Icewagon Flu
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Icewagon Flu

Alexandria, Virginia, United States | INDIE

Alexandria, Virginia, United States | INDIE
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What's it all about? Hoboken, New Jersey's very own Icewagon Flu is traditional Irish rock and country folk music, mixed with an eccentric brand of off-the-wall humor. Vocalists and resident comedians Gobshite (Kevin Adkins) and Doc Slides (George Smith) lead the jokesters in a musical adventure that takes audiences to Ireland with songs like Whiskey & Soda, and Brave, Brave Sir Robin, and to the calypso islands with Stormcloud. But, just because they're clowns doesn't mean they aren't schooled. Drummer Tom Thompson and mandolin player Tim Thompson (no relation - heck, those aren't even their real names) have been professionally trained at the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College and Crane School of Music respectively.

We say: They make us laugh with songs like Virgin and a Pornstar and lyrics like 'I think I saw you in the shower/I want to do you for an hour (Nudity)." The Irish rock sound (thanks to guitarist Beast's maternal roots and Tim's mandolin) is awesome, but you won't hear it in every track. Not to mention, Jivin' Jones is a perfect example of why rappers don't come from the pubs of Ireland. - Pulse Weekly


The debut album from Icewagon Flu gives an infectious mix of eclectic music that simultaneously gives us chills and fever. Comprised of some outstanding
instrumentalists and unique songwriters, the Flu leaves us with a pleasurable pain that extends to the depths of one's intestines. Each of
their songs holds a surprise. One minute they are drawing inspiration from Celtic music, and in another they might be rapping or swooning like country balladeers.
"Brave, Brave Sir Robin" even features a solo classical-sounding mandolin melody. Their material could easily build a cult following, while
some stodgier listeners might find some of it offensive or shallow. Their musical journey doesn't pull any punches, and you've got to take it like they play it - with a large tongue in your cheek.
The band from Hoboken, NJ. doesn't constrain itself to any one genre, but they do favor an electric, danceable and eccentric sound. Their rather unconventional songs mix rock, traditional Irish, country, R&B, and rap. Idiosyncratic to say the least, Icewagon Flu offers a bonus track with "layers, segments, effects, manipulations and filters" that introduces us to the band members.
Kevin Adkins (aka Gobshite) and George L. Smith III (aka Doc Slides) provide Icewagon Flu's lead vocals. Between them, they also play tin
whistle, banjo, harmonica, kazoo, bodhran, tres, and slide whistle. The band's other five members are engaging instrumentalists and backing vocalists. Martin Bristow (Beast) plays guitar while Chris Winslow (Mr.
Winslow) plays the keys. Mandolinist Timothy Murray (Tim Thompson) offers
some fluid licks and fills on songs like the title track. Christopher Speich (Tom Thompson) is the band's drummer, and Josh Winslow (Sauce) is the bassman. They seem to be a tight bunch that likes a festive fun-filled
party. Given their emphasis on original material and witty messages, it would've been nice if their CD's jacket and/or website included song lyrics.
With so many bands out there trying to find something new and unique for
a signature sound, it seems that Icewagon Flu is headed in the right direction for an entertaining bar band. Fans will certainly materialize who
enjoy their wacky weirdness, satire and irony presented with excellent musicianship. They're a little Frank Zappa and Dr. Demento, Bruce
Springsteen and The Police, Austin Lounge Lizards and The Irish Rovers, Tom Paxton and Bob Marley. These Hobokenites' off-beat humor and first-rate musicianship will surely crack your pan. - Northwest Bluegrass


Hoboken's Icewagon Flu plans on making a stop soon at a bar near you. They have released their debut album Trouble Has a Car and they prepare to play at Maxwell's on July 3. Blending blues, Irish rock, roots and jazz, Flu creates a smooth and catchy sound.

Led by lead singer Kevin Adkins, the band's charm is found in their witty songs about exposure, parties and adventure. Flu's six members each have a pseudonym, which adds to their playful attitude. We recently caught up with Adkins to get acquainted with the Flu.

EM - Where are you from?

