by John Hess
The Gobshites are:
Peter—guitar and vocals
As we’re in the midst of another miserable winter, the thought of
spring is on everyone’s minds. The first event to kick off spring is
always St. Patrick’s Day. And the best way to kick off St. Paddy’s Day
is to venture off to see The Gobshites, who are making a point of
celebrating St. Paddy’s Day 365 days a year. They are a great
seven-piece acoustic band—with the exception of electric bass—that you
could imagine playing an open sessun for musicians in Cork, or a ceili
for dancing in Shannon. I’m at the British Beer Company in Walpole with
head Gobshite Peter Walsh to discus music over a few pints of Ireland’s
Noise: So Peter, anything new in world of The Gobshites?
Peter:We just finished recording the second record, Another Round,
and we also went back and added a few things to the first record
because it was kind of a quick mix. Huck Bennett came in and remixed
it. Billy Novick added tin whistle to both records and Ryan added some
baritone mandolin, so that we didn’t need to go over all the original
mandolin tracks. The baritone mandolin fit in around where the guitar
is. It sounded real nice, especially where some of the choruses were
thin. It filled them up.
We’ll have both CDs ready before St. Patrick’s Day. Once again it’s
a bunch of rock songs done as traditional Irish pub songs. They’re all
about drinking, turned around into Irish drinking songs, a bunch of pub
sing-alongs. My goal is to get some of the traditional Irish bands
doing these songs, because they won’t realize that they are old punk
rock songs. You know, they’ll do them by mistake and have them become
part of the tradition because they work that way—and its fun.
Noise: Do you guys have a full-time tin whistle player now?
Peter:No, we’re still looking for one.
Noise: As far shows are concerned, where are the tentacles of The Gobshites reaching these days?
Peter:We’re mostly playing in New England. We’re in
Burlington, Vermont next week; we’re leaving for Georgia soon. We play
in New York every so often. We’re just starting to get out a bit
further, but it’s tough—everyone has jobs and obligations, just like
everyone else. You have to pick when and where carefully. Everything we
do will be a quick weekend thing. We can get out for a Friday,
Saturday, and Sunday, and be back for everyone to crawl into work again
on Monday. We’re going to drive to Georgia for a weekend, which means
we can make it just about anywhere. We’ll just drive all night.
Noise: Tell me about the “Rockin’ the Catskills” shows you’ve been doing.
Peter:We’ve been playing at the Blackthorne in East
Durham, New York. It’s great. It’s in the Irish Catskills. You go up
there and it’s like stepping into Dirty Dancing. Nothing has
changed. It’s a family owned place. They’ve got their 14-year-old son
who works there cleaning up, and every night before dinner, he plays
the bagpipes. They have two stages, so that when one band stops playing
the next can start. And this goes on until 4:00 am.
Noise: What can we expect to see on the new record?
Peter:It’s a good mix of punk rock. There is a Stiff Little Fingers’ tune, “Too Drunk to Fuck” by the Dead Kennedys is on there, “Beer Song” from The Independent. “I Only Drink Stout,” which our version of “I Only Drink Bud” by The Queers,
might not go on this record, but it will get on the Queers tribute
that’s coming out soon. We haven’t decided on the final track listing
yet. We also covered “I Can’t Drink Here No More” by The McGunks.
I told Lenny Lashley that we’re going to put Darkbuster’s “Liquor” on
the record and release it before he does. He said, “That’s okay, we do
it better than you anyway.”
We also had to re-record two songs from the first record because the
files were damaged. We redid “Long Way Back to Ireland,” and “Friggin’
in the Riggin’.” In the whole process of redoing it, we sent the
files to Tommy Ramone, and he’s going to sing harmonies on it. We’ve
played a couple of show with his band. It’s a punk thing like the Punks Are Folks
shows that we do. He’ll be playing the next one of those, and I’ll miss
it because I’m double booked, and have to get to the Bullfinch Yacht
Club right after I play.
Noise: What plans are in the future
Peter: We plan on starting the third record, the last
part of the punk rock trilogy, in late April or May. Then we are going
to start an original record. We’re going to do more traditional
sounding stuff like The Clancy Brothers and The Dubliners.
