Gaelic Storm ready to hit the ring with Chicken Boxer

BMS talks with drummer Ryan Lacey about the band's new album and tour

, Editor-in-Chief

For Gaelic Storm, the stage is their boxing ring. With a live performance that is powered by pure energy, the band thrives on stage. Coupled with their down-to-earth personalities, the California-based Celtic rock veterans quickly found a strong fanbase in New England. This weekend, they will return to the area as they tour in support of their brand new album, Chicken Boxer.

Released last month, Chicken Boxer became the band’s third consecutive release to debut at #1 on Billboard’s World Albums chart. The band’s ninth studio effort fuses the band’s varying influences and delivers a gem filled with rocking anthems and traditional ballads.

The Santa Monica-bred band will hit New England this weekend for shows in Lowell and Newport. On Friday, the band will perform at Boarding House Park as part of the Lowell Summer Music Series. On Saturday, Gaelic Storm will headline the Newport Celtic Rock Festival at the Newport Yachting Center in downtown Newport.

With that in mind, we caught up with Gaelic Storm drummer Ryan Lacey to discuss the new album, the tour, the band’s love for New England and more.

Boston Music Spotlight (BMS): You just released a brand new album called Chicken Boxer, what can you tell us about it?

Ryan Lacey of Gaelic Storm (RL): We are really proud of Chicken Boxer! It’s been a year and a half in the making, and really, it’s been a fantastic process. As you can imagine, we are over the moon about how it’s doing right now, it being #1 one and all. We mixed in a bit more of the folk and rootsy elements on this one, yet, we were still able to keep the overall Gaelic Storm party atmosphere in it as well. I have to say it’s a great balance of where the band has come from and where it is now. It really encompasses the overall joy of being lucky enough to play music for a living! We really are a lucky band.

BMS: Before working on the album, you and Patrick took a trip back to Ireland. How did this inspire what would be become Chicken Boxer

RL: The trip to Ireland was a real eye opener! We saw a lot of stunning scenery, music, pubs and interesting people. I think it kind of reinforced the sentiments in the songs that we had already written for the album. We were also lucky enough to derive a few song concepts from the trip as well. One in particular is the song “Out the road”, which is about the day we spent watching a match of Road Bowling. That day was fantastic, we witnessed some of Cork’s finest Road Bowling champions whip this ball up and down these streets all day. There was a ton of gambling, drinking, rain and fascinating characters, we had no choice but to write a song about it.

BMS: How was the recording process different this time around?

RL: The process was quite different on Chicken Boxer. We stretched out the process longer than we ever had before. Like I said before, it was a year and a half in the making, but what was amazing was that that time went so fast. I had books and books of lyrics ready for the sessions so we just went into the studio and made music.  It was effortless, we just got to jamming and that was that. It really was everything you would want from a studio experience.

BMS: Are there any tracks you are particularly proud of?

RL: My favorite track on the record is hands down “Rag and Bone”. We actually just released the video for that track on Tuesday. I just think it sounds like nothing out there, and the video turned out fantastic. As strange as the song is, it really has a great lilt to it. Everything on this song comes out of left field, yet you are left feeling good after you’ve heard it. The reason we picked this song for the video is that it just stands out.  It was a long process shooting the video and a lot of love and hard work went into it, not only from us in the band but from our friends and family. And based on our fans reaction it looks like it’s a success. It’s on Vevo and YouTube if you would like to check it out.

BMS: How did the name for the album come about?

RL: So the gist of the story is that our bagpiper Pete has a bit of hearing problem (as you can expect, from those pipes being so loud). So, one day our buddy Jeff couldn’t make it to a show up in Oshkosh, Wisconsin because he was sick with the Chicken Pox. Pete turned to me and said, “Hey man, where’s Jeff”?  I said, “He can’t be here cause he has the Chicken Pox”. Then Pete said, “Oh, ok, but why would he want to box chickens”? I played it off like it was a joke and that was the end of that. Two weeks later, we were doing another show up in Wisconsin and we knew Jeff was going to show up cause he had gotten over the Chicken Pox. We told Pete that Jeff was coming, and he said, “Oh he’s not boxing chickens tonight?”  So,  Pete actually thought for two weeks that Jeff was a legitimate Chicken Boxer. There was no other option than to name the album Chicken Boxer. Funny thing is Jeff came to a show last week in Milwaukee and we brought him out on stage and introduced him as the Chicken Boxer. It’s debatable, but I think he received the loudest applause of the the night. Too Funny!

BMS: This is your third straight release to debut at #1 on Billboard’s World Albums chart, that’s quite an achievement. How does it feel?

RL: To have three number one Billboard World Music albums feels phenomenal. There is a tremendous amount of work that goes behind our organization, so to get a thing like this really validates every effort we make on a daily basis.

BMS: Your band that spends a lot of time touring. Do you still have the same love for the road or do you find it draining?

RL: We are so lucky to have our job it is ridiculous. Yes, touring is the hard part, but those two hours spent on stage really make up for the bad elements, like crappy food and 16 hours drives.

BMS: You’ll be returning to New England this weekend – an area you play often and obviously have a strong fanbase it. What is it – besides the loads of Irish in the area – that make this such a special area for you?

RL: New England really is a unique place for us. It has such a European feel to it that it really reminds me of home. From the streets of Boston, all the way to the fishing towns along the coast, it just has a real homey atmosphere. And, I have to be honest, it really is the people and the neighborhoods that make this region unmistakeable, and I mean that it a great way. We have never had a bad time around here, and that’s due to the people and their phenomenal hospitality.

BMS: Is there anything you like to do during your downtime here?

RL: The funny thing about this area is that every time we are here we always find some wonderful distractions. A few of the guys love baseball, so, as you can imagine when they got a chance to check out Fenway they were so excited. Also, you guys are known for your historical landmarks and in the band we are all pretty big history nerds so we love checking out the sites. So, what little downtime we have around here we try to use it very well.

BMS: hat can fans expect from your sets in Lowell and Newport?

RL: As far as what you can expect in Lowell and Newport from Gaelic Storm is a really just a bonafied party. We are there to make people forget all the ridiculous trials and tribulations of life and give them a good time. Our sets lately have consisted of a good mix of some songs off of Chicken Boxer and a ton of the old favorites as well.

BMS: Anything else you’d like our readers to know?

RL: We have really had a good time with our Facebook page, and we’re always adding funny videos and posts on a regular basis so please come “like” us on there, as well, come check our website, GaelicStorm.com, when you get a chance. But most importantly, we want to say thank you to our fans in New England that have been supporting us for years and we can’t wait to see them soon.

Gaelic Storm will perform at the Lowell Summer Music Series on Friday and at the Newport Celtic Rock Festival on Saturday. Tickets for each of the shows can be purchased through each of the respective event websites.

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