Having come together through an informal, fireside bluegrass session on Monday nights at McGarrigle’s Pub in Sligo, six-piece Rackhouse Pilfer have been making an impression on the music scene over the past 12 months, enthralling crowds across the country with their brand of rootsy Americana.
The group has progressed at speed since its inception last July, with a confidence and drive that fiddle player Fiachra Cunningham puts down to the fact that each member had a well-established musical career before joining Rackhouse Pilfer.
“Everything that we’ve been doing since the 90s has been leading towards this band and we all agree it’s the best band we’ve been in; it’s the band of our life. This will be the greatest thing we’ll ever do musically in our lives,” he says.
The critics seem to concur, with the alt-country rockers being described as “a word of mouth phenomenon”, “a fiery and exciting new band” and “musically gifted”.
Fiachra explains that the band’s musical sound is born of “listening to YouTube and our parents’ record collection” and references everything from Neil Young to Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix.
Having previously concentrated on cover versions ahead of the launch of their debut album ‘Back to the Country’, Rackhouse Pilfer have been developing original material in recent times and looking to some iconic names for inspiration.
“We cater to what we enjoy and it just so happens that people seem to really dig it. We started off choosing the songs that we enjoyed like Gillian Welch, Ryan Adams, Steve Earl…just amazing powerhouses of musicians and amazing songwriters like Bruce Springsteen who have such soul, grit and integrity in their music. I guess we are trying to carve our own line now with our originals, we are aiming high!”
He explains that the band tend to form “impromptu songwriting partnerships” to develop the new material and reveals that they now have “some really nice originals” that they are saving for the second album.
A hectic touring schedule taking in France and Italy will tie up the group for the next few months but they hope to enter the studio in October to begin laying down tracks for the follow-up to their debut release.
Already garnering a reputation for a lively stage performance, Rackhouse Pilfer will join Galway favourites Amazing Apples for a double-header at Monroe’s Live on Friday 31 May and Fiachra says that the six-piece really enjoy performing live.
“We put in a fiery performance of stomping bluegrass and original music. Leon, the frontman, is an absolute firecracker on stage and really gives a gutsy performance. Regularly after gigs, we’ll all have a group hug and it’s like winning the Champions League! We really enjoy the show and people seem to really buzz off the craic that we’ve having,” he laughs.
And despite the difficulties facing up and coming bands, the musician adds that he feels a tide of change is coming on the Irish music scene, with a revolt against over-produced chart fodder.
“I think it’s a fabulous scene at the moment, for the most part. We’re coming off the back of this squeaky-clean, polished pop music scene, which happened over the past ten years, and there’s a revival of folk music and rootsy music now,” he explains.
“It’s a tough one to make money in and survive in but I think it’s a brilliant world at the moment for musicians.”
Rackhouse Pilfer and Amazing Apples play Monroe’s Live on Friday 31 May. Doors open at 9.30pm and admission is €10. See www.monroes.ie for full details.
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