Caity vs. Prydein

On August 16th, 2008 my family and I travelled to Brunswick, Maine to the annual Brunswick Highland Games. Upon crossing the parade field I heard bagpipes growing closer and closer, of course at the Highland Games, that's hardly out of the ordinary. What pulled my attention to this particular set of bagpipes was the fact that it was being accompanied by an electric guitar and rockin' drums. Always one to listen to new stuff (especially if it's as amazing as this band) I stopped to hear this band play their set.

The band is Prydein, straight out of Vermont and into my eardrums that had been half-blown out by bagpipes all day long. It was to the point that one more bagpipe rendition of Minstrel Boy was going to push my heat-stroke induced headache straight into blaring Migraine territory, but I could not help myself when I heard Prydein start to play. It took all of one and half songs before my brother who was with me to march straight over to the merch tent and buy the band's album "Loud Pipes". And all of five seconds after he learned that "Loud Pipes" was the second Prydein album to march on over and get "Unfinished Business" the first Prydein album.

Less Punk-ish than The Tossers, more traditional than The Dropkick Murphies, and way way louder than your local Pipe Band, this band is totally worth checking out! Never thought in a million years that you'd be rocking out to Scotland The Brave? You've obviously never heard it done like Prydein does it. I got the chance to talk with Aron, guitarist and vocalist of Prydein, about how the band formed, the future of Prydein, and what he really thinks of wearing Kilts...

First and foremost, for our readers who don't know you, let's take Roll Call! Who are you, and what do you do for Prydein?

Aron Garceau- guitar/vox, delusions of grandeur
Iain MacHarg- highland bagpipes, flute, pennywhistle, fashion consultant
Andy Smith- bass, official "Murder She Wrote" archivist
Caleb Bronz- drums, band hair stylist

What brought Prydein about? How was the band formed?

The band actually came about after the demise of the previous band that Iain and I were in, Whisky Before Breakfast. It was a similar yet less focused group and certainly responsible for where we are today, both good and bad.

For people who haven't seen you play before: how would you describe your sound and live show?

That's a tough one. There's certainly a couple of different ways in which it could be described. For instance, some of our stuff sounds like someone removed most of the lead guitar parts and vocals of old AC/DC songs and replaced them with bagpipes. Some sounds like traditional yet exuberant celtic music. Other tunes sound like possible soundtrack material for Scottish porn movies (if such a thing exists, we're not saying that it does... or doesn't). As far as genres go we've been classified as celtic-rock or, better yet, bagpipe rock.

Our live show is usually all of this with the addition of a second bagpiper, one of Iain's bagpipe students (believe it or not, Iain actually makes his living teaching other folks to play the bagpipe and, believe it or not, there are actually enough of them to keep him steadily employed when not playing with Prydein).

Do you have any pre or post show rituals?

I'm not sure if the other guys do... I don't think so. I, on the other hand, have a thing where I just can't eat before a show. In fact, the Friday night before our show in Brunswick I had dinner at about 6:00 p.m. That was the last thing I ate until after our last set ended at 5:00 pm, almost 24 hours later. I don't like to feel "heavy" before going on stage. It's weird but it works for me.

What's your favourite song to play live? What tends to get the best reaction from the crowd?

That'd definitely be what we call the "Stairway to Heaven" of Scottish music or what's more easily dubbed: "Stairway to Scotland". Basically it's the two tunes that get requested immediately upon learning that the person you are speaking to is a bagpiper, "Amazing Grace" and "Scotland the Brave". Forever the band wouldn't do those tunes out of over play and pride. After being asked enough times though we decided that if we were going to play them then we were going to play them on our terms. What we created is our own Margaritaville, the set that we can't get away without playing.

Usually if there are other pipers in the audience we pull them up on stage for this one (1. you'd be surprised at how many pipers are in our audiences and 2. don't be surprised that they can all come up on stage with us... remember, these are tunes that ALL pipers know and they're usually pretty excited to be able to play them in a completely different setting). The audiences really love that, as do we.

What has been your best moment as a band so far?