KA - Icewagon Flu hails mostly from right here in Hoboken. We've got one
joker from Weehawken and another clown that lives in Manhattan, but the rest
of the boys are out-and-out townies. Beast moved from merry ol' Swindon, England. He's been stateside for 16 years and still struggles with ourlanguage. Personally, I come from a long line of Hobokenites reaching back
five generations. Both my grandparents and my parents were married in Our Lady of Grace, and I was even baptized there. My grandfather was a Hoboken
cop for 25 years. Like the rest of the Flu, I moved around a lot, gestating
in a variety of different cultures.

EM - Who are your influences?

KA - The year was 1993 and everything they played on college radio was pure gold! The Posies, the Judybats, the Connells and Buffalo Tom are some of my favorites. The band draws a lot from Irish greats like the Pogues and Black'47, but we cannot deny the wide variety of eclectic influences. Beast, our
guitarist, models himself as a handsome Andy Summers with a Peter Gabriel-esque instinct for showmanship. Our lead vocalist, Doc Slides, has
been described as a mix between a rowdy Sid Vicious and a young Shane MacGowan with teeth. Our music is steeped in a wide variety of musical traditions ranging from Irish, Calypso, Blues, Country and Soul. Icewagon
Flu is the true American music melting pot; we take all the great sounds of
early America, run them through the Flu blender and present them in a totally new way.

EM - Why did you become a musician?

KA - I could never figure out why I was so terrible at sports until the age of 6, when my Uncle Reggie handed me a jaw-harp that he had fashioned out of a Holiday Inn coat hanger. After years of being shunned in social circles, I realized that it would be fun to be a rock star....I mean I could be myself, you know, I could sit around, drink beer and break stuff. When I met Slides the first year of high school, I knew we where destined for greatness. We both got cut from the lacrosse tryouts, and all we kept talking about was the new Sting album and all the pranks we'd play on that rotten dean. Slides and I formed a band called Small Frye our senior year and modeled ourselves off of They Might Be Giants and The Ramones. After nine years of college(collectively), Slides and I ended up in the Jersey area and it was time to invent the greatest band of all times!

EM - Where have you performed?

KA - In the shower. However, we mainly perform in Manhattan, and as far as
New Jersey goes, we've played all over. Our summer tour schedule features over 10 gigs from June through August. September is already promising two performances in Maryland and Washington.

EM - What is your favorite day of the week?

KA - Hump day.

EM - How would you describe your music?

KA -We take all the great sounds of early America, run them through the Flu blender and present them in a totally new way.

EM - Are you looking for mainstream exposure?

KA - Let's get one thing clear: Icewagon Flu doesn't partake in exhibitionism. Many people ask us this question because we do have a song titled "Shameless Exhibitionist" and one of the tracks on the new album is
named "Nudity." Having said that, we do like to be free and comfortable on stage and in rehearsal. If that brings attention from the industry, then so be it.

EM - What professional plans do you have for the future?

KA - A couple of the band members, and I have formed an independent record label based in Hoboken called Jivin' Jones Records. We're looking to sign some intriguing local acts and help them put out albums. As for the band, we plan to continue gigging and spreading the Flu down the East Coast this fall. We're interviewing management groups and we hope to perform in the college circuit. Our main goal right now is to get a large following in Japan, so we can quit our day jobs.

EM - What is the best part about your job?

KA - No pressure. That's the best part about my role in the band

- Hudson Current


Icewagon Flu takes nerd rock international and then circles it back to good
old-fashioned hillbilly jams. The seven piece Hoboken, New Jersey band combines traditional Irish and country folk sounds with bawdy,
giggle-inspiring lyrics. Mix a dash of irony and a tongue-in-cheek naughtiness, and you'll know we're not in Appalachia any more. Case in
point: the band's uniform at a recent gig: jersey shirts with band member MrWinslow's mug surrounded by flowers.

All goofing aside, the seven
members are solid musicians and include a classically trained drummer and mandolin player. They don't take themselves too seriously, even though they will play a ballad or two with straight faces. Their harmonies might be a little off at times, but their hearts and their beer bottles are in the right place. Catch the Flu's next gig. - Time Out New York


"Mandolins? Tin whistles? Kazoos? What the hell is going on?!

