The Bellends are somewhat jokingly named after a British insult ("dickhead"), but lead singer Eoin McCarthy is more serious than ever about his music – and having a bloody good time in the process.
And if gigs were schlongs, The Bellends are well-hung for the summer. (OK, OK, this will be the last penis reference.) This Sunday, they’ll headline the “Guitars For Vets" stage at Locust Street Festival of Music & Art. Their set starts at 7 p.m.
“Summer in Milwaukee is the greatest thing in the world and we can’t wait to get it started,” says McCarthy, who was born in Dublin and lived in Milwaukee on and off for many years.
After Locust Street Fest, The Bellends open a concert for Yam Haus at Summer Sounds in Cedarburg on Friday, June 16.
The Bellends, described by McCarthy as a “simple, dirty, basement rock-n-roll band,” also includes musicians Marco Conley on violin, banjo and mandolin; Jake Wild on guitar; William Cutter on bass; and Biju Zimmerman on drums.
McCarthy continues to work with his longtime band, “Whiskey of the Damned,” and hopes to get back in the studio with his father, Irish balladeer and Irish Fest favorite, Finbar McCarthy, for the first time in more than 15 years.
Conley is also a current member of The Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra and Wild is the guitarist for Wolves With Virginia. All of the members of The Bellends have played music for two decades or more.
“It gets to the point you don’t choose music anymore – you just do it,” says Wild, who's been a musician since he was 13.
The Bellends' first album, “A Feast for the Crows” – recorded at High Five Studios in Riverwest – drops next month on vinyl and digital only. (Preorder it here.) The record features 10 songs primarily around the theme of “broken-hearted, sad love songs and motorcycles,” according to McCarthy.
“It’s really easy to listen to. Very straightforward and catchy,” says Zimmerman. “The perfect record for windows-down summertime.”
Recently, The Bellends released a skateboard-themed video for their first single, a powerful version of Rod Stewart's, “Young Turks," directed by Brian Theisen. They also released a video for "I'm A Mess" and a third video is coming out next month.
The Bellends started as McCarthy’s solo studio project two years ago and became a full band last summer.
It’s also the first project McCarthy started since becoming sober 18 months ago.
“Turns out, it’s a lot of fun being sober and making music. I’m no longer pounding 15 shots of whiskey every time I go on stage and, hey, I remember the words to my songs now,” he says.
Sobriety has also provided a creative outlet for McCarthy.
“Depression is much more difficult to deal with when you’re sober. So now I deal with it by writing about it,” says McCarthy.
The Bellends hope to go on tour, realistically as an opener for a more-established band.
“I'd rather not tour with five dudes sleeping in a smelly van in a Walmart parking lot – been there, done that. We want an opening spot on a proper tour,” says McCarthy. “You listening Frank Turner?”
The band also hopes their new album will attract the attention of a larger label.
“I’m ready to whore myself out to the record labels,” says McCarthy. “I’m having much fun at 40, sober and making music. I don’t remember a lot of the past 20 years, but the next 20 are gonna be tip top.”
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.