Celtic folk with a rock ’n’ roll attitude from Ferocious Dog in Lewes

Ferocious Dog. Picture by Ken Bonsall
Ferocious Dog. Picture by Ken Bonsall
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Creating their own take on Celtic folk, Ferocious Dog takes the traditional instruments (fiddles, whistles, mandolins) and mixes them up with rock n’ roll attitude.

On the back of their second album, From Without, they play Lewes Live, Malling Down, A26, North of Lewes, on Saturday, July 9 (doors open at 12pm).

As band member Dan Booth explains, the name comes from his late brother: “My stepdad used to make a growling noise at my brother when he was younger and say ‘What was that?’ and then say ‘Rottweiler!’ and then he would do it again and say ‘Ferocious dog!’”

Tragically Lee Bonsall, one of our soldiers haunted by PTSD, took his own life. The album is dedicated to his memory… and it’s an album that sees the band taking things to the next level.

For many years Ferocious Dog appeared at small venues and pubs until, in 2009, the band were given the opportunity to play at Bearded Theory Festival.

They went down a storm, were asked to return the following year and ultimately played the main stage in 2012.

After this opportunity, gig and festival offers started coming in thick and fast.

“The band was a covers band for years and then we decided to take ourselves seriously about four years ago,” Dan says.

“We got sick of doing covers, and we decided to write our own stuff. We were doing covers of Irish stuff – The Pogues, The Saw Doctors, The Levellers, The Dubliners, stuff like that, all the obvious party stuff – but we just got fed up of doing the covers.

“We did an album of our own and released it a couple of years ago, self-titled. We started getting a following from doing the covers, and we found we really enjoyed writing songs, and so we gradually we would only do our own songs.

“There are six of us in the band. Myself and Ken are the main writers. We have written our own songs and we sit together and write as well, more so for the second album which we have just released, called From Without.

“You would have to delve deep into Karl Marx to understand that. We have left it a bit cryptic so that people can figure it out for themselves!”

The second album is an important step: “We spent a lot more money on it, and it is a different sound, more punky – maybe that’s to do with our new guitarist.

“We have had a phenomenal response to it. A lot of people are saying it is better than the first album. I have got a lot of love for the first album. We wrote a lot of the songs from the heart rather than just writing songs for an album, so I would not say it is better than the first album in that respect, but certainly production-wise it is definitely better.”

Dan works as a health-care assistant in mental health in Nottingham, but full-time music is the dream: “I did an early shift today, and tonight I have got to drive to a gig. It’s a bit full-on at the moment.

“Something has got to give, and it is not the music that is going to give.

“I think next year I have got to make the choice or not whether to go at least part time.”

For tickets to Lewes Live visit www.leweslive.com/tickets.

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