Category Archives: Interview

Neck: Leeson O’Keeffe talks some PSYCHO-CEILÍDH-BABBLE

September 2001

Led by songsmith Leeson O’Keeffe (formerly of Shane MacGowan’s Popes), NECK is a 6-piece London-Irish band playing PSYCHO-CEILÍDH. Their songs reflect the emigrant and second-generation Irish life experience: combining the vibrant spiritual abandon of Irish songs and tunes with the rip-roaring electric guitar driven energy of Punk Rock. This heady mixture is evident in the line-up of whistle, fiddle, banjo, punky guitar(s), bass, drums and vocals – the overall effect is one of total release! Individually too, NECK are recognised musicians in their own right: with whistle-player Marie McCormack in demand for solo recitals; while Leeson (occasionally with fiddler Marion Gray) has been guesting regularly with The A3 (Alabama 3), from TVs’ “The Sopranos”. -That’s with all three NECK players maintaining a well-known presence on the London traditional Irish session circuit! (From Neck’s Bio)

The following interview was carried out over a serious of emails with Leeson O’Keeffe and Marie McCormack.

(S’n’O) Celtic Punk is exploding in the US have you checked out The Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly yet ?

(Leeson O’Keeffe) “We’ve shared column inches with Flogging Molly from day one since we’ve been coming here (the US that is), but we didn’t hear them until we were given a tape of Swagger by a guy who was coming to our gigs in October last year & I think they’re brilliant (we actually do a cover of “The Worst Day since Yesterday”! – it’s one of the best songs that Shane never wrote! – it’s a corker!).”
“We’ve seen The Dropkick Murphys twice in London and again, we think they’re brilliant – I’ve never heard “The Rocky Road to Dublin” done like that before in my life! – but it’s brilliant! and it’s great that they all sing at the same time on the choruses in those massive Boston ‘Irish’ accents, and that the crowds are so typically punk’n’daft! Wicked stuff! – you just stand there (Down the front me?-I should co-co!-I’ll leave that to Marie – she went down the front at The Underworld show in Camden – her boyfriend got biffed, but some unkind souls found that highly amusing….I wonder who that might be then? MOI?-perish the thought!) with a beer in yer paw, tapping your foot with a dirty great grin on yer face! -It’s fuckin’ brilliant to think that there are people thousands of miles away, who grew up completely different to you, but are doing something that is on completely the same wave-length! The feature in Broadside fanzine was brilliant!”

“I’m chuffed -to-fuck about the whole thing. I just hope that the U.S. bands like what we do as much as we like them – I would love to do a gig with both bands – but particularly Flogging Molly, because we are so similar-for my money, they’re the best punky Irish band since The Pogues and that includes everyone! Dave Kings’ a very good song-writer, although his voice is an acquired taste when he goes for the high notes-when he stays down ,it’s great-particularly on ‘Worst Day’, the start of “The likes of you again” & “the whole of grace of God go I” deadly! and he’s from Dublin!(can’t be bad-we’ll have none of yer culchie bollocks around here now!) Anyway-y’know what I mean?”

(S’n’O) How have you gone down in Ireland?

(Leeson O’Keeffe) “It’s been a dream come true – I was very apprehensive at first (coals to Newcastle & all that, and I know that The Pogues had a nightmare when they first went over) but probably thanks to the Pogues, it’s all different now. I mean Dublin now is predominantly a dance town, like London, Manchester or Kansas City (?!) but there is still a thriving live music scene and outside of Dublin (we’ve been to Derry, Belfast, Waterford, Letterkenny, Draperstown & Dublin) live music appears to be doing o.k. altho’ Belfast again, has a huge dance thing going-on; even in staunch Nationalist areas like Ballymurphy in West Belfast they’re all into Tall Paul, as well as people like The Wolfe Tones, of course. But then the best gig we had in Belfast was there!”

(S’n’O) So what have Neck been up to recently?

(Leeson O’Keeffe) “We’re just back from a “craicing” tour of Ireland, taking-in gigs in Derry & Dublin (including one with The Alabama 3), a live radio session, three Festivals: The Waterford Spraoi, The West Belfast Feile an phobail & The Derry Gas Yard Wall Feile (the last two were with the incandescent Undertones! -we got paid to watch The Undertones!!!!!)-jumpin? Jaysus! AND—–then there was the POITIN!!!!!”

