Rock ‘n’ roll should be able to resound anywhere.
No matter the setting, its rhythms, riffs, and roar should encourage you to raise your hands or preferably a glass (if of age!) in celebration. Cockswain maintain this tradition every time they hit the stage or enter the studio.
The Phoenix sextet — Neil [vocals, acoustic guitar], Mandy [fiddle], Brian [drums], Justin [bass], Evan [lead guitar], and Wake [banjo] — bottles uplifting and spirited messages within sun-burnt Celtic rock sealed by punk energy and desert heat. This approach quietly transformed the group from a local Arizona favorite at countless watering holes to a national Irish festival standout and touring force with gigs alongside everyone from Skinny Lister to The Young Dubliners under their collective belt.
However, they elevate this signature style to a new level on their forthcoming third album in 2019.
“We wanted to place a message in the heart of what we’re now doing,” explains Neil. “We’ve been really inspired by singer-songwriter traditions, and we’ve added another element into the new music. There are protest songs. There are thought-provoking songs. It’s what we’ve been working towards.”
Quite appropriately, Cockswain came to life on St. Patrick’s Day 2012 after its members logged time in other notable acts. Stints in the New Romantics and the Impossible Ones saw Neil garner experience opening for everyone from Dropkick Murphys and Buzzcocks to No Doubt. Meanwhile, Wake played bass for The Shadowcasters, and A Pint of No Return, a group that included Neil as guitarist/singer, and Mandy on fiddle.
In the wake of A Pint Of No Return, they reconvened in Cockswain getting their sea legs for three years before unleashing the independent debut, Seamus, in 2015. Building their profile, they unveiled the follow-up For the Whiskey two years later. Evan joined the fold on the latter with Brian and Justin following in 2018. With the current lineup in place, the group solidified its sound highlighted by Evan’s hard-driving guitar and the airtight rhythmic interplay of Brian and Justin.
Along the way, they cemented themselves in the local scene with marathon three-hour gigs at packed pubs throughout the greater Phoenix area, mixing staples and covers with original material and inciting crowd applause in the process. Simultaneously, the Celtic and Irish Festivals came calling as they performed three years at Tucson Celtic Festival and Scottish Highland Games, two years at Southern Nevada Sons & Daughters of Erin St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and gigs at Woodland Celtic Games & Festival in Woodland, CA and upcoming Seaside Highland Games in Ventura, CA during 2019.
Along the way, they set their sights on record number three. Among the material, 2018 live staple “Another Drinking Song” proves delightfully intoxicating and irresistible as the hard-charging “Feel It In The Morning” lives up to its title with a propulsive beat, raucous fiddle, and the hook, “Here we go again, here we go again, got that feeling creeping in. It’s in the back of my mind. I’m starting to unwind, and I’m gonna feel it in the morning!” Elsewhere, “Four Eyes” details the journeys of “outcasts” as “Up on the Mountain” weaves a tale inspired by simulation theory over a seesawing groove.
“There’s definitely an evolution,” says Wake. “The band really hit its stride. It feels like we’re just beginning.”
With more music and shows on the horizon, Cockswain stand primed to resonate far and wide in everything they do.
“I hope people have a good time when they listen to us or see us live,” Mandy leaves off. “That’s always the goal for us.”
And it’s one they undoubtedly accomplish time and time again.
Here's a poster for venues to download to print and write in their own details about the show.