Talking Music: Liam Collins of Rusty Shackle Discusses The Raven, The Thief & The Hangman
“We had a review once saying, “There is a genre known as folk rock. Rusty Shackle have now invented a genre known as Rock Folk,” laughs Liam Collins of South Wales five-piece Rusty Shackle.
“It’s very different,” continues Liam as Liam discusses the bands genre-defying style with Andy Howells.
“It’s more rock lead. It’s always been this weird mixture of Celtic influences from Scott and Baz, then me with rock , Ryan with indie and now George, (rusty Shackle’s newest member) bringing in his amazing drumming!”
Rusty Shackle’s diverse line-up is a contributory factor to the bands ongoing success, as Liam reveals on the latest Ents South Wales Audio Supplement podcast.
“When I write a song and think it’s going to come out a certain way, by the time everyone’s put their bits on it and written their melody, it comes out very different!”
Based in Caldicot but followed by legions of fans from South Wales to the United States, Rusty Shackle originally came together over eight years ago. In that time, the band have released three albums as well as played festivals and venues around the world.
Their fourth album, The Raven, The Thief & The Hangman is to be released this month and is a mix of traditional folk lyrics from around the world, with brand new music and melodies written for them.
Liam reveals much of the music evolves from a term known as “living tradition”, something the band themselves have witnessed at folk music events.
“A living tradition means these songs have been around for hundreds of years and they develop over time,” explains Liam, “It’s like a traditional song that’s alive, its breathing, people add verses, they take them away.”
“So, what you see on the folk scene is a lot of the same songs transferable across a lot of artists. The way they are approached is they’ve all got their own style, but they’ve got their own melodies, the same music, the same lyrics, but all slightly evolved.”
“We thought it would be interesting to go back as original as we could find for many of these songs. Take the words and the original stories but without looking at melodies and what the sounds of these original songs are.”
Rusty Shackle ultimately found themselves scoring new music for songs such as Sam Hall, Coorie Doon and The Raven’s Song.
Liam says of The Raven, The Thief &The Hangman, “It’s a very un-folky folk album!”
“The thief is in these stories; the Raven sees all these stories happening across history and the hangman ends all these stories!”
The album also has a local touch for Welsh fans, an original folk song from the band commemorating the Newport Rising. Taking place on 4 November 1839, the event was the last large-scale armed rebellion against authority in Great Britain , when Chartist sympathisers, led by John Frost, marched on Newport.
“We wanted a song from Wales about Wales,” says Liam, “We’re all from the area and spent a lot of time in Newport, it’s a home from home. I was born in Newport. I always remember the chartist mural and that had a big effect on me as a young artist. I’d see it every single day and obviously when they tore it down it was not great.”
Liam set out to find a folk song about the chartist uprising, but it wasn’t easy.
Liam continues, “The only one I could find was from a newspaper at the time, it was almost unusable, except for a couple of lines in there. I wrote a set of lyrics and built a song around those 2 or 3 lines that were usable from that song.”
The song has already been previewed at some Rusty Shackle gigs and will be heard on their UK tour which launches at Cardiff’s Clwb Ifor Bach on February 8.
“It’s riotous, stomping, marching, it feels like you should be marching with John Frost down to the Westgate – it’s a big passionate cry!” says Liam. “It’s gone down well wherever we’ve played it, so far!”
Listen to Andy Howells interview with Liam Collins above.
Photo of Rusty Shackle by Natasha Collins
For further details on Rusty Shackle visit rustyshackle.co.uk