“Also the regular trad. sessions are still occurring every Thursday in The Twelve Pins, Finsbury Park & every Sunday in The Queen, Brixton (both 9 p.m./no cover) London”

(S’n’O) Explain the “Plastic and Proud” logo and what is a “Plastic Paddy”?

(Leeson O’Keeffe) “Obviously, I’m paraphrasing the “say it loud: I’m black and I’m proud” slogan, just in the same way the T-shirt paraphrases the Sex Pistols. (Whose singer-John Lydon, whose parents are from Galway & Cork – grew up down the bottom of my road and did have bricks thrown at him as a kid ‘cos he was Irish. Incidentally, round the corner from him is a pub called ‘The Favorite’, where Tom McAnimal from The Popes grew up. It was one of the main traditional session pubs in London in the 60’s and 70’s, and as such, played a hugely important part in the social-life of the Irish-Emigrant community (particularly for those living in digs) – as all those pubs did, and still do. No wonder this area’s known as Co. Holloway!) We – the second-generation Irish in Britain- get called Plastic Paddies (I believe in the U.S. our equivalent are called ‘narrow-backs’) as a derogatory term by the first-generation Irish-because we’re not “the full ticket”. I personally don’t give a toss, it’s just a daft name, but there are contemporaries of mine who find it ignorant and offensive. -So the idea is to turn it on its head & reclaim it: if you call yourselves it, it takes the sting out of the intended ‘dig’, if y’knowwotahmeen…. and,of course, I am proud to be second-generation Irish – so if that means proud to be a “Plastic Paddy”, then that I am: I had no control over the place of my birth, but I choose to hold an Irish passport – I feel I’d be a hypocrite not to, doing what I do. -phew”.

(S’n’O) Would you ever let Ronan Keatin cover a Neck song?

(Leeson O’Keeffe) “Boyzone did a version of “She moved thru’ the fair” (my niece has the album-honest!) and James McNally (Afro-Celt Sound System-brilliant band!!!!) plays in his band as a session player I dunno, if he paid us loads of wonga and he had to do it in a NECK stylee, then maybe. Actually I think doing something with Shane Lynch might be a bit cool, he stuck -up for his missis with all that carryon when Puff Daddy (Puffy Daddy got beating up by Lynch) was in Dublin. EXCLUSIVE NEWS: we are working on some new T-shirts, which will please the Plastic Paddy callers, they’re just gonna say “DUFF PADDY” -geddit? I know, we’re being naughty little ironic tinkers. We could do some tuff jams & break-beats and then diddly-aye all over it!”

(Marie McCormack) “As to Ronan Keating: we’re happy to write songs for anyone but can his leather trousers cope with the crazy mad rocking that performing a Neck song would entail and could he cope singing songs about Irishness, when he is a bit of a m.o.d. croooner – watch the lawyers on this one! But we do not wish to blacken the name of Ronan and take it in vain when he very likely will end up the President of Ireland at some time down the years!”

(S’n’O) What was it like growing up Irish in London?

(Marie McCormack) “I didn’t know any different , it was just as things were. Nevertheless, this is how I recall growing-up: My upbringing was a little unconventional anyway-having the excitement of a pub to grow-up in: unlimited access to coke and crisps (potato chips) until my dad said who do you think has to pay for those when the auditor comes round, etc. etc.

I did Irish dancing instead of modern and tap unforced by my parents, whistle lessons rather than piano lessons, a complete uninvolvement with music competitions but mucho Irish dancing and medals galore for that. Always asked to do impromptu performances: ‘Ah, will you play a few tunes on the accordion/ whistle for…’, ‘The Sally Gardens’ reel being a popular one and ‘Boolavogue’ (watch the spelling for the weepy eye section). Donning harp medals on St. Patrick’s day -never enough shamrock from granny!

First Sunday in July- a proper Irish festival in Roundwood park in ‘County’ Kilburn in London (huge Irish area): stalls from every County; Irish soda bread ; step dancing; Irish dancing and a big parade.

My sister and I carting our dancing shoes to Donegal every summer and the ‘little English girls’ ‘entertaining the natives’ to a display of dancing in Egans on a Saturday night drew a big crowd: handed over the crown in later years to two more ‘little English girls’.

I only remember being asked once if I was Irish or English by Mrs Dunphy in Navan and actually had to think about that one: came down on the side of second- generation Irish( a sgi !).

