“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”

Well, it most certainly is in Cardiff city centre tonight, as trying to find a parking space close to the venue is verging on the impossible. I mean it’s only 7pm, yet I’m having to hotfoot it halfway across Cardiff as I don’t want to miss any of tonight’s openers, punk rock supergroup, Ultrabomb. That’s because tonight’s gig is one of those dreaded club (or should that be clwb?) nights with an early start and curfew. It’s “time to burn” indeed.

I’m not alone in my desire to catch UltraBomb either as the top floor of Clwb Ifor is respectably full for the arrival of ex-Hüsker Dü bassist Greg Norton, The Mahones guitarist/singer Finny McConnell and drummer extraordinaire Jamie….no wait, that’s not him behind the kit, that’s Oliver Perry who also just happens to be drumming for tonight’s headliners The Bar Stool Preachers too. Yup, step up that man, because tonight, for one night only, Perry (as he’s affectionately known by his bandmates) totally owns Cardiff, playing two sets on the bounce, and there’s plenty of that to come that’s for sure.

On paper, the Irish folk undertones hidden within UltraBomb’s music shouldn’t really be my musical cup of tea, but when they’re driven headlong into the more distorted and frenzied influence of the band’s rhythm section it all comes together to make one magnificent racket indeed. Frontman Fin cuts an immediately affable persona with the band playing a mixture of songs from da Bomb’s debut record ‘Time To Burn’ along with a few choice cuts from his and his bandmate’s previous bands, the pick of which for me was probably a particularly rousing version of ‘Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely’. Of UltraBomb’s original tunes ‘Star’ shone brightest over the Cardiff skyline tonight, and talking of wise men RPM’s head honcho Dom Daley arrives (fashionably late as always) just in time for the double whammy of ‘Sonic Reducer’ and ‘New Day Rising’ that brings things to a close. If you are lucky enough to have tickets for the handful of dates left of this run of shows make sure you get in early doors because UltraBomb really are the, err… bomb!

As the lights go up I take some time to look around me at tonight’s assembled throng to fully appreciate just how far The Bar Stool Preachers have come since the release of their third album ‘Above The Static’, and just like my gig going amigo Mr Daley observed during the band’s Newport show all the way back in May, the thing that immediately leaps out at me is just how diverse the audience is. Granted there’s probably around double the number of people in here than that Le Pub show but with the power of Bauer and a great record behind them they really do seem to be crossing over from their original punk/ska fanbase.  There’s a guy in an Iron Maiden battle jacket stood next to a girl in an Interrupters shirt who’s chatting to a couple on a night out who are stood next to a mother and son and yup there’s still a fair smattering of us old bald heads present too. The thing we all have in common though is our mutual love of all things Bar Stool Preachers, which is never more obvious than when the band explodes onto the stage with opener ’Call Me On The Way Home’ and the whole place, as one, goes suitably nuts.

‘Grazie Governo’ and ‘All Turned Blue’ quickly follow before I realise that the Preachers are a man down this evening, guitarist Karl having recently broken a leg in three places and having to sit out the rest of the tour.  However, this has to be for the best as the versions of ‘DLTDHYOTWO’ and ‘One Fool Down’ (complete with acoustic and full throttle versions just like prime-time Scorpions would have done back in the 80s) that immediately follow are so powerful it’s impossible to stand still and all I can say really is “get well soon fella.” It must be soooo frustrating though to be missing out on these shows as The Bar Stool Preachers really are on fire right now.

That’s what comes from working your arses off though, and along with Grade 2 these lads must be the hardest working band in the UK right now….and trust me, it shows. There’s a real arena quality in frontman Tom McFaull’s delivery and he’s never sounded better than on the likes of ‘Doorstep’ or the encore of ‘Lighthouse’ where the quality of the band’s songwriting really does speak volumes.

I’ve told Tom a few times over the years that every time I see him and the band live they always seem go up a notch, and tonight is certainly no exception as the band somehow manages to squeeze every drop of energy out of the Cardiff crowd, with the likes of ‘Don’t Die Today’, Choose My Friends’ and ‘Flatlined’ all getting the audience and dancefloor bouncing to the extent that I fear we all may end up in the dressing rooms below, and then there’s the main set closer ‘8.6 Days (All The Broken Hearts)’ perfectly slotting into the BSP set list jigsaw leaving everyone soaked to the skin in sweat, and not just their own either.

Returning to the stage with Tom proudly announcing that the band will be back in early 2024 for another set of shows, before then unleashing a brutal “skank off” version of their signature tune ‘Bar Stool Preacher’, I cannot help but think that the next 12 months will be crucial to the next stage of the band’s evolution not just here in the UK but worldwide. Their peers like Bob Vylan and Kid Kapichi are already getting added to major US rock festivals next year, so the time has (on the face of it) never been better for the Preachers to take their righteous fight truly global.  Whatever happens next though, I’m sure you’ll join with me in wishing them well.

“Merry Christmas and ‘appy New Year everyone!”

Author: Johnny Hayward

Check out the video for the newest single “All Turned Blue” from the upcoming album: ‘Above The Static’. The new album drops everywhere on March 31st. Bag yourself a super rare vinyl configuration Here

The new album features 12 new tracks as the band releases their first album on the Pure Noise record label before embarking on a UK Tour.

