Northern Ireland has long been recognised as a country with a great tradition for live music, and the current rock scene is bursting at the seams with a wealth of talent, old and new. For bands based in this small corner of the UK, separated from the mainland by a short ferry ride, it can be an expensive undertaking to embark on a full tour, or even make a few festival appearances. 

Unfortunately, the alternative to mainland touring is more frequent appearances in the local clubs and venues slightly closer to home. And although there is a sizable, enthusiastic following for the bands, there will come a point where over exposure will occur.

For anyone out there not familiar with the NI music scene, lets take a small tour of the area:

Starting in the big city, Belfast is home to some big hitting, heavy metal. BALEFUL CREED, featuring the master of merchandise John Allen, have been selling more t-shirts than cd’s recently, thanks to some eye-catching designs by Gary Dillon. They are working on new material and were recently seen supporting the album launch of fellow riffers GASOLINE OUTLAWS. Also found to be nesting in the capital are the SCREAMING EAGLES, who after touring the UK, and playing festivals across the country, recently released the CD recorded at their headline performance ‘Live At Bonfest’.

Almost directly west from Belfast, is Co. Fermanagh, home to one of the most enduring Irish musicians, PAT MCMANUS. Pat started Mamas Boys with his brothers in the ‘80’s, and has been recording and playing music ever since, in various bands, and solo projects.

Just next door in Co. Tyrone, Phil Conalane and Kie McMurray had a successful couple of albums with Million $ Reload, but following a change in line up, and a freshening up of the song writing, they morphed into BLACKWATER CONSPIRACY. Earlier this year they took the UK by storm on a short headline tour, followed by a supporting slot to Blues guitarist Joanne Shaw Taylor. Making a lot of new fans along the way, as well as appeasing older fans by playing a one-off gig as Million $ Reload, they are currently working on a new album of Blackwater Conspiracy material.

Finally, to the North, and in the Derry area, TRIGGERMAN deserves a mention, even though they called it a day back in 2017. Their heavy groove music was popular, but the band could no longer commit to the long hours and hard work associated with the industry. Neighbours, and relative new comers with old heads and one album already out there, FALON are doing what they love best, playing their brand of hard rock at every opportunity.


All this sets the scene for a catch up with a band that have been slowly building up a large following, both back home and abroad, TRUCKER DIABLO. For new listeners, the latest release is a great introduction to the band. It’s a colossal double album comprising their first two albums, and some previously unreleased material. Here’s what they had to say when Down The Front Media interviewed them:


At Winterstorm 2018, you captured the party mood of the crowd, and were voted ‘most fun and rockin’ band of the weekend’. How do you keep your live performances fresh and entertaining?


*laughs* That was cool of them to crown us with that title! The way we see it, we get to play a show and have a bit of a holiday at the same time. It was great weather despite it being November, crowd were totally up for it and we just try to enjoy ourselves as much as we can. The crowds normally see that and then join in on the party. Normally we don't have a set formula we just go with the flow and it normally ends up more than we hope for. 


You’ve recently regained control over previously label owned albums, has it been a problem to find a deal that suits the band?


Truthfully, no, it's not even something we have been thinking about. We released the last album through our French label that released the first 2 albums and we have a great relationship with them. We are a self-managed, successful independent band that want to run that band with 100% transparency and control. We get booked for great shows by great people, our fans buy our merch and albums and continue to support us. We are gaining new fans every day, what more can we ask for? We believe in the music and the merits behind writing great songs and we have faith the music will find its way to the right ears if that's its destiny. We have had a few labels in the past and all have had their positives.


It costs a lot of money to make things run smooth and ensure all things are in place to make sure the band is run well and everyone is happy, so we take the best opportunities for band. We are open to any sensible offers from labels, we believe in working together to increase awareness of the band and its future success. We have our heads on our shoulders so it has to work for everyone. 


‘Devil Songs’ (out in May) is a bumper package featuring your first two albums, plus unreleased material. What were the thoughts behind this as opposed to a new album?


Honestly it was an idea that came up off the back of the older albums coming back to us and we had demos lying about, so we thought people might want to hear them. We also had recorded some older songs ‘Freewheelin’ and ‘Other Side of the City’ so we thought putting that all together would be a cool idea to re-introduce fans to the older music. Plus inbetween all that, we are working on a new album, which will be out next year, we have roughly 10 ideas at the moment so will be plenty to get through before we hit the studio 


You’ve been confirmed for a number of festival line-ups for the rest of 2019, and you’ve mentioned previously that the costs involved with touring the mainland can be a struggle for Northern Irish bands, but can we expect any tour announcements to promote the release of ‘Devil Songs’?


All of the shows this year will be promoting the new double album, no specific tour per se but you will hear songs from the album and the new single as well. 


If you were to tour, would you prefer to headline small to medium sized venues, or support another band at large sold out shows?


To tell you the truth as long as we are playing we are happy. We have done some great things as a band, the stuff of dreams, opportunities we thought we would never get and to be still rocking together as the best of friends still playing great shows is more than we can hope for. The music is made for arenas and we're ready for that, but we’re just at home in clubs. We love supporting too, it's just one big journey and there's still loads of fuel in the tank. 


What’s next for Trucker Diablo?

New album new year, more shows and trying our best to stay out of the bar *laughs*



Thanks to the Big Truck for speaking to us, they are well worth a listen, as are all the bands mentioned above. They don’t get around the rest of the UK as much as they’d like, but if you have a chance to see any of them, my advice to you is take it!


Trucker Diablo are:-

Tom Harte - Vocals / Guitar

Simon Haddock - Guitar

Jim McGurk - Bass

Terry Crawford - Drums