If you've ever been blown away by fresh instrumentation, and unique song writing, that makes most of the crap on the radio seem as generic, and flavorless as it really is, you will definitely be able to appreciate this debut full-length from ICEWAGON FLU.

These guys are all over the musical map ...that happens to be hanging in an Irish pub. With an Irish sound, ranging from the traditional (#3,5,8) to the not-so, ICEWAGON FLU tackles everything from the "yo, yo!" (#4), to the"yee-haw!" (#6), as well as some other blends of styles that haven't been labeled yet....and let's not forget the bonus track, which is like an order of Mr. Bungle with a side of Dead Milkmen. Damn, that's nice!

So, whether you catch them live, or just play the CD, raise a pint and get
naked! It's a good time.
'hooooooooo-ha!' - XM Satellite Radio


More bastard songs of Shane out to get you ossified, then screw your wives and your daughters. Beware of these Icewagonmen bearing gifts. - Larry Kirwin, Black 47


This Flu Is Contagious!
October 17, 2007
By Mike Farragher


LISTENING to Icewagon Flu is like dipping your hands into your trick or treat candy — you never know what flavor you’ll encounter, but you’ll be guaranteed a sweet treat every time. To prove a point, listen to this pop hodge-podge as described by singer Kevin Adkins.
“We’ve been recently been doing that eighties tune ‘Safety Dance’ in our set, along with a bizarre medley of Fine Young Cannibals’ ‘She Drives Me Crazy,’ Pat Benatar’s ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot,’ and rounding it off with Boston’s ‘More Than a Feeling.’�

Their new CD, The Great American Something, has a similar oddball approach to power pop. Many of these pop references are crammed into one song, with hairpin musical turns expertly navigated by George Leo Smith III (vocals, bodhran, keys), Kevin Adkins (vocals, whistles, banjo, harmonica), Martin Bristow (guitar), Tim Murray (bass, mandolin) and Christopher Speich (drums, percussion).

The disc opens with “Clowns and Jokers,� a tentative political tune disguised as a Dave Matthews jam. They definitely worked really hard on the arrangements. “Look for clowns for smiling and joking/let them lead you your smile will be broken,� sings Smith over a rubbery funk melody.

“George came in with the ideas around that song,� explains co-lead singer Adkins. “It’s his frustration on our political situation. At the time being, there doesn’t seem to be a good choice. He came in with the idea of being led by either clowns or jokers, neither one of them a good choice when you think about it.�

“Blue Number 9� has that alt country groove that you’d expect from REM, while “Little Red Devil� has a jazzy, reggae-fied feel to it.

In short, if you can’t find something on this disc that tickles your fancy, then you probably don’t like pop music. I spoke with Adkins about the Icewagon Flu voodoo they do so well. Here’s how it went:

How would you describe the sound of Icewagon Flu for someone who has never heard your band?

George just started calling it “melting pop,� because it’s a melting pot of pop. One of our Baltimore fans called it “psycho cabana,� so it’s something in the middle there.

What influences shaped your sound?

I give a lot of credit to Martin the guitar player. He is a big fan of Andy Summers and XTC. I started a band called Small Fry and we were more along the lines of pop punk like Green Day.

We were big into the Pogues and started out learning the trad tunes and rocking them up when we left that band and came into this one, so that is where the Irish connection comes from. We grew as a band and found out that we could do more than just different takes on Irish music, which is what you hear on this CD.

I did notice that this album takes you one step further from your Irish roots. Are Irish songs still part of your live act?

Absolutely. We love taking the trad tunes that we grew up with and putting a new spin on it, and that works especially well in a live setting.

“Waxy’s Dargle� is the one we’re doing it lately. That song was done so well by the Pogues and more recently by the Young Dubliners, and people respond really well to it. We did it at the Celtic Fling in Pennsylvania recently and it went over as gangbusters.

