The Rock's Punters set to 'go the distance'
Another wave of Newfoundland's celtic-rock invaders made their landing at North Sydney yesterday afternoon and then hurrled to Halifax for two concerts today.
With mandolins, accordions and guitars at ready (not to mention the boxfuls of their freshly minted second CD, Said She Couldn't Dance ... ) The Punters have launched their dancehall assault.
Though the roots-rock band is almost two years old, Larry Foley says that after a couple of personnel changes, he and founding members Patrick Moran and Brian Kenny are re-energized and more confident than ever.
"We're striking out to get ourselves some notice," says Foley, singer, lead guitarist and sometime mandolinist with the St. John's based band. "We've always been a pretty motivated act, but we're really really motivated now.
Already renowned for their footstomping live performances, Foley and his bandmates know that what really makes a difference to a group's fortunes is a well-received (read: radio-played) record.
Not entirely satisfied with their first, self-titled effort in 1995, The Punters decided to enlist the help of a celtic-rock pro: Rawlins Cross guitarist Dave Panting.
"To produce this record, we wanted somebody from Newfoundland and we wanted somebody grounded in both rock and traditional music," says the 25year-old Foley. "We thought of Dave Panting instantly. He's one of the pioneers of melding these two styles of music."
Though he had produced several solo albums, this was the first time Panting had worked as producer for a full band. Foley said he performed admirably.
"He just let us be ourselves. In fact, we were more ourselves than we thought we were," he says. "He caught on to our sound immediately and really brought the best out in us."
After Panting's work was finished, The Punters handed the record to another celtic veteran for mastering: former Rankin Family producer Chad Irschick.
"There were a lot of really good hands involved in this record," Foley says proudly. "And we're really comfortable presenting it to the world as a representation of who we are."
Though you can practically hear Foley cringing over the cellphone, he does acknowledge the debt his band owes to Panting's Rawlins Cross, Figgy Duff and, most recently, Great Big Sea.
"There's no doubt that those bands are a big influence. Traditional Irish music is definitely that thread that weaves our songs together," he says. "But I think we play quite a bit beyond the celtic-rock label."
But does he worry that The Punters are setting out in an already crowded market?
"This is the kind of music we most enjoy. This is what we're going to play, irrespective of what the market is saying," he says. "Besides, celtic music has got something that straighter pop music doesn't have: longevity."
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