He gained fame playing a punk in The Young Ones and now a grown-up Adrian Edmondson is playing punk in his latest musical venture
Even the concept is enough to provoke a giggle. British actor, writer and all-round funny guy Adrian Edmondson formed The Bad Shepherds to play punk and new wave songs with traditional folk instruments.
While he has always had a hand in the musical side of his acting exploits, the star of British sitcoms The Young Ones and Bottom formed The Bad Shepherds about six years ago.
“I wish I had formed it when I was 17,” he says on the eve of their second tour.
The band’s creation in 2008 came just as several protagonists of the future nu-folk movement were getting their acts together.
Bands like Mumford And Sons, who formed in late 2007, have become household names. The Bad Shepherds haven’t yet.
“They are quite different things really,” says Edmondson.
“Well, except everyone is playing real instruments.
“I think they are quite good. They went on before us at the Cambridge Folk festival and I remember watching them thinking they were genius and I downloaded their first album from their website after that.
“Then they went into the studio and re-recorded it and it got a bit glossy.”
Edmondson has always been in bands or involved with writing, recording and performing music. His first big hit was in 1986, with The Young Ones and Cliff Richard combining to send Living Doll to the top of the charts.
The heavy metal group Bad News released two records in the late 1980s, which included a cover of Bohemian Rhapsody and other “classic” tracks such as Cashing In On Christmas and Drink Til I Die.
Jazz instrumental band The Bum Notes formed in the early 1990s to exclusively perform music for the Bottom comedy series.
Edmondson also directed music videos for The Pogues, 10,000 Maniacs and Squeeze.
But The Bad Shepherds – with Edmondson’s touring companions Troy Donockley and Terl Bryant – appear to have the most life in them, with three records and six years under their belt.
“I’ve always had a band on the go,” Edmondson says.
“(But) ever since I picked up a mandolin and started playing London Calling, I knew this band could have a proper sound and have some reason to be, rather than just me wanting to be in a band. I’m so glad it came along before I died.”
Edmondson and Donockley, an English composer and multiinstrumentalist highly regarded for his uillean pipes chops, form the nucleus of The Bad Shepherds.
“We have quite a lot of people coming in and out. We get bored with people. We are benevolent dictators,” the funny man says.
Turning punk rock songs into folk music doesn’t always work.
Edmondson says some songs become “too poppy”, while other don’t have a sound distinct enough from their original punk form to be adopted into The Bad Shepherds’ repertoire.
There are plenty of recognisable anthems littered throughout their three records, including Anarchy In The UK, The Model, Making Plans For Nigel, I Fought The Law, God Save the Queen, and Going Underground.
Edmondson says the band work hard on the arrangements, to confound the preconceptions of people who come along to festival gigs expecting to see them fail.
“At festivals you have a lot of people there for a bit of schadenfreude, who think it is going to be sh-- and turn up to confirm their suspicions,” he says. “The show usually starts with Anarchy In The UK, which we have turned into a one-chord wonder; it’s quite complex and by the time we get to the end of it six minutes later, you’ve hooked them.” The Bad Shepherds play The Soundlounge tonight.
Adrian Edmondson and The Bad Shepherds