We also do a reggae version of “Whiskey in the Jar.� Old guys in kilts were grooving to it, which is always a good sign.

Off the Wagon is still one of our biggest sellers, and that has the Irish songs like “Tell Me Ma� on them.

How have the new songs been going onstage? Have they changed much once they left the studio?

All of our songs continue to grow and change as you play them and you do things in the studio you can’t do live. So, you have to build things up in a live setting. Some of the songs “Blue Number 9� and “Wild Irish� go down really well, and then the more complex ones don’t always go down as well.

In addition to the band duties, you guys regularly produce concerts under the Irish Rock Night name. How did they come about and how are they going now?

We have been putting them on since 2004. As we were touring around, we noticed all these bands doing different things. We wanted to bring everyone together to show that there is a common thread even though we’ve all had our musical differences. We did them in Hoboken and Manhattan. We had the Prodigals and Ruffians there; we did four bands each night.

Connolly’s was interested in doing something more regular, so we started to do it once every couple of months in 2005. That was a lot of work, so we did it quarterly. It’s gotten to the point where we don’t really have to be involved to make the night a success, so I guess it’s taking on a life of it’s own.

Our last one was in Pittsburgh with Ceann and Jackdaw. We might do one in December in Hoboken. We’ll let you know!

For more information, log onto icewagonflu.com - Irish Voice


» RODEO ROB | STAFF WRITER

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again -- Someone, somewhere, give these guys a record contract.

Surely there must be some “Best Unsigned Band” contest that Icewagon Flu, the They Might be Giants meets the Pogues band from Hoboken, N.J., can win. I mean come on, this is getting ridiculous.

While their live act and first few independent releases Trouble Has a Car and Take One should offer enough evidence that these gainfully employed musicians deserve a chance to say goodbye to their day jobs and give rock and roll a try, their newest, The Great American Something, closes the case.

Someone, Bloodshot Records, Yep Roc, hell, Mint Records, someone, do your job, get on the horn, and sign these guys.

The Great American Something, while not perfect, is such a leap forward for the Flu boys that it is almost stunning. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Trouble and really dug Take One, but if the latter is an example of what the Flu can do with a few rushed hours in the studio, than The Great American Something demonstrates the potential these guys have when given time, money, and free reign. The production, the songwriting, the mixing, the arranging--it sounds as if some label opened up the pocketbooks and threw the Flu a wad of cash.

Now Before I get into too much detail, let me go over some history. As some of you may remember, I wrote a glowing feature about two years ago after seeing an abbreviated live set during the giant D.C. frat party known as Shamrock Fest. Playing in front of hundreds of drunken wanna-be Paddys brought out the best in the ‘Flu, who gave it their all despite the frigid weather, stiff wind, and less than desirable stage location (in front of an office building in suburban Washington).

Anyway, two years later, after Take One and two E.P.s, the Flu have resurfaced with The Great American Something. Although one cannot certain call an album by an unsigned band a “statement” record, The Great American Something comes awfully close. The band is often pigeonholed into the “Irish Rock” category a’la Black ‘47, Flogging Molly, and the Finians, but its been obvious from the beginning that there’s more to these guys than a tin whistle and a few drinking songs.

I mean sure, Adkins does a mean Shane MacGowan, and their live set is full of traditional numbers like “Tell Me Ma” and “Whiskey in the Jar,” but George Smith’s strong and varied vocals bring enough of a Mike Patton/Faith No More vibe that you can’t just say these guys are an Irish band.

In fact, only on the self-penned “Wild Irish” do the Flu boys sound anything like their influences. Rather, The Great American Something is defined by the reggae-drenched “Little Red Devil,” the groovy “I’m the Best,” and the smoking “Drowning in Air.”

Take “I’m the Best,” for starters. This song appeared on 2005’s Take One as a straight-up rocker, but here, the Flu boys slow it down, add some harmonica and clever background vocals, and it’s a brand new tune. The song never takes off, and that’s the beauty--drummer Christopher Speich maintains a quiet, street corner groove, while bassist Timmy Murray and guitarist Martin Bristow stay in the background, yet they anchor the song.