Val Doonican on the telly on a Saturday night -oh yes! Must have claddagh rings (the secret sign!) until Argos stores started selling them 4 or 5 years ago!

No obvious signs of racism in school cos the majority were second generation everything – during the 70’s tension in air re: bombings and relatives questioned by the Metropolitan Police C.I.D. when they got off the boat train in early hours of the morning on their way to a wedding. A ban on ‘The Sun’ newspaper when it advised the public not to buy Kerry Gold butter, as an anti-Irish reaction. Others not so fortunate in securing their Irish identity, but that is their story and I cannot speak for them.

(S’n’O) Long term ambitions for Neck?

(Marie McCormack) International travel; the band that made a contribution to the world of music -make people happy; for some members, obviously, (whodatden?) to get laid around the world – watch this for future prospective brides. Memorable songs that enter the psyches of the world; and to have a bloody good laugh along the way!

We don’t live in the future but we have an eye to it, the journey thus far has been incredible and long may it continue -oh: and to play the London and New York Fleadhs 2002!

Fuck the messers and begrudgers !

http://www.neck.ie

Hudson Falcons: Working Class MF’s

April 2002

(S’n’O) How are the Hudson Falcons doing? What have you guys been up to lately?

(ML) We’re doin ok. Just trying to get through. We’re breaking ass working right now between tours. To say that money is tight is more than an understatement, but it’s worth all the hassle to be able to live the dream. How else would a bunch of poor fucks from Jersey and Indiana get to see the country? Rock ‘n’ roll is good for the soul. We’re going into the studio in a couple of weeks to record a split we’re doing with GC5 on Cosa Nostra Records – a label that was started by Doug and Dave McKean of the GC5 along with myself.

(S’n’O) As I’ve been a fan from the beginning, I’ve noticed the constant line-up changes…who are the current members and why have former ones come and gone? (Props to Jim and Alyson)

(ML) The current band is Uncle Chris on guitar, who has been here from the beginning, Ben Glotzbach on drums, Craighton Fischer on bass, and myself on guitar and vocals. Ben & Craighton are both formerly of the Brassknuckle Boys. When they were filling in for us on a tour a while back, the singer of the Brassknuckle Boys, Mark Dacey, told them that he was gonna be changing the band around a bit, and if they had the chance they should stay with us. We swiped them up in a heartbeat.
As far as former members go, Jim Meyer – original bass player, wasn’t one for touring, and had a lot of problems balancing the band schedule with his work schedule. We still see Jim once in awhile. He just went to the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute, so maybe I’ll be working with him again for the Union rather than with the band.

Alyson, decided to leave the band because of her religious convictions. She wanted to devote her entire life to following Jesus Christ. Since she left she has been working with some Christian organizations in Canada, New Orleans, and Croatia. We’re very proud of her getting out there and doing what she wants to do.

The other full-time member we had, Chris Sorensen on bass, left the band because of some problems he was having at home. He’s currently in the band Abnormal Behavior, and fills in for us quite a bit for local shows. Craighton lives out in Indiana so he can’t always make it to the East Coast for shows.

(S’n’O) Some people and fans of punk rock/Oi! see you as a highly political band. I’ve seen quite a bit of people on your webpage guestbook who are displeased with some of the stances you guys take. Have you guys ever gotten into physical or uncomfortable situations because of your views?

(ML) We’ve gotten a shitload of threats. The only time things got really fucked up was at a show in Atlanta back in Dec 00. A few folks were acting like jerk-offs, because for some reason they thought we are “Commie pinko scum” I think that was the term. And of course with songs like Abandoned Vets, Responsibility, Requiem for a Patriot and the like its sooooooooo obvious we are so Anti-American. Moral of the story – You can’t reason with absolute idiots.

(S’n’O) What are your views of America at the moment? I know you guys are the furthest thing from anti-American, so let’s air some views. What do you think about the “war on terrorism” and the September 11th incident? Do you think Bush is handling it well?

(ML) I’m in extreme agreement with getting the Taliban out of power (I started writing an anti-Taliban song back in March 2001). I also agree with dismantling the Al-Qaeda network. I think, generally, Bush has done the right thing, but he hasn’t inspired too much confidence from me in doing it. In comparison, I have never been a fan of Mayor Guiliani’s politics, but was amazed at the job he did handling everything that went down in NYC. He is a true leader. President Bush doesn’t come across in the same manner. I’m glad the Colin Powell is Secy of State, though.

