Payin' Dues: The Bonnevilles

Continuing a lineage started by The White Stripes and drawing deep from the Delta, The Bonnevilles are set to reach a wider audience with their third album, Arrow Pierce My Heart, issued on the Alive Naturalsound label. “Signing with them was the best thing in the world,” singer/guitarist Andy McGibbon tells The Blues Magazine. “We’re very excited.”

You have a love/hate relationship with your hometown of Lurgan.

Lurgan was always a place I was desperate to get away from, so when I was 16, I left. But then I came back and met my wife and since the Troubles ended, it’s not the same place. I’ve made it out to be a bad place but it’s not that now. There are two new songs that have Lurgan in the title and one of them is my way of making an apology. It’s called Erotica Lurgana so we can make it sound like a sexy place.

You’ve signed to Alive Naturalsound. What does that mean to you?

It means a lot. We had the opportunity to play some festivals with some of the Alive guys like Left Lane Cruiser and James Leg, and we became friendly. They put in a good word for us. We sent Alive the new album and they said, ‘Yes, we’ll put this out.’

You’ve played the Deep Blues Festival in Mississippi. How important was it for you to be accepted there

We didn’t go to be accepted; we went to do our thing and if they liked it, then great and if not, we could say, ‘At least we were honest.’ The reception we got was outstanding. We played in Junior Kimbrough’s juke joint and it was wonderful. It was humbling to be in the company of people who accepted us.

You got nominated for Best Album in the Northern Ireland Music Prize.

We didn’t even put ourselves forward for that! We got invited to the do so we made sure that we put a good dent into the hospitality. But from when we started, we never wanted to be a local band. We arranged a tour to Europe a few months after forming. We always said we wanted Belfast to come to us on our own terms.

Yours is a very filthy sound.

The sound of distorted blues is the sound of the soul. And the punk scene has filtered through, too. It’s the sound of life – it endures. A clean guitar doesn’t do that.

What was the last thing you learned?

Be humble, because the world will visit humble on you if you’re not.

Arrow Pierce My Heart is out in March via Alive Naturalsound.

Julian Marszalek

Julian Marszalek is the former Reviews Editor of The Blues Magazine. He has written about music for Music365, Yahoo! Music, The Quietus, The Guardian, NME and Shindig! among many others. As the Deputy Online News Editor at Xfm he revealed exclusively that Nick Cave’s second novel was on the way. During his two-decade career, he’s interviewed the likes of Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and Ozzy Osbourne, and has been ranted at by John Lydon. He’s also in the select group of music journalists to have actually got on with Lou Reed. Marszalek taught music journalism at Middlesex University and co-ran the genre-fluid Stow Festival in Walthamstow for six years.