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Bailer: hefty, grooving, hardcore-inflected modern metal

Mike McGrath- Bryan interviewed Bailer guitarist Chris Harte after the metallers’ wild and politically charged tour of Russia

Since emerging from nowhere in 2014, Lee-side four-piece Bailer have been working constantly: an unstaunched torrent of gigs, tours and festival/ all-dayer appearances have been punctuated with steady releases of singles and extended players, charting the development of the band’s hefty, grooving, hardcore-inflected strain of modern metal. The most recent of these extended players, a self-titled affair released via Sligo-based Distroy Records, has seen them finally begin to break down some of the media barriers that have traditionally thwarted Irish artists in the UK and continental Europe. Guitarist Chris Harte has been seeing the difference in recent months. “Yeah, the songs have been pushed by bigger metal outlets. We’ve been thrilled with the response so far, and it feels great”.

Part of the touring for the record included an excursion to Russia for two weeks in February. A daunting task for any band just because of the weather, the trip presented logistical and political difficulties too. “About this time last year, an offer came to us to tour there for two weeks. We’ve seen so many of our favourite bands go there in the past, and their shows always looked wild. We wanted to do the same, so we took the chance and it was a crazy experience. The shows were incredible, and the culture was totally different”.

Heading to a new country to play tunes for the first time is always a big deal for a band, and, day-to-day, Harte and company were pleasantly surprised by the reaction they met from a metal audience that hasn’t necessarily been treated well by touring bookers in recent years. “The crowds seemed to love high-energy, heavy music, and we certainly didn’t hold back on the performances after travelling all that way. People were queuing up for photos every night, and you could see how much it meant to them. We made sure to connect with as many people as possible online. Lots of them have been following us ever since.”

The experience of dealing with music fans at the other side of a social and political divide was especially poignant for the band. Gig-goers and supporters of heavy music attending the band’s tour regularly asked them to take the message home that objections to Vladimir Putin’s rule and actions in recent years are shared by people on the ground in Russia.

“That was pretty surreal on a humane level, those were some of the most powerful memories we took away from the tour. In a way, it was what we expected, since we were heading over to play underground hardcore shows, but it really stuck with us. I think it’s easy to see that people these days, from all over the world, are seriously dissatisfied with their governments and it’s no different in Russia. Western media would have us all believe they are a scary people who hate our guts, but it’s total bulls**t. Look at America’s government right now for god’s sake, politics are f**ked wherever you go”.

Upon arrival back home, Bailer found themselves on the cusp of cult recognition in the UK, with enthusiastic reviews and features in youth-oriented print magazines such as Kerrang! and Metal Hammer. “For us, it felt great to be in them, even if only for the fact that we used to buy them all the time as teenagers, and we found out about so many bands that shaped our tastes in music through those mags. We’re working on getting over there for some good shows later this year to follow up on the exposure. Hopefully that’s just the start of it, now”.

The industry is currently dealing with the extended transition from paid downloads to subscription streaming services, which have overtaken physical CD and vinyl sales in the past year in many markets. Having taken their own management in-house, the band is using its knowledge of merchandising to help other artists with artwork and visual identity. Enter Absurd Merch, the band’s joint venture with their label. “Since becoming a member of the Distroy Records family Alex, who runs the label, had been chatting to me a lot about his aspirations to start up a merch brand, operating within the metal and hardcore community. There is a big increase in the scene here in Ireland and around the world right now, and there are a lot of bands doing well. We set it up to help out bands working hard and looking to tour at home and abroad. It’s looking good already and we have lots of plans in the pipeline”.

Bailer tour Ireland this summer, including appearing at Townlands Carnival in Macroom (July 20th) and Knockanstockan Festival in County Wicklow (July 27th).

Mike McGrath-Bryan