When two brothers from a small Southwestern Ontario town decided to put together a rock band with the central instruments being bagpipes, people doubted it would work. Here we are in 2018 and that band, Mudmen, is celebrating 20 years together. Part of that party brings them to the Olde Walkerville Theatre on March 10 for a special 20th Anniversary show.
“Over the years there have been bands that have used bagpipes in songs like Peter Gabriel, Paul McCartney and Glen Campbell,” explains piper Robby Campbell in a YQG Rocks exclusive interview. “But other than us, there hasn’t really been a band that really stars in it, especially with a little bit of edge. We’ve been called pioneers and this and that, but when we started out the pipes were really a forgotten instrument.”
The band was formed in Alvinston/Petrolia in 1998 and has released nine studio albums, the latest being the 2016 release Old Plaid Shirt. Mudmen are best known for their singles 5 O’Clock, Saturday, and Drink and Fight, as well as covers of Spirit of the West’s Home for a Rest and AC/DC’s It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll). They’re expecting to release a new album later this year.
“I remember the comments we had when we first started – people thought we were crazy,” Campbell remembers. “My brother’s ex-bosses came up to him one time and said ‘when you said you were going to do this rockin’ bagpipe thing, I didn’t think your wires were touching and you had a few screws loose. I thought you guys would end up homeless and end up living in the ditch.’”
After 20 years together, the band has not only proven its stability in a messed up music business, it’s actually thriving in it. To celebrate the anniversary and tour, the band is also working on a new book documenting their journey.
“The books going to be called 20 Years In The Mud and our good buddy Ron Mclean is going to forward it for us,” Campbell says of the project. “I think we going to make some steam with this when where done, with all the stories and pictures to back it all up. We’ve also been talking about inserting a little DVD sleeve with it with a little video evidence showing us shaking hands with the Queen and stuff like that.”
Campbell is looking forward to returning to Windsor. The city has an abundance of memories for him, including one ghostly moment at the Dominion House.
“The Dominion House is always a fun one to play at, and it’s suppose to be one of the oldest running hotel tavern in Ontario,” he says. “When we finished our show that night, the owner asked us if we wanted to stick around and watch a ghost hunter television show check out the basement because place is haunted. So our show was done and we’re loading the van and four of our guys end up being filmed on this show. It’s kinda’ funny, they were having a great time until they started singing Ghostbusters – that’s when they got kicked off the set. We have a lot of fond memories of Windsor.”
The Mudmen’s 20th Anniversary – Old Plaid Shirt 2 Tour hits the Olde Walkerville Theatre stage at 8pm. Tickets are $20 online or $30 at the door.