Goy Boy McIlroy: Black Glove / The Pilgrim (Self Released)
Goy Boy McIlroy are a very talented blues come rock band from Darlington who put on a unique and spectacular live show. We spoke to them to find out more.
Goy Boy McIlroy are a four-piece from Darlington, featuring Dave Saunders on vocals, Simon Goy on guitar, Al Evans on drums and Glen Adkins on bass. Their self-released debut single Black Glove / The Pilgrim is available on download.
Their intriguing bio describes them as follows: “Goy Boy McIlroy are an alt blues band from the Northeast of England. It would be easy to describe their background using the cliched stereotype of a grey and dreary skyline clogged up with factories and massive chimneys spewing out black clouds of smoke, but Darlington is different to its industrial neighbours. It is a small Quaker market town void of hope and filled with apathy and closed mindedness. It is from that bleak social landscape that they draw their inspiration.”
Having headlined the Bull and Gate in London in August, the band returned to London for a show at the Dublin Castle, and we caught up with them for a chat about the single, the band and their plans.
The band have evolved over the past few years to their current line up.
Dave explains “We started as an acoustic duo, playing supports for one man and a dog, but then we needed to fill out the sound and then we became a three-piece a couple of years ago, and then Glen joined last year. We built up a base in the North East by hammering it up there, I'd been in bands before and didn't want to do it where you play London after a few weeks and no one knows who you are.”
The name is definitely unusual and eye-catching and the band themselves don't actually seem too enamoured with it.
Simon explains “I used to get bullied because my last name is Goy and that became Goy Boy. We're not sure where McIlroy came from, it was just random and it stuck.”
Dave adds “It does sound awful, like something some emo kid would do. It was originally Goy Boy McIlroy and the Skirny Pearldivers, after the ragamuffins who used to go and get golf balls out of the River Skirn back in Darlo and sell them back to you. We dropped that because it was probably a bit too stupid. But we kept the rest because we didn't want a name that said something about the band, it would have been so easy to just have black in the name somewhere.”
Their debut single was released on September 24, and it's a difficult single to categorise easily and to do it justice. Black Glove, weighing in at just under two minutes, is the more accessible of the two tracks with choppy guitars and drums but with a melodic edge and half-sung, half-shouted vocals. The Pilgrim is a lot darker with the vocals deeper in the mix, almost hiding under the music. If you need a signpost, the nearest is probably the darker elements of Joy Division, tinged with elements of seventies blues.
The band themselves describe it as “blues, but it's got that post-punk ambience, a casserole of sounds."
Whilst releasing the single, the band also have plenty of other material written. Dave tells us “We've got a lot of songs, without fillers we've got approaching twenty, and we've got a few more locked away in a memory box never to be played again. We want to write some more as well, we've got loads more to write, loads of ideas. We work as a band, so there's no leader, as bands don't work like that which stick together and we can express opinions and vibe off each other. ”
Simon is keen to actually put some of the tracks down “I'd like us to go and record them once it calms down a bit. We've been gigging quite a lot, we've been to Leeds and Manchester, so we'd like to get them down and maybe try and release an album next year."
Dave explains how the band see themselves and how they want to be perceived by their audience “What we want to do is establish ourselves. We're not young and naive, we know what it's about. If you get a record deal these days, it doesn't mean anything, so what we want is to be known as the best live band. Like back in the 70s, there were these bands like Dr Feelgood that weren't a massive selling band, but there's people like Joe Strummer who refer back to them as a great live band. We just want to do what we want and enjoy it and give everything. I go to gigs and I'm sick of seeing bands that look like they don't want to be there. We want to provoke so people will either love us or hate us. I know we're not cool, just look at me, but there's no pretension in our act, it's just do it, there's nothing to lose. When I'm dead, I want to think I gave it a little bit.”
“Music is a sincere form of art. I don't understand it when bands sound like rehashed stuff. People might say we're out of date, but we're happy in what we do, we write the best music possible. I don't want a record deal, I want people to think 'Goy Boy McIlroy are playing, let's go and see them or I saw Goy Boy McIlroy and I want to be in a band'. Those are the best compliments - the two things I want people to say about me are that they watched my band and wanted to be in one and that I've got good manners.”
For the record, Dave has immaculate manners.
Simon adds “It's much better that a review says something about your band, whether it's overly positive or not, rather than there not being an opinion and getting lost. You want something to make people listen to you and get a reaction.”
Live, Goy Boy McIlroy really come into their own. Dave's stage presence, or off-stage presence for large parts of the set, means that you can't fail to leave with an impression of them. He's rolling around on the stage floor a couple of minutes in, sings part of one song on the steps down to the toilets at the back of the venue, takes a glass of wine at one point and makes a cross on his forehead with the wine, sits five of the audience down on the floor with him at one point and finishes the set wrapped under carpet he finds by the side of the stage. This coming from a man who must be all of six and a half feet with a bald head and goatee beard makes it an enthralling thirty minutes.
Dave plays down his stage presence. “People can call it avant-garde if they want, but it's just messing around really. I saw a comedian once in Darlo and he had no jokes prepared, he just used the environment, and without sounding too contrived, that was great”
With this chaos going on, it'd be easy to miss the fact that the rest of the band are extremely accomplished, fusing blues and rock, whilst watching their frontman with the same fascination as the rest of the audience.
The single is available from bandcamp. Other tracks can be heard on their Soundcloud page.
Goy Boy McIlroy are also on Facebook & Twitter