They describe themselves as proverbial “DO-IT-YOURSELFERS” from West Midlands, UK – celebrators of folk-punk-rock fusion…& a quintet that stands up for the laurels of country & heritage. With strong convictions, no hidden agendas, nor qualms about placing a giant canker on the world’s politically correct tongue…expect the UNEXPECTED from Britain’s BLEEDING HEARTS…a dazzling mix of precocious rhythmic chivalry, rambunctious poetry, & flailing fiddle. The members (Foxie, Gaz, Gel, Ewan, & one stunning female counterpart – Lizzie) adopted the name from the native Asian plant “Dicentra Spectabilis” – & much like the poisonous perennial…their music is infectious & gets right under your skin.
WHAT’S IN A NAME??? –– “Bleeding Hearts came about because we thought it sounded cool, & we were reliably informed that people playing folk must have hippy names. It fulfils all the criteria…& it was only later that we found out the flower (we are named after) is highly toxic. ‘Bleeding Heart’ is also an American term for those championing the underdog – which we are…& the toxic bit is quite punk. As punk-folkers with a liberal dash of rock…it kinda’ suits us.”
Dubbed in 1995 as “alternative music for alternative people”, Bleeding Hearts spawned some unconventional standards when combining genres…executing energetic LIVE SHOWS with gentile acoustic reflections…rot with self-expressionism that could only be realized through public performance. Like a Celtic drinking session gone mad, they hail to “The Underdog” in a sympathetic liberal sense…& their loud, boombastic attack has made them a European pub favorite, not to mention playing festivals to 10,000 or more & supporting acts like The Levellers, The Pogues, & Die Happy. So what exactly do you get when you cross a protester, a practical joker, a perfectionist, a philanthropist, & a photographic artist – all musically interconnected from Welsh upbringings??? You get “FOLK-PUNK PROPAGANDA” that breeds oodles of fun with a catchy adrenaline rush…one that makes you want to swill beer, tap your toes, & embrace the roots of history!
“WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER” –– “The current line-up is relatively new, with Ewan (mandolin) & Lizzie (fiddle) only joining us fourteen months ago…but the band has been together since 1995. Gel (bass) was a friend of mine, & Gaz (drums) answered our ‘Lonely Hearts’ advert in the local paper…because he was promised fame, fortune, & exotic travel. Sadly, he has gotten none of those things…as he constantly reminds us…although, we did spend six weeks in Canada on tour in the autumn of 2001 – which is pretty cool, if not exactly exotic.”
In a displaced digital era – where many acts look or sound the part, but cannot back-up their attempts with one ounce of stage integrity – Bleeding Hearts were tired of the exhaustive efforts (& thwarts of empty promises) to try conquer mainstream music fabrication. They had a deeply-rooted melodic texture that needed to be brought to the horizon, & they wanted to spend less time meandering around song structures to do what they love best…create feverish punk-inspired rhythms that include obscure instruments like cittern, mandolin, & fiddle. With the newest members Ewan & Lizzie added to the ranks just over a year ago, they brought a late 60’s / early 70’s vibrancy back to life, & their fifth release (2011’s FOLK ‘N’ GLORY) screamed garage-style, self-produced attitude that has set them dramatically apart from their peers. “Live by actions, not through words.” they claim, but the band actually does a bit of both…matching frank political outlooks to blistering rock twists. They’re heavily enthused by all the possibilities that the current line-up brings, spurring anything from RETRO to MODERN…avant-garde “The Clash” meets “Riverdance”.
EARLY INFLUENCES & “A GROWING SOUND” –– “Classic 70’s rock, retro & modern punk, metal, Celtic vibes, & stomping reels…anything from Thin Lizzy to Rammstein…& then, some classic folk. It’s all mixed up really, with all the various shades of sounds we have going on, but in terms of direction…I guess it’s ‘alternative’. People really do have a hard time pigeonholing us, which explains the lack of commercial success & difficulty some have placing us at their events…too heavy for folk…not heavy enough for rock…not punk enough to be punks…just too blooming alternative to describe. That (in itself) makes us unique – that, & the fact that our main buzz is from the songs that we write & the hook lines throughout them.”
The eleven-track album (ten songs preceded by a conceptual opener) blasts off into the sonorous Bombs Of Deception then quickly shifts into a cheery Drinking Song – where you hear Lizzie’s fiery bow make its first real distinction. In the whimsical chant of title track, Folk ‘n’ Glory, the group speaks of a country’s state of chaos…global insecurity…passive aggressiveness…insurrection…with a delightful “play-on-words” punchline. There is common British humor & antiquity spattered throughout, & perhaps the patriotic choristers should be fusing their efforts more tightly with the likes of Monty Python. Through the coming-of-age “Fakebook” into the riff-driven “Modern World”, celestial-like whines dance around off-set harmonies, & a penetrating bass hum compliments a mildly profane experience. Lizzie takes vocal charge on Something I Can Never Be, but she is a true dominatrix of the strings…as the album comes literally TO LIFE with her cascading sweeps across the fiddle. The defaced moniker of “The Queen”, on the circa 1960’s album cover, is not the only thing creating a statement on this release – the arrangements go boldly into cathartic territory…cleansing the system of commercialized songwriting…before winding down with the protest-styled “In The Name Of The People” & war cry of “Ballad Of The Fallen Soldier” (an absolutely unforgettable track).
HIGHLIGHTS & “MOVING AHEAD” –– “We spent six weeks self-organizing new gigs in our drive across Canada, making friends along the way – some of whom we have stayed in touch with. It all turned out well & was a great life experience…& really brought us together as a band. I think the best is happening right now, though…with more to come. The current line-up gives us so many more possibilities musically, & brings THE BEST out of the songs. It’s melodic, has texture & depth, but is still raw enough to make you remember why you join a band in the first place – for the fun, adrenaline, & excitement!”
The future looks promising for Bleeding Hearts return to Canada, along with the smiles & happy memories they create. Amassing a spread of independent airplay on cultural programs, their garage-bred anthems are abrupt with chaff comedy, while seriously honouring their ancestral Celtic flares…& the band has a number of gigs lining up for 2012 – including Lichfield Arts Festival this July, plus Germany’s Hambergen Open Air Festival during August. If electrically-fuelled guitars & shameless rock antes are your “cup of tea”, sparked by over-the-top personality & a dedication to ethnical roots – rosin up your stereo for a British band that’s not shrouded behind the iPod era. Where traitors, frauds, & fakes abound…BLEEDING HEARTS play with an intense purpose & bridge a gap between lost generations of music… shouting “GLORY” from the hillsides & keeping “FOLK” prevalent in their self-designed, ever-changing pace. You’ll be amazed at the seismicity & the passion-filled journey they will take you on…& that’s no load of bollocks.
BLEEDING HEARTS are: Foxie (Vocals/Guitar)
Lizzie Prendergast (Vocals/Fiddle)
Gaz Hunt (Drums)
Gel Newey (Bass)
Ewan Porter-Stevens (Mandolin/Cittern/Acoustic Guitar)
*** All photos courtesy of BLEEDING HEARTS. “Special Thanks” to Foxie for all the great interview excerpts.
“NO FOLK…NO GLORY!!!”
Visit the band at www.bleedinghearts.co.uk.