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Finally, the much anticipated third album from the Bar Stool Preachers is almost here! With help from Kevin Bivona (The Interrupters), Ted Hutt (Dropkick Murphy’s/Flogging Molly) and Ben Hannah (Nosebleed),

The Bar Stool Preachers (friends of the site) are back with a bang, bringing you some of the biggest new tunes, in Spring 2023, they’re bringing them to a town near you. To celebrate this new release and to continue their mission of bangers, power and unity, the band are hitting the road hard – and bringing their one of kind incendiary live show to lucky clubs around the world. Described as having the “perfect blend of intelligent punk anthems and poignant, unsentimental love songs, both combined with the most infectious songs you’ll hear this decade”, these shows are long-awaited, and not something you’re gonna want to miss.

Get your tickets Here

The long-awaited third album is coming out on Pure Noise Records, and it’s going to be out in the Spring of 2023!

It’s called ‘Above the Static’ and it’s a beautiful collection of raucous rock and roll, dancing ska and huge heartfelt punk anthems. Nowadays, it’s hard to get heard above the noise. The shows, are the only shows they have booked so far in the UK for 2023, which means they are the only shows they have booked in the UK – as it stands – forever!

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“It’s been a long time since I rock and rolled,” as some wise sage once sang.

 

It’s been way too long in fact, however, over the months of no gigs, I got this thing in my head that I really wanted my return to watching live music to be something special. What about Brighton upstart ska punks The Bar Stool Preachers playing a mini-festival at a rugby club literally a few miles from my front door then? The fact that The Bar Stool Preachers were also the last band I saw live before lockdown really did bring the whole thing full circle, but it was the “how the hell are they playing there?” part of this proposition that really hooked me in. So, tickets were duly purchased (£8 for four bands…Bargoed) and I sat around counting down the days until I could once enjoy that familiar ringing in my ears (which I must admit is the part of gig going I really had not missed).

 

In the hours leading up to Flemfest (the only slight disappointment of the night proving to be that the superbly named mini-festival had not derived its moniker from any punk rock notoriety but actually a local chap whose birthday it was nicknamed Flem), it became clear that; 1) it was going to be held outside, 2) that the bill had been reduced to three bands with Sister Yellow pulling out, and 3) it was a sold out show. That special twist I wanted from my first gig just got even more special as watching any band outdoors in the rain in the summer can be a tough ask here in the UK, but in September it would test even the hardest gig goer…perhaps the Sisters had some inside information on the weekend forecast?

 

Thankfully the weather turns out to be brilliant on the day of the gig and as I walk down Tram Road on the outskirts of Blackwood, the general bustle of people, the strong smell of street food vans and other festival-y substances, plus the throb of live music gives me goosebumps, but the first thing that really hits me as I enter the site is just how an impressive a set up Pontllanfraith Rugby Club have going on here. The stage and sound are so far removed from the back of a truck type of events I’d grown up knowing and it’s like someone has brought Red Rocks to a south Wales valleys town, there’s even a wall running out from the centre of the stage acting like a crowd control barrier for some mini version of Download Festival. I bet I know someone who will be making use of that as the night progresses.

To the music then, and whilst I missed the start of Pigeon Wigs set, what I did catch was mightily impressive. The band having recently played at the nearby Green Man festival exude a kind of quirky pop/rock charm that has me thinking Dexy’s Midnight Runners one minute and The Lemon Twigs the next. They are most certainly a world away from my old days of gig going in Blackwood when most Welsh bands I encountered wanted to be The Alarm. Pigeon Wigs are most certainly a name to look out for, and just like Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard before them they could very soon have the power pop world at their feet.

 

Dactyl Terra are a band I’ve seen before, supporting Pulled Apart By Horses in Le Pub in Newport, although the band have changed a lot since I last saw them live. Granted they still play the same brand of space rock as they did back in 2019, but adding an extra band member means their sound has also added an extra jammed out dimension, so for a majority of the people over 50 in attendance who remember the rock years of Reading Festival Dactyl Terra are the near-perfect early evening festival band.

 

As the clock hits 9:30 the sun has completely disappeared from the night sky and through the minimalist stage lighting I can just about make out the silhouettes of another band making their way onto the stage, it becomes apparent it’s The Bar Stool Preachers when a fully skanking line check erupts from the venue’s excellent sound system, and before I can even catch a breath, we are off double quick time into a eighteen – yup that’s EIGHTEEN song headline set via ‘One Fool Down’. TJ and the lads obviously delighted to be playing live once again then rip through the likes of ‘Trickledown’ and ‘Looking Lost’, before new track (written about the state of the homeless situation here in the UK) ‘Two Dog Night’ gets let loose and proceeds to tear everyone a new one.

There’s a lot of angry bite in the 2021 version of The Bar Stool Preachers and the addition of Karl Smith (ex-Jaya The Cat) on guitar means the likes of ‘Start New’, ‘DLTDHYOTWO’ and ‘Raced Through Berlin’ all pack a beefier chug than ever before. That’s not to say that any of the old skank appeal is lost though.

 

Of the other new songs previously aired pre-lockdown there’s sadly no ‘Late Night Transmission’ tonight, but ‘State Of Emergency’ sounds imperious, and the previously Strokes-like genius of ‘Heart Attack’ has now morphed into an almost totally different piece of music called ‘Flatlined’. Likewise, ‘Love The Love’ has taken a similar brave songwriting curve that had some us singing ‘Lonely This Christmas’ over the doo-wop intro.

