Queen’s alum returns to Kingston on tour stop

Celtic-punk band plays the Mansion

The Peelers will perform at the Mansion on Sept. 14.
Credit: 
Supplied by Dave Barton

When The Peelers take the stage at the Mansion on Friday night, it’ll be hard to remember Kingston was where they almost quit.

In 2013, Dave Barton and his bandmates had to decide whether they would keep making music after 14 years together.  

Although it’s been four years since the band was last in Kingston, they have a close connection to the town. When Barton chose to complete his degree in his early thirties, he picked Queen’s to wrap up his studies.  It was also the place where Barton initially put the brakes on The Peelers. 

As he worked to finish his degree, Barton had to decide whether to keep touring with the band or to prioritize his schoolwork.

“We toured fairly heavily around 2006, and that put me two years into Queen’s. At that point I had to make a decision,” he said. “I was gone fairly often and my attendance and my schoolwork—I kind of put everything on the backburner.”

After Barton graduated, the band kept making music, but it wasn’t until 2013 they decided to seriously commit themselves to finishing an album. 

“We were still together and we did the odd show here and there,” he said. “We were just talking one day and we said, “We need to do this and if we don’t do it now, we’re going to regret it for the rest of our lives.”

The Peelers returned to the studio, and in 2017, released their third full-length album, Palace of the Fiend

The album stays close to form, taking inspiration from the celtic and punk influences in their early songs. 

The band is a product of the era they grew up in, citing punk rock influences such as the Ramones and the Clash alongside traditional Gaelic music Barton’s parents adored. Regardless, it was punk that spurred Barton and his bandmates into music in their teens.  

Barton will never forget about the Gaelic music of Glengarry County, where he and most of his bandmates grew up. 

Sitting in the backseat of his dad’s car, Barton learned to love the Gaelic music as he sang along to his dad’s favourite Irish drinking songs. 

After, when Barton discovered celtic-punk band The Pogues, his whole world changed. 

“When I discovered The Pogues, I thought, ‘Oh my god you can do this?’ I got to put my two loves in the music world together! That was a catalyst for us.” 

For The Peelers, the Gaelic influence permeates more than just the instrumentals.

Their songs deal with themes of Irish culture, and Barton writes specifically about his own experiences.

“I write a lot about fictional stuff in our music and my own experience as well, in the North American Irish diaspora,” he said. 

Celtic-punk music has seen exciting successes in recent years, with bands like Dropkick Murphy’s and Flogging Molly headlining major punk festivals across the world. 

With the steady support of Celtic-punk, The Peelers are confident in their decision to keep making music. 

As the influence of their genre—and the popularity of their music—grows it can be hard to remember it was here in Kingston that they almost stopped producing music. 

When The Peelers return to the Mansion on Friday night, the band will share their music with they city it was almost lost in. 

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