What does bother me is the flaunting of the Constitution in creating military tribunals. There is a reason that we live in the greatest country in the world. By subverting some of those ideals, the integrity of the country is greatly lessened.

(S’n’O) I know you’re a very Pro-Union man. Do you think the Union is as important now as it was 25 years ago? How so?

(ML) I think it is a lot more important now. Unions don’t wield as much power as they used to. To make things worse, shit like NAFTA and GATT further undermine workers’ leverage in the work place, therefore, creating greater need for collective action – this is where the Union comes in. Approaching those in power with a united front exponentially improves working conditions, benefits and wages. Without a resurgence in organized labor, the plight of the working class will continue to spiral downwards at a devastating rate.

(S’n’O) How has being raised in Jersey shaped you? What about influences from the Boss and Little Stevie? Sopranos? (Just kidding)

(ML) If you keep talking like that I’m gonna lock you in the trunk of the car. In all seriousness, Springsteen’s music inspired me to pick up the guitar and write songs. There is no way in hell, I would be doing this today without his inspiration. Little Steven’s music exposed the political realm to me. Both Springsteen and Little Steven’s music compelled me to question society’s mores, political norms, ideals of freedom and justice, as well as my own internal struggle.

Being born and bred in Jersey, along with the idea that I’m gonna live here for the next 50 years or until I’m dead (whichever comes first), definitely influences one’s attitudes and way someone lives. There’s always a certain paranoia that one must have to survive in the area. The first few times through the Midwest and beyond I was always taken aback at how nice people are. My first thought was “what’s their angle?”, “why are they bein so nice?” It took a few trips out to realize that people, in general, are being nice just because they want to be, not for any ulterior motive. I’m glad I have enough of that paranoia, but can still appreciate people’s kindness and friendliness.

(S’n’O) Who are some of your favorite bands, old or new?

(ML) Springsteen, Rolling Stones, Southside Johnny, Steve Earle, Tom Waits, Little Steven, Chuck Berry, Dion, The Clash, SLF, Johnny Thunders. As far as newer stuff, GC5, Callaghan, Day Care Swindlers, Tanka Ray, Roustabouts, Gut Feeling, King Size Braces (RIP), Tommy and the Terrors, Brass Knuckle Boys, Amazing Royal Crowns (RIP), Ducky Boys, Blood for Blood, Dropkick Murphys , Swinging Utters, I’d fucking be here forever if I had to list all the bands I like, so suffice it to say many more

(S’n’O) I notice you guys always tour with the GC5 and Callaghan…who else is in this Cosa Nostra and what does it mean to you?

(ML) The original Cosa Nostra is us, GC5, Callaghan and the Daycare Swindlers, it has extended to encompass some younger bands that are doing things the right way. Namely, Tanka Ray, The Roustabouts, and Gut Feeling. We are like one big family. Characteristics, such as integrity, loyalty, and passion are the common threads running through these bands. Bonds of that type create a feeling of family though out. Being a part of the Cosa Nostra means maintaining a devotion to the rest of the family and to these ideals.

(S’n’O) What bands do you like to tour with the most? Who would be your DREAM band to play with? I know you’ve played with many, many great bands over time….any memories stick out to you as being the best?

(ML) We like to tour with the GC5. They are like our 4 little brothers. They are good kids and they do things the right way. Any of the Cosa Nostra bands are great to be on the road with for the reasons stated above. We’ve had a great time touring with the Boils; we had a blast when we did a ten day tour with Dropkick Murphys, Tommy and the Terrors, and Toe to Toe. It’s always nice being out with any variation of The Brass Knuckle Boys. For the most part, we don’t set up tours or shows with people we don’t like or have respect for. Be it the Amazombies, King Size Braces, Pressure Point, the Brass Tacks, et al, we’ve always been really lucky to play with good bands and more importantly good people.

Obviously it would be a dream to play with Springsteen or the Stones, but at a more attainable level we’d love to do some shows with Agnostic Front and Sick of it All. Although I’ve never been into hardcore all that much, I appreciate and respect to the highest degree, how these bands have kept it real for all these years. I started opening up to hardcore a few years ago. Ken Casey teamed us up with Blood for Blood on that Flat/TKO split 7″. I thought he was nuts when he told me. We’re a rock ‘n’ roll band, they’re a hardcore band. He said not to worry about its a good match. I went to go see them live a few months later and they fuckin blew me away. It was one of the best things I had ever seen. That started my interest in hardcore.

