Spotlight: The Tin Thistles

Changing Directions After Member Departures

GENRE: Drunk Punk
HOMETOWN: Somerville, MA
ARTISTIC APPROACH: Mixing punk, booze and high-volume fuzz.

Take one ’90s music encyclopedia vocalist, a drummer with no depth perception, an ex-hardcore-drummer bassist, and one self-deprecating guitarist – now add alcohol and voilà – you have the DIY recipe for a killer punk band. Coming together in early 2008, The Tin Thistles have a fun loving attitude, a hefty thirst, and a penchant for giving away merchandise. Performer had the pleasure of speaking with guitarist Allen McRae regarding the band’s speedy shift from covers to original work, a changing studio sound, and love for the live performance.

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McRae met longtime friends and band mates William Callahan and Kevin Bogart (vocals and drums respectively) while working at the same coffee shop, the doldrums of which spurred the trio to start an acoustic cover band. “But that turned out to be too hard,” McRae says, “So we started writing originals.” After picking up cellist, Al Ittleson, to round out their sound, the band recorded their Mutiny EP – a calling to the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly, McRae explained. Nine months in, however, the band found their true direction. Ittleson left the band, but before the empties could rattle, drummer Art Bergevin was welcomed aboard. At that point “[Bogart] switched to electric bass, and we’ve been playing very loudly ever since,” muses McRae.

Loud and productive, the Thistles have now released an LP At the Bottom, released in 2010, another EP We Were Promised Better, and a Christmas single “Oi to the World” in 2011. The new sound draws from Callahan’s love for ’90s indie, and a lot more fuzz. Selected for the ZLX Rock n’ Roll Rumble this spring, the band got to unleash a little competitive spirit, Thistles style:

“We were a little loaded, but we played as hard as we could.”

McRae is pleased with the band’s philosophy and direction. “We’re known as kind of an asshole band, but it’s not about antagonizing audiences. We’re just drunk (and assholes) and that comes out on stage. We’re just trying to have fun.” The Tin Thistles have a split 7″ pending with new (and according to McRae, better) tracks. “We realize we suck, but we suck a little less each time.”

Photo by Johnny Anguish/Daykamp Music

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