 

Closing things out with ‘8.6 Days (All The Broken Hearts)’ TJ finally slips into full rock star mode, daring to negotiate the stage divide wall to deliver the song’s unforgettable chorus and thus ensuring that everyone leaves with a mandatory Cheshire Cat grin. That’s before the lads return for a much-deserved encore of the prophetic ‘When The World Ends’ and the always uproarious ‘Bar Stool Preacher’, and just like that, my first gig in eighteen months is over. What a great gig it was too, with The Bar Stool Preachers coming away from it like all conquering heroes and making many new fans along the way.

 

Make sure you check them out on the rest of their dates this September and on their full UK tour this December, because The Bar Stool Preachers are no longer just very strong contenders but in fact world champions in waiting. GET ON IT!!!!!

Author: Johnny Hayward

Brand new video hot off the press.  Download The Bar Stool Preachers’ new EP for free! https://www.thebarstoolpreachers.com

You want noise we’ve got plenty of that.  Heres the new video from France’s leading HArdcore noise bringers Stinky. “Distance” is the third preview track from “Of Lost Things”

Finally taken from his excellent new release we covered yesterday here’s Matty James Cassidy with ‘The Race Is On’.

Everyone reacts differently to a crisis – some take flight, some freeze, and some say “What can we do to help?” hey take a look at the current situation, you know, like a global pandemic, and look at their skill sets and assess. Bar Stool Preachers aren’t nurses or doctors, but they are one of the newest bright lights in music, with drive and a social conscience to boot.

So, they did what they know how to do best, they took two of their songs that were being held for the much-anticipated new album and rewrote them to reflect their thoughts and feelings for what we are all experiencing right now. They called in favours, managed to get in the studio just a few days before the lockdown went into effect in the UK, and banged out these amazing tracks. Engineered by folk-punk wonder Jake Rousham (The Levellers) and the lads themselves, they have managed to produce some of the most real and best sounding punk/rock’n’roll of the last decade, whilst being fun, current, and politically scathing.

Knowing times are shit, but people are always going to need positive, strong music, they made the songs free to download Here. (And streaming from all your normal providers.) There’s a donate button for anyone with the resources to spare, for donations to the band, from which they will donate to healthcare workers and their families in the U.K (and possibly others when funds arrive, as this is an everchanging crisis). The band are doing what they can, raising money for the far underfunded NHS staff, providing their fans with anthems to see them through this incredibly difficult time, and doing what they do best – unifying our community with two amazing
songs!

Keeping with their normal ways of inclusivity, BSP then set out to make the most topical video possible and nearly a thousand fans submitted videos for the first of the two singles. Editing has been done at lightning speed and we’re so proud to be releasing a video for ‘When The World Ends’ along with the track. Showing the band, friends, and fans, in their quarantined environments, singing along to TJ’s topical and uplifting lyrics.

‘State Of Emergency’ is the riot track for the potential time to come. Heard on megaphones and sound systems across lands, from locked down gardens… BSP are proving to everyone that they’re here to stay, and they can help carry the weight of the world.

 

VISIT Here FOR MORE INFORMATION, MUSIC VIDEOS, TOUR DATES, & MORE!

Rough Trade one of the finest independent record stores in the Western World situated in the fine city of Bristol – home to many a good venue and champion of the arts be it paintings or music Bristol has always had a good grounding and been the stop of many a great band.  Tonight it played host to Brightons finest those cheeky chaps who make up Bar Stool Preachers.  The venue is a clean purpose-built a big storeroom.  Sure it has air conditioning (not switched on obviously) no windows, Painted black, no bar for people to congregate around and chatter its just four walls with a stage at one end with a pretty decent PA and tonight upon its boards treads the 12 legged groovers who are on a mission and six-man mission to spread the word of unity and Rock and Roll and whilst they go about their work they do it with a ten-mile wide smile and a helping hand.  You see the Bar Stool Preachers aren’t just a ska-punk band who dabble in several genres of punk rock but are busy making friends across the globe as they make sure there is a pretty impressive BSP carbon footprint left for all to see. If they’re not stateside or in Europe, they are zig-zagging across the UK playing to larger and larger venues packed with jumping bodies who are believing and getting on board this runaway train of a band.

They are about to release album number three as they finalise details and tracklist for it whilst making sure the songs are also road-tested as they seamlessly weave the new songs in with the old favourites.  Tonight got sweaty very very quickly as the enthusiastic audience didn’t need any coercing from Tom to get with the programme they were up for it from the start.

A bold move from the band starting with the awesome ‘One Fool Down’ that’s a statement of intent right there. The old old songs from that first record get things up to speed as ‘Trickle Down’ and ‘Looking Lost’ reintroduce everyone with what a good night out sounds like. Next up we get introduced to some of the new material and what an impressive couple of tunes they are with ‘Late Night Transmission’ and ‘Don’t Die Today’ showing that the band are on the right path with even better material and just watching them look like they are having the time of their lives all the time just like a great band should.  It’s not playing to a packed main stage at Rebellion or Punk Rock Bowling nor is it 20 thousand diggin the tunes in some aircraft hanger in Germany but you do get the same level of performance and once you lock into Gibbs metronomic tic from side to side you’re involved, oh don’t try running on the spot like Bungle he’s a professional.

Tonights set was perfect and went by in a flash as old mixed with the new and everything in-between as ‘8.6 Days’ ‘Raced Through Berlin’ kissed ‘Start New’ and ‘Ballad Of The M1’ off the first album and then they were gone, wow that was glorious stuff an exhilarating performance for an exceptional band who are right on the money at the moment and as they re-emerge soaking with perspiration there is time for a couple more and its a tight as two Rizzlas romp through ‘Choose My Friends’ before the inevitable knees-up of ‘Bar Stool Preachers’ and they were done.

