While bagpipes and heavy rock music might sound like an odd combination, they've become the norm for Canadian hard rock band Mudmen.
"In the past, nobody wanted to play in a band with bagpipes," says Sandy Campbell, one of two brothers-the other being Rob Campbell-who make up the piping section of the Toronto-based band. "At one point, we didn't think we'd ever include anybody in the group thing anymore until we met Zoy."
Sandy, who speaks in a tamer Scottish accent, didn't expect very positive responses when he made the decision to use bagpipes to make rock music. Fortunately, lead singer Zoy Nicoles was enthusiastic about jumping on board-albeit with a little convincing.
"We were working with a mutual producer," says Zoy about the members' situations four years ago. "My other band sucked, so he called me up and said, 'you've got to check this out.' I was like everyone else. 'Bagpipes? You've got to be kidding me.'"
However, Zoy's reaction to the band once he heard them has been similar to audiences encountering Mudmen for the first time around the country. However, even after Zoy jumped on board, there was always a cloud of doubt circling around the band's future.
"There's no turning around when you sink this much money into something," begins Rob, whose slightly stronger Scottish intonation is apparent. "Playing bagpipes in the past, they're laughing at you, so we had a point to prove. You see in movies, they find the biggest fucking wanker to play the pipes but there's a lot of good players
Understandably, their music, consisting of somewhat standard heavy rock tunes brought to life by bagpipes blaring in the background, created somewhat of an image for them. And while the Campbells wear kilts on stage, they're not a Celtic band by any stretch.
"People say, 'what is it like to be a Celtic band?' but it's totally not," says Zoy. "I think we've stayed true to what we're doing and don't try to be like anyone else. We try to be original and unique and I think we are."
Sandy agrees that the band isn't Celtic, but at the same time refrains from putting other labels onto the band.
"It's like when somebody asks what you're like as a person," he says, comparing the task of self definition. "If you spell it out and say 'well, I like to cuddle and I like puppy dogs,'-fuck that, figure it out for yourself."
One thing audiences will figure out when Mudmen headline their own tour later this month is that any apprehensions they had about mixing the pipes with a distorted guitar will be easily and quickly dismissed.
"When I was 18 or 19 I used to be in a band, and we used to say, 'we'd give a $20 show to a $5 ticket'," says Rob about the old live act. "That was such bullshit. That was our bark but our bite wasn't even close. If I could gauge this band from then to now, it gives a $50 show to a $2 ticket."