Monday, 5 August 2013

#146: Catching Up with Naymedici (U&I Music Magazine - August 2013)

Manchester is a city which, given it’s geographical location, unsurprisingly has deep-seated connections with Ireland and Irish heritage, and whilst some of these connections date back hundreds of years and don’t always bear remembrance given the occasionally violent or criminal nature of the narrative, a more contemporary facet of the Manc-Irish discourse, not overshadowed by politics or criminality, would be music after all four members of The Smiths had Irish heritage, likewise with the Gallagher brothers and even Mani from The Stone Roses had an Irish mother. It goes without saying, then, that with bands as pivotal as the aforementioned, Irish influence will always find a way to permeate Manchester’s music scene, via one band or another, and Naymedici are no exception.

From the opening five seconds of flagship single 'Paddy McGee' you can tell that the band are whole-heartedly embracing their Irish roots; a finger-picked guitar is quickly joined by a fiddle before singer Mike King smashes any illusions that this is a traditional folk affair and instead asserts both song and band well and truly in the realms of Celtic Punk.

In a genre as niche as Celtic Punk, every act runs the risk of being compared to those bands that everyone knows. Rather than ape the aggression of the Dropkicks or the self-deprecation of Flogging Molly however, Naymedici prefer to uphold a slightly more experimental nature to their song-writing, an aspect of the band that underpins the entirety of their most recent single 'Koo Koo the Bird Girl', indeed this track has far more in common with the gypsy-tinged ancestry of Gogol Bordello than the Jameson's-soaked sounds of Against Me! An unusual and atypical affair, 'Koo Koo...' might not be the best introduction to the band for those who aren't familiar with the quirks and nuances of Naymedici's repertoire, but it certainly suggests that, as a band, they're more diverse than the genre usually allows.

There's an unprecedented amount of energy upheld by the band, and it bleeds through in to their music effortlessly; described as “The Pogues and Gogol Bordello having a bar fight”, the band are fusing Irish and Baltic traditions with punk ideals and an unrelenting work ethic which has seen them tour Ireland no less than three times and play headline slots at festivals such as Y-Not and Kendal Calling. It's this work ethic, coupled with their penchant for not taking things too seriously that has allowed them to garner a burgeoning fan-base and affirm their place at the forefront of both Manchester and Ireland's music scenes. Never being fortunate enough to catch the band live, I can't make any judgement on their sets, but if the tenacity that's present on record transfers to a live environment then you can safely say that they're a band who deserves the hype they're enveloped in.

Hi guys, thanks a lot for doing this. Just to get the ball rolling, how did you come up with the name Naymedici, and what does it mean?

We backed a horse called Cosimo De Medici, and when it didn't come in, all yelled 'Naymedici'.

Manchester obviously has more than its fair share of great new band on the up and up, a lot of which seem to be indie bands indebted to Morrissey and Marr, or the Gallagher brothers, why did you choose to go down the punk road when so many others eschew it?

We wanted to do something different. We're not really interested in rehashing the old 90's Manc scene ourselves, but fair play to anyone else going down that path.

Given that this particular column is about the Manchester scene, what do you think it is about the city that makes it the hotbed for young talent that it is?

Not too sure. There's always something to do, somewhere to go, something to see. There are so many live music venues in the city that it's hard to avoid the music scene. Everyone seems to love a good gig in Manchester.

Your music obviously stems from a number of diverse and eclectic influences, both musical and otherwise, care to name some?

We're massive fans of The Pogues, Dubliners, and Gogol Bordello. I listen to a lot of Bob Dylan and Tom Waits. Really like folk songs, the older the better. And anything with an accordion or a fiddle is normally a winner!

Your track ’Koo Koo the Bird Girl’ isn’t exactly your usual run of the mill, three minute radio-friendly affair, in fact it seems more like an LSD soaked exercise in alternate history. What’s the story behind that?

It's based on a woman called Minnie Woolsley, who worked in various carnivals under the name 'Koo Koo The Bird Girl'. It's a true story – the only things I've changed are the facts.

Obviously you have major ties with Ireland, relocating there quite recently. How intrinsic do you think the Anglo-Irish narrative is to the music your making and indeed to other bands that share similar backgrounds?

We're living in Ireland now, and are spending a lot of time gigging all over the country. At first we thought it might look a bit odd, us English lads all going over there to play Irish music, but everyone has been very appreciative so far. We play the Irish songs loud and brashly, so I think they can't help but be won over.

A lot of punks bands have quite stringent and dogmatic ideologies, political or otherwise, do you find that your own politics bleed through in to your music or even live shows?

We all have our own ideas on politics, but we're not too bothered about forcing them down peoples throats.

Here’s a question I ask every band I interview now; what would be in your ideal rider, and why?

We'd just be happy with plenty of ale to be honest. The more the better. Probably worth having a Spar next door for our bass player, Hilly, so he can go on the crisp butty run.

I’ve featured you on my own blog before now, a post which has garnered almost my highest amount of hits. Do you find that bridging the gap, both physical and metaphorical, between Manchester and Ireland has allowed you to develop a following that includes people who might have not batted an eyelid without those connections there?

Yeah possibly, we're gigging all the time now, both all over the UK and all over Ireland. It gets us into places that wouldn't necessarily have heard of us. We've not got any money to spend shitloads on PR, so it suits us to do things at a grassroots level. The harder we seem to work, the more things seem to come our way. We've still got a long way to go, but fingers crossed things will start to come good!

Finally, what’s on the horizon for Naymedici as a whole, and where can we catch you live?

We should be releasing our debut EP in the next few months, which will have our new single 'Whack Fol The Diddle' on it. After that we're hoping to tour around Europe, in between fitting gigs in around Ireland and the UK. Check out our website for upcoming gig dates.

Cheers guys, it’s been a pleasure as always.
Cheers Dave.


This article was originally written for U&I Music Magazine, click here to check out the rest of the mag.

Due to data limits, only the interview features in this months issue, the write-up itself will feature in September’s issue.