These boys deserve every adventure they are being presented with because they have the X-Factor and more importantly they have some exceptional tunes no change that not some they have many exceptional songs – they are grounded and they are hungry and appreciative.  Get behind one of the brightest hopes we have on Shit Island now when can we do this all over again?

 

View the auction items Here

 

AHOY PIRATE FAMILY NEAR AND FAR!!! Pirates Press need your help!
THIS AUCTION CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR A LOT OF KIDS – GETTING THEM MORE ACCESS TO ART AND MUSIC IN LOCAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS!
ALL AUCTIONS ARE OPEN TO ANYONE, ACROSS THE GLOBE.
Auctions take place online and end at 6 PM PST on Saturday, Oct. 19th!
All of the auction items will be available for people to check out at ROCK THE SHIP, both at Starline Ballroom (Thurs/Fri) and at the USS Hornet (Sat).
Without further delay, listed below the AMAZING packages you can bid on.
You can view the auction page HERE!!
All proceeds will go directly to arts and music programs in the Oakland Unified School District.
Happy bidding you incredible and wonderfully generous people.
Here are just a fraction of the amazing items on offer –

Fast rising Brighton based ska punkers The Bar Stool Preachers are just about to embark on their biggest UK headline tour to date, whilst tickets for the legendary Cock Sparrer’s 2020 Not The Albert Hall UK club tour are one of the hottest on the scene right now.

RPM caught up with Preachers’ vocalist T.J McFaull and bassist Bungle along with Colin McFaull lead singer with Cock Sparrer just a few weeks ago at Rebellion Festival to talk all about…well, just about anything really.

What follows is RPM interview gold as father and son (plus Bungle) ‘Take ‘Em All’ on ‘One By One’ whilst ‘Looking Lost’ in the interview seat is one Johnny H.

The last time I was sat in this very bar I was interviewing you Colin and I asked you this very question, so here it is with a very subtle twist. See if you can spot it.

I was stood watching you last night when it suddenly dawned on me that when The Bar Stool Preachers do the 20th Anniversary ‘Gracie Governo’ tour I’ll be 72 years old, so T.J. and Bungle tell me what’s it like to be young? (laughing)

T.J.: (laughing) Well we’ve never been busier; we’ve never been more successful and we’ve never been more broke. So, it’s brilliant being young. Although the years seem to be flying at the moment and suddenly, we do have to stop and think “have we really played this place six or is it seven times now”, and you kind of have to forget you are young and just crack on.

Bungle: The one thing people forget though is that being in a band doubles your age rate. (laughing)

TJ: Yeah it’s that and its also as a band you’re only as young or old sorry as your youngest member

Bungle; Why did you look at Col when you said that?

T.J.: Well Daryl is keeping ‘em tempered, to the ground (laughing) and we’ve got Whibs in the band our drummer (Alex Whibley-Conway) and he’s only 23 years old. So we really are a very young band (looking to Colin – and then follows loads of laughter)

We were only commenting yesterday that he’s a real powerhouse for the band.

T.J.: Yeah we met him when he was 19. That’s how long we’d struggled on with our old drummer, and we kind of groomed him into it more than anything. The first couple of tours we let him do anything, let him run wild. Then it was next couple of tours smack the shit out of him if he did anything wrong and the subsequent 7 or 8 tours, he’s been nothing short of amazing.

He was a jazz drummer first and the way he plays music is just so intuitive and as such this next album is going to be so heavily drums lead. That’s its just really fucking fun to listen to.

As I wasn’t expecting to get all of three of you in this interview, I’ll open this one up to Colin too. What’s it really like to play the Empress Ballroom at Rebellion?

Colin: Well this year will be our sixth time of playing it going right back to the days when the stage was on the other side of the room, and I’ll be honest it’s a difficult room, largely because the sound is not always great in there due to the acoustics, but the crowd are always fantastic.

I think we still hold the record, yeah we had 6,500 in there back in 2008, and for health and safety reasons they now have a cap on it so you never get more than 3 to 3,500 in there.

T.J.: As we found out yesterday (referring to the fact that people were turned away when The Bar Stool Preachers were on stage due to the venue capacity having been reached)

Colin: It’s just a really great venue

So what was it like for you guys? (pointing at T.J. and Bungle)

T.J.: Bungle (laughing)

Bungle: Yeah, it was crazy. Words cannot do it justice; it was just mental.  As we set up we could see the crowd as far back as the sound desk, then we came on lights went up and more people seemed to be in, then 2 or 3 songs in the lights went up and I stopped and turned to Tom and went “what’s going on? Have you seen this?” (laughing)

TJ: The response yesterday was phenomenal. Opening with ‘One Fool Down’ and first time in the big boy room, it could have all fallen flat on its face with about 100 people singing but less than 30 seconds into that first song it really did feel like there was 2,000 people shouting those words back as us.

Colin: What was really interesting from my point of view was having been to a few shows, as you can probably imagine. It’s gone from a couple of rows of people knowing the words to where I was stood last night (around 14 rows back) everyone around me knew every word.

You guys did genuinely seem moved by the reaction.

Bungle: I welled up I must admit.

TJ: I nearly cried during ‘One Fool Down’ when it got to the “Never Look Down” bit when that went off the first time, that stopped me taking that next breath and I looked around at Bungle and he was like the Blackpool Beach caricature of a dog with the biggest bone he’s ever seen (growling and laughing) and smiling from ear to ear.

Bungle: I wasn’t crying it was sweat in my eye okay? (laughing)

Do you still get that same buzz Col when you are headlining the Empress?

