Ayrshire has given the world some great inventions and discoveries, tarmac and penicillin to name just two. But one of its best kept secrets is Irvine prog rock folk fusion band, Culann.
Formed 15 years ago, they have built up a loyal fan base in the UK and Europe, with Scandinavia in particular loving them. There is after all, a warrior heart at the core of the rich anthemic and epic soundscapes they create.
I spoke to upbeat and proud Ayrshire lead singer, P J Kelly, about how the songs come to fruition and future plans for this enigmatic five-piece.
“We basically used lockdown to bounce ideas back and forth and are happy how the songs for the new EP have turned out.”
Much to my shame, I have to admit I hadn’t heard of Culann before this. P J explained to me that’s probably part their fault as well as mine, explaining: “We’ve never been motivated by making money. It’s our passion and we want to enjoy ourselves. Hopefully that comes across in the music.”
I emphasised to P J how much I admired the energy in what I had seen and heard so far through streaming services, also stating the influences I could pick out, such as Rush, Thin Lizzy, Killing Joke and Blink 182. They possess that rare asset of a very unique sound.
“Thank you very much for saying so,” the ever-humble P J said. “There is very much a big folk influence but also a bit of prog rock, a bit of punk and a lot of other stuff. We all have an eclectic music taste so we all bring something different to the table.”
Most of their videos feature local Irvine legend and actor, Rab Affleck. To me this is a genius move, as Rab looks like a true Celtic Warrior from some storybook or film. For those of you who don’t know Rab, he is a gentleman with a genuine interest in other people. I think this encapsulates the spirit of the band – humble and unassuming off stage, but a true force of nature when in front of a crowd.
P J conveyed Rab was an absolute pleasure to work with and he is full of amazing stories.
“Culann is a character in Ulster mythology – he’s an Irish demigod whose fierce dog would guard his door – and Rab had a look that just fitted our music.”
P J continued: “Our guitarist Greg mixes all our music and his attention to detail really helps make the music sound as full as it does, we owe him a lot.”
What a sound it is too! Refreshing and uncompromising. I mentioned to P J how I was impressed by the clarity of the sound on their recordings. He told me that everything is mastered by John Astley who has done work for The Who, Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones, amongst many others.
What a list of others I discovered online later, including artists such as Tom Jones, Led Zepplin, Paul McCartney, Peter Gabriele, Nora Jones and Emmylou Harris. Quite the lineup!
Culann’s brand new four track EP, Songs of Saints & Reivers, is available now on all streaming services and has been gathering rare reviews.
I asked P J what the immediate plans for Culann were.
“We will be playing some dates in the near future and hopefully be recording our third album soon.”
If you want to catch these unique, vibrant and vivacious virtuosos doing what they do best, they are playing live at the Old Hairdressers in Glasgow on January 28th 2024. So, if you are looking to blow away the January blues get on the road and make your way to the gig. I’m pretty sure Culann will be the ideal tonic. Once more you will be thanking Ayrshire for yet another cure.