Most bands don’t exactly get off to a glamorous start. When MR. IRISH BASTARD began to positively shake the world with their fast beats and high-proof hymns in 2006, the stages were so small that half of the musical crusaders fell off the back. Today, three studio albums and over 700 concerts later – taking them to places like China and Japan, and to huge festival stages alongside acts like The Pogues, Flogging Molly, the Dropkick Murphys and the Levellers – the troop has long since become an internationally celebrated folk-punk outfit. With their new album, “The Desire for Revenge”,
MR. IRISH BASTARD are setting out on the second decade of their existence with all the energy of freshly minted musical maniacs.
But they are also eager to bring new details of their sound to the fore. “The Desire for Revenge” defines where
they are and carries on their tradition while also serving as a new beginning
and a chance to reflect. “The Soundtrack Of My Life”, penned by the Irish singer, guitarist and founder of the band, Mr. Irish Bastard, is not just an explosive live hit, but also has autobiographical elements. “Phoenix”, with its chorus “All that I am...” strikes a similar tone, but takes MR. IRISH BASTARD’s sound into new pop territory with its fiddle-enriched arrangement – without making any compromises, of course.
You could find a manual for idealism in this new album if you were hell-bent on finding allusions to the status quo of punk rock, a genre in whose blood the DNA of Irish folk music has long flowed with a lover’s pride. It goes without saying that MR. IRISH BASTARD doesn’t bother with the infuriating habit of playing chart hits in a folk-punk style. The band’s need to communicate their message through their own compositions is much too strong for that. And when they do delve into covers, they only do so to produce either sublime or brutal parodies. But that's another, live story...
“The Desire For Revenge” doesn’t play out
under bright neon lights. It's in the deep green meadows of open-air venues, it’s in the literal mudslinging at Wacken Open Air and it’s in dark Music venues that the lyrical twists reveal their true charm with a twinkle in their eye. These songs tell the tales of underdogs, of outlaws and of characters who
live by their own rules, sometimes even being killed for it all over again in the afterlife. Like Oliver Cromwell, the English Lord Protector, who was exhumed three years after his death so that his corpse could be posthumously
and symbolically executed once more.
If revenge has a sound, then MR. IRISH BASTARD have such energetic command of it that, when they turn it up, they can blow the foam off your pint without even
touching the glass. So it was almost inevitable that they would seize upon the day of the black eye, “Black Eye Friday”, the last Friday before Christmas when, statistically speaking, the most fights take place in the United Kingdom. The protagonist of the song experiences a
heroic tragedy, and the song’s fast beat invites listeners in to where they belong: the mosh pit.
In spite of the brutal, insidious gangster habits around him, “Mike Malloy” thwarts his own murder, while “Darlinka (Darling Karlinka)” will break the heart of even the most steadfast drinkers with its electrifying
ska polka beat. “I only wanted you or someone
very like you,” sings Mr. Irish Bastard in his familiar, haunting voice, which always sounds a little bit as if the Almighty were hot on his heels. And you
might almost think you were listening in on a declaration of love – until the chorus sounds: “I Only Like You When I’m Drunk.”
It’s these twists and turns, it’s this flirting with the dark side of power that makes “The Desire for Revenge” so rich.
In any case, MR. IRISH BASTARD is a cut above the mere partying, fighting and drinking songs that Irish folk punk is usually associated with. In this album, it’s not just about drinking. Because, at the end of the day, whiskey tastes good in coffee too…
The Desire For Revenge was recorded by the band’s core
members: Mr. Irish Bastard, Gran E. Smith (mandolin, banjo, bouzouki), Beouf Strongenuff (bass) and drummer Ivo K’Nivo. From the stable of “travelling
bastards” who join the band in alternating line-ups at live shows, guitarists P and Moe Leicester, B. B. on the accordion and the tin whistle expert Kate also
dropped into the studio.
Fiddlers Laura Zimmermann and Mona Kaczmarczyk have added a new dimension to the sound. “The fiddle adds a new tone to our sound and conveys emotions that hadn’t played an obvious role in our music up until now,”
Mr. Irish Bastard explains. “On our new album, we are celebrating and defining our story as a band so far. At the same time, we are refining our sound too because, ultimately, you have to change to stay true to yourself and to stay honest with your audience. To put it simply, the longings are the same as in every folk interpretation the world over. Human beings all need the same things: friends, something to drink, something to eat, love. And some people,” he laughs, “also want revenge, retribution, crime and punishment. ‘The Desire for Revenge’ could be just the record for them.”