I have managed to put one original song on each of the records. But
seeing as they are cover records, I cover my own songs by doing Meat
Depressed tunes. We’re not in any real hurry, but we hope to have an original Gobshites record out in a year. We’re having fun with the stuff we’re doing.
Noise: Has getting on some of the more high profile shows, such as opening for Gaelic Storm opened any doors for you?
Peter: Only a little bit from that show, but the Black
47 shows really helped us out. Their fans treat us great, and we’ve
gotten many new fans as a result. Myspace has really helped out quite a
bit, too, with people buying CDs, and going to our shows. The Tossers
were also a lot of fun to play with. We had a great time playing with
them—I am actually a huge fan. When you get a few bands that are
different, but fun, you’ll have a great night. Like when we play with
Sasquatch and the Sick-a-billies and The World’s Greatest Sinners.
Those are fun nights. It’s not all exactly the same kind of music,
which makes it fun. It’s like when I try and mix it up putting punk
rock shows together.
Noise: Good party rock, or party music?
Peter: Yeah. It just makes it more enjoyable so that
people will want to hang around. I hate that concept of just going to a
show that people go to just to watch their friend’s band, and then
leave. I’ve never been a fan of that. I don’t like it.
Noise: Just like when clubs stack a night with four bands
that can draw well individually, but the rest of the week is completely
unknown bands—as opposed to getting one or two bands with a good draw,
and adding one or two lesser-known bands that can rock the house. That
way you could put together more nights that are lot of fun for the
people that are paying the cover and liquor prices.
Peter:Oh absolutely. I think it would be great if
touring bands that are bringing along an opener would put the local
band in the middle of the two national bands. That way it would be like
when they try a new TV show. They always put the new show between the
two proven sellers. I know it’s not the touring bands job to build a
scene, but they already sold the tickets. What difference would it make?
Noise: It would be smart of the record companies to do
something like that. Especially when they are always crying poormouth,
and their sales are decreasing. They do nothing to get new talent in
front of people.
Peter: It would also be smart of the venues to do
this. If there are no touring bands to keep the schedule full, you
would have some local bands that have gotten exposure playing with
these bands. Radio should be doing the same thing. Why aren’t they
playing and exposing local acts?
Noise: [Our conversation got out of hand here, and I decided it would best not be printed.]
Peter: I was thinking the other day about how people derive
their points of reference. It used to be that we would get compared to
The Pogues. Now kids are saying we sound like the Dropkick Murphys…with
The Dubliners. It funny, how do they not know that thing right in the
middle there? I guess it’s how they are brought up, and what they know.
Unfortunately there is a whole audience that didn’t experience The
Pogues. One time down in Providence, when their second record was still
an import, I walked into a men’s room, and there’s Shane McGowan. He’s
got a drink on one side of the urinal, another one on the other side,
and one in his teeth—as he’s taking a leak. I guess he didn’t want to
be far from a drink.
I also think about how we’re described and what our influences are.
Obviously, The Pogues are a really huge influence. The Ramones are
still an influence, because if I’m playing guitar, it’s going to sound
like that. Elvis Costello’s King of America is a huge influence. I thought John Mellencamp’s Scarecrow
was America’s version of The Pogues when that record came out. I also
love Me First and the Gimme Gimme’s. I guess that’s why I like the
covers so much. It’s great when you see the look on someone’s face as
they are saying, “I can believe they are doing that song.” Under no
circumstance did they expect it. We’ve even had elderly people at show
by CDs from us. I’d be introducing a song, and they’d still be pumping
their fists to “Drink, Fight, and Fuck.” It’s such a good time.
Noise: Are you going to be on TV?
Peter:We just did this thing for Foxboro cable. It was
great. Every band should do something like this. One, because it’s
free, and two, if you’re surfing channels and you see a band playing,
you’re going to stop and watch it. Maybe you’ll like it. I know both
Foxboro and Plymouth do it, and they have got really great gear to use.
We went in and set it up like a fifties sitcom stage, with a bar on
onside trying to create a pub atmosphere, and it was cheesy. We also
moved around all their talk show stuff. It came out great. We did two
sets, and we’ll get to use the stuff.
Noise:It sounds like The Gobshites are still working
their tails off while maintaining jobs, families and lives. To get
information regarding shows, events, and merchandise go to www.gobshites.com/ or www.myspace.com/gobshites.