Photo by Ehrin Petty
Once in a blue moon, you stumble across something that moves your soul and makes you fall in love with music all over again. For me, the Bar Stool Preachers are that something. When I first saw them play, they were supporting the Street Dogs on a US tour. T.J. (Tom McFaull) strutted onto the stage, a bottle of whiskey in hand, and shared it with everyone down in front. It was a small gesture, but it got the crowd interested and engaged
Who are The Bar Stool Preachers? The Preachers are a six-piece ska/punk band from Brighton, England.
- Vox: Tom (TJ) McFaull
- Bass: Bungle
- Lead Guitar: James Tetley
- Rhythm Guitar: Tom Gibbs
- Keyboard: Alex Hay
- Drums: Alex Whibley-Conway
All six Preachers have wonderful personalities that shine both on and off stage. You cannot mistake the bond that they have with each other. Nothing is forced. It’s an organic, genuine love of being together and performing. More so, they have a way about them that makes you feel like you’ve been friends for a lifetime and are reuniting once again. All of these things make for an amazing set that you do not want to miss.
Each one of the Bar Stool Preachers is ridiculously talented, and TJ’s stage presence is second to none. He has relentless energy and charisma just flows out of him. Whether it’s his dancing, the banter, the larger-than-life stage jumps… or that brief moment where he connects with one person in the audience by catching their eye and flashing his boyish grin… TJ makes Preacher fans for life.
I had the opportunity to talk with the self-proclaimed Shouty Preacher about their newest album (Grazie Governo – read the review here ), what they have been up to, and what is going on at the Rebellion Music Festival for them this year.
And so it begins…
Ehrin: Let’s start with a little bit about you guys. How long have the Bar Stool Preachers been around?
TJ: The first single was released in May 2014 and the album was released in 2016. So it’s been a little more than 4 years now.
Ehrin: You guys seem to tour non-stop. I was going through some of your old gigs and tour schedules and it looks like you’ve toured since Day One!
TJ: Yeah. We toured a lot before the album was released and we still do. We always tour.
Ehrin: Sounds awesome! Now You spending an epic shit ton of time in your van touring these days. What are you listening to when you guys are on the road?
TJ: Ah shit, that’s a personal question [laughing]. Well, it depends, first you’ve got driver’s rights so whoever is driving gets to choose. That is one thing we established really early on because we’ve got quite diverse tastes in music. Personally, I’ve been listening to a lot of Menzingers, Touche Amore – I’m not sure if you know those guys – but I’m a sap, too. I love ‘80s and ‘90s pop… the Talking Heads and things like that that the other boys might not like.
When Tetley’s driving it’s a blare-y mix of hardcore sludge. Bungle listens to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and NoFX on repeat. Gibbs likes a really diverse mix of old Woodstock bands, Taylor Swift-esque country, and new hip-hop. We don’t let the Alex(s) drive.
Ehrin: Eww… country? I’m so sorry [haha].
TJ: Yep… country.
Ehrin: Well, that’s quite the diverse selection of music.
TJ: It really is such an eclectic mix. It also depends on what’s going on. Some days you wake up somewhere after you’ve had two and a half hours of sleep, it’s raining and the water’s coming through the ceiling… you’re all sharing a single mattress and you have one hoodie between you as a blanket. Then you get into the van and someone decides to put on “Perfect Day” by Lou Reed and we’re all like ‘Yeah, really fucking funny’… but then everyone is singing and laughing and we have a good ol’ time in the van and then all’s well.
Ehrin: You have your new album coming out… is it dropping at Rebellion?
TJ: Yeah, it is! We have our presale coming out today (11.jul.18) and the physical albums are out August 24th. But… if you come to Rebellion, you get to buy an advanced copy off of the band directly!
Ehrin: Pre-sales are though Pirates Press, right?
TJ: This record is only going to be through Pirates Press in America and through the band directly in the UK and we’re sharing Europe. We’ll also be working with Coretex in Germany and a couple other partners, including Rebellion itself. We want to make sure we’re building a family and that we’re working with all the right people.
The band pretty much funded all of Grazie Governo ourselves. [We] came up with the recording money, the mastering money, the mixing money and that sort of stuff. Pirates Press is making sure we don’t fuck up, so they’re releasing it, taking care of the promo, and the physical copies.
