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Irish eyes are smiling at The Righs, Edmond's very own Celtic punk band, whose members can't wait to subvert your expectations



The Righs with The Gunship
8 p.m. Saturday
VZD's Restaurant & Club
4200 N. Western

Celtic punk rockers The Righs don't actually hail from the Emerald Isle, but they are making a good go of mastering the culture. Marrying a love of Irish heritage with their rebellious nature has been at the center of the Edmond act's mission since its conception five years ago, churning out two full-length albums of rowdy anthems loaded with the themes you might expect.

"Drinking and death," Righs multi-instrumentalist Omid Nowrouzi said of the band's lyrical content.
Guitarist and vocalist Jack Smith said "Roses," their latest disc, "'is basically 12 songs about death and five songs about drinking. Sometimes, it's both."

But while the lyrical content might skew toward suds and sorrow, the music isn't always what listeners anticipate from a group of this sort. Although comparisons to established Celt-punk acts like Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys come readymade and well-deserved, The Righs aim to do something a little different.

"People who are familiar with the Celtic punk scene generally refer to us as one of the most unique bands in the genre, because of all the different things we pull in," lead singer Nate Williams said. "We stand apart quite well in that regard."

It's not all pints and shamrocks; a wide array of influences come from the band's diverse members, who have played in everything from emo to ska acts before joining this group. The result is a style that ranges from Neutral Milk Hotel and Bruce Springsteen to Beirut and Blink-182, all in the same song.

The Righs might be summarized best by its fiddler, Jian Azimi, whom Williams described as "a Persian playing in a Celtic punk band who is obsessed with mariachi music and freestyle rap." The Emerald Isle sound has proven to be but an umbrella through which the band rains down a wealth of other offerings. 

Even so, the "Irish punk" label is inescapable, and has frustrated the group's members, who offer a sound much more rich than that niche.

"We've been around for five years and are still underground around here," Williams said. "We've fought the whole novelty thing. Sometimes we get written off as fun drinking music, but they don't see us as serious musicians."

Said Nowrouzi, "It seems like you have to be rock, metal or indie to get any credit. We are kind of rowing upstream. We are a loud band in a sea of softer ones."

Being loud and proud has afforded The Righs a few special opportunities, including stealing the show when opening for '90s ska act Reel Big Fish in July. It's sometimes been hard finding the right venue or appropriate supporting acts, but its boundlessly energetic live performances and simple desire at entertaining a crowd have helped break the stigma.

The Righs' only wish is for audiences to come out and see why.

"Pretty much everyone who comes to the shows, even the ones that are skeptical at first, are going to have a good time," Williams said.

Said Azimi, "You know, it's kind of nice being unique. It's nice seeing people puzzled by us saying we are an Irish punk band and then ... well "¦ it's just cool to turn people's heads and make them forget their doubts."

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