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In China, 2015 was the year of the Sheep – but in Nottinghamshire and countless venues and festivals in the UK it was the year of the Dog.  The year that Ferocious Dog snarled their way from the periphery of the festival and gig scene and put themselves firmly in the limelight of the alternative scene.


The climax of their new album tour saw them sell out Rock City in Nottingham in advance – a historic moment, the first time in the 35 year history of this auspicious venue an unsigned band has achieved this feat.


As one fan put it: “For me it felt like a real watershed moment for a band I’ve had the pleasure of following for the last few years. It feels like this gig was the moment things might change, they have integrity and strength and a loyal following


As well as touring the country in Spring and Autumn, festival headline slots littered the summer months – not to mention an appearance on the Avalon Stage at Glastonbury, attracting the third biggest crowd of that area for the weekend.


Ferocious Dog offer a full-on six-piece sound that encompasses folk infused with rock, reggae and Celtic vibrations. The combination of instruments creates a palette of sound that offers infinite variations: going in hard to get the audience up and moving, or slipping into melodic passages and dub-like fusions.


The role of the infamous Hell Hounds mustn’t be underestimated – an ever-growing legion of fans who follow the band up and down the country.  They bring energy and passion to the gig whilst always welcoming the less initiated members of the crowd to join in and swell their ranks – making the evening feel like a huge party.


With the release of their new album “From Without”, the raw energy and passion you’d expect from Ferocious Dog is ever-present, but tempered and enhanced with new influences and craft. With production from Matt Terry and mastering from Al Scott, a co-written track with Nick Burbridge of McDermott’s 2 Hours fame and the addition of rich orchestral strings it’s really a coming-of-age moment for the band.


“it is the sound of revolution that beats in the heart of anyone who seeks equality, and the six piece band from Nottinghamshire burst with flavour and ferocity” – Ian Hall, Liverpool Sound


The Acoustic magazine in their review of “From Without” wrote about the second song on the album, “Poor Angry and Young” describing it as “A glorious hymn of anarchy and sets the tone of much of which follows”.  Continuing to say “There is nothing new about rebellion, but Ferocious Dog lay it on the line and whip up a hell of a storm along the way”.  Many of the reviews expressed the same sentiment.


2016 promises to be an even better year, with gigs already sold out, and headline slots at festivals booked.  This is an event that’s needs to be experienced. Ferocious Dog are going places.


Blog by Ken Bonsall of Ferocious Dog Band.


It’s not until you’re asked to reflect on your life journey for an article like this that you really try to piece everything together.  I’m best known as the singer for the band Ferocious Dog these days, but the roots of everything we do as a band are buried deep in the events that surrounded me as I entered adulthood.


Leaving school at 16 in a mining community in Nottinghamshire, 1984 wasn’t the most harmonious time – our family bore the brunt of the strikes (my Dad and brother were in the midst of a year long strike, and I’d join them on the picket lines).  We were right in the eye of that political storm.  We stayed true to the NUM at Welbeck Colliery, later being moved to Kellingley, with a 50 mile each way commute to contend with.


I spent 30 years a proud miner, socialist and unionist.  In many ways it would have been easier to have not joined the strikes, but the principles at stake meant too much – and these shape the music we make now.  Slow Motion Suicide from our latest album tells the story of the impact the decimation of the mining industry had on just one particular character, but that kind of worthlessness and hopelessness was – and maybe still is – rife in the aftermath of Thatcher’s destruction of the industries.


Whilst I’ve always played music it was the last few years as a miner when the band took off in earnest, I was also a retained firefighter at the time so juggling two jobs and the band was really hard work.  The first time we played in Bristol, at the Louisiana, I had just enough time to get home, make my snap before hitting the road to get to Kellingley Colliery in North Yorkshire to do a day shift at the coal face.


Musically I draw influence from many bands and styles, but the Two Tone movement -bands like The Specials and The Beat – smashed the racial divide, something that means a lot to us too – we released a single called Ruby Bridges that hit number one in the iTunes folk charts.  Our political mentors are New Model Army, The Levellers, Billy Bragg and Nick Burbridge – many of whom we’ve got to work with in the last few years – Nick co-wrote one of the tracks – Living On Thin Air – on our latest album with us.


My working class roots are something I’m proud of.  Tony Blair tried to tell us there was no such thing any more but that’s nonsense, even if I were a millionaire I’d still be working class and proud of it – and we use the band as a platform to talk about these issues – whether they be historical injustices or more recent atrocities like the massacre at the mine in Marikana, South Africa – we want to be that voice.  Given the lack of union opportunities for the current generation we want to keep the message of solidarity and justice out there.  This is all the more important given the current batch of politicians running roughshod over us.


The biggest influence on my life though was when my son, Lee, took his own life at the age of 24 back in 2012.  Lee served in 13 Air Assault in Helmand Province, Afghanistan at the age of 18.  Shortly after deployment his best friend was shot by a sniper, fulfilling a role that Lee would have been doing had it not been for some training he’d missed due to a boxing injury.  The guilt he felt at ‘living another man’s life’ proved too much for him ultimately.


For those suffering PTSD the MOD at the time had a policy of bullying and isolation – rather than be offered counselling and treatment Lee was told to ‘man up’  and marginalised.  Well trained in keeping his troubles to himself, ultimately he wasn’t able to deal with them.  We remember him in songs (The Glass tells the story of his final day) and through the Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund.  We’ve successfully lobbied the MOD and Government to review and change their treatment of people leaving the forces.


BBC documentary programme Panorama made an episode ‘Broken by Battle’ which charts these stories of veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder after attempting to reintegrate into civilian life – and we will continue to fight for those who’ve served and been abandoned once they are no longer part of the services.  The whole episode is available on YouTube and I would urge you to watch it.


As well as songwriting I’m an artist with a pen too, and after mining have begun tattooing – Lee always wanted me to do this instead of mining, he even bought me the kit to do it, so it’s in his honour that I’ve belatedly taken this up.  I’ve lost count of how many Ferocious Dog logos I’ve inked onto our fans – who we consider family – they take the name ‘Hell Hounds’ from one of our songs from the first album.


Considering that I can’t really sing and I’m a terrible guitarist despite playing since I was 14 the band is doing really well – we played at Glastonbury this year, our new album – From Without – is getting some great reviews and we look on course to sell out our home town gig at Rock City in Nottingham at the end of November, which we’re going to video and put out a live CD from, funded by our family pre-ordering it. Sometimes you have to pinch yourself a little to realise where you’ve ended up.


As a band we are fiercely independent – we’ve had offers from record labels but want to work to our own terms without outside influence.  The support we receive from fans – family – who pre-ordered our album in sufficient quantities to fund it, who travel around the country to watch us, makes all this possible, and makes it worth while.  To see them singing along to The Glass really does bring a tear to the eye.


For Press Information:  Jill Lerner, James H Soars Media Services. 07702 230856.

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