Bastard Bearded Irishmen: From left, Paul Dvorchak, Danny Rectenwald, Jimmy Bastard, Ben Jaber, Jon Pitcher, Dan Stocker. (Jimmy Bastard or Jimmy Smerecky)
By Scott Mervis / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Back in early March, Jimmy Smerecky, Bastard Bearded Irishmen frontman Jimmy Bastard, was mountain climbing in the Rockies when the line slipped and he dropped about 30 feet onto the rocks below...
No, that wasn't it.
Jimmy Smerecky was in the midst of pulling a pedestrian to safety when the bus ran over his foot...
Bastard Bearded Irishmen
With: Triggers, The Misery Jackals.
Where: Altar Bar, Strip.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday.
Tickets: $10; www.thealtarbar.com.
No, that wasn't it either.
"I've tried to think of cooler stories," he says, "but you can't really... I ran off stage and had my eyes closed and I was jumping and kicking and a balloon floated under my foot. That was all she wrote. We still had to play an hour and a half."
His roguish bandmates did exactly what you'd expect under the circumstances.
"The guys were telling me to tough it out. I said, finally, I can't stand on it. My paramedic instinct kicked in and I just drank about a fifth of Jameson, and it took some of the pain away."
He ended up playing the Bastards' run of raucous St. Patrick's Day gigs, including one in Market Square, with a cast on his foot, propped up on a chair.
Now, the singer-guitarist is back in one piece and ready to dodge balloons or anything else that comes his way for the album release party for the band's second album, "Rise of the Bastard."
It's 15 tracks of spirited, American-Irish punk drinking music to take the pain away with titles like "All for Me Grog," "Bastard Blarney" and "Whiskey, Rum, Bourbon, Beer."
There's no let up from the madness and "no love songs," Mr. Smerecky promises.
The band, which has built up a big following since forming in 2008, cared enough about its second album that it spent two years and did it twice.
"The first try at it, we kind of scrapped it. We worked on it for a few months and we just got so busy we had to walk away from it for a while and when we came back to it, we all had the collective feeling that we could do this better. The songs were brand new when we went in and after playing them on the road for a while, we got more comfortable with them."
On the first attempt, a lot of the songs were done in pieces, and the second time, he says, "We recorded a lot of the tracks just straight live, everything on the first shot."
This is a big step up from the first Bastards album, made after they formed as a tribute to a friend who died in a car accident. This one has more originals, rocks harder and is a bit more global.
"It's got some klezmer, maybe a little country, a little gypsy," the singer says. "The first album, when we did that one, we were just kind of testing the waters, having fun, we never really expected to be a band. Now, we've been playing together for five years and everyone's a lot more comfortable. This has a more punk-rock-ish, in-your-face sound to it. The Irish sound is our core, but we all come from different bands and pasts, and we try to put our flavors on everything."
The Bastards, who have opened for the Dropkick Murphys and Gogol Bordello, come off sounding a bit like a mix of the two.
Mr. Smerecky, who is joined by Danny Rectenwald (mandolin, banjo), Paul Dvorchak (fiddle), Ben Jaber (bass), Jon Pitcher (guitar) and Dan Stocker (drums), says there are some things you try to avoid while making a Celtic punk record.
"We go through these little fights with ourselves. It comes to the table: 'Hey guys, this is the idea, this is the skeleton of the song.' You'll hear those debates going on, at breakfasts, 'This sounds a little Dropkick Murphys-ish.' 'Well, this is just the core idea. Everybody put your own ingredients in,' and it usually turns out sounding like an Irishmen song more than anything else."
As for the subject matter of drinking songs and fight songs, "They definitely get the crowd more into it. Honestly, that's just what comes out 90 percent of the time," he says. "That's how my punk rock band was. I try never to write about things I don't know about and the few things I know about are drinking and having fun with my friends in a band."
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