A drink with Keltikon, Switzerland’s Celtic Punk Rock band
So its carnival season (Fasnacht) in Switzerland and we decided to head to the small town of Buttisholz, Lucerne in the centre of the country. For three days the small town of Buttisholz transforms into a party arena where all age groups get-together, dress up and become merry. The carnival itself was great fun, with lots of different outdoor themed bars set up for the night from forest cabins, rustic chalets, a heavy metal tent, and even a submarine bar! Naturally we were attracted to the Irish Pub.
We were there primarily to meet and have a small chat with OLAF OHL, the lead singer of the band keltikon. The group were playing in the Irish themed bar and we were interested in hearing from Olaf about life in Switzerland’s number one Celtic punk rock.
Rino Bollin – bass, vocals
Iain Duncan – bagpipes, guitar, vocals
Olaf Ohl – guitar, vocals
Felix Waldisbühl – drums
Savannah Childers – Irish fiddle
Adrian Studer – flute / tin whistle
Felix Waldispühl – Keyboards
Here is the interview with OLAF OHL
We had a kind of blues rock band first, which didn’t work out, then I met a half Scottish half English guy Ian Duncan, so I founded the band with him. At first we only played acoustic guitar and pipes and so after some months Rino the bass player joined us, then we got our first fiddle player, drummer and …….
You haven’t been going to long, you’ve only been around since 2012 I think, so what’s the feedback so far?
I see you have even been to the Czech Republic, you’re even doing touring outside of Switzerland?
Yes, yes, that was pretty nice. I love Czech Rep for many years and I go there regularly, twice or three times a year. I got a lot of friends there, I know a punk band there so we organise a little tour last year. We will go there again this year, also we can play at the festivals there
So what about 2015? Any different venues, perhaps London, or even Ireland, maybe!?
Maybe for March the 17th?
St Patrick ’s Day in Dublin?
Would be great!
What was the first Celtic punk album you listened to? Were you into the Pogues, the Dubliners, even Stiff Little Fingers or………..?
Why the Pogues?
I don’t know!
I mean you are living in Switzerland!
Because the Pogues are famous all around the world, and even an idiot like me realised this band exits!
What was the very first song you learnt for the band, what was the first number?
It was Lark in the Morning (Traditional Irish song)
Ian came in and it’s also a pipe tune so he came in with the pipe tune, and I found out that there is a real good version from the Johnsons (1960s Irish folk band) which I remember well, from the 60s so we picked this one.
Who is the creative person behind the band?
It’s actually me because I arranged and wrote most of the songs, and I’m doing the bookings for the band.
I have to ask about your last album, what was it called!
Yes, what the hell is that!
Inspired by a book of James Joyce, Ulysses, about a woman with a real hard feel for catholic guilt, and ‘Agenbite of Inwit’ means deep remorse or been very sorry for everything. And we wrote up this song because we dedicated it to Dominique Strauss Kahn, Silvio Berlusconi and Donald Trump
They don’t have any ‘Agenbite of Inwit’ in their life.
Yes I seen that in one of your concerts, Ian mentioned Berlusconi and Donald Trump in a concert and I didn’t get the connection!
Yeah, so that’s the reason why!
That album, there is quite a variety in that album, I mean you have your bang, bang guitar music, then some kind of melodies, it is quite an extensive album. I mean you have “Seven Sisters of Seven Seas”, and then you have a bit more rockier tunes, so what was that like making that album? All different kind of influences?
Well it’s more like the pop rock songs were more written by Ian. Actually I like this music too but I tried to get something else in, but I like punk music anyway, I was composing the faster and harder tunes.
It got very good feedback from all the punk websites, I’m sure you have seen. I think you were compared to Neil Young in one website!
To Neil Young!
Yes, did you not see that!
Yes I’ve heard that. Well actually it’s really true I am a huge fan of Neil Young but I would never have thought that anybody can hear that on our album!
Do you have any die-hard fans that follow you around all the time when you are travelling around Switzerland?
There is only one, Alex!
Ha, we already met him!
We have other fans coming regularly, but Alex is with us for nearly every concert.
Have you ever had any article of underwear thrown at you at a gig!? Not Alex’s!
Not yet, as far as I can remember!
Well they are a good band, they have some great music, there great guys, and well they are very friendly, they bring me to the concert and bring me back!
What about the lead singer? I heard he is a bit moody?
Sometimes, sometimes. If he is in a bad mood you shouldn’t talk to him.
He was compared to Neil Young, would you agree with that?
Well, Neil Young is not as good!
Well that’s why you’re the number one fan!
