family, IXRN, Bastards on Parade …) that finally has evolved into a new band, The Bastard in the Barley. I guess that this was the normal evolution, you are writing your own songs and tunes …

At first I was kinda fed up with the band thing, but songs kept coming, so I had this crazy idea of asking other bands whether they be interested in my stuff. And to my surprise, some where: Ceili Family, IXRN, Bastards on Parade, Greenland Whalefishers and Go Set. But as songs kept going and the stage kept itching, I set my mind on starting something myself. Bastard in the Barley is not a band yet, and it is not even sure that it will be a band under that name, but the first steps are there: there is a first line up and there is songwriting and even some rehearsing going.

But, at the same time, you keep on sharing the stage with great bands such as Greenland Whalefishers or SIR REG. The gig with the Norwegian band took place in London. Which songs did you play with them? Any special recollection about that night?

Me lassie and me are great fans of Greenland Whalefishers, we saw them gig once in Norway and were treated to a great welcome at that time. When I saw their short tour of UK announced, it so happened that they played London on my lassies birthday. She didn't know, but she knows me a bit longer, so when I asked "Do you wanna be in London for your birthday?", her question in response was "what band is playing?". I had always stayed in touch with GWF. To add to the fun of my lassies birthday, they too liked the idea of me joining them for some songs. I played some six songs with them, among which my lassies favourite "No More Crucified Days". Was great night. In meantime, Arvid has put some lyrics of mine to music, is a Tom Waits style, really beautiful. We agreed we can both use the song, time will tell which recording will be nicest, his or mine ...

And the gig with SIR REG was in The Netherlands. How many songs did you play with them? What do you think about this new band, one of the best newcomers of the year?

Sir Reg are indeed an awful newcomer !! They had some line-up changes prior to their tour, including a call on myspace for players. I said I couldn't join them for the tour, but would be pleased to join them at least on their Dutch gig. So that's what happened. Played a handful of songs that I had played along with at home to demos that had been sent. Was a bit strange, as we never met and as they were already on stage for soundcheck when I arrived at venue, so we were playing some songs for soundcheck before even having had some conversation. We made up for that after showtime, was great, nice bunch of nutters, and a nice gig, warming up a 500 crowd for a Misfits gig. I liked playing along to the song Far Away the best, a beautiful ballad, where the accordion could really make a contribution.

It seems that you also have a special friendship with Bastards on Parade. They played at the Circle J last CD launch party in The Netherlands and they cooperated with you in your project. You have recently been in Spain, where you have gigged with them and have recorded some material for their debut album. Besides, at your first show with them you shared the backstage with Pipes and Pints. We would like to know everything about that night in Madrid.

Not without mixed feelings, I went to the Circle J CD launch. There was two highlights. The first were the friendly words by Circle J singer Tomba addresses to me and my contribution, the second was meeting the guys from Bastards on Parade. It was a pleasure for me, and to my surprise also to them. Talked quiet a bit with especially their singer/guitarist/songwriter David. I kept saying I was going home, but kept not doing so, and then there was a joke between us: "it's hard to leave the bar". I promised David to write him lyrics for a song with that title, which I did. He wrote some really music to those words, it's become a hell of a song actually.

Then I got the invitation to come over for some recording, which we wisely combined with a weekend of gigging, mid November. I joined them on stage in Madrid, opening for Pipes and Pints, and in Coruna and in some place near Vigo, where Bastards were coupled with Asturian band Skontra.

Had met Pipes and Pints on the road before, one nice evening when the line up was Circle J - Pipes and Pints - Mr Irish Bastard. Was nice seeing them again, but most special of course was playing first time with Bastards on Parade. They had changed the intro to 'our' song "Hard to Leave the Bar", but had forgotten to tell me, so at the outset I was lost and playing all the wrong notes. Well, that's punk ??


What can you tell us about the two gigs that took place in Galicia?

The gig in Coruna was in a wild place in front of a wild crowd, it was a really special evening. The third gig regrettably was a bit quiet in terms of audience, but the trip was very nice, as on the way back to Coruna we had a good look around at Cabo Finistere. That place and the coast at Coruna inspired me to write the following words for David and his crew.

"I am born from Galicia, they say it's part of Spain"
"but fuck it feels like Ireland, judging by the rain"
"the roaring of the waves, is my hometown's sweet refrain"
"when I drink my pint and hear them pipes, I feel Gaelic once again",

I hope they will expand it into some song one day

Did you enjoy the after-gig night? What did you drink there? It seems that Circle J loved to drink pacharán and licor café…

There was no lack of drink before, during and after the shows, mostly cerveza, (beer) though also coffee liquor. Apart from the cervezas, I enjoyed the tapas a lot, especially rabo the toro, pulpo, callos, morcilla and the likes. "A Yer man le gustan mucho las tapas" . And I had of course brought a few litres of tax free Jameson's Irish whiskey

Regarding the Bastards On Parade new album, I was wondering in how many tracks we will hear your accordion.

We had only little time, but recorded accordion tracks for two songs ("Leave the Bar" & "Fucking Town"), and some lines that may become an intro for a third. The rest of the recording will I believe be done in December. Am pretty curious about the result myself

So, the track Bastards on Parade worked with you for your previous project will be included ...

Yes, that's "Leave the Bar".

Can we expect your come back for their CD launch party?

I would take a possible invitation to that effect very seriously, hell yeah.

Any future cooperation with Pipes and Pints? I guess that you talked about that in Madrid.

No, and no, we didn't talk about that. Without any offence being meant, they are not among my personal favourite bands. I appreciate the energy of their show, but for me it is a bit too much on the punky side of things

And with Skontra? This Asturian band shared the bill with Bastards On Parade in Galicia and they are going to play some gigs with Circle J in The Netherlands soon.

Didn't discuss it with Skontra either, but then: I've more or less given up on that "For the Hell of It" project, as I am now concentrating on getting Bastard in the Barley going. But who knows, if more bands are interested, I could re-open the project. UncleOwen records from Japan showed interest in releasing it, so I guess with another handful of bands, there could be a 10-song 10-band compilation CD with songs (co)written by DutchIrishBastard.

Do you know any other Spanish Celtic punk band? What do you think about the Spanish scene?

I am afraid I am not too familiar with the Spanish scene, it is not around the corner, so to speak. But I do appreciate Bastards on Parade a lot, especially since their Galician = Gaelic roots adds a good deal of authenticity to what they are doing. After all, they play a Galician gaita, not Irish or Scottish pipes !! So I wish them all the best, would sure love to hit the road, the stage and the bottle with that lot again one fine day !!

To finish up, which are the bands you are willing to share the stage with, but you have not had the opportunity?

I hardly have more wishes left on that account, really. Life has been treating me generously these past years, especially since, in a way, I live in extra time. I am a great fan of Flogging Molly, Killigans, Dreadnoughts, Pogues, Roughneck Riot and Gogol Bordello, but they all have brilliant accordian players, so they do not need me at all.

Ah, now I think of it: if ever The Go Set play the old world again, I'd love to play some tunes with them. In fact, I got invited last time round by their frontman Justin, but I didn't have my box with me that night, neither had I practiced any of their songs, for that matter. But if Australia is listening, ...

Thank you DutchIrishBastard for your answers and hope to meet you soon!


.

2 comments:

  1. Never heard the song Far Away from Sir Reg before. Didnt think they did ballads. ;)

    ReplyDelete

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