Fiddles, whistles, mandolins, and a raw dollop of buzz saw rock and roll punk attitude, Ferocious Dog’s pedal to the metal turbo folk drives nails through steel, writes Tony Dewhurst.
But beneath that searing live energy there’s a poignant and moving message in the band’s fast-paced, but heart-breaking song, The Glass.
Penned in memory of lead singer Ken Bonsall’s, son Lee, who took his own life three years ago after serving a tour in Afghanistan, it chronicles a deep and personal loss of a loved one.
“Lee’s death devastated everybody and it is still very raw for all of us,” said the band’s violinist Dan Booth. “We were really scared when Lee was in Afghanistan, that he’d get shot or blown up. When he got home, however, we thought he was safe and naturally you would. But then he committed suicide because of what he’d seen over there. It was the worst thing ever and it is still very hard to deal with.”
Lee is remembered on their album cover as well as the lyrics, and it’s clear that Ferocious Dog want to make others aware that fighting doesn’t stop for soldiers when they come home as they continue to battle the demons of war. Lee’s dad Ken explained: “For those soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder the Ministry of Defence, at the time, told them to ‘man up’ and, like a lot of lads, Lee became well trained in keeping his troubles to himself.
“Ultimately, though, he wasn’t able to deal with them and committed suicide. My son was the biggest influence in my life, and he will never be forgotten.”
Ferocious Dog remain fiercely independent, and their travelling fan club, The Hell Hounds, often hit the road with them. “I spent 30 years as a proud miner, socialist and unionist, and I’ll never compromise my principles, and the same goes for our music,” added Ken.
“If somebody offered £1 million to sign to a major label we wouldn’t do it. We are all fiercely independent people, and when my family bore the brunt of the Miners’ Strike, the roots of everything we do as a band are buried deep in the events of that era. It would have been easier not to have joined the strikes, but the principles at stake meant too much to me.
“Another song, from our new album, tells the story of the impact the decimation of the mining industry had on just one character. Maybe that kind of worthlessness and hopelessness was – maybe still is – rife in the aftermath of Margaret Thatcher’s destruction of the industries.”
Ferocious Dog. Support from Gaz Brookfield and Maelor Hughes. The Grand, November 21st. £10. 01200 421599. www.thegrandvenue.co.uk