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By Brian Palmer
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It's not every day a band is born from a jam session, but, for The Bollox, it was the case. The Valley Celtic-rock band formed after Authority Zero singer Jason DeVore and former Last Action Zeroes drummer Keith Walker met up a little over a year ago to work together on songs.
"Jason came over to the house one night and we had a couple of acoustic guitars and a couple of pints of Murphy's [Irish] Stout and we just rumbled off some ideas to each other," says Dublin native Walker, one of The Bollox's two singers. "Before we knew it, a couple of hours had passed and we already had three songs finished in a short time."
"It came together really quickly and naturally," says DeVore, who also sings and plays guitar. Most of the guys in the band had already been friends for years, so this project didn't seem like anything big. "We were just fuckin' around, really."
Walker and DeVore would later recruit bassist Jason "Saddy" Combs, guitarist Greg McLarty, and former 2 Dimes drummer Brad Park. Then, the name. DeVore was inspired by Walker's continually yelling "that's bollocks, Jason" at him during one of his solo performances.
The Bollox joined New Times for an interview on St. Paddy's Day before their gigs at Mesa's Tilted Kilt and Scottsdale's Martini Ranch, where they were celebrating the release of their self-titled debut album — on the indie Operation Records.
"Obviously, the Irish thing is strong for everybody in the band," Walker says in a thick brogue. "We all have connections."
And how so?
"I'm not a full-blooded Irish man by any means," DeVore says. "I love the Celtic music. I love the honesty behind it and the ability to have such a good time playing the music, and it has a lot of heart behind it."
"I've come to realize that a lot of my ancestors are from Ireland," Combs says. "A song we sing called 'Mary Riley,' who (DeVore and Walker) fight about back and forth throughout the song, ended up being my great-grandmother. After we'd written the song, we realized that."
"I just drink like an Irishman," Park says.
And drinking is something they like to boast about. After all, they do play Celtic-punk tunes, and that's always been part of the genre, from the Dropkick Murphys' "(F)lannigan's Ball" to Flogging Molly's Drunken Lullabies. The band members cite Irish libations such as Irish car bombs, Guinness, black 'n' tans, and Jameson among their faves and agree that The Bollox ignite a party atmosphere at their performances.
"Come out and see us play live and have a pint with us," Walker offers.
They also count Irish acts like The Pogues and The Dubliners among their influences. And, of course, there's that cottage industry of Irish party bands like Molly and the Murphys. Those bands can draw well anywhere in the country, trading on the romance of Irish whiskey, potato-based foodstuffs, and inebriated redheaded girls with low standards. But, The Bollox say, they are inspired by more than that.
"Some of the traditional Irish writers and poets and playwrights are an influence," Walker says. "Irish writers are very renowned for their storytelling. I think an Irish band should have songs that have some depth and stories, and we've tried to do that. There's definitely a depth to what we do."
Walker and DeVore write the lyrics, which Walker says are inspired a lot by Ireland and the struggles the country has had throughout the years.
"It's just being the fighting Irish," he says. "They were oppressed by a very long time — well, we were oppressed by a very long time. We don't really want to focus too much on that and become a very political band, but we definitely want to flip the switch on it.
"We're very much into writing fun songs, good drinking songs, and stuff like that — songs about immigration and the poverty that faced the Irish back in Ireland during the depression."
"We mix up rock and punk and even straight acoustic stuff, so it opens that gateway where you can go to different clubs and play with different bands," he says.
"But (Irish pubs) do have the best Guinness," Walker adds. "I hate to keep talking about Guinness, but we love it."
Walker says the band would love to be sponsored by the brew.
When asked why he decided to add a third project (in addition to Authority Zero and his solo stuff) to his already busy schedule, DeVore laughs and says "pure insanity. And drinking too much with these guys!"
In reality, though, DeVore says, he wanted to have a band that wasn't influenced by a major record label.
"I wanted to start up something that was kind of laid back and just naturally fun without all the politics and the business behind it," he says referring to Authority Zero. "Opportunities just arose . . . It's already beyond the expectations I had. It's been a real blessing. It's definitely a little more busy for me. If I didn't love it and I didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't be doing it."