New Pagans have shared their new single, ‘Charlie Has The Face Of A Saint‘, an alternative rock ode catalysed by conversations overheard on a Belfast bus.
Melding together mundane complaints and flippant remarks, and weaving the monotonous prose of the everyday commuter into a collection of unremarkable yet crucially significant snapshots, the track forms a sort of collage; a Dadaist poem for us to project our own meaning on.
These observations are set against a distorted and swelling sonic landscape – a vivid and engaged style idiosyncratic of the band – which varies between extremes of minimalist passages and immersive crescendos, all the while retaining a profound sense of power, both in music and sentiment: the lyrics are ready to start conversations and challenge given ideas. Every release is a throwdown, a provocation, an education.
The band’s name is a reference to the Latin paganus, originally meaning villager or outsider, reflecting their mission to stay removed from the city rules and the orthodox. Singer Lyndsey was raised in a climate of religious observance, so her encounters with popular music were furtive and occasional. “It really only started when I was 18”, she explains. “I’d heard of Fleetwood Mac, but I’d not ‘heard’ them. As a result, I have a unique way of hearing things”.
One of the band’s first releases was ‘Lily Yeats’, a tribute to the sister of poet William Butler Yeats and the artist Jack Butler Yeats, influenced by Lyndsey’s study of Women’s History in Ireland. Their subsequent releases have explored similarly significant ground, with 2017’s ‘Worker’s Song’ referencing the Donegal Industrial Fund and informed by new austerity, and 2018’s ‘Bloody Soil’ providing another mutinous note from the downtrodden.
Their first release for 2019, ‘It’s Darker’, was an exceptional, loud reckoning referring to a messy party incident in which a musician became aggressive and wouldn’t tolerate Lyndsey’s opinions. “That’s where the original anger comes from – a confrontation. It’s happened to me a few times. It’s like, ‘oh you’re a girl, you should just shut up’. A feminist anger came from that. Yes, I should be able to have an opinion. And it can be different to yours.”
The track garnered support from the likes of Daniel P Carter and Phil Taggart at Radio 1 and John Kennedy at Radio X, as well as BBC Introducing, and has just been shortlisted for Best Single at the 2019 Northern Ireland Music Prize.
New Pagans will play two shows in Belfast this weekend, along with another in Dublin in December. Band schedules are designed to fit around parenthood and other duties, a quality Lyndsey believes to be a mark of achievement.
“It has turned into a way of showing other girls and other women that they can do this, no matter what their circumstances are. If you’ve got two kids and you’re married, it’s okay. If you’re 35, it’s fine. We’re not trying to be a young band. We are what we are – with all that experience.”
2019 LIVE DATES
20/09 – Black Box, Belfast
21/09 – Limelight, Belfast (w/ Brand New Friend)
06/12 – Bello Bar, Dublin (w/ HAVVK)