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What’s the essence of great rock’n’roll? It’s about getting up on a stage and turning your heart inside out. It’s about taking your mundane surroundings and dreaming them into something special, inspirational. It’s about giving people something to believe in. In these days of swingeing cuts and brutal state austerity, of communities dying right under the noses of the politicians elected to serve them, a bit of something to believe in is what we all need.

“There’s a lot of unemployment where we’re from,” says Marty Rafferty, singer/guitarist of Northern Ireland rockers Shoot The Preacher. “Most of our mates we hang about with, there’s not a lot of hope. People live for the weekend, for the chance to go out and be surrounded by all their mates. That’s what we’re going for in our music. Our songs are about feeling frustrated by the establishment. They’re about relationships, the working class and unemployment. But we’re not going for a depressing Radiohead thing. We want to make something out of it that’s positive and uplifting – to lift people out of their everyday lives.”

Shoot The Preacher formed in the town of Amargh, Northern Ireland, in 2010, but the roots of the band have been around a lot longer. Marty started writing songs on his first guitar aged 11, inspired by the music his family used to blast around the house. “My big brothers basically brainwashed our family with Oasis’ ‘What’s The Story Morning Glory’,” he laughs. “I taught myself to play all of the Beatles songs from chord books. But soon I started writing my own songs and they just got better and better as the years went by.”

Marty Rafferty writes songs with big hooks and bigger ambitions. ‘Wasting Time’ and ‘Don’t Make A Sound’ are gritty and passionate anthems fired by urgent punk guitars and choruses that, even after just one listen, take up residence in your head and refuse to be evicted. After a couple of years playing in bands on the Northern Ireland gig circuit, honing his craft, Rafferty decided to form a new group – one with, as he puts it, “the best talent that Northern Ireland could offer.”

That group is Shoot The Preacher. Bringing together old collaborator Dave Mulgrave (drums) with new recruits Kieran McInteggart (guitar/vocals) and Kevin Markey (bass/vocals), this outfit brought a new, harder edge to Rafferty’s songwriting. “Kieran’s really into Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kev is into the Foo Fighters – and that’s great, because it brings all these other influences to the table. You listen to our music now and we don’t sound like any other band out there. We sound like something original.”

Things are moving quickly for Shoot The Preacher. There have been recording sessions, at Manor Park Studios with producer Neal Calderwood, which have yielded Shoot The Preacher’s provisional debut single, ‘Wasting Time’. There have been shows – at London’s Islington 02 Academy, The Cavern Club Liverpool and Proud Camden, at Belfast’s MTV Festival, and shows across Northern Ireland, which more often than not end with fans old and new flooding the stage. The band also just recently played Music Weeks “Radar” industry showcase at Under The Bridge London, which showcases the best artists in the UK that has the potential to break in the next 12 months.

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