From there, “Drowning in Air” picks things up a notch and is probably the best tune on the record. The song is driven by Smith’s and Adkins’ harmony vocals, alongside a driving drumbeat with a quick Irish-tinged guitar hook. I must say, I’d put this song up against anything recorded by anyone else this year, this has “sleeper hit” written all over it.

Now that’s not to say everything on The Great American Something is terrific; “Blue #9” is a little too catchy for its own good, and “Red Light” would do well at a college party, but sounds too much like a white band trying to do James Brown.

And lyrically, these guys aren’t exactly Nobel Prize winners, as evidenced on “Little Red Devil,” where Smith croons, most Sublimely, “Are you feeling me girl?/ Or just stealing my mind away,” repeatedly.

But hey, if you name me an album without a few downers, I’ll show you a band that does this sort of thing full time with a massive budget and, most likely, strong company support. The ‘Flu is doing all of this on their own, and its about time someone got wise and handed them a deal.
- Nude As The New


What do whistles, a banjo, a harmonica and a mandolin have in common? They all appear on Icewagon Flu’s eclectic fifth
album, “The Great American Something.” The Jersey-based rock outfit follows suit with groups like O.A.R., producing music
you’d love on a roadtrip...Fans of multiple genres will appreciate the grab-bag approach that has been taken instrumentally. The
album has a little bit of everything, from reggae to quasi-new age...Check the site for the closest show to you. - On Tap Magazine


Icewagon Flu
Mr Norman EP
Jivin' Jones Records
www.icewagonflu.com

Hoboken band Icewagon Flu are an enterprising lot; with their own record label and graphic design company, their own festival and still finding the time to gig and record. Having sold out of their last album, they've gone right ahead with an EP to fill the gap until the next album.

After seeing the band live last year, I would have to report a strong Irish current running through their music, and indeed on this EP you'll hear mandolin, banjo, tin whistle and bodhran used subtly throughout. However, this is not a 'shove it down your throat' Irish rock band (although they are the people behind New York's popular Irish Rock Festival), but an adventurous young band using a variety of instruments to add texture to their well arranged songs. Guitar parts, percussion and vocal harmonies give this EP an upbeat pop feel, with a wide spectrum of musical influences.
Title track 'Norm' has a great guitar riff and a Talking Heads quirkiness (though without the love 'em or hate 'em David Byrne vocals). Having said that, lead singer Kev's vocals have an impressive range and variety on this song. There's the radio edit and full length version included here.
Although written about American ideals, this is probably the most Irish inspired of the four songs is 'Trinity' which builds throughout the verse in true protest song style to an Irish tune on the chorus with banjo backing and a two note whistle riff. Vocals on the 'whiskey in the water' chorus have a Shane McGowan sound and there's a bit of Damian Dempsey and Spirit of the West in there too. 'Thousands are Sailing' comes to mind, which has to be a compliment.
'Liza was rejected' is a well developed piece of songwriting and arrangement, which has the feel of Sergeant Pepper era Beatles and Elvis Costello (especially the bass and lead guitar intro). There's some nice mandolin and - I'm guessing - glockenspiel making this a real catchy track.
Completely different again is 'Shameless exhibitionist' with a Caribbean influence and the kinds of percussion and happy people noises that go with that sound.
Talented band, not what I had expected from them on this EP, but having listened to it something like eleven times by now, it's really turning out to have depth that merits many more appearances on the cd player. - Hibernian Records


Discography

TROUBLE HAS A CAR (2003) - Premier Full-Length LP
MR. NORMAN (2005) - 5 song EP / Mixed by Mitch Easter
TAKE ONE (2005) - 16 song live recording at Grisly Labs
OFF THE WAGON (2006) - 10 song EP from our Irish sessions
THE GREAT AMERICAN SOMETHING (2007) - Full-Length LP Produced by Dan McLoughlin

Photos

Bio

"A wild ride of free ranging songs that sound like Phish, if they swam in the Hudson. Icewagon Flu is a bug worth catching" (Irish Voice)

"Jokesters on a musical adventure that takes the audience to Ireland, and to the Calypso Islands." (Pulse Weekly)

Icewagon Flu is one of the most original bands to come onto the music scene in years. Since 2001, the band has created a fun mixture of genre bending world-music pop, which has solidified a growing cult following and insured a place in Indy rock. While releasing four full length studio albums, one EP, included on five compilations, and six film soundtracks, The FLU has toured all over the east coast with bands as far reaching as Black 47, Eric Burden and The Animals, Carbon Leaf, Flogging Molly, Scythian, and Roger McGuinn.

