Within four years, local Irish rock band THE FIGHTING JAMESONS has developed a strong fan base within the Virginia Beach area. Right off the bat, they have performed at numerous festivals, some with the likes of DROPKICK MURPHYS and YOUNG DUBLINERS, and have a self-titled debut album, as well as a live album, under their belts and another to be released soon. The band’s sound is energetic and traditional but with a modern twist that is apparent through their stage presence. I was fortunate to be able to speak to their main vocalist, Mike Powers (formerly of “The Mike and Bob Show” on the local Hampton Roads radio station 96X), and I learned about the band’s upbringings, the influence of THE AFGHAN WHIGS on the band, and the country of Ireland itself.

How did your band get started?

I was playing in pubs, like Irish music, on St. Patrick’s Day in 2009. While I was playing, I thought of forming a giant Irish band; usually you have nine members. I met with a ton of local musicians, and we eventually got nine. Then we played a festival and opened for DROPKICK MURPHYS, and we dove right in. We opened for the biggest Irish band in the country, and we had a really good first set. That sort of set us off. Then, we had a lot of local fans in Richmond, then got more gigs and agencies [to support us], and here we are today.

On your Facebook you guys define your music as “Irish rock”. What exactly does that entail, and how did you decide on that genre?

I just grew up on all kinds of music. I was in Ireland, and I got to kind of hang out and play in pubs. I played a ton of other types of music like JOHNNY CASH and THE AFGHAN WHIGS. I was playing whatever was going on, and then I joined the musical sessions going on in the pubs. Then when I came home that [Irish rock] was what I was playing. My Irish music library expanded, and it was something I really enjoyed. I loved the honesty when you’re writing and reading it. I just want to play music, and I wanted to go out and play music other than radio music. I just wanted to play music I enjoyed, and if someone else happened to like it, that was a bonus.

How did your band name come about?

I used to have a radio show in Norfolk. Originally, when I thought about doing this and recruiting people, we turned it into a bit on the show. We drank a lot of Jameson and thought ‘what goes well with Irish people?’ Fighting (laughs). It’s pretty catchy and worked well with us.

What groups or which musicians inspired you guys to create Irish rock music?

Definitely THE CLANCY BROTHERS, YOUNG DUBLINERS, FLOGGING MOLLY, and DROPKICK MURPHYS, of course. You know a lot of bands that are doing it now. I also love THE BEATLES and THE AFGHAN WHIGS. I was a huge fan of their front man, Greg Dulli, and I loved to see what he would do on stage and how he would command an audience. I don’t like to just stand there; I like to throw down and have some fun. I pull inspiration from a lot of places since we perform world music; we like to play a little bit of everything.

You guys recently posted that you guys are going to hit the studio in January and February. What should fans expect, and what do you hope to do with the album?

I’m really excited for people to hear the new record. There are songs about Irish history, drinking, and other stuff. This one is based on the last couple of years and life in general. Our lives have changed since. We got better as a band. We expanded our horizons, and we wanted to take people on a journey. Lyrically, it’s about life changes. Like going from a regular job to then going home, you know when you’re seeing new things. There’s always something new to talk about and write about; that’s what this new record is about. We are about seven songs in right now and have to do tracking. We’ll be done in February but hope to have it out in March.

What other plans do you have for 2014?

I’d love to go back to any festival like the Philadelphia Folk Fest or whatever punk rock fest is going on. Or also the Shamrock festival in March. It’s more about going and hanging out and listening to other bands and stuff. There are a small percentage of people who get to do that, who get to experience that sort of environment, and I feel were very lucky and blessed to experience that. I’d love to go to new cities and play as many possible places as we can and gain inspiration for the next record.

You guys used Indiegogo to fund your most recent album. Was Indiegogo successful funding?

It was actually weird at first to ask for money. In my head, I thought we were going to make like $500, but we ended up making more. We started and ended really strong in terms of funding. It’s awesome that people are supporting us, and it blows my mind. It helped out immensely since we’re a touring band and all since there is so much that goes into travel, and when the fans help to fund the record, it’s pretty amazing.

Currently you guys are unsigned. Is becoming signed a future aspiration? Who would you like to be signed with?

It’s hard to say, there’s a part of me that enjoys being unsigned. I like being able to do what we want, when we want and where we want to do it. If a big label came by, we would think about it. I’d have to think of what they would want to do and what they would have to say and then make a decision. Record labels are sort of obsolete. I don’t know enough about the record business to give a solid answer. If the wind blew the right way and the right offer came along, it would be cool. Right now, I’m at a point where I like taking it a minute at a time, and I just want to play shows and make a great record.

For more updates on THE FIGHTING JAMESONS upcoming album and shows, please “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, and visit their website.

Shelby Baker

Shelby Baker

Shelby is pursuing a bachelor's degree in psychology with a minor in writing and studio art from Christoher Newport University. Music and writing, in any form, have always been a strong passion of hers. During her time at CNU, she has written frequently for The Captains Log, CNU's student newspaper.e. The most recent article I wrote for the newspaper was about the Vegetarian Club. Shelby personally enjoys post-hardcore, pop punk, and alternative music.

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