As far as eclectic music goes Hastings’ Matilda’s Scoundrels are among the most diverse you’re likely to encounter. The six-piece freely admit they fall into a ‘pretty tough category on the punk spectrum,’ trying to distance themselves from the clichés of folk punk with a sound that can land anywhere between traditional folk, sea shanties and aggro punk. But somehow they make it work, and we’re loving the sound of it.
They offer a number of firsts for us here at GR Towers. First folk (kind of) band, first banjo player, first mandolin player, first accordionist, first tin whistler… But we’re intrigued by their unique sound.
The Scoundrels of Quinn (mandolin and vocals), the busy Jason (acoustic guitar, tin whistle, banjo and vocals), Jens (accordion and vocals), Dan (guitar), James (bass) and John (drums) first formed back in 2014 out of a combined love for the DIY music scene. As John explains: “We started this band with the express purpose of having fun and making people dance, in the last four odd years we’ve been lucky enough to have the support from lots of people on the DIY scene. This makes us intensely proud and grateful to be a part of it.
“We’ve all known each other in some form or another, from gigs, skating and mutual friends, but it was Dan and Jens who brought us all together. I think we all love playing music, so it was a natural progression to start the band.”
Having six members it’s hardly a surprise that their musical inspirations are numerous, from the likes of Bruce Springsteen and John Martyn, to punk rockers A.F.I, Millencolin and The Filaments and many, many more. And this all combines to create something really special, that borders on folky punk rock but really has to be heard to be understood.
For example, last year’s debut album As The Tide Turns kicks off in angsty manner on opening track Burn It Down, with big punky guitars and folky backing support, then drops into a light mandolin pause for breath before closing with a big punky outro.
Another great example of the Scoundrels sound is the excellent Bottles Of Rum, with big singalong vocals, like the big cries of “There’s blood in the rum don’t you know” supported by a relentless accordion backing and punky guitars. Oh, and their shows might get sweaty, just check out the video below:
Then you compare that with next track Friends of Mine, which opens up with a funky tin whistle tune – which I guarantee will be stuck in your head for ages – and turns into a bit of a sailor’s shanty song infused with a dose of punk. Go and give this album a listen, it’s fantastic.
Not content with this veritable melting pot of punkiness, their music is inspired by a myriad of far-reaching influences. As John tells us: “Overall it’s the drive to create music for people to have a good time to, but that’s driven by social context, history, memories, in some instances the political landscape and the world at large. We try to draw from as many sources as possible. Oh and drinking, we like writing songs about that.“
The band has just finished up a run of gigs across Europe including Mighty Sounds Festival in the Czech Republic, on the back of a successful but brief European tour last year, and are now gearing up for a pretty full-on schedule back in the UK. More info on all their upcoming gigs is here. They’ve also been working hard writing new music with a new release coming shortly, so keep your eyes peeled for plenty more from the Scoundrels.