As far as tour experiences, every time we go to Texas, we come out with so many good memories playing with the likes of The Staggers, Worm Suicide, Razor Burn, The Blacklisted, the Booked. (et al.)

(S’n’O) What do you feel is the best song you have written and why?

(ML) It really depends on the context. There are certain songs that I like for different reasons. Not to sound cliché, but they are all like my children and it’s hard to differentiate degrees of fondness for any of them individually. Among my favorites are “Different Breed” and “Altar of the Open Road” because I think I was able to put forth exactly what I was feeling at the time and still feel. I like the narrative and emotional family oriented aspect of “Latin Knights”. I think I got forth exactly what I wanted to say when I wrote “Worker Fate”. And one that is still in the crib that will hopefully get on our next record “Fight the Good Fight” for a variety of reasons.

(S’n’O) What’s the future plans for the band?

(ML) Keep playing rock n roll for all the lost souls and working class motherfuckers out there. We ain’t got a fuck of alot except music and each other so we gotta keep this thing rollin till we can’t roll no more.

(S’n’O) How is your wife and family doing? How’s the New Year going?

(ML) My wife Kerri is counting the days until we go back on the road. She’s workin some shit temp jobs. We’re all really buckling down so we don’t get evicted. My mom recently got laid off which makes things pretty tough. But she’s still fighting through it. We all are doing what we have to do.

(S’n’O) Anything else you’d like to address, feel free!

(ML) Stick to your guns! Follow your gut!

(S’n’O) Thanks to anyone?

(ML) Thanks to everyone who has given us support, bought our records, and danced at shows.

Interview By Sean Holland

Greenland Whalefishers: Norways Pogues

June 2002

Greenland Whalefishers released an unbelievable great CD this year called “Loboville”. The following interview was conducted via email with Arvid (vocals) and Stig(six strings)
(S’n’O) How did a bunch of guys in Bergen, Norway get involved in playing Irish/Celtic punk music? What is the history of the band?

(GWF) It started many years ago with the two brothers Arvid and Gunnar jamming together and listening to Thin Lizzy, the Pogues, and the Dubliners with some more trad. Irish music. Then Arvid started writing songs and got together people who couldn’t play at all. Agnes e.g. had never touch a tin-whistle in her life, same with the instruments Gunnar is playing. The rest of us could a few cords. With a lot of rehearsing Arvid manage to form the band he wanted which might have been more difficult if he had choose experienced musicians.

(S’n’O) What’s is the reaction to the band and your music at home in Norway (home country of Aha)?.

(GWF) In Norway we’re not well known at all, especially compared to Aha. With a population of 4,5 million we’ve sold around 3,000 copies of Loboville. But we’re a popular live band and play around 50 gigs a year, which is quite good for an amateur band in this country.

(S’n’O) While I did like the earlier GLW CD’s and thought they were pretty good I never expected your last release “Loboville” to be as brilliant as it is. How did GWF get so good?

(GWF) Nice of you to say that. Lots of rehearsing, Arvid is a good songwriter and leader of the band; he works very hard with us. Also we feel that Loboville IS Greenland Whalefishers. I guess that’s it.

(S’n’O) All the reviews of “Loboville” I read have been great, what has been the fan’s reaction?

(GWF) I’ve never heard back from anybody who didn’t like it. But then again fans know what they want they buy the stuff I reckon.

(S’n’O) How do you feel about comparisons to the Pogues and especially Arvid’s Shane MacGowan comparisons?

(GWF) It’s no doubt that we are influenced by the Pogues also, but we never tried to copy anyone. Arvid’s voice sounds like Shane’s but you can’t do much about the voice can you. We didn’t like it much in the beginning even though Shane is like God to Arvid. Now we don’t care.

(S’n’O) I know there is a tour of Italy coming up soon, have the band any other plans to play outside Norway? Any plans to play the USA?

(GWF) YES. It looks like a US tour of the east cost coming up in October. Walter F. Wouk, who is a fan of S’n’O, is helping us out. I’d say it’s has 90% chance for happening.

(S’n’O) Will “Loboville” be getting a US release ever?

(GWF) Yes. First one who contacts us about it will get the deal.

