The Bunratty Castle Band — A Song 18 years in the Making

For more than 18 years a childish obsession has been rattling around in my head. It’s an idea I once had for an imaginary rock group of Bunnies and Rats who live in a castle in Ireland. Their message is simple: Animals and humans must join paws and hands across the world for peace.

Over the past 18 years I’ve worked on both the song and a video concept in fits and starts. It even inspired me to purchase an early boxed set of Macromedia Flash in the late 1990s and begin drawing characters and writing stories.

Here’s some old brainstorming text I dug up from my hard drive:

Peeking over the high castle walls of their unique vantage point, Bunratty Castle in County Claire, the Bunnies, Rats and other furry creatures of Bunratty Castle spy in the distance the foolhardy antics of stupid-humans, and occasionally see fit to send a rescue mission; for it’s very hard to watch stupid-humans being stupid-humans.

Life is good in Bunratty Castle where daily life revolves around tending the carrots and peas, raising the little bunnies and rats, and performing music in a circuit of pubs crisscrossing Ireland. There is a school where headmaster Graham Grayfoddle teaches the little BunRats sewing, cooking, mathematics, and ethics as well as all of the old languages of the BunRat tribe.

Recording the Bunratty Castle Band theme song

The Bunratty Castle Band theme song has taken many years to produce. It was recorded, re-recorded, and eventually edited together from reel-to-reel and Pro-tools sessions tracked in three different studios over an 18-year period.

The first recording of the song took place in 2002, around the time I was releasing my Ship to Shore solo CD. I gathered engineer Jeff Saltzman, bassist Nate Martin, and drummer Dave Owen in my N.E. Portland basement where we cut a live arrangement of the song on my Tascam 8-track 1/2 tape recorder, adding several layers of bunny and rat vocals. It was just a few months after we had performed it at the Laurelthirst Tavern as part of the Ship to Shore record release.

The unreleased track gathered dust for years, until 2015 when I started a new recording of the song with future Postmodern Pirates members Jeff Langston (bass) and Thom Sullivan (drums). We recorded in my new home studio, and then moved to the Magic Closet for grand piano overdubs. I mixed the song and did a soft release on Facebook around 2016, but still wasn’t completely satisfied with it.

Again, the track sat for several years until I opened it up in 2019 and blended the two versions of the songs. I recovered the earlier reel-to-reel sessions of the 2002 version from my hard drive (they had been digitally transfered when I sold the reel-to-reel deck in 2014) and mixed some of those backing vocals and vocal outbursts into the 2015 recording.The 2015 recording provides the solid foundation, with the 2002 version providing undertones of liveliness and sillyness.

Voila! The track is finally done! Drum roll please…

But wait, the saga continues. In 2019 my band Postmodern Pirates developed a live arrangement of the song for two horns, and performed it several times at Alberta Street Pub. We also made a live recording of the song in my basement. Perhaps that version will see the light of day before another 18 years passes.