Ehrin: You have pretty much grown up in music, given your family background. I’m not 100% sure of the musical background of the rest of the Preachers, but you’ve witnessed the whole punk and skinhead scene evolve throughout the decades. Do you think that festivals like Rebellion are still relevant and important to the scene? What are your thoughts on festivals?
TJ: Oh, absolutely! I think they are more relevant today than they have ever been in my honest opinion. I grew up as you rightly say, as a kid firmly born into the punk rock world. Festivals like Rebellion have never been more important because they offer a completely different spin to a normal punk club show.
They offer this full-on family weekend where you get to meet up with lots of different families and see people from all over the world. You can experience so many difference genres of punk, and different things that fall under the punk banner. You can have 6 and 10-year-olds watching the punks and then go and watch Kunt and the Gang or someone. It’s one of the best and most eye-opening weekends of the year… and it really does have that family feel to it.
There has never been a better time for festivals like Rebellion to be in the driving seat for what we want to do with the music.
Ehrin: Is this going to be your first time playing Rebellion or have The Preachers played before?
TJ: No, this is our fourth year. We started out being the band that played at 2 o’clock in the afternoon on a small stage. Now we’re headlining the Casbah stage this year.
Ehrin: You guys are up-and-coming here in the United States, but you seem pretty established where you are in the UK.
TJ: Yeah well really it depends on what day of the week it is and how big the club is, or who is playing down the street [laughing]. But yeah, we’re making waves!
Ehrin: Do you have any tips for the lesser known bands who want to apply for festivals like Rebellion?
TJ: Oh yeah, absolutely. Don’t be afraid. You’ve got to put in the hard work; that goes without saying. Festivals like Rebellion, they recognize that… they see that. But you really have to back yourself. There are only so many slots and unfortunately, a lot of people nowadays are bringing out music that people aren’t necessarily too stoked on hearing. You just have to make sure that you’re playing with the right message and the right heart.
If you want to play Rebellion, get out there and become part of the punk scene before you do it. Don’t just knock on the door and then put up these barriers around your band if you don’t get in that year. So many bands we see do that and it’s like ‘why did you isolate yourself from the scene just because you didn’t get on this one year?’.
Go play on the introducing stage. It’s such a well-connected festival and network because its run by real punks. It’s not run by corporate sponsors and people that have their hand in lots of big mainstream pies. The real recognizes real in terms of other bands. So the only advice I can give to people who want to play Rebellion or get your foot in the door is put in the fucking work. Get out there, play up and down the UK for a year or two until they’ve got to accept you, d’ya know what I mean?
Blazing Saddles said it – if you establish yourself – and you’re doing it in your own fucking way – they’ve got to accept you.
Ehrin: You’re right. If you don’t put the work in you’re not going to gain that recognition or get that foothold in.
TJ: Exactly. And there are loads of festivals out there, especially mainstream festivals where you don’t have to play and you still get onto the lineup. You can be in Reading or Leeds in one of the biggest festivals, on the biggest stages, in front of thousands of people… and your band could have played like 4 gigs. And to me, that just seems totally unfair to hardworking musicians. That’s part of the reason why we love Rebellion so much because they recognize real.
Ehrin: For sure. Now, what time slot are you guys playing?
TJ: We are playing Friday night from 12:50 to 1:45 going into Saturday morning.
Ehrin: Now when you guys are in Blackpool will you be there for the entire 4 days or are you just going to be there for your set?
TJ: No, we always go down for the whole weekend and with the album release the merch stool will be open selling the album for the whole weekend. We always get down there early, usually on Wednesday and we stay around for the whole weekend and will stay till Monday or sometimes even Tuesday.
Ehrin: You said that the merch stool is going to be open for the whole festival. Does that mean you guys will be there for signings and stuff as well?
TJ: Anyone that has been to Rebellion before and knows us, knows that we spend a hell of a lot of time at that merch stool… but it’s not to sell the merch. It’s so we can be there to meet as many of our fans from all over the world as possible. We’ll be talking about the new album, signing it, sharing stories, having a beer, ya know… just doing everything that the Preachers normally do.
Ehrin: With you all being there for the full four days, who or which bands are you looking forward to seeing the most at Rebellion?
TJ: There are a lot of great bands at the Rebellion Introducing stage. There’s a band called “Call me Malcolm” which you probably haven’t heard of yet but you probably definitely should. Wildhearts, Menzingers… there are so many we have already seen so we’re really looking forward to seeing bands we haven’t seen yet. Bad Cop/Bad Cop is another one we’re looking forward to. Esperanza… Barstool Preachers are alright [laughing], but Call Me Malcolm is really the one that I’d be getting down to the introducing stage to see.
