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W.Va. + Celtic Punk

By Staff | Jul 15, 2008

The story of how Morgantown’s The Gentlemen formed in 2007 is a perfect example of the punk “do it yourself” ethic.

“I had been in bands for years and really wanted to form an Irish punk band so I found our bagpipe player and the day after that put up flyers advertising what I needed,” said frontman Matthew Lineham. “Many were torn down, written on and made fun of at the sight of Celtic punk musicians needed.”

Despite the hostility toward the flyers, their goal was achieved when various musicians began contacting Lineham. “I saw a flyer, and called Matt,” said guitarist Drew Smith. “A bunch of us then all met up and talked about what was going to happen. We all seemed to get along and were all serious about it.”

The Gentlemen, which also includes guitarist Geoff Wells, bassist Tommy Bailey, banjo player Shane Howell, mandolin player Nathan Jones, fiddler Isaiah Richie and bagpiper Corey Florindi, calls on a variety of sources for their sound.

“Our influences range from many different types of music and bands, from bluegrass to punk to metal,” said Lineham. “The main bands that influence me in the music we play are The Pogues, Sinead O’ Connor, Dropkick Murphys, and mostly Irish and folk tunes whether they be old or new.”

Since forming, the band has relentlessly toured, which includes a show opening for punk icons Mustard Plug. Another memorable show for the band was a St Patrick Day’s celebration in New Jersey where the band played on a float in a parade.

When forming new material, the group goes through a regular process to form the songs. “A few of us write lyrics, usually me or Corey,” said Lineham. “Then we all just kind of get together and pitch different parts to one another, usually following a fiddle or other Irish instrument.” While some may see it as a problem having such a large number of members in a band, The Gentleman take it in stride. “If anything it just makes it better,” Smith said. “I think we really lucked out because we all get along so well, it’s unbelievable really. On stage it’s great. I always manage to run into Tommy, and mine and Geoff’s guitars make plenty of contact, I love it.”

An issue the band may have to look at is their schooling. With the members being students of West Virginia University, organizing concerts dates, practice and writing new material can all be stressed while keeping up with their studies.

“The Gentlemen are still in it because their heart is still in it,” said Lineham. “So I like to keep my mind on school but I think I speak for the whole band when I say playing with The Gentlemen is our way out of stress with school work.”

“Now that most of us are going to be juniors in college I think it might come up in conversation, but worst case we’ll just have to go on the road during the summers,” Smith added. “Of course, being rich and famous doing what you love doing is always the ultimate goal, but as for now it’s just good fun.”

Contact Nathan at nsmith@graffitiwv.com