Little did folk musician Robz Style know he would go on to record an album with the singer he idolised as a teenager.
But on Saturday, October 1st, the Colne guitarist will release his first album with bandmates Emmott Garnett, David Lewis, Dean Roberts, Chris O’Connor and Tony Dixon, AKA The Folkestra.
In album, “Gavel and Dagger”, acoustic riffs are cut with skate punk - think Green Day and Blink 182 - and charged with political lyrics.
Take leading track “No Captain”, an anti-David Cameron anthem championing equality in a world without a top dog.
The song captures the energy of skate punk: balancing control and recklessness. A slow, climbing start bursts into jubilant harmonies and firings of drums then spills with licks of guitar and mandolin. The sound reflects the anti-leader message - there’s a sense of freedom, that anything can happen - and it has the genre’s “live-for-the-moment” vibe and “do-it-yourself” attitude, fitting for a song promoting equality.
“We share,” Robz said of the Levellers, another band he grew up on, “an element of honesty. They say what they mean and are often political.”
Other influences are Billy Bragg, the Clash’s Joe Strummer and singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie, who spoke out against the demonising of Communists during the USA’s McCarthy era.
“We try and write from the heart about things we care about, not to sound popular. It’s scary writing songs about certain things but people want you to do it. It makes the song better. You just have to suck it up and do it.”
Their writing leans toward the poetic, the personal, like that of Colin Hay and Richard Thompson, who are “good at lyrically painting pictures.” Like Thompson, Folkestra explores the uncomfortable: politics, love, tragedy etc. But there’s an overriding tone of joy that’s in line with what band Lynched called in the Guardian folk’s tendency to “nurture”.
“Our songs are broadly and metaphorically,” Robz said, “about life. They’re personal, often about getting on with life and having fun.”
Their songs feel like a call to carpe diem - balanced with a sense of mindfulness. “Mountains”, for instance, is not just about drinking in the Lake District: it also examines our isolation from nature in this frenzied world.
In fact, in a year of shifts, rifts and uncertainty in politics, this thoughtful band rooted in folk tradition but pulsing forwards in rapturous waves demonstrates music’s ability to fit in society’s cracks like glue. Folkestra has one eye on the things greater than itself – respecting nature, challenging the status quo and stretching folk music – and the other looking inwards at the things that make us all the same: friendship; emotional fulfilment; healing after pain. Sure, the band has fused the two genres of the rebel but their vibe captures more of folk’s celebration and preservation of the best of the old than punk’s incessant warring.
The album will be sold on iTunes, Spotify and www.bandcamp.com while hard copies are available to buy now at every gig.
A launch party will be hosted on the release date at 7pm at Suff Studios in Greenfield Road, Colne.
For more information visit www.facebook.com/thefolkestra