Roll up, new music fans! It's time for your weekly new music fix, and we sure have a doozy for you today. Meet Derry-based alt.rockers The Wood Burning Savages, whose frenetic blend of "modern day protest music" blends the raw, idealistic nihilism of early Manics with a sobering dose of societal introspection. Self-described as having been "baptised with cynicism and told to lean into the wind at all times", their furious racket will surely set them on track to become Derry's second punk band.
We catch up with the band to learn more about them, their journey and what they have lined up next.
Can you introduce yourselves – where are you from, who does what and what are your roles in the band?
"We’re The Wood Burning Savages, we’re from Derry in Northern Ireland. Elliot Finlay is on drums, Michael Woods is on guitar, Dan Acheson is on bass and out front rattling his guitar like a sabre, singing like a guy possessed, is Paul Connolly."
How did you guys meet and start making music together?
Paul: "We met at local gigs and demonstrations. Sometimes swigging beer, setting the world to rights, but we were in band from the day we met truth be told. We commandeered the nearest freezing cold garage and started writing music we thought would set a fire under people, something that would have people singing along with arms raised. It just made perfect sense to start the band the day we met."
What were your key influences/inspirations in getting the band together?
Paul: "Each of us come from pretty different places record collection and inspiration-wise. Dan likes the grunge end of things with Pearl Jam and the like, and a lot of progressive stuff like King Crimson. I like a lot of 60s psychedelic Nuggets-era fuzz rock one hit wonders, I adore The Stooges and The Kinks. But we sound fuck all like any of those bands. We read a lot too, so there have been a number of authors that have influenced our outlook and output like Flann O’Brien, Carl Sagan and a tonne more too.
The uniting factor for us has been writing music that has the energy of the artists and authors we love while having a clear cut straight on the nose message in each song. I think that’s why a few people have compared us to the Manic Street Preachers."
How would you describe your sound in three words for people who’ve never heard you?
Dan: "Seriously fucking honest."
What makes you special/different to other bands out there?
Paul: "Come to see us live and you’ll figure it out. We don’t give a fuck about what we’re wearing, or if we do the right ‘rock action white boy grimace’ pose so we’ll have some sexy photographs to slap up on our social media. Perhaps it’s being from Northern Ireland that we’re born jaded; we’re baptised with cynicism and told to lean into the wind at all times. By that I mean that we value things and never take our audience for granted because we’ve had to work that 20% harder than other UK based acts just to play in front of people. We’re giving you honesty; we’re putting out clarion call music about our generation and the bullshit we have to deal with that inspires people to move.
2. We Love You
3. Rat Race
4. I Don’t Know Why I Do It to Myself
5. Purple Heart
7. Living Hell
8. Sisters of Mercy
9. Lather, Rinse, Repeat
10. Thoughts of You
11. Freedom of Movement
What’s the story behind the new album Stability and how did it come together?
Dan: "Brexit, the systematic carve up of the NHS, the rise of right wing fascism and xenophobia in the Europe and the UK, Trump being a grade-A ballbag, the migrant crisis, the Catholic Church in Ireland denying women bodily autonomy, bedroom tax, the never ending stalemate between the DUP and Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland leaving us without a government for over a year. This is the here and now of the pretty fucked up reality we’re in.
We didn’t intend to write an album about these things, we realised pretty soon after writing the songs that would become the album that they all had a particular tone – they were all questioning where we’re going as a society. How we trample over people just for a new TV or how our government let homeless people freeze to death on the street. As an arc, there are stories on this album that we’ve only head as news headlines or stories on Facebook pages. We recorded it with Rocky O’Reilly in Start Together Studios, Belfast."
What’s your favourite story/anecdote from recording the album?
Paul: "We lived on supermarket meal deals and went in when it was dark in the morning and clocked out when it was dark at night. For as dark an album as this is, we had some hilarious laughs but I think being able to bring in and orchestrate a full gospel choir to sing a very scathing attack on the church’s links to the state (Sisters Of Mercy) was a real buzz as well as sounding fucking brilliant."
What, in your opinion, is the stand-out track from the album and why?
Paul: "We played a gig a while back and did a stripped back version of the closing track Freedom Of Movement and there was a lady in the audience crying her eyes out. There’s power in songs, that one is like a jet engine that’ll blow any desensitisation to the migrant crisis news headlines away. It’ll make you think, it’ll make you value how lucky you are not to live in constant fear."
What do you hope people will take away from the album and your music in general?
Dan: "The messages in the album are ones that hopefully drive people to be more empathetic and giving of themselves. There’s a big focus on minding your mental health and suicide on the album too, so if it drives someone to open up to friends and family for the better that’s mission accomplished.
Our music as a whole is modern day protest music. We’re bored and furious with the DUP and Sinn Fein ruining Northern Ireland for everyone, we’re sick to the back teeth of the Tories riding their horses over our futures and yours, so right now, we hope our music speaks to people and gets them mobile and protesting."
What's been the highlight of your time in the band so far?
Paul: "This band has taken us to places as weird and wonderful as the Armenian-Azerbaijan border, where snipers in the tree lines were taking pot shots at the road, to the 4am streets of Hamburg, playing in sweaty rock clubs to amazing German audiences, and a whole load of other places in between. We’ve played Glastonbury and recorded an album in a kickass studio in Belfast, so for us every day we get to do it there’s a highlight that we’d need to write down. Band life is unlike anything else on Earth and we love it."
What can people expect if they come to see you live?
Dan: "You’re going to see a band that lives to give you an experience that you won’t forget. The audience becomes part of the band each night. We talk, there’s a conversation and there’s absolutely stellar songs that’ll stick to you like tar."
What are you most looking forward to about the future – what’s coming next?
Paul: "Last week we opened for Death From Above 1979 as part of the Irish leg of their tour, we’ll be releasing our debut album Stability in April and we’ve also got a couple of UK/Irish tours coming up. Festival season is just around the corner – we’re proud of the record we’ve made but now it’s time to get it out to people and get them down to join us for a live show. Onwards and upwards, it never stops!"
The Wood Burning Savages' new album, Stability, will be released on April 27th