The Mary Wallopers have announced their new single ‘Wexford’, and told NME how they are looking to challenge perceptions of Irish folk music by making their music as accessible and thought-provoking as possible.
Having gained notoriety from their lockdown livestreams, Dundalk band The Mary Wallopers have gone on to galvanise an unlikely fanbase from across the UK – and been hailed as making the traditional folk genre more accessible to a new generation.
Following on from lead single ‘The Holy Ground’, the band have today (July 17) released the second track new album ‘Irish Rock ‘N’ Roll’ — a cover of Pecker Dunne’s ‘Wexford’.
One of the album’s more emotive and introspective tracks, the cover sees The Mary Wallopers pay tribute to the late Irish folk icon and shed a light on the backlash faced by travellers, which often goes overlooked.
“It is to show respect to the people that influence us,” guitarist Charles Hendy told NME. “The song itself is so raw and honest, it’s about him growing up in Wexford and he doesn’t sugarcoat anything in it.
“It’s just an amazingly written song. We think that Pecker Dunne deserves a bit more recognition because no one knows him — especially because he’s a traveller, he would’ve experienced a lot more prejudice.”
Now, in the run-up to their new album ‘Irish Rock ‘N’ Roll’ — their second LP following on from 2022’s self-titled debut — the band have explained to NME how their political message, electric live performances and down-to-earth spirit have enabled them to revive the genre for a new era.
“I suppose part of the craic of it is that so many different ages come to our gigs,” the guitarist revealed. “The songs are actually painfully relevant. We sing about landlords, about property, about the cost of living in general— and they resonate with younger people… [But equally] some of the songs are about 400 years old!
“We touch on a wide range of emotions too… some are funny and some of them are more serious,” he added. “It’s nice to have people crowd surfing to Irish music.”
Despite first gathering momentum in 2020, the members since have found themselves coming into full force on stage, and have, as a result, developed a reputation for bringing a punk-inspired energy to each of their shows.
Now, having just announced an upcoming UK tour, Hendy revealed the motivation behind their rowdy performances — and admitted he is looking to challenge the misconceptions around folk and reestablish the genre as one of rebellion.
“Folk has got this name for being really safe music… these c**ts wearing tweed and whispering the songs on the stage, barely looking at the audience. But if you look back at like Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly, it’s incredibly anti-authority and incredibly rebellious,” he said. “It’s not safe music, and that’s what attracted me to it.”
While countless artists claim to represent ‘the voice of the people’, The Mary Wallopers are one of the few that truly embody this message and, because of it, fully resonate with those who see them live. According to the members, however, this immense connection that they have with their listeners is by no means because of their technical ability but rather through a determination to show that anyone can make music.
“I’m a hundred per cent opposed to people being on pedestals of any kind. It doesn’t matter who they are. The ordinary is extraordinary,” Hendy said.
“Art is for everyone. Music is for everyone, especially folk music. Like… it’s called folk music! There’s nothing special about it! It is accessible and free… that’s where it becomes magic,” he continued. “Everyone has the ability to do these things. Everyone can express themselves in their own way. You don’t need to be a special talent to do that.”
Nowhere have the members captured this mindset better than in their forthcoming album. When asked about the intention with the new album, Hendy confirmed that its meaning was simple: “It’s anti-authority music and it’s rock n’ roll.”
Instead of looking to re-define themselves just one year after their debut, the band have instead taken a more traditional approach to their upcoming album — capturing the same charisma and political message they’re renowned for, but embedding some original tracks and guest features along the way. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” Hendy stated. “We want everything to be as accessible as can be. First and foremost, we want to relieve stress, make people have a good time and feel together.
“When we recorded the first album, we didn’t have the full band together as a permanent fixture, but, going into the second album, we do. So the band are a lot more together now,” he added. He also proceeded to explain how the members still wanted to harness the balance between serious and jokey topics in each of their tracks – something they perfected in last year’s debut. “Our music is as much to help you forget about all your problems as to realise them. Why can’t people have fun and then also address some serious things? You’re allowed to do that.
“If something feels right, then we’ll say it, but it’s not a popularity contest. We don’t wanna be the most liked band in the world. [Plus,] usually, the people that don’t like us are pricks anyway, so there’s no point in being afraid!”
As for the prospect of bringing their hit livestream sessions back, it seems that the band are more fixated on trying to capture that energy live for now, although have a sneaking suspicion that they’ll return to the project in the future. “At the time, it was closest thing that we could get to gigs, but people still come up to us and say how important it was. So maybe we’ll do another one at some point if the time is right. They were so much fun.”
The Mary Walloper’s second full-length album, ‘Irish Rock ‘N’ Roll’, is set for release on October 6 via BC. Visit here to pre-order.
The band are also set to play numerous festival appearances later this summer, including slots at Tramlines, Latitude and Boomtown. From there, the seven-piece will embark on a UK headline tour throughout autumn and winter.
This kicks off with a headline slot at the Engine Rooms in Southampton on November 8, and features stops in cities including Manchester, Liverpool, Oxford and Sheffield. A gig at London’s O2 Forum in Kentish town is also scheduled for November 10, and the tour is set to end in Glasgow on December 16.
Tickets for the upcoming live shows go on sale on Friday (July 21) at 9.30am, although a fan pre-sale is open from the same time on Wednesday (July 19). Find tickets here and a full list of upcoming headline shows below.
8 – Southampton, Engine Rooms
9 – Bristol, Trinity
10 – London, O2 Forum Kentish Town
11 – Manchester, Academy 2
12 – Cardiff, Tramshed
15 – Folkestone, Quarterhouse
16 – Oxford, The Bullingdon
17 – Brighton, CHALK
18 – Liverpool, O2 Academy Liverpool
19 – Norwich, Epic Studios
22 – Exeter, Phoenix
23 – Wolverhampton, Wulfrun
24 – Northampton, Roadmender
25 – Sheffield, The Leadmill
13 – Edinburgh, The Liquid Room
14 – Dundee, Fat Sams
15 – Aberdeen, Lemon Tree
16 – Glasgow, Barrowland Ballroom