Colin: Always.

I was only saying to Tom earlier, people always ask us how long are you going to continue doing Cock Sparrer and I say as long as people pack out venues and sing the songs and enjoy themselves that’s good enough for us. When they stop, we’ll stop and it’s as simple as that.

TJ: You know the reason Rebellion is so special is that it is the one event a year where the various sections of the UK punk scene do come together with like one purpose, to have a great time. When we played at 5 pm yesterday it felt to me like the crowd all felt like they had part ownership in the band as they were all responsible for making it such a great event. Same when Cock Sparrer plays, everyone in there feels a part of that band, and their support really means something. That right there is amazing and it’s only at Rebellion here in the UK that you really get that.

At this point, I’d like to take you back to 2014 and a rainy night outside the Melkweg in Amsterdam. That night Tom you gave me and Nev (at the time we were both there covering that European Rebellion event for Uber Rock) your vision for this new ska-punk band you were forming. Five years on are you now anywhere near where you hoped you would be back then?

TJ: I’m there. I’m there (laughing) Yeah of course. We’re touring America 3 times in that the next 6 months. Plus, we’re putting out an album that people are potentially going to hear without us having to do 150 to 200 shows just to get it heard. We will still play that number of shows because we fucking love doing it, but it will get heard regardless now. So, 5 years down the line from that conversation I couldn’t be prouder of the boys in the band, how hard everyone’s worked, how much everyone’s sacrificed and just how good we all got at writing music. It’s been nothing but humbling every step of the way.

And the other person you mentioned being a part of that vision was of course Bungle, so what’s it been like for you?

Bungle: I remember when I first met Tom down on Brighton Beach which was a long time ago on a beautiful Summer’s evening and I said to him “this will be my last time for putting absolutely everything into doing a band” and he was like “cool okay” and now 5 years later I’m like “why did I say that?” (everyone explodes in laughter). What the hell have I let myself in for? Seriously though I don’t regret it for one second. It’s like all the bucket list things I’m getting to do, playing the Empress, touring with Bouncing Souls and The Bronx, playing with Street Dogs. The list just goes on now.

T.J: (who at this point turns to Colin) Well you’re taking a completely different band out with you next year so you won’t be on that list (again everyone falls about laughing)

Colin: To be fair you guys have put everything into it. You’ve not held back and as you said (pointing to Tom) being dedicated to it has been the only way of doing it.

Bungle: You get out what you put into it don’t you.

T.J: You know you sell somebody something and you say “it’s gonna be this” but you’re never 100% sure that’s what I did when I hoodwinked you and Nev in that bar in Amsterdam. I was all about telling you it was going to be like The Clash with this real puck rock ethic understanding the ska, reggae and roots origins of where that sound all comes from. I couldn’t believe that it actually turned into just that.  (laughing)

Or that the bassist I told you about that night could become the bassist he is right at this moment. I tell you there is no other bass player writing stuff like Bungle.

Colin: And what you didn’t do was compromise. You’ve stuck to that ethic when it probably would have been easier to get gigs if you’d changed your sound a little to suit what was in at the time. You stuck to what you wanted to do from the beginning and persevered with that original dream.

Bungle: It’s one of those things like when we first started and had the foundation of what we wanted to be we could start to do our own thing and let it grow naturally and let it be what it’s going to be. If people like it then that’s wicked!

T.J: When we started this though every interview or article always seemed to have somewhere in it… and features the son of Cock Sparrer singer Colin McFaull, and when that stopped or seemed to stop was when those people actually came out and saw The Bar Stool Preachers.  Largely because we went out and did 150-200 shows a year to show everyone what we did, and that allowed us to be us.

So, you don’t get that anymore? I mean firstly at Uber Rock and now here at RPM we’ve always tried to steer away from it.

T.J: Yeah from time to time, and yeah you guys didn’t and Dad and I were both like “Thank You for not mentioning it” but if you’re gonna sell tickets or clicks or whatever we understand. We all live in this same fucking rat race where you have to try and get yourself heard however you can, but you guys have always written about US first and that meant when you asked us for a chat we, of course, said “yes”.

Colin: We joked a few minutes ago about the UK run of shows Cock Sparrer are doing next year and us having another support band on with us. The simple truth is they have to distance themselves. They have to do their own thing.  As I said to Tom if you’re in a situation a year from now where you’re looking to support Cock Sparrer in Wakefield then you’ve wasted a year somewhere. You should be bigger than that by then.

T.J: (shaking his head in disagreement) I get it, but you’re holding us back. If you think we’d go into that tour asking you to help us out and give us a gig then you are wrong. By doing it together we get to choose to do those shows.

Colin: What worries me, and this is the truth, is you commit to those dates now and it’s a year away and then say Rancid came and asked you to go on a world tour with them.

T.J: We would blow you out in heartbeat (this comment is followed by much laughter)

Colin: It’s a little commitment that could come back to bite you on the arse, that’s all I’m saying.

Bungle: It’s like when we go back to the really small venues like the Ilkeston thing and people say “you’re too big to play there”. We’re like “who gives a shit?” if we want to play a pub in the middle of nowhere to however many people, then we’ll do it.

T.J: And the Ilkeston thing (Ed: it’s changed now to later in the year and has been replaced this time around) has proved that point right because this time it’s the only all-ages show on the tour and people have bought tickets from four hours drive away. Just so they can bring their kids.

