Behind the Scenes with The Margaret Hooligans: A Deep Dive into “The StoneHengers”

The Margaret Hooligans are doing something really cool in the rock world out here. Meg Cratty, electric ukulele and vocals, along with Mr. Strontium, on drums and harmonies The end result is this really original sound that mixes garage rock, proto-punk, funk, and soul in a way that just hooks you in from that first note.

The sound is a mixture of old school acts like The Who with new school icons like Fiona Apple, but The Margaret Hooligans have a voice of their own.

The difference is undoubtedly how they address key societal concerns through their songs. They still do not shy away from critiquing the patriarchy, questioning the rigid construction of manliness, discussing mass shootings, or tackling the prison system. Sometimes their words are as daring as their music: it is hard not to get wrapped up in the spirit and the meaning behind each song.

We discussed their time in the industry, method of producing music and what the audience can expect from new releases. It is amazing how rebellious minded both of them are in their music as well as when talking with each other.

Spending some time with The Margaret Hooligans is never boring – it’s full of deep ideas, discoveries, and, of course, giggles. If you have not read them before, you should make it your mission to venture into their space. I said that ‘The StoneHengers’ was good starting point; however, you will find all of their music great. Watch out for ThunderHole Rock n’ Roll – I prophesy that it’s going to take the world by storm.

Listen to The StoneHengers

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What is your stage name?

The band’s name is The Margaret Hooligans and both Meg Cratty and Mr. Strontium are our stage names.

Is there a story behind your stage name?

Stronts and I have a deep and abiding love for the television show M.A.S.H. (well, the first three seasons) Meg Cratty is the civilian nurse in Korea who runs the orphanage. She is only

around for two episodes, so you have to have a deep knowledge of M.A.S.H. folklore to remember her. Strontium thought he’d heard the name during a Three Stooges episode where they were pharmacists mixing crazy ingredients. Turns out it’s a real element that is both stable and volatile.

Where do you find inspiration?

Ha. Mainly, I don’t. It finds me. That isn’t to say I haven’t sat down to write a song when the mood struck, but some of our best work is that which was channeled rather something I forced to happen.

What was the role of music in the early years of your life?

Meg: I started Suzuki training on the piano at age 5. I quit by age 10. I wasn’t particularly good at following the rules in music when I was a kid, so I really didn’t get into it until I was 14 and picked up a guitar. Once I realized I could be creative, it became more fulfilling.

Are you from a musical or artistic family?

Meg: We have hobbyists in the family, but mostly I am the weirdo who pursued it as a career.

Who inspired you to be a part of the music industry?

Meg: Stronts. He was in other bands when we met and he was so fun to watch. It made me want to play more. I also had a cellist friend who encouraged me and was always trying to get me to do gigs with her.

Strontium: nothing inspires any player ever to be part of the music industry. The Industry is what is imposed on us.

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nothing inspires any player ever to be part of the music industry. The Industry is what is imposed on us.

How did you learn to sing/write/to play?

Meg: I smoked a pipe with Orpheus and he let me play his lute. The usual way, of course. Lessons as a kid and singing in the car to my favorite musicians.

What was the first concert that you ever went to and who did you see perform?

Meg: My parents dragged me to many classical music concerts, but my first “real” rock concert was Toad the Wet Sprocket as the headliner, with Rusted Root as the opening act at The Tower in Philly.

Strontium: was supposed to see Rod Steward, but the show was cancelled. Remember the excuse? He swallowed too much mangoo and had to have his stomach pumped? So my first show turned out to be Queen with Billy Squier as the opener. I’m talking Queen with Freddy.

How could you describe your music?

My favorite quote about our music is: “If you want to find the limits of what is possible on a Ukulele when it is matched with Animal from the Muppets.” Otherwise, I would say DiY garage alt rock with a punk rock attitude.

Describe your creative process.

First we start with an argument about whether or not we have enough time to play. Then we argue about what our musical shorthand means. Then we forget the structure of the song and accuse each other of senility. Yes, Meg is at her best when she’s mad at me. I don’t deliberately enrage her, but I think it’s a good method.

What is your main inspiration?

