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Interview with The Gallowgate Murders - Ryan, Shelby, Tom, Craig and Sean

The Gallowgate Murders are a Celtic Punk band, established by Shelby in 2019 and based in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Tom and Shelby are the main songwriters, both also active as solo artists. Tom, originally from Ireland, is the band’s main singer and plays lead

folk parts on mandolin / banjo. Shelby hails from Poland and is the second vocalist as well as rhythm guitarist and tin whistle player. Craig, an Edinburgh native, takes on all the coolest lead guitar solos. Sean, also local Edinburgh boy, drives the set with distinctive

drum beats. And Ryan comes from Orkney Islands and we are pretty sure he’s of true Viking blood. His bass lines and incredible life skills may have something to do with that.

1. First Punk Rock band you ever saw Live? Where/when?

Ryan: Dead Kennedys, at the Garage in Glasgow, last year (2019).

Tom: AFI, back when they were still Punk. I saw them in Manchester in 2003. These were the guys that got me into the genre.

Craig: It would have been a local band most likely.

The name Walking Targets springs to mind for some reason.

Shelby: The Analogs back in Poland at Club Nutka in Rybnik,

back in high school days, 2006 I think.

Soundtrack to my teenage years. That band is still going strong

and their shows are of insane energy. Best sound to come out of

Poland in my opinion.

Sean: The Exploited, at Studio 24 (RIP).


2. First Punk Rock Record you bought? What made you buy it?

Ryan: Dead Kennedys again, with “Fresh Fruit For Rotten Vegetables”.

No idea where I heard of it originally but when I started collecting

vinyl that was the obvious first purchase.

Tom: Bad Religion “Stranger Than Fiction”. I heard my older sister listening to them and ended up buying the first record of them I came across.

Craig: “Out Come The Wolves” by Rancid. Classic.

Shelby: “London Calling” by The Clash. My friend back at school

was obsessed with British punk and I caught the bug off her.

Sean: Never actually bought a Punk album. I’m a metalhead.

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3. Favourite Venue to play in? UK or abroad

Tom: We’ve played in so many fantastic venues It’s hard to pick one. There’s places we’d always wanted to play and places

we didn’t know existed but blew us away. Ultimately it’s about the audience and each venue we played we were welcome with incredible energy.

At the end of the day, I have to give shout out to Bannermans. It’s our home away from home and place where The Gallowgate Murders were formed.

There is no better feeling than finishing a tour to a sold out crowd in your home town, seeing faces you’ve come to love wearing your band’s t-shirts and singing along.

Sean: It’s gotta be Bannerman’s!

Craig: Always Bannerman's because of our history with the place. The Underworld in London was also fun.

Ryan: I have to say Bannermans but every venue we’ve played has been amazing!

Shelby: Bannerman’s is our home turf and the band would

never existed if it hadn’t been for this venue. The Underworld in Camden Town was my ultimate dream to play as I lived in London for many years and saw so many fantastic shows in that venue. I couldn’t believe we got the slot in there! But like Tom said, every new place you go to has its own magic and leaves you with beautiful memories.

4. Influences?

Shelby: My Dad used to play a lot of Irish and Scottish trad music when we were young. That became such solid part of my soul I ended up moving up to Scotland chasing this music! Old Blind Dogs, Silly Wizard from Scotland, Carrantuohill from Poland and Irish  group Planxty are so important to me. Punk rock and Grunge both shaped my youth with bands like The Clash, The Distillers, Rancid, Pearl Jam, Hole, Nirvana.

Hardcore Punk was the reason I started experimenting with heavier vocal techniques; Sick of It All, Madball. The day I discovered you can combine the two together, folk and punk, that was life changing. Flogging Molly, The Real McKenzies, The Rumjacks and Neck were those bands that got me into what we’re doing now.

Craig: A very hard one to put down. From Tony Iommi to Jerry Reed.

There's been far too many from an extraordinarily wide range of genres.

Ryan: For Bass? Dave Hollingworth and Cliff Burton. For music in general, Trent Reznor and Rabea Massad.

Sean: My drum styles are heavily influenced by Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly and The Pogues.

Tom: My influences are all over the place and not all of them

are punk. Nine Inch Nails are my number one influence.

Their composition of their music is something I’ve always admired.

On the other hand, I’m also influenced by lots of traditional Irish

music and folk tunes. I admire Tom Waits, he’s a master with his

lyrics! John Martyn, Shane McGowan, Michael Graves, Scot Wailand,

Maynard James Keenan, Eddie Vedder, Chris Cornell are all up there


5. Any new bands impressed you and worth a shout out?

Sean: Peat and Diesel!