(S’n’O) What bands do you listen to? Is there anyone you’d recommend to S’n’O readers?

(GWF) The Clash, White Stripes, Dropkick Murphy’s, Thin Lizzy, Rancid, Eastfield, DSS are bands worth a listen to.

(S’n’O) Is there anything else you’d like to say?

(GWF) Arvid feels sorry bout the death of Dee Dee Ramone but then again glad for all the good music from him. RIP.

Flogging Molly: Celt-in-a-Twist interview with Dave King

January 16, 2005

Dave King was interviewed by Celt In A Twist host, Patricia Fraser, December 9th, 2004, and the following transcript as reprinted with her permission. Listen to Celt in a Twist for an hour of outrageous Celtivity every Sunday afternoon on AM 1470. It’s Celt in a Twist, the very best in contemporary Celtic music.

(CELT IN A TWIST)
Some Irish people walked into a bar…..and instead of starting a joke, they started a band. Yes, not just trendy cars are fueled by alcohol in Southern California; a brand new sound was born the day the members of Flogging Molly met in a bar named Molly Malone’s. The seven members invented an as-yet-unnamed classification of music. It might be agro-Celt, jig-punk, or Celt punk, but it’s gaining popularity all the time. Their new album is “Within a Mile of Home” and we’re talking about it with Dave King. Dave! How are you?

(DAVE KING)
How are you? Are you good, Patricia?

(CELT IN A TWIST)
Yeah! We’re really happy to be talking with you about the new album. You’ve been part of the Van’s Warped Tour, and just returned from a tour of Europe. Do you do your writing on the road or at home?

(DAVE KING)
Sometimes in sound checks. I will play a chord or something and it will sound different to me and I’ll record it down. Then I’ll come back home and I’ll play my tape to see what I have and something might strike me. But usually I write the body of a song here at home. You know I have a little desk set up here and I have photographs of friends and family around me and a little bottle of whiskey maybe here or there, and I just reminisce of things past, you know?

(CELT IN A TWIST)
You name the Pogues and the Dubliners as inspiration as well as Johnny Cash. Do you see a connection between the music of the old country and the country music of the new?

(DAVE KING)
Oh, absolutely. It’s a very interesting story. When I was a kid, my father brought me out to buy me a couple of albums. And the albums that he bought me were Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison and the Dubliners Live at the Gate Theatre. And it’s really, really bizarre because I obviously listened to those albums when I was a child for years. And when I think of Flogging Molly, in some ways it’s almost like a combination of the two. You have that train-driven sound, but you have traditional sound on top of that as well. And to me country music I think sprang originally from traditional Irish music and folk music, do you know what I mean?

(CELT IN A TWIST)
You wrote the song “Don’t Let Me Die Wondering” after the death of Johnny Cash. How did his music affect you and your writing?

(DAVE KING)
To me he was a man who sang of freedom and he sang of justice for man and he went through so much in his life. And when I found out, when I heard he died it was the last thing I could imagine Johnny Cash doing was lying in his deathbed wondering what he should have done and what he shouldn’t have done. You know what I mean? Johnny Cash lived a life, and he lived it every day, and that’s an inspiration for me in any way it is because hopefully when I’m on my death bed I’m not going to be lying there going “Oh, I should have done that and I should have done it this way.” No, I’m going to do it my way and that’s it, you know? So spiritually and musically he was a huge influence on my life.

(CELT IN A TWIST)
You sing a song on the new album with Lucinda Williams called “Factory Girls” The Rolling Stones also used a Factory Girl as inspiration for a song. What is it about those girls that moves you to pick up a guitar?

(DAVE KING)
I remember as a kid when I lived in Beggar’s Bush, there was a factory up the street. It was a cleaning factory where you’d bring all your dirty wash and you know, the cleaners they did it for you. And every night when those girls got off, they would walk by Beggar’s Bush, and they were all linking arm in arm and they would always be singing songs. And it always stuck in my head. Then when I went back to Ireland last time, I was sitting with my mother, and she’s on in age now you know, and it was like I tried to imagine her as the factory girl, and what it was like for her when she was younger. And so they both combined and Factory Girls came out. And then as I was writing the song I was, you know, “I don’t hear myself singing this. I need somebody else to sing it with me. “ And we’ve always been huge fans of Lucinda Williams. And I just put it out there, you know? Never thinking that she’d do it. And a couple of months down the road, you find out that she’d love to do it and it was fantastic.