I'd have to say our best moment has been when Caleb joined the band. We've had some lineup changes over the last couple of years as the band called it quits for about 4 years back in the early part of the decade. This current lineup has been the best to work with and will probably be the lineup to compare all lineups. Little known fact, Andy, Caleb and I play in a jazz band together when we're not doing Prydein stuff. We swap out the two pipers for 3 horn players and we're good to go. As a rhythm section we've actually been playing together for quite some time.

Performing wise it was a couple of weekends ago when we got to play with the Tannahil Weavers. The Tannies are to Iain what playing with Led Zeppelin would be like for me.

What's on the horizon for the band? Anything we can look forward to?

Well, we've decided that after the Celtic Classic this year we're going to get back into the studio and start working on number 3. Our second album which came out in September of '07 was so much fun and we like it so much that we're all really itching to get back into the studio.

Do you have any little quirks you're cool with sharing? Special talents or anything of the like?

hmm... I could "out" the guys but, like I said, this is a great lineup and I wouldn't want to jeopardize that. I can tell you that while I have a knack for opening beer bottles with my teeth, Andy has been completely dry for... well, all his life I think. A lot of people are surprised by that as it usually isn't the norm in a band of our genre. Hell, it isn't the norm in any band. So our band comes with a designated driver (every band needs one)! Caleb is neat to the point of being obsessive and Iain, well, Iain plays the bagpipes... to me that's a quirk.

Out of any song in the world, what one do you most wish you had written?

Surfin' Bird.

How do you really feel about wearing the kilts on stage?

That's a GREAT question! At one time, when we first started doing this we LOVED it! We'd go friggin' everywhere in those things. When we'd go out postering, we'd put the kilts on. When we went out to the pub we'd put our kilts on. Then one day when I was booking a gig at a festival in PA the guy puttin' the thing on said "and you guys where kilts on stage... right?". And from then on it became a uniform. I realized that most people cared more about what we looked like than how we sounded. I refused to wear mine for about 2 years. I eventually relaxed about it and started wearing it only when we didn't play Highland Games or Scottish fesivals (figuring that everyone there was already wearing... here you stand out by wearing jeans). Now, I wear it when I feel like it. Usually if it's really hot and I don't want to wear jeans. We just played a show in Quechee, Vt and for the first set I wore jeans, for the second I wore a kilt. I really don't worry about it anymore. Iain only wears his if his pipe band is playing at the same festival and Caleb never wears one. Thank god, as the drummer he'd be showin' everyone his bits and pieces

Now here's the big question, everyone who will boast a Kilt on stage, has to see it coming from a mile away: (Not that one... we'll keep it PG this time around!)... what Tartan do you wear?

The pipers wear the Hume tartan, it's the official tartan of the Catamount Pipe Band. I wear the Vermont tartan as the only Scottish in me is traced back to my 7th great-grandmother and she was probably lying. I've got no real Scottish in me but I'm an 8th generation Vermonter. In fact, my kilt was the first ever made of the new Vermont Tartan before it was even made official by the state of Vermont. It's twin is in the hands of Sam Hooker, the drummer for Whisky Before Breakfast.

Now: The Sound Faction is made up of six staff members who are all super random and love to make people laugh... we like to end all of our interviews with five random questions, so if you're game: here goes!

If you could have any Non-standard super power, what would it be?

The ability to make models in magazine articles spring to life

Which is worse: Cheeto fingers or Juice moustaches?

Cheeto Moustaches.

If you could be any "Rock-God" for a day, who would you be and how would you abuse the power?

I would be Susanna Hoffs from the Bangles and I'd stand naked in front of a mirror... all day. Sad but true.

If you could be the champion of anything, what would it be? (Extra points for creativity!)

Since I'm already the Champion of obscure (and not-so-obscure) movie quotes, I feel it's just selfish to take on another championship.

What was your favourite bath toy as a kid?

heh... heh, heh...

Thanks so much for talking with us: here's your shameless self-promo spot! Anything you'd like to add about the music, yourself, or anything at all?

Not much other than stay tuned to our myriad of websites in order to keep up to date on that whole "new album" thing after September, our last gig of the season is the Celtic Classic in Bethlehem, PA and we plan to get started as soon as we can. Cheers!

Thanks again to Aron from Prydein for taking time out to talk with us. And for you readers: check out the band's MySpace or Website to hear samples of their music, keep tabs on tour dates, and watch out for that new album coming up!

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