Started by ex Small Frye band mates, George "Sgt. Deacon Dr. J.J. Slides" Smith and Kevin "First Mate Gobshite" Adkins, Icewagon Flu was born from good times, clowning around, and a sincere love of music.

George's aptitude for acting and theatrics, coupled with Kevin's visual artistry and showmanship, would later create a live performance that both dumbfounded and endeared audiences to them.

"Insanity!" (Nude as the News)

After a few changes in lineup, the two began writing with a bloke calling himself Martin "Beast" Bristow. Crossing the ocean to escape his joke town of Swindon England, Beast, brought his British Isle sensibility and Hugh Grant wardrobe to a band in great need of a guitar. Clutching their music degrees for dear life, two more members hopped on board. Chris "Tom Thompson" Speich, with his cage of Metallica esque drums and Tim "Fisheye" Murray plinked his plinky mandolin, before resolving to play bass - completed what we now know as "The Greatest Band of All Times!"

"We're American music." Stated Smith recently. "We're just like America, we're a melting pot of everything."

In a time when the music industry wanted to put every band in a category, The FLU sprinted in the opposite direction, releasing "Trouble Has A Car" on Jivin Jones Records label. It saluted The Pogues style Celtic punk, Gram Parsons' country, Snoop Dogg Rap, Springsteen rock, and barber shop.

"Icewagon Flu is like water," says Beast, "you poor it out and it can go in every direction."

Trouble Has A Car was greeted with great reviews from The Irish Voice, Time Out New York, and XM Satellite Radio. After Trouble, they released the bitingly satirical Mr. Norman EP, which was mixed by Mitch Easter of REM fame. The Album blended prayer for peace messages (Trinity) with comedic Weezer/Beatles rock/pop (Norm and Liza was Rejected). It concluded with a calypso inspired African mish mosh known as Shameless Exhibitionist, which at the time, described the bands live experience.

"I believe heavy exposure is a good thing." Stated Adkins.

Today the band continues to make some of the best independent music to be found. Their songs are both radio friendly and underground comedic, making them at home in any Irish Pub or funk dance hall.

"Blending Blues, Irish Rock, roots and Jazz, The Flu creates a smooth and catchy sound." (Hudson Current)

"Highly original combination of loud Rock-N-Roll, American Roots, whiskey soaked Irish Folk, with an almost jam band feel." (Shite 'N Onions)

"An infectious mix of eclectic music that simultaneously gives us chills and fever." (Ross Reviews)

"Icewagon Flu takes nerd rock international and then circles it back to good old fashioned hillbilly jams. Catch The Flu's next gig." (Time Out NY)

With the release of their biggest studio album to date, The Great American Something, Icewagon Flu will soon be heard on independent and college radios throughout the world. Produced by Push Stars bass player Dan McLaughlin, "the album boasts five, count them, five top ten hits. And a bunch of other stuff everyone should dig. Although one cannot certainly call an album by an unsigned band a 'statement' record, The Great American Something comes awfully close." (Nude as the News)

"A well crafted album from start to finish." (Epinions)

They've been called The Rolling Stones meets XTC meets The Hothouse Flowers meets They Might Be Giants meets The Pogues, but you shouldn't believe any of that crap. The Flu are exactly what they say they are--The Greatest Band of All Times.

"If you've ever been blown away by fresh instrumentation, and unique songwriting, that makes most of the crap on the radio seem as generic and flavorless as it really is, you will definitely be able to appreciate Icewagon Flu." (XM Satellite Radio)