Introducing THE LAGAN

An interview with The Lagan

I recently caught up with rising stars of the Celtic Punk scene, Kingston UK’s The Lagan prior to their support slot to The Mahones at the Black Heart in Camden, London. What followed was a pleasant hour, holed up in The Brew Dog pub, talking music, life on the road, anti-fascism and pasties. Recently joined by a new drummer and the addition of an accordion player borrowed from south-coast folk-pirates, the Jack Ratts, the lads from The Lagan were on good form.

So, how did the good ship Lagan come to be launched?

We started out after spending St. Patricks Day in Boston about five years ago where Brendan (O’Prey, lead vocals and guitar) and Martin (Bell, bass) had gone to see the Dropkick Murphys. Here we bumped in to and ended up becoming good friends with the BibleCodeSundays, who were playing a support slot at the Murphys’ Paddy’s Day bash. Inspired and encouraged by the Biblecodes, we started to think that we could do something similar, once we escaped the pubs of Boston. The line in “Sunny Day in Southie” on the debut album sums up the trip. We spent about a week living in McGann’s pub…”McGann’s could be the death of us”.

Both Brendan and Martin had been in separate bands but we realized that what we really wanted to play was Celtic influenced punk, so we gathered like minded, hairy, hard drinking lads and The Lagan was born.

The new album is doing well and has had good reviews, is it all good?

Reception of the album has been good, although one reviewer did accused us of Islamophobia! We can only guess that this person mis-understood the sentiment behind the title of the debut album- Where’s Your Messiah Now?

Typically for these lads, the misunderstanding was sorted out over a beer and an apology was made.

“I have been told that my name is on Red Watch”, comments Brendan.

Red Watch is a website of the British far right which publishes the details of potential targets for fascists.

The racism thing is stupid. We are an Anti-Fa band. We are happy for people to see as anti-fascist. One guy who turned up at a gig with an EDL shirt (English Defense League: Far right group) was told to remove it or leave. He removed it! We don’t however want to be thought of as just another band playing rebel songs. We play punk songs inspired by an Irish musical tradition but we’ll also put a stop to shouts of “Up the IRA”. This has happened at a gig in central London but we aren’t pandering to that mentality either.

As well as Irish traditional music, we are also influenced by ska bands. A lot of the songs Brendan is currently writing sound more like Irish tinged street punk than straight forward trad. Someone recently described us as “Mumford and Sons if they were really angry”.

What’s the most frustrating thing about being in The Lagan?

Juggling full-time jobs in offices and on building sites with the demands of and the desire to tour and play live gigs as much as we can. Having to get up for work the next morning limits how far from home we can play gigs.

However, we have been talking to Mike Bermingham (founder of Rockin Irish tour promotions, http://rockinirish.com ) about the possibility of doing a No Sleep til St.Patrick’s Day tour in America.

The problem with getting over to America is it’s expensive…but we’ve all booked holidays from work, so something will happen. We’d love to get out there and play some of the big Irish festivals.

You all live in Kingston…is it as rough as you make it sound in the song “Same Shite Different Night”?

It can be! There is always somebody looking for trouble. The town is split in two…the pubs down by the river are nice. It’s not a war zone but it can be a bit edgy.

Any final words?

Yeah, we wanted to give a thank you and a shout out to Shite’n’Onions. It was the first Irish Punk blog we ever saw and it sets the standard for promoting the type of music we all love. It’s really good to feel that we can be part of something that awesome.

And the pasties?

Check out Martin’s reviews on twitter @ThePastyReview

“Where’s your Messiah now?”, the debut album on by The Lagan is out now on Banquet Records (www.banquetrecords.co.uk). You can find more Lagan related goodness at www.thelagan.co.uk and on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheLagan.

Neil Bates

September 2013