Ehrin: If you could have anyone in the world play Rebellion if you were setting the lineup who would be your ultimate headliner? Past or present.
TJ: Shit, that’s a heard one. Fuck… I would say The Small Faces. But, if we’re going outside the box I can always picture myself dancing to Desmond Dekker.
Ehrin: Seeing as you go every year, what is the one thing that you absolutely cannot survive Rebellion without?
TJ: The one thing you can’t survive Rebellion without…? Your DMs. For me, it’s my DMs anyway. I live in them 24/7 normally but definitely for Rebellion. It’s like, if I’ve got my boots on, I’m awake so it’s a good way to be. That and potentially an apple because you can’t have anything to eat in Blackpool that hasn’t been thrice fried. So it’s nice to have something that doesn’t drip in fat or turn paper transparent.
Ehrin: Nice. Now, there’s a lot of drinking at Rebellion…
TJ: Ugh. So much drinking…
Ehrin: What is your ultimate hangover cure?
TJ: Ultimate hangover cure? A full English [breakfast] and a spliff down the beach. For me, it’s a veggie Full English, but yeah, a full English. Something really greasy… and then a cold tin of Red Stripe and a spliff… sitting down and watching the sea for a half hour. Then you’re ready to go again.
Ehrin: Sounds solid! Currently, you’re just working on promoting the new album. The first 1000 people through the Wristband Exchange are going to get something special, yeah?
TJ: That’s right! The first 1000 people through the doors at Rebellion are going to get a free 7” vinyl flexi from us. We’re giving away 3 different variations. We’re releasing three singles with accompanying videos over the next three weeks. Each of the videos will have an accompanying flexi disc. So we will be giving out 333 of each of them. Well, one will have 334 to the first 1000 people. Whoever collects those will be very lucky because there is only a very limited number of those being made.
Ehrin: That’s fantastic. Now you’re also donating 1000 copies of a fourth one for charity… is that correct?
TJ: We are indeed. Now it’s not just a fourth one. It’s the flagship single of our new album called 8.6 Days (All the Broken Hearts). There are a few songs on this album that we absolutely love, but this is the one that when we showed people, everyone started raving about.
Recently, I got into a keyboard warrior conversation with some kid I went to high school with. He accused us, accused me, of not doing enough and being all for show. That really pissed me off. As a band, we talked about how we should combat this because we don’t want to leave anybody any space to say that about our band, you know?
So we chatted and decided to give 1000 picture flexi discs (7” records) away for charity. A lot of other people we know in bands are calling us crazy because we are a new band… a very broke band [laughing] and we’ve got no money to be doing any of this. But we decided that it was a hell of a lot more important for us to put our money where our mouth is every single time somebody questions it than do anything else. If we haven’t got our morals and values, we can’t expect people to stand up behind us when we decide to flip a switch and go for social movement. We need as many people as we can get standing behind us.
So we’re giving away 1000 flexi discs of Broken Hearts which, if you have heard the single know is a bit of a banger. People can pick that up and all the donations they collect and the £2 I think that it will cost will go directly to Streetlife, which is a great charity. They work with homeless youth in Blackpool.
Ehrin: That’s so awesome. Are there any last thoughts that you want to leave with us before we sign off?
TJ: Besides the obvious stuff that people should definitely be checking out our new album? We didn’t say that about the first one. We were like here’s an album, let us know if you like it!’. But this time we’re saying “We fucking love this. We reckon you guys are going to fucking love it as well. Let us know.”. Apart from that, no just that we are so incredibly humble and grateful that we’ve been put in the position we have by our fans and our families. That’s it for us.
If you are in the area, do yourself a solid and go see this amazingly talented group of men play. I promise that you will not be disappointed making it out to see them live!
- 7/20/2018 – Tolpuddle, UK – Tolpuddle Festival
- 7/21/2018 – Taunton, UK – Taunton Live
- 7/22/2018 – Bristol, UK – Skankfest @ The Fleece
- 7/28/2018 – Tufnell Park Dome, UK – Wonkfest
- 8/2/2018 – Blackpool, UK – Rebellion Festival
- 8/5/2018 – Somerset, UK – Outcider Festival
- 9/13/2018 – Hamburg, DE – Hafenklang
- 9/14/2018 – Prague, CZ – 007
- 9/15/2018 – Munich, DE – Backstage