Okay so with things getting a little heated around the table here, here’s a real loaded gun question for you, and of course bearing in mind who is sat next to you (pointing at Tom). What’s been the real highlights of the first 4 or 5 years of The Bar Stool Preachers existence then?

T.J: That’s a great question, and its one we’ve not been asked before.

Bungle: There are multiple ones for a multitude of different reasons. I think The Slackers tour was our first big one and they really taught us a lot about being on the road

T.J: They communicate with each other as musicians on a level that I have not seen since. It’s like they communicate out of the corner of their eyes to a bandmate 10 foot away and suddenly its 1-2-3 and they are off, and as still relatively new musicians that is unbelievable to watch. So suddenly we’re going like “if they can do that, we can do that.”

Bungle: Perhaps what ties all this together is that whoever it is we are playing with when we learn something and take something away regarding how to do it better that is a highlight. So, going on tour with Sparrer I learned how to play my bass lower thanks to (Steve) Burgess (laughing), but whoever the band is we are always picking things up be it as musicians, or even something as silly as learning on how to get from A to B quicker.

T.J: You should try being normal size and not Bungle size and try sound checking his fucking bass and its touching your ankles (laughing)

Colin: The learning though never ends, that never stops and whatever band you play with you should be watching and learning about how to do things better.

T.J: So, cast your mind back to Mighty Sounds in the Czech Republic in 2017 (then follows a long silence as you can see Colin thinking) and Cock Sparrer have never done a call and response live before. Yeah, Bungle you can laugh it up as you were there for it, and I’m glad you were as this is proof. You had never done one before at the end of the set, and you saw it being done by another band and you said to me “I’m gonna do that.”

Colin: (laughing) And how was it?

T.J: (shouting) Much bigger than any of ours!!! (laughing) But at the end of the set, he did this mighty long note, looked over at me and Bungle and raised an eyebrow and I thought “I love that cunt”. (much laughter follows this comment)

Colin: Oh yeah that was the same gig that we put the backdrop up upside down. Intro kicks in big build-up crowd is going bonkers and backdrop falls to reveal the Forever logo upside down. (laughing). I was standing next to Will (Murray, Sparrer’s long-time road manager and sixth member) and said “Will the backdrop’s upside-down”, and he goes “yeah you’re right”, and I’m like “you’re not supposed to just agree with me you’re supposed to be like fuck yeah I’ll sort it now”. Brilliant!

T.J: To go back to the original question another highlight has been some of the incredible bills we’ve shared, Street Dogs taught us a lot, The Slackers, The Interrupters taught us a lot and Sparrer of course taught us a lot in the long run, and most definitely not how to put backdrops up.  But to be good at something you learn in whatever you do in life, an apprentice chippie on a building site will watch how the others do things and take little things away to make life easier and that’s just what we do.

The next 2 years are going to be bigger and more exciting for us in terms of support slots than anything we’ve done so far, and that’s no disrespect to anyone I’ve mentioned so far, but we’re going back to play with Die Toten Hosen once again for an all-new run in front of 15 to 40,000 people, Bouncing Souls and The Bronx you know these are bands that we listened to growing up

Looking forward to the next Bar Stool Preachers album then, how much do current world events impact you as songwriters?

T.J: There’s a real disparity between reality and what people feel comfortable to say and experience in the real world. It’s really very, very hard to live without feeling like a hypocrite about feeling guilty with people going on about; you travel it’s your carbon footprint, you eat a steak you’re killing the environment. There’s nothing you can do that there isn’t some smart bugger going, “this is slightly wrong.”

For us, in terms of the message we put out for the first album we were almost talking in clichés, for the second album we were trying to tell stories. For album number 3 a lot of what we’ve got to say is about genuine questions we have to ask right now. That’s because right now is a very explosive time to come of age and it’s a great time to write about. I mean what happened at Grenfell? What happened to the Panama Papers? Why are British bombs destroying Yemen? Like where are these questions in our day to day life? If they are not there, then people, maybe like us, but we’re still a relatively small band, there are a hell of a lot bigger bands who could be saying a hell of a lot more, but why aren’t people saying it? Trouble is there aren’t that many flagship points that people can rally behind at the moment that’s not already propagated in fear and its really hard as a band to not talk about all this. In our opinion.

There are a lot of bands who write songs about summer and love and surfboards and all that and are playing the same fucking 3 chords over and over..and

Colin: (chipping in) What’s that about ironing boards? (everyone falls about laughing at this point)

So, can music really change the world?

T.J: You never understand the real themes and energies of life until you experience them for yourself. Your deaths your marriages your births whatever they may be and they don’t always happen as big things sometimes they are microcosms. Me I just feel the whole system needs a reboot.

How important is the US then to The Bar Stool Preachers?

Colin: Sorry I’d nodded off there for a minute. (Laughing) The US is one of the biggest markets out there but you have to come to play it to come to terms with it, you have to be clever about it and do it in a specific kind of way, you certainly can’t scattergun it. So as the guys tell me the more they go back, the more friends they make and the more records they sell so it’s all healthy.

With Sparrer the first time we went to the US was 2000, well we did go in 1978. We were coming out of the record deal we’d sold all our stuff to go, the idea being to take demo tapes and tout it around the record companies to see if there was any interest and we flew on Freddie Laker for £40 to New York we spent 3 days there and no one was interested. There was a guy who used to work at Decca had moved to the west coast so we thought we’d go and see him, so we drove across the Sates in an Oldsmobile with no air conditioning and then spent a couple of weeks in Los Angeles trying to get some interest.

T.J: You should have done some shows.

