Lords of Bastard: Forget your angst and be stupid

Feature by Caroline Hurley | 17 Mar 2006
  • Lords of Bastard

Remember that Hullabalooza Simpsons episode where two teenagers are down front and one says to the other "well that guy's cool", his friend asks "are you being sarcastic man?" and the first kid shrugs, crestfallen, "I don't even know anymore"?.

Being cool is hard work, especially in music, but there is a type of band that revels in geekery. Adhering to a fine tradition that dates back to the Dead Kennedys, Butthole Surfers, Fudge Tunnel and many others with silly, silly names; here are Edinburgh's answer to a stupid question, Lords of Bastard.

Mike (vocals and guitar) and Rick (drums) began the Lords over a year ago and have been gigging around the capital for around six months, tallying up several appearances at Bannermans, Henry's Cellar Bar and the Subway. Both hip hop fans, they have been making beats for years and Mike's skills with a… mic earned him Soulbiscuits MC Battle Champion a few years back. Retreating slightly from a scene they found could get too cliquey, the Bastards went back to live instruments because, as Rick puts it, "it's hard to vent your anger with a drum machine."

Anger and frustration are recurring themes, with songs like 'Your a Dead' and a mission statement that includes Bono's demise, the sense is that Lords of Bastard are often none too impressed with the current state of music, and quite possibly, everything else. "Aye, Hate Men" Mike nods before grinning. This anger versus humour dichotomy comes through again and again in the Bastard's music. The early-punk ethic meets fifties-style surf riffs and ends up in the mid-nineties Texas desert with post-grunge. Playing live, they race through this spectrum of sounds at a pace that leads you to believe you just saw Anger versus Humour in a fight and you're not sure who won.

The contrast and confusion is part of what makes them such a treat live, at a time when more and more guitar bands sound alike and stick safely to certain formulae, the Bastards come like a welcome smack in the chops. With Mike alternately singing and screaming over an unpredictably punk rhythm section, it looks as if they're concentrating but could lose it and laugh at any given minute. Somehow they manage to be uncategorisable and risable at the same time. This aversion to fitting a certain mold is very strongly held, there is a sense of frustration at bands that perhaps get further on their image than their music and adopt a sound everyone has heard before. Or, as a Mike put it, "Idiots trying to write anthems for beer drinkers."

Trying to describe their own sound, they can only mention who they listen to and might have absorbed but insist that they would never sit down and try to sound similar to another band. Some favourites mentioned were The Cramps, The Damned, Kyuss, Dead Kennedys and Black Flag. Perusing the 'influences' section of their MySpace page, it's possibly the first time Jello Biafra will have been in a list with Jim Bowen, and suggests that Mike and Rick are complex men and not easy to pin down. Or the Bastards just think they're funny.

Not taking themselves too seriously is at the heart of the Bastard's philosophy, with so much anguish in rock, particularly stuff aimed at younger listeners; Rick says the band are eager to spread a positive nonsense message, "forget your angst and be stupid." They are eager to play with others who share the same noisy, unpretentious ethos and mention Scottish bands Certain Death and the Spatial Entrepreneurs as kindered spirits in this respect.

Their next gig is with Spatial Entrepreneurs and is organised by Edinburgh promoters/distributors the Cold Dead Hands Collective, who support hardcore and punk bands in and around Edinburgh. In the immediate future, Lords of Bastard want to play more gigs and maybe release a 7-inch at the end of the year. For now though, Rick explains that years of making music lets you accept that you may never make a living from what you love doing, but maybe that's just as well because, as he rightly points out, "good bands get big and then have nothing to say." We all nod our heads thoughtfully, impressed at this impromptu profundity, until Rick pipes up again, "although at some point in the future I would like my career to be ruined by huge amounts of money" and the sniggering starts again. They're a good bunch of Bastards.

Lords of Bastard play Bannermans on March 27.