Boiled in Lead







"Gold and silver from the dead turn often into lead.
Richard Buckminster Fuller (1895 - 1983) US "architect, author"


Celt In A Twist: Boiled in Lead’s global music experiments in alchemy have produced Silver. Can gold or platinum be more than a tweak away? Honestly, Silver represents the 25th Anniversary return to the studio for the Minneapolis band that has forged a new alloy from the raw ores of Celtic, punk and folk. Living up the slogan of their Omnium record label, it’s "world music that rocks". Bassist Drew Miller, and guitarist, Dean Magraw are on line to tell us more. Welcome to the show. Has spring sprung in Minnesota?

Dean Magraw: Nooooo, it's still cold! There's almost no snow but it's still cold.

CIAT: I can’t think of another contemporary Celtic band that has delved deeper in the art of noise as part of a traditional arrangement. Tell us about the early days at the Upper Deck.

Drew Miller: Well, the first show we were eighth out of twelve bands on the bill. The punk rock bar was upstairs, the strippers were downstairs and it's all been demolished for a parking lot now.

CIAT: Your arrangements are what keep me coming back, from the washes of ambient drones and feedback to the almost gothic vocal harmonies. Is there a medieval component to your music?

Dean: Most definitely. We are searching those kinds of harmonies and those kinds of chant-like structures. There are even Gregorian chants in some of the noise that you can kind of hear.

Drew: Yah, certainly the drone is all powerful and nothing gets a drone going better than a distortion box hooked up to a guitar.

Dean: And, part of the noise is created when things go out of control which is one of the band's feature characteristics. Things just wind out of control and just when you think they're about to collapse they suddenly come back together again.

CIAT: That's beautiful ... ridding the ragged edge!

Dean: That's it.

CIAT: Along with a prevailing tone of foreboding there seems to be a wink and smile to your material. You must be having fun with it, right?

Drew: Oh yah, absolutely. It's a blast. It’s fun to play this stuff and while we are learning to play the tunes properly and doing our best by the tradition, we're not a band that takes ourselves very seriously.

Dean: Spontaneity is a big part of our rehearsal process so it shows up in our recording and live performances too.

CIAT: Where do these songs come from?

Dean: Well, it depends on which song you're talking about. Basically they come from each member bringing in some ideas and then us as a band filtering through it and editing what we think we can make happen and then giving it a try, and if it's working then we really take it out. Then people bring in arrangement ideas to deconstruct or reconstruct or add things or combine ideas like that.

Drew: The process of recording the album was really an example of that; we were all together for the basic, original tracks but after that, people were in different locations and each individual added bits that he thought would work and the whole thing came out pretty harmoniously.

CIAT: You’ve got y our Celt in A Twist and I have Boiled In Lead online to tell us more about their 25th anniversary release, Silver. Join the legions of Leadheads at where you can here a concentrated version of the album’s eleven songs in just 6 minutes … perfect for your fast food lifestyle. Speaking of legions, tell us about the origins of the band name. Did that come from the Roman’s unfortunate cooking methods?

Drew: (laughs) Well, it COULD have! There was a song in fact on the first album called 'The Man Who Was Boiled In Lead' but it's actually from the Irish ballad, 'The Two Sisters'. I knew a version that Clannad did when they were playing traditional music. At the end of that song the eldest sister gets boiled in lead.

Dean: And, there's also a New Years Eve tradition of taking lead and boiling it and then throwing it in the snow. A shape takes form and then you look at that shape and it's supposed to interpret your future.

CIAT: So, kind of like reading tea leaves.

Drew: Yep. That's the cover of 'From The Ladle To The Grave'.

CIAT: Very cool! The album sees the return of your original lead singer and the addition of Dean of course. So, Dean, tell us how you came to be a part of Boiled In Lead.

Dean: Every now and then the guys would invite me to be a guest artist. I'd come to rehearsal and learn a bunch of tunes and come up for part of a set. I was at their traditional St. Patrick's Day performances a couple of times. It seemed to be a great fit and I noticed my son loved it when I played with Boiled In Lead. I'm really tuned in to what he likes and I always want to keep him well impressed. It just seemed like there was going to be a change in the band and Drew and the guys asked me to join and I said, "Man, I'm all for it."

CIAT: You know, it seems like I'm talking to more and more musicians who are using their offspring as barometers for how their music is doing.

Dean: Oh yah. He's the guy, man! He's my disc jockey and spiritual advisor.

CIAT: Drew, tell us as well about your lead singer (Todd Menton) and how his departure/return played out.

Drew: We were playing a wedding out in northern Minnesota. It was a private gig and our previous singer wasn't available and Todd was available so we said, "Hey, you want to come along and kick some rust off of Boiled In Lead?" He did and it was fun and off we went.

CIAT: I hate to go back over old ground but while I have you captive. Explain to me my favorite Boiled In Lead song, The Microorganism and what on earth is a propane-o-phone?

Drew: The propane-a-phone is an instrument that Mark Black from the group, Savage Oral Hotbed used. They're kind of an industrial group crossed with a set of Japanese taiko drummers. We've actually done a couple of shows with them on St. Paddy's Day, playing some tunes together. The propane-o-phone is some long metal pipes that, when you heat the column of air inside with a propane torch, it produces that special sound that only a propane-o-phone can.

CIAT: That is just wild! We started this segment where the album starts with the Apple Tree Wassail and we’ll go out on an instrumental, Come In From The Rain … a popular past time in Vancouver. Can you set this up?

Dean: Come In From The Rain is three traditional Irish tunes and Todd Menton brought those arrangements into the group. It starts with some droneage and dark foreboding noise than into the two jigs. And, the last piece is a double jig.

Drew Miller and Dean Magraw were interviewed by Cal Koat on April 8th/08 for broadcast on Celt In A Twist, AM 1470, CJVB