The Bastard Sons hail from the North. That’s not to say they’re illegitimate offspring like Jon Snow in Game of Thrones, but rather a candid working-class quintet with a proclivity for dishing out beat downs. In that sense they’re more like the wildlings Lord Snow seeks to protect. They’re wild, unruly and untamed. And attempts to pigeonhole them are futile.
“Ever since we started making music people have tried to put us in a category”, vocalist and chief bastard JJ explains. “Most of the time when I read reviews they say they don’t know what category to put us in. To me, that’s the biggest compliment you could give. For somebody to not understand whereabouts we fit is great, because it makes us more interesting and mysterious.”
We asked the Yorkshire mob’s singer how he’d define their sound if he absolutely had to, but all he could muster up was “rifftastic music with a meaning”, before cracking up with laughter and asking us to reword his description to “make it sound better”. So let’s just say it’s punk, rock and metal – all those things – and if you like bands like Feed The Rhino and While She Sleeps, then you’ll dig these fellow northerners.
“Bands like [While She] Sleeps have made Yorkshire a place to be recognised and reckoned with”, JJ adds. “In the space of two or three years, all these venues were opening and hosting gigs, and it just seemed to start a fire in people. It made people want to start bands.”
Like so many young bands, The Bastard Sons – rounded off by Ollie (guitar), Alex (guitar), Nath (bass) and Rich (drums) – started out as nothing more than a laugh and a way for its members to kill time outside of their full-time jobs. According to JJ they never had any intention of taking it this far. Even the first two EPs the Bastards recorded, he reveals, “were mainly for our own enjoyment.” But before they knew it the lads had grown a substantial local fan base, and as things started progressing further they started writing songs that were more developed, more intelligent, and dare we say it, more serious.
“Going into the new album the songs have become much more political, and are about things that have riled me up over the last couple of years. That goes for everything in life. Not just politics, but also music, people, the media - everything. It’s massively important for people who write music and have that power to inspire people and use their voice as much as they can.”
That’s why the band’s debut studio album Smoke has politically driven songs like A Lie Is a Lie alongside party rock anthems such as their last single Release the Hounds.
“A Lie Is a Lie is about being spoon fed bullshit”, the singer explains. “The Internet is the best and the worst thing that could’ve ever happened to us. We know so much more about the world and about what’s going on, but the mainstream media have all the control and they only tell us what they want us to know. This is our way of encouraging people to look further into it. Don’t just go on bloody Buzzfeed. Read books. Just because it’s on the Internet does not mean that it’s real. We’ve all become suckers for that.”
He’s got a point. When was the last time you read something online and jumped the gun before even taking the time to think about whether or not what you just read was actually based in any fact? We live in a time when Chinese whispers can go viral, and the need for self-awareness and a critical eye is greater than ever. The Bastard Sons’ message is to make up your own mind, instead of merely accepting the information you’re presented with as the truth. And their goal is to get the message out there by playing as many live shows as possible.
“In my opinion I’ve already made my career. I tattoo for a living. All I’ve ever wanted to do from music was go out on tour and meet people, and it’d be nice to be a touring musician for the last remaining years of my youth.”
You can see them in January 2016 opening up for Scott Ian’s supergroup Motor Sister, but in the meantime, check out their new record Smoke and take time to figure out for yourselves exactly what kind of band The Bastard Sons truly are.
For more information on the band, visit their Facebook page.