Colin: Yes, we should have, we just didn’t have the opportunity to do any. So, the first time we played there was 2000 and we did New York CBGB before we went up to Boston before flying to Los Angeles which was a riot and then ended up in San Francisco.

What about Bar Stool Preachers being the Def Leppard of the punk rock scene, as in breaking the US before the UK? I mean you are signed to an American label after all in Pirate’s Press.

T.J: (laughing) Def fucking Leppard…. Yeah alright. As for Pirate’s Press, like any good parents, they just let us do our own thing only do it more. For us its been more about redistribution of our efforts. Like we’re only doing this one headline UK tour this year in September (dates below) and that’s of course because we’re spending nearly 3 months in the US. We have this amazing fanbase in California and we don’t know where it started or where it came from and we are playing all the way through October with Badcop/Badcop who are fucking amazing.

As for the UK punk scene, I don’t think that’s there at the minute to be broken.

Do you not think that is kind of restricting your appeal though by simply labeling yourselves as punk?

TJ: Hmm that’s an interesting point because we do have the biggest demographic of non punk fans and I suppose that’s on top of us pulling 3000 people in the Empress at 5 pm on a Thursday afternoon.

So, are you like the punk band it’s okay for your mothers to like?

Bungle: Yeah I’ll take that. (laughing)

Colin: (laughing) I can just sense a new tattoo coming on here.

T.J: I suppose it’s how you look at punk. I think there are loads of new up and coming punk bands who aren’t going to be looking at it the same way as The Bar Stool Preachers do. Because for us punk is not a genre, it’s an ethos. Look I understand I’m really privileged to have grown up with this all around me and I can remember a lot of it right from the age of 6, so why wouldn’t I want to be in a punk band? Everything I knew that was cool before I knew what cool was was punk hands down. So, if the mainstream world isn’t into punk right now then maybe they fucking need to be. As an ethos.

We’ve never played as a punk band though, and we’ve never billed ourselves on a Cock Sparrer/Oi! ticket and that’s because we make the music we want to make and it’s about inclusion and community that is much bigger than punk.

With both of your bands planning extensive UK tours I just wanted to say how refreshing it is to see you doing this, and not playing just the odd one or two shows in London and Manchester like most other bands seem to do these days.

T.J: And which you did for many years (looking to Colin)

So why the extra dates?

Colin: For Sparrer there are two reasons really. 1.) is that Sparrer have always preferred It up close and personal and 2.) it’s the reaction we get when people see we are playing places like Wakefield. Now we’ve always been very privileged in that our fans our friends have been willing to travel to come and see us live so perhaps its now our turn to give something back and just like we’ve always done it to try and play places we’ve never done before and tick that box.

T.J: But you have a duty to your fans as leaders of the scene to give venues like the Robin 2 a little bit of time a little bit of daylight

Colin: And whilst I agree regarding this, it’s really more about making it easier for people to come and see us and not have to pay £400 to see us at a one-off in Amsterdam and instead they can pay £25 to see us in Newcastle or wherever. Of course, the real reason we’re doing it is because we had so much fun the last time we did it. I mean we played Cardiff and got out alive, that’s good enough for me (laughing)

Although Col one of the bands sat here is playing Cardiff on their upcoming tour and the other isn’t

(A cheer goes up from T.J and Bungle as I’m of course referring to their show in Clwb Ifor Bach on 21st September.)

T.J: Yes and I believe it’s only £10 a ticket for one of our shows too (laughing)

So just to wrap up what’s up next then for you both?

T.J: Loads more touring and of course album number 3

Bungle: To keep on writing better music and better songs really

T.J: For album number 3 the benefit is we now know what we’re doing, we’ve defined our sound, we know what our bits are. For us we found that some of our favourite recordings for the songs on ‘Gracie Governo’ were on our phones as voice notes and you know maybe we potentially overproduced those songs on the record. So, what we’re going to do on this next album is. We’ve got 35 songs we’re going to pick 20 and then over 8 days we’re going to record all of those songs live then we’re going to put them out there to get the opinions of people we love and respect – like mum. (cue much laughter) Then we’ll get 11 or 12 tunes that we can go in and record properly

Is there a temptation to drop more in the set?

TJ: That’s another great question. We think album number 1 is better than album number 2 because album number 1 was written with live audience feedback. When we played ‘Eye For An Eye’ last night second half I had no idea what was going on I was making it up as we went along. For album number 2 if we’d toured those for 12 months I think it would have been a much bigger album.

I’m not being critical of the last album I’m incredibly proud of Gracie Governo it’s just that the whole process was another of those learning points we’ll take into album number 3.

‘Late Night Transmission’ is another new one we played and that’s likely to be the lead track on the new album it’s our ‘Police And Thieves’. It’s a direct lift anyway, but don’t tell anyone. (laughing)

Colin: Mick Jones don’t exactly need the money. (laughing)

And what about Sparrer Col is there another album in you guys?

Colin: As I said to you all those years ago, we never say never. We’re in the fortunate position that as ‘Forever’ was funded by us we had control over everything, and that’s the only way we’d do another album. We’re certainly open to doing it and we’re writing new songs but as with ‘Forever’ if the content wasn’t going to be good enough, we certainly wouldn’t have released it. ‘Forever’ though we’re very proud of, and we love that album and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t do another one.

Well with that awesome prospect in mind is there anything you wanted to add just to finish off?

T.J: Just that with everyone seemingly wanting our band to succeed right now is extremely humbling and we’ve got some really great people pulling for us right now so I’d just like to say “Thank You” to all of those people, and I hope to see some you on the road over the next few months.

