Steal The Sky
Still setting trends as a progressive indie/DIY unit, the cutting edge Celtic rock fusion innovators, The Killdares urge us on their eclectic seventh release to “Wake up and steal the sky/Become the treasure we deny.” Steal The Sky strikes an artful balance between simply told, poignant tales of love and loss with deep and inspiring philosophical tunes about everything from the nature of being to personal ambition.
Launched in 1996 by drummer and lead singer Tim Smith, The Killdares have evolved in exciting and sometimes unexpected ways while keeping front and center their core mix of passionate vocals, wailing electric guitar, fiery fiddle and hypnotic bagpipes. Throughout the dramatic changes in the industry and the band itself since the mid-90s, The Killdares have maintained an extraordinary commitment to the visceral, organic feel of the music and their belief that the greatest creativity and musical magic always lies ahead.
Smith and his band mates are dedicated most of all to The Killdares’ enthusiastic, ever-expanding fan base—which has made them a popular annual attraction in their home state of Texas and throughout the entire U.S. at clubs, pubs, Irish-themed and general festivals, summer concert series and Performing Arts Centers. And this fall, they will be partaking in – for the 15th time! – their extraordinary annual run at the State Fair of Texas, performing five shows a day for 24 days (120 in all!).
“Whether we play in front of 10,000 people or a few hundred,” Smith says, “we always strive to deliver the same high energy show and are there to make deep, lasting connections with old and new fans. One of the great things about being a quintessential indie band is that there is no template for when and how we perform!”
In 2011, The Killdares capped an extraordinary decade and a half of recording and touring with the release of Up Against The Lights, a compelling 2 CD/DVD concert collection chronicling the explosive power and irresistible charms of their live performances with a set captured at the historic Granada Theater in their hometown of Dallas.
Having enjoyed some key personnel changes since the release of that live album and their previous studio set Secrets of the Day (2008), the band locks in immediately on Steal The Sky, showcasing the natural, growing chemistry between Smith, six- time National Fiddle Champion Roberta Rast, competition piper Matt Willis and newer members Gary Thorne (bass) and Mike Urness (electric guitar). Smith, who met Thorne and Urness out and about on the tight knit North Texas music scene, found fresh inspiration in the unique collaborative songwriting potential they brought to the existing Killdares aesthetic.
All of the band’s previous studio recordings – including Broken with a Word (1998), A Place To Stand (2001) and Any Given Element (2005) – featured a degree of collaboration, but Smith feels that Steal The Sky takes that dynamic to the next level. The process of writing and recording was also greatly facilitated by the collection’s producer Jordan Critz (Green River Ordinance, Tim Halperin). A veteran Dallas-based touring musician, composer and major artist producer, Critz follows in The Killdares’ tradition of working with top names behind the board.
Steal The Sky, which includes nine vocal numbers and two instrumentals, is a worthy successor sonically to Secrets of the Day, and blends electronic, acoustic and other unique instruments in a freewheeling mindset of courageous experimentation. The Killdares get their philosophical groove on with tracks like the jangling pop-rocker “Borrowed Wings,” which uses the Greek myth of Icarus and his ill-fated trip to the sun to explain the meaning of the things we choose to pursue in life. Other songs on the band’s introspective docket are “On The Way,” a lively, fiddle and guitar driven rocker about the nature of being and the way we use both ancient perspective and modern science to explain that life is precious; “Setting Suns,” a folk-rock flavored jam dealing with misunderstanding through the passage of time; and the powerful global unity-themed anthem “We Are One” asking us to adapt to our environment with a deeper level of human understanding.
On the more wistful, romantic side, The Killdares engage in the whimsical poetic plea to “Change Your Mind”; the fun filled foot-stomping romp “Hand in Mine,” a dark romance told curiously, through the eyes of someone trying desperately to reconnect; and the lighthearted ballad “Love Brews,” which uses drinking to explain the enduring value of “love brewed from the heart”. Other tracks include “Sometimes The Night Is Wrong,” an infectious sing-a-long and soaring fiddle/bagpipe showcase using colorful images and “moving scenery” to describe awakening from a dream and dealing with a brand new day; and “10 Tons,” a wild, high octane rocker about a troubled relationship with personal glory and its ever more elusive effects. The two instrumentals on Steal The Sky are wild dances inspired by the celebratory Irish jigs and reels: “The Challenger” is a high energy bagpipe-driven non-stop race to the finish and “Lion Ring” is a wonderful tune that bridges the gap between the traditional and the cutting edge.
“The most rewarding aspect of making this album was that we came in with no boundaries or limitations for ourselves,” Smith says. “Jordan definitely helped push the songs through, and we weren’t held captive to specific sounds, musical styles or lyrical themes. We were free to try anything that would help the songs become what they are. We took the opportunity to elevate our own musicianship while trying some different sonic ideas, both in terms of electronics and with our organic instruments. The stronger collaborative vibe between all of us shows in the song variety and the interesting elements we use on the tracks. Once we began engaging in the process, we found that the easy, natural way we all communicate lent itself to a more expressive way of writing and brought out some of that elusive magic we always talk about and strive for.”
Experience The Killdares—the best alternative Celtic Rock band in the world – just ask their fans!