Blaggards released their explosive new album Blagmatic earlier this month and will be celebrating with their album release show on Saturday, August 21 at The Continental Club.
“We recorded it during the lockdown so I wasn't aware of how aggressive it was,” says lead singer and guitarist Patrick Devlin of their high energy album. “It’s fun to play, I'll tell you that.”
Blagmatic successfully captured the band's on-stage power with the trio providing fist pumping rock and roll with elements of Irish folk, punk rock and heavy metal.
“Paul Beebe from Beebe Gun Studio, he insisted that we play and we record all the tracks together in a room so it really was live and there wasn’t a lot of fixing,” describes Devlin.
Blagmatic features a balanced mix of original songs and a variety of covers ranging from traditional Irish folk songs like “Moonshiner” to their surprising rendition of the dark Tom Jones classic “Delilah.” Anyone who has seen Blaggards live knows that they don’t shy away from covering songs not typically associated with their sound or aesthetic.
“I think the first real cover that we did was Johnny Cash's “Folsom'' and then we did “Suspicious Minds” by Elvis. We just decided to make sure that there were no lines and if there were, we would cross them quickly,” says Devlin about the band's ability to adapt almost any song to their style.
No matter what he is singing, Devlin’s vocals are always front and center as they carry a core shaking force only amplified by the steady and driving rhythm brought by bassist Chad Smalley and the newest member of the band, drummer Eric C. Hughes who Devlin credits with giving the band a new energy.
"We just decided to make sure that there were no lines and if there were, we would cross them quickly.”
Their version of the classic “Moonshiner”, a song whose origins are disputed as being either Irish or American, puts the Clancy Brothers to shame and sonically beats the goody goody version to death, playing more like a pirate's anthem than a lullaby.
“Most of these Irish numbers, they all sound like nursery rhymes,” describes Devlin. “They're infectious melodies and they're also very repetitive,” he says, adding that most of these songs he’s been hearing or singing since childhood.
“Even if they're done at a uppy tempo, you're not used to hearing them with electric guitars and big drums.”
Sixteen years is a long time to go between albums, but in this case it was well worth the wait. Devlin explains the lengthy time as being due to the band’s constantly busy touring schedule.
“We had been thinking about it for a long time but the schedule never let us breath. We talked about leaving town and going somewhere and writing on a compound somewhere or on an island anywhere to get away to make it happen but the time never presented itself.”
During the shutdown, the band not only celebrated their sixteenth anniversary, the inspiration behind the original track “Sweet 16” on the album, but they also found themselves recording a weekly podcast SlapperCast.
These weekly meetups combined with band practices led the group to see the possibility before them for finally recording their next album.
“We just kept pushing forward thinking the time will show itself. The time, unbeknownst to us, it was going to be the whole world shutting down so we could do it,” says Devlin.
SlapperCast is now in its 132 episode and the trio gets together weekly to record and discuss a wide range of topics including interviews with other artists. The podcast has served not only as a way to connect further with the audience, but a way for the band to connect with people they admire and further get to know one another, something Devlin is still surprised the three can do after the hundreds of hours spent in a van.
The connection between Devlin, Hughes and Smalley is not only what makes SlapperCast so enjoyable, but also the magic behind what makes the tracks on Blagmatic really kick.
“We’re lucky because Chad and Eric play so well together that the foundation was already set so it's just so much easier to build on that and to make everything come alive when you have your rhythm section that are able to hold it down.”
“I use the analogy that it's like laying back on a wave and just being able to let it take you because it really is so much fun to play like that because you only have to think about your part and you have to just make sure that you're up to speed. They’ve become one and as a singer, guitar player there's just nothing more fun than to be able to lay back on that.”
Devlin, originally from Dublin, moved to Houston in his twenties and began working the local clubs before starting his own band. He describes the Irish Rock movement as being ever present throughout the United States but with a clear and inexplicable weakening in the Southern region of the country.
When asked what his Irish culture and Texas culture have in common, Devlin says the similarities are abundant. “There’s the pride, that’s the first thing that you kind of latch onto, the Irish pride and the Texas pride. They really could be their own universe. They're strong willed, they do not take kindly to criticism or direction, just really tough, straight shooting, no crap talking people.”
Since venues have reopened, Blaggards have been just as busy as before and can be found performing frequently but for their record release, the trio selected a special place to celebrate, The Continental Club.
“That’s all of our first love. We have so many places that we can't live without but The Continental has been such a good place. All these people that we've known since it opened, talk about the behind the scene people, these people they work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They do not take a moment off and their commitment to live music and to keeping great music in Houston, they've just never blinked so Continental was our first choice for everything.”
Blaggards will perform on Saturday, August 21 at The Continental Club, 3700 Main. Music starts at 9 p.m., $10-20.