Young One on his way to Castlemaine

THE punk-sprit of Vyvyan Basterd lives on in Adrian Edmondson's folk-punk band The Bad Shepherds.

Edmondson, who formed the band six years ago, is probably most recognised for his role of the violent, metal-loving medical student Vyvyan who shared a house with Rik, Mike and Neil in 1980s show The Young Ones.

Since the 1980s, Edmondson has been a regular visitor to Australia – his brother lives in Melbourne and he toured with The Comic Strip Presents, promoted his novel The Gobbler, his film Guest House Paradiso and has toured with his band in Victoria's capital.

But it is his musical talents that bring him to Castlemaine's Bridge Hotel on Saturday night.

The Bad Shepherds play folk instruments like mandolins, banjos and fiddles but they cover songs by punk bands including The Clash and The Sex Pistols.

For Edmondson, the band started as a hobby after he bought a mandolin while drunk one night.

"Every year I go on a bit of a pub crawl with a few mates," he said. 

"We get a bit happy and whilst emboldened by alcohol we often buy something inappropriate when our wives aren't looking

"Well, in 2007 I woke up with a mandolin on the kitchen table."

With his new purchase, Edmondson set about learning chords and taught himself London Calling by The Clash.

Getting in touch with Celtic musician Troy Donockley, the pair knew they had something unique.

" It just worked – there was something magical about the sound, about the brightness, about the slightly mournful quality that the whole thing generated," Edmondson said.

"I was hooked. I rang Troy, we met, drank beer, ate curry, and arranged eight songs in two days and the band was born."

But despite touring the world with a folk-punk band, the whole thing still feels like a hobby to Edmondson.

"I sometimes can't believe how much fun I'm having. I think it's down to a few things," he said.

"It's just a bloody good idea (punk songs on folk instruments); people love to hear songs they love properly reinterpreted; and they love to hear the lyrics – often for the first time).

"It's amazing how many people turn their noses up at the idea of folk music, but once they're in the room with a band pumping out jigs and reels they uderstand that it's that vital part that's been missing in their lives."

But with so many punk songs to choose from as well as quite a few original songs, how do The Bad Shepherds narrow down their set list?

"I love this process. We generally sit about and talk about songs that meant something to us, and why they meant something to us," Edmondson said.

"The original stuff is just happening because we can't stop it."

With The Bad Shepherds third album (Mud, Blood and Beer out now, there seems to be no slowing down for Edmondson and his crew.

"For a long time we thought that our raison d'etre was re-imagining punk and new wave," he said.

"But if you sit around like that with instruments and an open mind stuff just comes out. 

"We're thinking it's the way forward from here. We love it when people come up to us after a gig and say things like 'That Mud, Blood & Beer song – who did that originally?'."

Between folk music, punk covers and an original sound, Edmondson says you can expect one thing from The Bad Shepherds show.

"Joy. Our motto is 'Maximum Joy - Glorious Racket'," he said.

"We're not a comedy band, but we're not at all po-faced either. We like to have a good time and we treat every gig as a party.

Adrian Edmondson and The Bad Shepherds play at The Bridge Hotel in Castlemaine on Saturday night.

Tickets available from www.oztix.com.au

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