Pumping fresh blood into the folk music scene is UK six piece Pons Aelius. In 2015 – at the combined age of 132 – the band gained recognition by winning the Celtic Connections’ Danny Kyle Award.
Now launching its debut EP; Pons Aelius is taking its horde of instruments on tour. This means transporting its guitar, bouzouki, double bass, bodhrán, whistle, flute, mandolin, and bagpipes across the UK; the piano will meet them there.
Double bassist, Bevan Morris said: “We’re all fans of the Berlingo Multispace XTR; so are really excited to spend 10 days together in one.
“More importantly, we can’t wait to unleash out new material on crowds up and down the country. We really come into our own in a live setting.”
Guitar and bouzouki player, Alasdair Paul, explained: “Our music is like getting beaten about the head with a set of bagpipes.”
Whistler and piper, Jordan Aikin agreed: “Paul Gascoigne’s rendition of Fog on the Tyne always inspires me.”
Joking aside, Pons Aelius explained its folk inspiration came from many sources. Bodhrán player, Callum Younger, said he inherited it. Similarly, Alasdair Paul said folk was part of his Highland upbringing.
Double bassist, Bevan Morris added: “I grew up in Lincolnshire; so folk music was fully avoidable; but here I am.”
Flute player, Sam Partridge, quipped: “The conical bore of Glossop chimney inspired me; it looks like a flute and I love flutes!”
Tenor, Banjoist, Mandolinist and Pianist, Tom Kimber concluded: “I’ve always enjoyed folk music at festivals, so that culture got me into it.”
This passion drove the six toward Newcastle University, where they met on the Folk and Traditional Music degree.
After playing together in different line-ups the six decided to consolidate their talent into one group, which in mid-2014 became Pons Aelius.
Morris said: “We all respected each other’s music, so there was a lot of excitement to see what we could do together. That excitement is still there every time we play. We always try to add something new to the mix, so our rhythm keeps developing.”
When asked what advice it they would offer new musicians, Kimber said: “Practice is the most important thing; both as a band and individually.”
Aikin added: “We do a lot of late night rehearsals. We are all really invested in the band and understand that even we can’t all be around all of the time, we still give it as much as we can.”
Testament to this commitment is the success Pons Aelius has found overseas.
Aikin said: “We feel really lucky to be able to travel with our music. Earlier this year we played at Norway’s Rauland Internasjonale Vinter festival, and it was unforgettable.”
However, Aikin noted, the band equally enjoyed its UK gigs.
He said: “We closed the 2015 Dentdale Music and Beer Festival, and it was insane. We couldn’t hear ourselves over the crowd. The tent was rammed and everyone was so up for it. It was such a great festival.”
Once home, the band began preparations for its EP tour, which is scheduled September 16 – 24; for Colchester, Birmingham, Inverness, Perth, Edinburgh, Sheffield and Newcastle.
Morris said: “Newcastle’s Bar Loco is always a great gig. We’ve all played there in various capacities a bunch of times, so it will be a real homecoming.
“We’ve nearly brought Bar Loco’s floor down a couple of times; so we’re hoping on the 24th the building will finally be condemned!”
After touring its EP, Pons Aelius will return to Glasgow for Celtic Connection 2016.
Partridge said: “We can’t wait to be back at Celtic Connections.
“Celtic Connections 2015 was one of our most memorable moments; the chance to hear and meet such great acts was really something.”
Speaking of the band’s Celtic Connections Danny Kyle Award, Partridge said: “It was awesome that our music was acknowledged at such a prestigious event; it was really humbling for us.”