Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

IT DOESN'T FEEL LIKE 20 YEARS... but Wildcats Are Still Banging the Drum for Teesside Audiences

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

IT DOESN'T FEEL LIKE 20 YEARS... but Wildcats Are Still Banging the Drum for Teesside Audiences

Article excerpt

Byline: ANDREW PAIN

"EVENTUALLY people will get sick of seeing four middle aged blokes bouncing around on the stage and singing the same songs."

So says Mike McGrother, the frontman of the Irish-music-inspired Teesside band Wildcats of Kilkenny who are celebrating 20 years together with a St Patrick's Day gig tonight.

He then adds: "Having said that, the audiences have been getting bigger and bigger..."

The Wildcats' story contains any number of oddities, from appearing on the front page of the China Daily and performing with Pub Landlord Al Murray to Mike breaking an arm while performing in Middlesbrough.

The first notable tale is how the group formed in 1991 and performed their first gig the same night at Egglescliffe Village Hall.

years, Fiddle player Mike, then 21 and studying for a music degree in Newcastle, heard his musical hero, the frontman of The Pogues Shane MacGowan, was looking to put a new band together. Having tracked down MacGowan's "people" Mike was told he had the job and just had to speak to the main man.

"I knew it was going to be difficult," said Mike. "Whenever I got to speak to him it was quite a difficult conversation. He was generally quite abrupt."

Eventually MacGowan asked Mike - a proud Teessider who is regularly seen wearing a 'Smoggy' T-shirt - "Why would I want a Geordie in the band anyway?" "It was the straw that broke the camel's "We back," said Mike. "I thought 'forget it'. I went for a pint with my mates and they said I should form my own band.

for a They Mike town name They "I wanted to form a group that was the same musical style as The Pogues but something that was feel-good; a smiling, happy band and nothing like the experience I'd had of MacGowan." He then heard of a double bass player who played in the Oxbridge pub in Stockton and found Bruce Rollo. Drummer Simon Wigington, keyboard player Andrew McIntyre and a guitarist then joined and the five played a gig on the first night the quintet all met. …

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