Out of the same bludgeoning Brummie folk underground that gave us such greats as The Destroyers and Mama Matrix comes the Conservatoire educated Bonfire Radicals .
What with a new album, a tour schedule taking them up and down the country, an eclectic mix of instruments and a possibly irreconcilable mix of influences, we thought that now was the appropriate time to have a chat with them, ahead of their show with Johnny Kowalski and the Sexy Weirdos and Mr Shankly at the Hare and Hounds (Kings Heath) this friday.
The Radicals have been busy recently, could you give us a brief summary of what you’ve been up to recently and how it’s all going?
Andy Shankara – We have spent the last year honing our craft and recording our debut album ‘The Albino Peacock’ and that’s gone really well. It’s finished and ready for release on 17th June – 9 tracks of urban folk tunes from the outer regions. We are also halfway through a 13 date tour of the UK.
That’s an interesting album title, any cool stories behind it?
The albino peacock is a tune written by our bass player Trevor. It started life as part of a pair of fake 18th Century 3/2 Cheshire hornpipes and metamorphosed into a imitation New Orleans street dance with a mock bouzouki riff by me.
The interesting thing about the peacock is that in the Hindu culture it’s the mount of the Lord Kartikeya, the god of war. And Ancient Greeks believed that the flesh of peafowl did not decay after death, so it became a symbol of immortality.
18th century hornpipes, fake New Orleans street dance and hindu couture. thats a varied and unusual range of influences. is there a shared set of influences that informs the radicals or do all the members come from very different places musically?
Shankara Andy I think we that we all probably come from different places. Michelle comes from an early music perspective, Trevor is a Jazz/ folk enthusiast, Katie is into Balkan music in a big way, Ruth is Scottish so is steeped in that Gaelic fiddle tradition, I’m from the Greek rebetika/ psychedelic space rock school and Liam our drummer is into Stevie Wonder …. It all blends into the band’s sound.
It’s an unusual mix that’s uncommon on the music scene and not easy to fit into a snappy slogan for a gig flyer! When you’re taking the radicals to new audiences who mightn’t know what to expect, how do you find the reaction?
Oooooooh that is a difficult one. Usually people have a moment to stand there in shock but are won over by the energy coming off the stage. It is also an odd combination of people and instruments; three women jigging about at the front and three grumpy blokes at the back is unusual! (Hopefully the audience isn’t taking much notice of the grumpy ones!)
Last question. If the Bonfire Radicals were a board game which would they be and why?
Frustration. I can’t possibly say why it might upset someone. It’s sometimes that way with 6 people having differing views about direction. I wouldn’t change it though.
The Bonfire Radicals play the Hare and Hounds, Kings Heath, this friday with Johnny Kowalski and the Sexy Weirdos and Mr Shankly.