'Blood' is for the battered knuckles of the bass drummer; 'Thunder' for the deafening sound he creates.
In many ways, probably the name of this project is a misnomer. 'Blood & Thunder' flute bands are no longer those reminiscent of Troubles-era Northern Ireland - loud, aggressive bands playing ultra-basic flute songs designed purely to visually and aurally shock, intimidate and oppress - though the image persists today in the popular imagination.
Since the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, fuelled (ironically) by stricter rules around parading, the loyalist marching band scene came alive and is now a highly competitive, polished circuit of bands who compete fiercely with each other both indoors and outdoors throughout the calendar year. The scene has become a cottage industry as the bar for skill, style and substance continues to be consistently raised. The scene makes a significant financial contribution to local economies, and in many economically deprived loyalist areas can be the only real community resource available to younger people.
Inspired by Darach MacDonald's book 'Blood & Thunder: Inside an Ulster Protestant Band', I spent two summers following and documenting the burgeoning band scene in Northern Ireland. The photos here are the result of that research and a document of the incredible vibrancy and energy scene at that particular point in its evolution.