The crumbling of society around us and our blithe attitude towards it.

What musician do you admire most and why?

Meg: Living or dead? Living – Pete Townshend for his mastery and reinvention of rhythm guitar. Dead – Sister Rosetta Tharpe because she invented R&B styles that were the precursor to rock and really wasn’t recognized for it.

Strontium: Pete definitely. Also, all the forgotten players who were great, had heart, played in loud and sweaty bands, and who, after achieving a little “success” learned they wouldn’t be as happy and free in their new career and just called it quits when the magic went away. I love the players who’d rather quit the band than take the crap.

Did your style evolve since the beginning of your career?

Meg: It depends on when we think my career started. Yes, and no. I think it changes depending on who I am playing with and what the music demands. As The Margaret Hooligans, it hasn’t changed much – in subtle ways things have gotten tighter maybe, but the feel is the same.

Who do you see as your main competitor?

Meg: The Treme Brass Band wants to take us down. We have a couple of New Orleans-themed songs that aren’t 75 years old, and they feel threatened by us and by the idea of change. I do have a lot of respect for bands 9 o’clock Nasty, The Qwarks, and I Am the Unicornhead and consider them wonderful people to collaborate with. It’s the people who make money off of other people’s music that are our enemy. They’ve catered the INDUSTRY to people to who don’t like music, and it shows.

What are your interests outside of music?

Meg: I still dabble in art – watercolor painting at the moment, pilates, and tennis.

If it wasn’t a music career, what would you be doing?

Meg: Something in the visual arts, I suppose. That was the game plan until I made a wee detour.

What is the biggest problem you have encountered in the journey of music?

Meg: I can’t get no satisfaction. I always want to be better, I always want more ears on our music, and it’s a practice to be content with what I have now and what I have accomplished.

Strontium: The biggest problem is being asked a lot of questions that can be asked without hearing a single second of our music.

If you could change one thing in the music industry, what would it be?

Meg: We would stop expecting musicians to do everything for free. I don’t know how to solve the pickle we are in, but it is very unsustainable.

Strontium: we’re not in any industry and I don’t give two fucks about industry. I spend not a second thinking of industry. I’m a mammal on Earth who has energy, and who utilizes much of that energy playing drums and trying to create music that I want to listen to. Industry cares about industry, because it certainly doesn’t care about music, apart from how it can be monetized down to the last fucking penny.

Why did you choose this as the title of this project?

Most of our titles come from the convoluted brain of Mr. Strontium. It may have been a reference to Spinal Tap?

What are your plans for the coming months?

We have an EP, Piccadilly Flying Ant Circus, coming out with psych/garage/prog rock band The Qwarks on June 8th. It’s three songs we recorded when we met them in Brighton this summer on one fine afternoon and has a range of topics- namely a refined monkey man who goes crazy when he encounters peanuts or “monkey nuts” as they are called in the UK, a psych acid jazz rock ode to the petty street urchin, the seagull, and a murder ballad inspired by a stabbing we narrowly missed witnessing at the British Museum this past summer. We will also release a single in July, August, and September ahead of the full LP release of ThunderHole Rock n Roll, our fourth album.

Do you have any artistic collaboration plans?

We are also doing something super secret with 9o’clock Nasty which we can’t say anything more about because it will ruin the surprise.

What message would you like to give to your fans?

Strontium: If you’ve listened to our music, thank you so much for giving your time and attention. If you’ve listened and like it and want more, I can assure you what a special person you are. It’s incredibly difficult to like something that’s different; you need an open mind and intelligence.

Let’s say The Margaret Hooligans is a vegetable samosa. When people nibble on Dog Penis Jerky everyday, the taste and texture of the samosa, though delicious, will taste weird and that’s the end of the experiment. Those who are willing to give the samosa another bite are searching for something. We are too.

Mister Styx
Mister Styx
My name is Mister Styx and I'm a music blogger and an HVAC Engineer. I'm passionate about all kinds of music, from rock to hip-hop, Jazz, and Reggae as a matter of fact I am always eager to hear new sounds as music has no barrier, and I'm always looking for new sounds to explore. Hop on lets go fetch for some new sounds!

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