A champion of the cause for melodic, enigmatic rock, Pugwash is the vehicle for the exquisite song writing of Dubliner Thomas Walsh. More than just another band, Pugwash have delivered two distinguished pop masterworks in the form of albums, Almond Tea and Almanac.
In Thomas Walsh, Pugwash has a considerably gifted songwriter and performer, who has given life to his songs together with his core of musical partners Keith Farrell, Aidan O'Grady, Duncan Maitland and Shaun McGee. Other noted musicians who have graced Pugwash recordings in the past and present include: Jason Falkner (ex-Jellyfish member and collaborator of Air, Beck, Paul McCartney and Aimee Mann), The Section Quartet (LA based rock 'n' roll string quartet to the likes of James Blunt, Kanye West, Grant Lee Phillips, Wilco and Jon Brion), Dave Gregory (XTC / Dukes Of Stratosphere guitarist, pianist and arranger), Eric Matthews (former Cardinal US pop-maestro), Graham Hopkins (Halite and ex-Therapy?), John Boyle (the Frames) and many more who are no less significant or appreciated.
Critical adoration in their homeland has never been a problem, but it was Australia who first caught the pug-bug in a big way when Triple J gave heavy airplay to Monorail and Keep Moving On. This was in the wake of the Karmic Hit label's lovingly produced compilation Earworm. An amalgam of their finest songs to date, Earworm has been gathering a healthy web-based cult status in the U.S. and Australia.
Although Pugwash existed in the mind of Thomas Walsh back as far as the early 90's, much of his time in the 1990s was spent as a guitarist on records and tours with Andy White and infamous Californian producer and performer Kim Fowley. Eventually the time came for him to step forward from the shadows and the band emerged just before the turn of the last century with the finely crafted debut Almond Tea (1999). Ireland's music bible Hot Press rated it as one of their 'Top 30 Albums of the Millennium' a mere four weeks after its release (#23 to be precise), holding their own with the U2s, Bowies and Dylans of this world.
With Almond Tea featuring destined-classics like The Finer Things In Life and Darkness Makes Us Blind, it wasn't hard to see and hear why. To get behind it, they toured up and down the forty corners of Ireland, both as headliners and as guests of Jason Falkner, Television, Grant Lee Phillips (ex Grant Lee Buffalo), Glen Tilbrook (ex-Squeeze), and Cotton Mather among others.
The year 2002 saw their triumphant return came in the form of an even more finely crafted collection of songs called Almanac. This record that proved Pugwash were musical force to be reckoned with and has dwelt long and lovingly in the ear-space many. Partly influenced by the contributions of musical soul-mate Jason Falkner, who took time out from his collaboration with French electronic mood maestros Air, the reviews for Almanac were once again unanimously glowing. Almanac's impact was acknowledged again recently in a BBC radio interview when XTC front-man Andy Partridge picked Apples by Pugwash as the most exciting song he's heard this year. The general response was a further step in the right direction.
On the surface, you could be forgiven for thinking that Pugwash dropped off the face of the planet in 2004, but this couldn't be further from reality. It was a year spent mostly away from the live arena, locked up in studios and negotiation rooms. Wheels were in motion to increase their profile in the U.S.A. and in the UK and Australia. A Stateside representation agreement was struck with New York-based Joe D'Amrosio Management, whose roster also includes Tony Visconti (legendary producer of David Bowie, The Move and Marc Bolan) and Toby Scott (studio engineer to Bruce Springsteen).
Happily 2005 has been good to Pugwash on a number of levels. Unprecedented amounts of nationwide daytime airplay on 2FM embraced the radio-single, It's Nice To Be Nice. This culminated recently with a guest appearance. The ripple effect even made an impact across the Atlantic in California, resulting in Pugwash's a personal invitation to meet the Beach Boys' creative legend Brian Wilson on his June 2005 visit to Dublin. The band signed to a new label 1969 Records Ltd. which was founded largely to ensure that bands of their calibre don't fall under the radar of public attention.
Most notable of all developments is the completion of what many feel is their finest album to date, Jollity. Another self produced work, it also features the playing and arrangement input of former XTC guitarist Dave Gregory. Dave arranged string parts for Rose In A Garden Of Weeds and I Want You Back In My Life, which were recorded with L.A.'s renowned The Section Quartet in the hallowed surrounds of Studio 2 at Abbey Road in London. A welcome late addition came in the form of brass and vocal parts by Eric Matthews, which are particularly effective on the song Anchor, which was co-written with Andy Partridge of XTC.
Jollity has already received a 4 out 5 star review in the Irish Independent who also recently singled out Pugwash as being a cut above most bands on the current Irish scene. The band were invited by Ryan Tubridy for a live session on his RTE Radio 1 morning show at the end of August 2005, and their 3 songs received a great response. Tubridy called them ''the band of the summer'' and has given great support