Colin: What’s been most refreshing for me this weekend has been how seeing how diverse the Preachers fanbase is, the lads mentioned before the interview about the older lady on the barrier and in front of me were two young children on their parents shoulders, and that’s what its always been about for me and Cock Sparrer. You can come and see us whatever your age, colour, religion or sexual orientation, if you want to come and hear the songs, we’re happy to have you there and its brilliant to see it’s the same with the Preachers.

T.J: And that’s because it’s about family and not business.

If you are looking to be a part of the family for either of the bands upcoming UK tours then you can catch them at the following venues;

 

The Bar Stool Preachers (all dates are 2019)

Sept 13th Kingston – The Fighting Cocks

Sept 14th Derby – Hairy Dog

Sept 15th Manchester – Star ‘N’ Garter

Sept 16th Leeds – Brudenell Social Club

Sept 17th Newcastle – Trillians

Sept 18th Glasgow – Stereo Cafe

Sept 19th Carlisle – The Brickyard

Sept 20th Blackpool – The Waterloo Bar

Sept 21st Cardiff – Clwb Ifor Bach

Sept 22nd Bedford – Esquires

 

Cock Sparrer (all dates are for 2020)

27th Mar – The Robin 2, Wolverhampton

28th Mar – Waterfront, Norwich

4th Sep – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham

5th Sep – Concorde 2, Brighton

25th Sep – Manchester Academy 2, Manchester

26th Sep – Warehouse 23, Wakefield

9th Oct – Roadmender, Northampton

10th Oct- The Fleece, Bristol

23rd Oct – O2 Academy Newcastle, Newcastle

24th Oct – The Garage, Glasgow

 

Bar Stool Preachers

Cock Sparrer

Cock Sparrer @ Rebellion pic courtesy of Dod Morrison Photography

 

Now I have to be honest, given the choice of sitting in a field with 125,000 of the hunter welly wearing brigade, swopping anecdotes about how much I’d always wanted to see Kylie, or worse still sitting at home watching the BBC sanitized version moaning about how I’d missed out on taking out a second mortgage to buy tickets in the faint hope there’d be someone there I liked, there was only ever going to be one winner tonight. Lets get Skanking to a night of Ska punk, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones bringing the party to the o2 in Bristol.

 

Walking in to the o2 about ten minutes to start, I’ll be honest I was just a little bit nervous for the Preachers, to say it was sparsely populated would be an understatement. Worries however were short lived, by the time the Bar Stool Preachers hit the stage we had a more than sizeable audience, vastly different to the last time I caught them in the Exchange. Right from the off you can see that the months on the road have sharpened things up, they sounded huge!!! You can’t help but dance, with Tom, the demented ringmaster presiding over the maelstrom of noise. Now I’ve followed the bar Stool Preachers since they were a twinkle in Tom’s eye, reviewed both their LP’s and watched them change and adapt and grow going from an out and out party band into a politically charged machine (The guys arrived from a guerilla gig outside No10) and the place exploded when a personal fave from Grazie Governo “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out” was dedicated to probably the most inept prime minister Britain has ever endured, that is until Boris rides in on his white charger, put in place by the fcking idiots who vote Tory!!!

As the band have grown in confidence the sound has developed, the message getting stronger and stronger, I turned to Johnny H and said “They’ve been listening to too much Steel Pulse” (How far off the mark am I TJ McFaul?) After all Ska came out of the dancehall, mutated into Roots Reggae and there isn’t a genre more politically charged. A rapidly swelling crowd got more and more into the band and the whole place, looking round had a huge smile on its face and no doubt some dodgy knees this morning, Trickle Down, One Fool Down, Bar stool preacher, set the tone, but the newer stuff played tonight has the potential to put them in the shade. I for one can’t wait to catch them in Clwb Ifor Bach on September 21st

 

Next up we had a band I’d caught live in Camden Underground Sonic Boom Six and in fairness at that gig they really brought the noise and the party it was mental, but tonight I’m not sure if that sound translated into a bigger venue, there was a definite struggle for an identity present and I wonder how much management have become involved? They just didn’t seem the same band, or maybe it was just down to the fact that the Bar Stool Preachers had blown my mind, but where the one band is pushing forward, the other seems to be changing direction and not quite sure which way to go.  Both bands loosely tied together by the word Ska.

Now The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are a band I caught way bag in the day and if memory serves me right they played the Cheap Sweaty fun’s 10th anniversary gig originally scheduled for Tj’s but displaced to The Irish club after a difficult personal circumstance for Tj’s owner John Sicolo.

 

They were Fckin awesome then and tonight watching them sober they haven’t changed a bit and the party atmosphere just grew and grew, we had skanking, we had dancing, we had crowd surfing everything a proper gig needs and it was relentless, the o2 getting hotter and hotter, going thermo-nuclear way before the end. Before you even realized we were an hour plus in and tracks like “Someday I suppose”, the cover of the Wailers “Simmer Down”, “the Rascal king”, “The Punchline” had all flown by. These guys are the consummate professionals and all nine of them, yup nine on one stage made movement look so effortless as they changed positions, danced off and brought the brass section to the fore. What a performance. Now if I had to pick a winner tonight it would have to be The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, they are a real heavyweight in the Ska punk division,  been there done it got the T-shirt, but there is a young contender from Brighton coming up through the ranks very quickly.

Great night did I miss Glastonbury? Not in a million fckin years and tonight for once sound was spot on for all the bands, happy days.

 

Author: Nev Brooks