Cranky George coalesced over a span of several years: James Fearnley, co- founder and accordionist for the London-Irish folk-punk band,The Pogues, and the Mulroney brothers, Kieran and Dermot, violin-and cello-playing siblings from a large, Irish-American family from Alexandria,VA, first came together as neighbors in Hollywood, California. In 1994, the three were founding members of the Los Angeles band,The Low and Sweet Orchestra, which fastened a string-and-accordion section to the traditional format of drums, bass, guitar and vocals, releasing in 1996 the acclaimed album Goodbye To All That on Interscope Records. A couple of years after The Low and Sweet Orchestra split up, the Mulroneys and Fearnley formed The Cranky George Trio, recording an EP of original material, augmented by mandolin, guitar and ukulele, and playing a series of live shows, which incorporated foot-operated percussion and a hatbox bass drum. In time, the trio added Brad Wood on bass. After a couple of years,Sebastian Sheehan Visconti was drafted in as percussionist. While he is better known as an actor in his roles in such films as in My Best Friend’s Wedding, About Schmidt and The Grey, Dermot is also an accomplished musician. As a cellist, he’s classically trained with many years’ experience in both the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra and in Academy Award-winner Michael Giacchino’s scoring orchestra in Hollywood. As a mandolin player and guitarist, he’s unrestrained, injecting mischief into each song with unsparing invention.
For more than thirty years, James has been The Pogues’ accordion player, multi-instrumentalist and string arranger, as well as a composer for film and theatre. He is also an acclaimed memoirist, his lyrical and candid book about his life with the Pogues, Here Comes Everybody: The Story of the Pogues, published in 2012 by Faber in the United Kingdom and by Chicago Review Press in the United States. James’s demoniacal dexterity on the typewriter can be heard in his accordion playing on Fat Lot of Good, along with his verve as a pianist and the brutal constancy of his time keeping as a guitarist.
Like his brother Dermot, Kieran is a classically trained musician, specializing in four-stringed instruments violin, ukuleles and tenor guitar. While Dermot’s place is on the screen, Kieran’s is behind it – a screenwriter of wide repute, having written (and directed) the independent film Paperman and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. On Fat Lot of Good, while Kieran’s violin is sensuous and liquid, his ukulele playing is watertight. As a founding member of and lead vocal- arranger for Columbia University’s seminal a cappella group,The Kingsmen, his voice is by turns pleading and excoriating.
All-round musician Brad Wood’s producing career began in 1988 as co-owner of the storied recording studio, Idful Music Corporation in Chicago’s Wicker Park, continuing with the establishment of Seagrass Studio in North Hollywood. In his career, Brad has been the producer of over a hundred records, including such artists as Ben Lee,Veruca Salt,The Bangles, Pete Yorn and Liz Phair. Brad’s bass playing plies a line between James Jamerson and Andy Fraser, while his hatbox bass drum is the pulsing heartbeat of the band.
Sebastian Sheehan Visconti is a sound designer and sound effects editor in the Los Angeles film industry, notably for television series such as The Muppets, The Flash and the upcoming The Mick, as well as a musician, drummer and percussionist whose sense of punctuation and dynamics is directly related to his skills as a sound editor.
As a perfect foil to the effervescence of the musicianship in Cranky George, the band’s blend of vocal harmonies, its cross-graining of voices – James’s chiselly drone, the honeyed timbre of Sebastian’s voice, Brad’s incisive falsetto, the Mulroney brothers’ baritones – Kieran’s urgent, Dermot’s lusty – is as sturdy as marine plywood. Recorded over a span of five years at Brad’s Seagrass Studio, this limited edition of 450 double gatefold albums of heavyweight vinyl, each signed and numbered, tips music from the bucket that dredges the confluence of the Danube, the Shannon and the Missouri.
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