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BLACK DONNELLYS: AN INTERVIEW

Black Donnellys Interview with guitarist/producer Alistair Hate

We recently reviewed Black Donnellys only CD ‘Orchestrate a Disaster’ and subsequently were invited to interview their lead guitarist and producer Alistair Hate.

A little history…..

For punk rockers who grew up in London, Ontario in the eighties, the singer for the Black Donnellys was something of a messianic figure. An infectious wordsmith with a venomous charisma and gnarly set of gnashers, Dan Rudbal was London, Onterrible’s answer to Johnny Rotten.

black-donnellysDan resurrected his first love, the Black Donnellys, named after an ill-famed family of Irish immigrants who in the late 1800’s terrorized the small town of Lucan, Ontario before being brutally massacred by vigilantes.

Fast forward twenty years and musician / producer Al Hate enters the Donnelly’s mythos. A former member of another short-lived but influential local band, Hate was a guitarist for techno-thrashers Dyoxen who in 1991 became the only act to emerge from the eighties London, Onterrible music scene to score a worldwide record deal.

A dedicated fan of October Crisis and advocate of Rudbal’s lyrical intensity and general propensity for on-stage aggro, Hate had long entertained the idea of collaborating with the notorious singer. With a keen understanding of how to compose tracks to compliment Rudbal’s song-writing strengths, Hate figured that if he could negotiate the singer’s volatility long enough to record some original material, together they could make a serious dent in the Donnellys’s dubious musical legacy.

Recruiting the services of local lads Rob Carvell (drums), Jay Brooks (bass) and fellow October Crisis devotee Trevor Wilkins (guitar and co-writer),  the Black Donnellys 13 were born, kicking and screaming into a world long forsaken by its creator. The mutually corrosive sensibilities of Rudbal and Hate produced some of the finest work of their erratic music careers to date, resulting in the five song Orchestrate A Disaster EP, a work of epic lyrical nihilism executed with precision riffs and no-nonsense production.

Unfortunately by 2007, after a brief but blistering onslaught of performances with the likes of The Misfits, DOA, SNFU, Abrasive Wheels, The Casualtiesand The Unseen, the Donnellys 13 predictably self-destructed in a hurricane of acrimony and the recorded material was indefinitely shelved.

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The interview…

PUNK ONLINE: Before we get to the Black Donnellys, we are seeing a huge resurgence in the global punk music arena…what do you put this down to if you agree?

AL HATE: I don’t think “punk rock” ever really went away, at least for me it never has. More of a state of mind than a fad really, a political way of thinking if you will, an awareness of social responsibilites. The best punk album in the last 20 years for me was “Gallows – Grey Britain.” It was the perfect blend of classic punk with a modern edge and approach, great production by Garth Richardson, son of the late Jack Richardson (Alice Cooper Producer) who also hailed from London, Ontario.

black-donnellysI mean, this was no fuckin’ Green Day, this was visceral street punk of the bleakest variety spewed forth by the nastiest punk vocalist in decades—Frank Carter. That they replaced him with a Canadian from Hamilton (Wade MacNeil of Alexisonfire) was an interesting connection for us.

PUNK ONLINE: We reviewed your EP release with great enthusiasm and are intrigued by the back story/history of the band…what is your version of that history?

AL HATE: Well I got into Rudbal’s music as a young punk/thrash kid going to see his band October Crisis in the mid ’80’s, and that introduced me to the scene in London, so I followed the volatile history of the OC break-up and subsequent Black Donnellys forming and failing for years. Obviously, if we were the thirteenth lineup, I knew it wasn’t gonna be a cakewalk. But I had briefly worked with Dan in the past so I knew I could write with him for a more serious project so when the opportunity came to do BD13 I took it.

PUNK ONLINE: We were told that the band that recorded the EP can’t stand each other anymore …this true or just PR?

AL HATE: Let’s put it this way…the singer won’t talk to me, the other guitarist recovered from cancer and still wants nothing to do with anyone from the band and the drummer and bassist are AWOL.

PUNK ONLINE: What stopped the Black Donnellys 13 from going on to create more music?

AL HATE: It ended abruptly just when everything seemed to be going great. We were writing lots of songs and doing lots of gigs but at the show where it all came crashing down, Dan came up to me afterwards to say how surprised he was that people loved the show even though he was trying to “Orchestrate A Disaster.” Which is what he ultimately did. So now you see where the inspiration for the name of the E.P. came from.

black-donnellysBut we had a lot more material and were performing some as instrumentals live but sadly Dan never put lyrics to them. I ended up using two of them for my post Donnellys act Beyond The Black which became, ‘Make You Mine’ and ‘Stab Thru My Heart’. The lyrics and cover for ‘Make You Mine’ were inspired by the Donnellys break up.

PUNK ONLINE: Any chance you would reform and get out on the road, record new stuff?

AL HATE: I was never an obstacle to the Black Donnellys’ success..quite the opposite so I would never say never. But ultimately, it’s Dan’s project and he’s had numerous versions and short-lived reunions of other line-ups since BD13 so who knows what’ll happen next? October Crisis recently reformed and they’ll be playing in Vegas next month with D.O.A., Dayglo Abortions and the Asexuals.

PUNK ONLINE: The EP is really strong…the vocals we compared to Dexter from Offspring – which may or may not be fair – what were you striving for as the Black Donnellys?

AL HATE: People have said that to me before but Dexter was never an influence of mine or Rudbal’s. I wanted to take the Black Donnellys into the next age and update what I thought had tremendous potential to be something relevant and international.

PUNK ONLINE: Any regrets?

AL HATE: Never gone through anything in life without them, but I’m glad we got this released and that people will get to hear a fucking amazing Punk Rock EP especially considering all the odd’s were against it.

PUNK ONLINE: What’s next?

A: The Thrash Metal band I played with Dyoxen is putting out a complete anthology which we hope to release soon, including never before heard demos and a remaster of our only record, ‘First Among Equals’.  And I am currently in studio working on a new Metal project (as yet untitled) to follow that release. Plus, I may put out some Beyond The Black material later this year.

Many thanks to Alistair Hate for agreeing & doing the interview and to Stuart Andrews for being the ‘in between’ man and setting all this up.
You can read our review of Orchestrate a Disaster here>>>

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