Well there are a lot of interesting beers, at the moment I like CHOPFAB very much, it’s a beer brewed in Winterthur. It’s a nice smooth draught beer. It’s the translation of Headless
And what’s your favourite Irish beer?
So, what’s the best pub in the world?
I guess the best pub I was in was in Edinburgh, but I forgotten its name!
If you had to choose Scotland, Ireland or Switzerland what’s your choice?
Well I don’t know, Ireland
But unfortunately I’ve never been there
Shocking, that’s the headline!
I guess I will find a way there soon, with Alex!
An unedited audio version of the interview is here. The “knicker version”
As for the concert, Keltikon had the crowd rocking away all night. They are a very hard working band, playing about three, or it could have been four, sets long into the night. Everyone had a great time, the place was heaving, and the Irish bar in little old Buttisholz was the place to be.
Also a quick mention about the town and the carnival, everyone was uber friendly, chatty, up for a laugh and not a hint of any loutish behaviour. Not like St Patrick’s night in Dublin then, and more the better for it. A credit to the townsfolk of Buttisholz. Would also like to thank the group who treated me to a hot whiskey at the train station the next morning as I was trying to find my way home!
Overall, a great night, with good music and some old and new friends.
My first album review coming up, so go easy! If you are not sure about my review then please check out the boys over in old London town, LONDONCELTICPUNKS and have a look at their review of Keltikon here
Thisdrinkingslife’s review of KELTIKON – AGENBITE OF INWIT
Get off to a cracking start with the first song and title of the album, “Agenbite of Inwit”, rocking tune, with some interesting lyrics, an ode to Berlusconi and Trump (“Hey ho Silvio you’re our poster boy), a nod to anyone with no shame. Near the end of the tune there is a great blast of bag pipes along with the guitars rocking out. Good start.
Next tune, “Bonnie Ship The Diamond’, an old Scottish classic, love the start, catchy pipe intro, good vocal from Ian. A folksy kind of tune, but still with a good guitar riff included, I like it.
Continuing the ship theme, the next song is another top tune. “Seven Ships” is about a guy who wants to marry a girl but her father demands 50 ships in exchange for her hand. Another folky tune, and although the guy got the girl but became bankrupt the tune is upbeat and foot tapping. A tune with excellent pipes and about half way through there is a fun guitar interlude, and you don’t even notice that this song is actually 6 minutes long!
“Mariner’s Tale”, is a spoken piece about a diving submarine and its curse on the high seas. Not too sure about this, but all the sound affects work well with the story. The story continues in song with the next song “The Diving Dutchman”, a fast paced punky number. This song reinforces the bands rock credentials, they can mix it up well.
Things are slowed right down for “Away to Fight”, an acoustic balled about the Normandy landings in WW2 (“When we cross that beach, the sea turns red, when we cross that beach to fight…”). A good slow guitar solo here, and ending with a soulful pipe number. Again the band showing they can mix up the tunes, yet at the same time remaining true to their love of the Celtic sounds.
The pace steps up again for “The Blackbird”, a bagpipe dominant Celtic rock instrumental.
“Hold On tight” once again slows thing down, another balled but this time has a nice backing female vocal. Nice tin whistle and violin combo, with a battle beat on the drums, “The battle begins, they call to their weapons….”
“Each Other’s Dream” or “Aphrodite”, a soft rock love song, probably at over six minutes a little too long, but it’s an upbeat tempo so not that noticeable.
We finish off the album, with “Taliesin’s Poem”. Taliesin was a Welsh poet in the 6th century who is said to have sung for at least three Brythonic Kings (The Britons), some have even alleged as bard at the court of the legendary King Arthur. A slow number, at over 9 minutes it builds up, at about 5 minutes you get a haunting vocal, which leads to a crescendo of guitars and noise. I guess it’s a good way to finish off the album.
Overall I enjoyed this album, it ticks all the boxes really: Bagpipes, rock out tunes, good ballads, great vocals, and not a bad album from a band that is only starting off the blocks. Both Olaf and Ian sounded great, and I felt it was well mixed, considering there is a lot going on with every song, from the pipes and violins to the guitar riffs. I will definitely be keeping a keen eye on Keltikon, and hopefully it won’t be too long before we get a follow up album.
01 – Agenbite of Inwit 4:15
02 – Bonnie Ship the Diamond 4:28
03 – Seven Ships 6:01
04 – Mariner’s Tale 3:49
05 – The Diving Dutchman 3:53
06 – Away to Fight 7:37
07 – The Blackbird 3:09
08 – Hold On Tight (The Battle Begins) 4:31
09 – Each Other’s Dream (Aphrodite) 6:36
10 – Taliesin’s Poem 9:42
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UPDATE KELTIKON 2016