Craig: I second that, Peat & Diesel are shit hot!

Tom: I’ve got to tip the hat to Mick O’Toole and The Placks.

Both were dynamite on the last tour.

Shelby: I think we’re all on Peat and Diesel.

Ryan: Spiritbox

6. What’s the future look like for you and Gallowgate Murders?

Tom: Well, the future is certainly looking more promising than the

present, once the world kicks back into swing again. We have our eyes

set on the studio, this year’s given no shortage of us writing new

material. There’s a lot of tracks I am absolutely buzzing to get out

there and let them be heard. You can be sure once the live music is up

and running again, we’ll be right there along with it.

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7. Where does the name Gallowgate Murders come from?

Shelby: I really formed the band back in London in 2018 with my dear friend Dylan Cairns, an incredibly talented drummer from Galway. I would travel up to Scotland for short getaway and inspiration, then we’d jam over some lyrics I wrote during train journeys.

Scottish history, much like Polish and Irish, is very dark and heavy, steeped in blood and fight for freedom. I find history in general, very inspiring. Glasgow has a particularly gruesome history.

Gallowgate, where I’d stay on few occasions, means “a way to the gallows”, and neighbouring districts of Trongate and Glasgow Green have all been a part of a vast execution place back in the 1800s. I heard they also used to nail offender’s ears to the pillory at the Toolboth cross.

On top of that, I also came across another Gallowgate district in Newcastle which was a part of a passage leading to Town Moor where they used to hang witches in the 1600s. Witchcraft resonates deeply within me.

I liked the dark connotations to that name and I believe they carry a very sacrificial yet protective meaning.

8. What is the craziest, most memorable thing which happened on Tour?

Craig: My favourite moment was when Tom, Shelby and myself randomly walked by a ferry port and decided to jump on board and took a trip to the Isle of Wight on a day off and ended up joining an Irish trad session there with all the amazing local musicians! A blackout drunk Sean beating me at pool and proceeding to whip off his top and run down the bar celebrating was also hard to forget, haha!

Ryan: The first show of the tour in Manchester, we played in a small club in front of completely unknown audience who was going crazy and we had a genuine circle pits going on!

Tom & Sean: Everything that happened in London. We drove into the capital with flags waving from our van, tunes blasting announcing we’re here for the good times and London bloody heard us.

The aftermath of the gig was fuelled by Jameson’s and bottomless pints of Guinness shared with fans and friends, it was such a good craic.

We were launching Shelby up in the air celebrating the success, singing “Toss the midget”, oh boy was it fun!

Sean called the Met police saying he got robbed after Barman charged him extortion for 3 shots of Jagerbomb, haha!

We partied till the sun came up again. Next day was a blur.

Shelby was the only one alive and she drove the van, we were unable to walk.

Shelby: Taking a spontaneous ferry trip to the Isle of Wight was everything I love about touring: seeing incredible places and meeting local people and their traditions. Also playing The Underworld in Camden which was my dream come true, and

having half the venue filled with my amazing London friends and family, that was very emotional.

9. If 2020 was a person?

Ryan: Tom Coyne, obviously.

Tom: If 2020 was a person, the BBC would try to cover the c*** up for being a nonce.

Shelby: Every keyboard warrior ever.

Craig: Jabba the Hutt.

Sean: Eddie the Eagle - built up to be great but was wildly shite.

10. Favourite Punk Rock album?

Tom: “Rum, Sodomy and the Lash” by The Pogues.

It’s more trad than punk, but I don’t care. Fight me.

Sean: The Exploited “Fuck the System”

Shelby: “Coral Fang” - The Distillers, “Gangs of New Holland” - The Rumjacks.

Ryan: Bad Religion “The Process of Belief”

Craig: “Bad Brains” by Bad Brains

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11. If God was a Punk Rocker?

Ryan: That would explain a lot.

Tom: Then there would be far less religious wars and far more alcohol


Craig: There would be a lot more free booze and a lot less problems.

Shelby: Isn’t she just that ?

Sean: There’d be pigs for mayors or something


12. Favourite band to share the stage with?

Shelby: Skiltron was the first band to invite us on tour when we were just beginning and they were incredibly supportive and treated us like family.

Ryan: Love sharing the stage with anyone, really, but playing 7 shows with our co-supporters Mick O’Toole had a certain camaraderie that we haven’t yet experienced anywhere.

Sean: Mick O’Toole were fun!

Tom: We’ve played with so many bands now, and they’re all grand! It’s hard to choose one. We spent most time with The Rumjacks and Mick o’Toole and it was never a dull moment. Craig: Mick o’ Toole were a lot of fun and great craic off stage!

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Interviewed in December 2020

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