British punk and ska band The Bar Stool Preachers realize expectations are high for their sophomore effort. Their 2016 debut, Blatant Propaganda, garnered a lot of positive praise in both Europe and the U.S., and they have spent the better part of the last two years on the road playing those songs week after week.
“More pressure, definitely,” vocalist Tom McFaull says. “Having toured the first album pretty damn extensively, we were aware that both the band and the fans wanted new stuff. We don’t feel pressure as writers, as we write from the heart, but we definitely felt a need to go further with the second album.”
To hear McFaull describe it, the first record was a “great handshake,” but the follow-up, Grazie Governo, will show people what the band can really do.
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Like many great punk song and album titles, Grazie Governo—Italian for “Thank You, Government”—has its origin in a true story.
“The name comes from the explosion of Mount Etna,” McFaull recounts. “I heard a true story when I was out in Sicily, and it stuck with me. Countless times, the locals had warned the government of Etna’s impending eruption; countless times, they petitioned for help; and countless times, they were ignored, their lives deemed not worth the expense. So, as the lava poured toward their homes, toward everything the government had deemed not worthy to save, one old man set out a table and chair, cracked a bottle of wine, and in huge red letters, wrote on the side of his house: ‘GRAZIE GOVERNO.’”
The title is not the only place where politics appear on the record.
“We sing about local funding cuts, the rise of both the extreme left and right wing, the lack of belief in modern politicians,” McFaull reveals. “It’s hard, though, as we’ve been saying for years now that it’s a bigger problem than just a two-year scope can show, and a lot of these things have been happening for years.”
“If you look at social indicators such as crime rates, housing prices, wage and inflation increases, and the growing gulf between rich and poor, you can tell that these things have been in effect for years,” he adds. “It often takes a long time for the everyday person to see the impact of negative governmental action, but we’ll always try to highlight [and] fight it when we see it.”