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Folk heroes Lankum are bringing their ferocious folk sounds to Clitheroe

Lankum, who aim to champion the downtrodden in society, are making waves in the music business.
Lankum, who aim to champion the downtrodden in society, are making waves in the music business.
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Lankum have been hailed as the finest folk act to emerge from the Emerald Isle in years, and they deliver their social and political commentary with a ferocious left hook.

The folk miscreants landed their big break on Later with Jools Holland after sending a tape to the BBC Head of Music who immediately booked them in for the prime-time show.

“In our wildest dreams we just never imagined the impact it would have, appearing on TV in the UK,” said their leader Ian Lynch, who brings Lankum to Clitheroe’s Grand Theatre on Saturday week (October 27).

“By the time we got back to Dublin everybody wanted to book us, and our songs were on the radio every hour.

“Then Gay Byrne asked us to play on The Late Show, one of the biggest talk shows in Ireland.

“It was unbelievable - we just thought it would be a flash in the pan.

“But that momentum has continued for us and now we’ve got an amazing following in the UK and Ireland.”

Since their appearance on Jools Holland, though, they have a new name, ditching their original moniker, Lynched.

“The bottom line is that we didn’t want to continue operating under a name connected to acts of racist violence,” added Lynch.

“Irish people wouldn’t really think of the association, but in parts of the world like America, Lynched is a bit too close to the persecution of black people.

“Playing more and more outside of Ireland, then we decided to change it.

“I think we are seeing a very alarming acceptance of right wing ideas across Europe and America and it’s definitely not a time to sit on the fence.

“My sympathies lie with the people, always.”

Where do you begin with Lankum?

They began life as an experimental folk-punk duo but have mutated into a cyclonic four piece, learning their trade on the streets of Dublin singing music hall ditties and ballads.

Like mad-cap folk scientists, they meld the hypnotic sound of the Uilleann pipes with a concertina, and the growl of a Russian accordian, crazy fiddles and violas.

“Our songs come from anywhere and everywhere; but some of them we write definitely sound like they’re out of the 18th or 19th century.

“Then there’s techno, krautrock, punk and even Norwegian black metal in there.

“It’s not crossover music, the presence is quite subtle, but the different elements do make up our musical palette and the heavy use of drone in our music.”

And while that dance dub folk thump would wake Sleeping Beauty from her slumbers, there’s a strong political message too.

Cold Old Fire rails against the politicians and the financial crash in Ireland that left the Celtic Tiger economy weaker than a day-old cub.

“It was a shocking time because so many of our friends left Ireland to live in Australia, New Zealand and America because there was no work and the economy was wrecked.

“Without describing my own beliefs, I think it is safe to say that Lankum seeks to stand up for the downtrodden and dispossessed in society.

“It is far more interesting, I think, to find ways to express such views in a more poetic, personalised style rather than simply painting a black and white picture.

“I grew up listening to hardcore punk and the moralising ‘don’t do this, this is good or bad,’ outlook of a lot of bands and that bored me.”

He added: “We just try and make sense of the confusion that everyone is feeling all over the world.”

Lankum, Clitheroe Grand Theatre, October 27. 01200 421599 or www.thegrandvenue.co.uk