n his pursuit to put together a band capable of issuing a boisterous celtic punk sound, BRENDAN SHEEHY left his native land of Ireland, packed his bags and settled in Koping, Sweden in 2002. I'm not quite sure that is the textbook instruction for doing so, but it's managed to work out for SHEEHY and his band SIR REG. We're also not sure how this band stands out in their Scandinavian surroundings, but their approach seems to help their cause and not hurt it. Five albums into their career, the band has released THE UNDERDOGS. Despite the "us versus them" that can be implied from the title, the album is a collection of songs that speak to the daily struggles of love and life. "An underdog represents everyone who's trying to reach the top of their game but is met with next to impossible odds," says SHEEHY "These odds only exist because you let them. Put your head dow, work hard and you can achieve your goals. It's all about believing in yourself. I think we an allrelate to that in one way or another." This "pick yourself up" message is something new for the band who were never afraid to get a little political in the past, but in these times marked by right versus left, we could all do with a little less politics and a little more uplift. Due to scheduling conflicts, ROCKWIRED was only able to secure an email interview with BRENDAN SHEEHY regarding SIR REG'S new album. Here is what he had to say.
THE UNDERDOGS is a fine album and now that it's out there for people to get a listen to you how do you feel about the finished work?
We're pretty happy with how it turned out. By the time it was released we must've listened to it a thousand times. Still hearing new things in it though with every listen.
CHECK OUT THE MUSiC VIDEO FOR FiGHT OF OUR LiVES!!!
What sets this album apart from your previous releases? What is different this time?
The majority of the previous albums were a little bit more political based, mostly focusing on the economic climate in Ireland at the time when the bubble burst for the Celtic tiger. This is a bit more about ourselves and where we find ourselves situated within today's society and the will to keep going and make our voices heard.
Who all did you guys work with in terms of production?
Our band members CHRIS and MATTIAS produced this record and worked on it in rehearsal rooms in Sweden, at a rural Swedish country house and in a rehearsal studio in Ireland. This was a DIY effort and made the way we wanted it to sound. The guy who then mastered it, CHRIS SNYDER added some magic and really brought forward what we wanted to portray.
So far, have their been any reactions to the album that have surprised you or that you didn't see coming?
No, most were pretty predictable depending on what musical background the reviewer was coming from. The punks liked the punkier numbers, the pop guys liked the quieter ones and the folk fans liked the more traditional ones. Something for everyone, as we hoped for.
I understand that you guys were out in Hollywood to shoot clips for a segment of your music video trilogy FOOL (FIGHT FOR OUR LIVES). Describe what the experience was like?
One of the music videos was recorded during our show at Get Shamrocked festival in Murrieta, California.We just did our thing while the main character in the trilogy TERRY hopped around in the crowd and on stage like a maniac. Was pretty fun actually!
What is the message of the single and music video FOOL (FIGHT FOR OUR LIVES)?
It's all about accepting who you are and not being afraid to express yourself. TERRY, the video's main character is secretly a cross dresser and has been hiding it away for some time. Sometimes it's the fear of what others think that stops us from being our true selves.
SIR REG is a band known for it's Celtic punk sound, yet it's interesting that the only Irish member is the the front man and every one else is Swedish. This questions goes out to BRENDAN SHEEHY specifically. What drew you to moving to Sweden in 2002 to find musicians to put together the ultimate Celtic punk band?
I moved to Sweden in 2001 as I heard it was the place to be for musicians. A Swedish ex girlfriend showed me a magazine article about how Sweden was the 3rd biggest musical exporter of music on the planet and it seemed obvious to me that I should make the trip.
How easy or difficult was it to find the right people for this band, being a Irishman in Sweden?
It was a nightmare! It wasn't really a Celtic punk band I had intended to make though. That came a bit later. I lived in small town and all the musicians I met were either already in bands or not serious enough about music.
Specifically for BRENDAN: What was your musical experience before SIR REG?
I've been part of musical groups since I was 15 years of age when I played with a group that played mostly 50s music. When I got to my late teens I joined a few 60s and 70s style bands and played a lot of Britpop. Moving away from Ireland was what put me in touch with the Celtic side of things, as the homesickness I felt made me write more in that style.
Talk about the members of the current lineup. Tell me who they are and what it is that you think each of them brings to the table that makes this thing work?
KARIN ULLVIN plays the fiddle. I met Karin in 2002 and have been playing with her ever since.She has a mainly classical background and provides the frills for our sound along with a dark haunting edge. Few fiddlers I've seen match this legend of a woman. MATTIAS SODERLUND plays bass. He's like a musical encyclopedia and his musical taste stretches over many genres. His punk background and rockstar stage persona combine to give us an explosive energy infusion. MATTIAS LISS is the drummer. This guy surprises us constantly with his eagerness and broad range of talent. He thinks outside the box and always adds the spice that was missing to everything that he plays. CHRIS INOUE plays guitar. He's the tech-head in the band and the one that makes sure things get done. Somehow his punk and pop background make him the perfect guitarist for a Celtic punk band. He just doesn't play as you'd expect a guy in our genre to play. Doesn't stay confined to a safety zone. FILIP BURGMAN is the mandolin player. He's from a folk background, completely self-taught and is the trad lad in the band. His strength lies in keeping us folky while we dabble in other musical styles.
Explain the songwriting process within this band. How does it get accomplished?
I'll write the core and structure of the song and then send it off to CHRIS who puts guide tracks of drums, bass and other instruments on it before we introduce it to the rest of the band. Each member then puts their own stamp on it and comes up with the parts they should play.
What songs off of the album have you the most excited to get people to hear and why?
THE UNDERDOGS, as it was our favourite track to play in the rehearsal room and we believed in it from the very start. Also, SINNER OF THE CENTURY because it just gelled together from the first time we played it. I think we played it about twenty times that first day.
You guys are touring until the end of the year. What shows have stood out for you the most and which upcoming ones have particularly excited?
Personally I've enjoyed the Swedish shows we've done, along with Get Shamrocked festival in California and Shamrock Castle in Germany. Really looking forward to our Swiss shows later this month. The Celtic punk scene has really taken off there the last few years.
With the album THE UNDERDOGS, what is the big idea? What would you like for people to come away with after they hear it?
We'd just like people to think positive after they've heard it and go out and do something about the things they're not happy with and change them!! Life's too short to be afraid of what others think. It's your life! Make it a good one!
And with this album behind you, what is next for the band musically?
We are gonna tour as much as possible and start writing for our next album pretty soon.
CONTACT BRiAN LUSH AT: firstname.lastname@example.org