(CELT IN A TWIST)
You were born in Ireland, and traveled very far, musically speaking, before you came home again. Is “Within a Mile of Home” getting you even closer to the music of your childhood?

(DAVE KING)
Yeah, I mean, I suppose it is. I think the further away I go the closer I want to be back. It’s a contradiction of course, being Irish, which you probably know, we’re full of contradiction. I mean I didn’t really realize it until the album was done, how much more at home I felt. The title itself has nothing really to do with being within a mile of home as such. It actually means for me personally, it’s within a mile of being happy. Not afraid to be happy. And therefore once you’re happy, I think you’re home.

(CELT IN A TWIST)
You’ve got your Celt In A Twist and we’ve got Dave King from Flogging Molly on the line to talk about their new album, Within A Mile Of Home. More news from Flogging Molly is within your grasp. Just visit http://www.floggingmolly.com. What’s next for the band, Dave? Back to Molly Malone’s?

(DAVE KING)
I might head down there. Yeah, I might head down there for a few pints. I’ve got a bit of time off so I might go down see all the old folks down there. All my old friends. Yeah, we’ve got a little bit of time off, something we haven’t had in years. And I don’t know what to do with myself, really. But we’re going to be going to Australia and stuff like that. But we’re planning a big Saint Patrick’s tour. In March, we’re going to do seventeen days in March for the 17th of March, Saint Patrick’s Day. We’re going to do a big seventeen-city tour in the US. So that should be fun.

(CELT IN A TWIST)
Lots of celebrating?

(DAVE KING)
Oh yeah, of course, you have to celebrate don’t you? The good and the bad.

(CELT IN A TWIST)
We’re going out on 7 Deadly Sins from the album. You can also catch the video for that on World.Beats. Tell us about that song.

(DAVE KING)
Well, once again, that tune was inspired by people like Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer. People like Luke Kelly, who passed away, and who had this camaraderie about them that made you want to jump into their lives. And that song made me want to write a song about Flogging Molly and how we’ve all influenced each other and how we’ve all been on the road for so many years now, and sailing around the world, and singing our songs. It’s just one of those celebration type songs, celebrating the passing of great heroes that we’ve had and looking forward to the future as well. I love that song. Matt actually started playing the accordion riff on that and I had another part and the two, even though one is in major and one’s in minor, they both completely gelled together, and I really, really like that song. It’s a great song live.

(CELT IN A TWIST)
We’re going out on 7 Deadly Sins from the album. You can also catch the video for that on World.Beats. Tell us about that song.

(DAVE KING)
Well, once again, that tune was inspired by people like Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer. People like Luke Kelly, who passed away, and who had this camaraderie about them that made you want to jump into their lives. And that song made me want to write a song about Flogging Molly and how we’ve all influenced each other and how we’ve all been on the road for so many years now, and sailing around the world, and singing our songs. It’s just one of those celebration type songs, celebrating the passing of great heroes that we’ve had and looking forward to the future as well. I love that song. Matt actually started playing the accordion riff on that and I had another part and the two, even though one is in major and one’s in minor, they both completely gelled together, and I really, really like that song. It’s a great song live.

(CELT IN A TWIST)
We were just wondering because there are seven members of Flogging Molly, and of course, seven Deadly Sins,

(DAVE KING)
Well there’s that of course as well….

(CELT IN A TWIST)
If you each took one to specialize in. Thanks for joining us.

(DAVE KING)
Patricia, you are more than welcome.

http://www.floggingmolly.com

Dropkick Murphys: grilled by Barnacle Brian

October 27, 2003

Dropkick Murphys Interview With Al Barr, and Mark Orrell aka (The Kid) October 27, 2003 Portland, Oregon
We got ahold of Al and Mark, for X-58 Radio (a local radio station) before the Portland gig at the Crystal Ballroom, Here’s what we got…

(Brian/X-58/S’n’O)
I know you guys have come along way since the barbershop basement days, where do you see the Dropkick Murphys in 3-5 years?

(DKM)
Al: That’s a tough…That’s hard to say, I mean we’re always growing, (know what I mean) in numbers in the band (laughs).

The Kid: We can’t predict the future.

Al: We like to think our music is growing and not changing, but getting better, hopefully. So just doing pretty much the same as what we’re doing now, we’re just trying to put out the best music we can, and touring…

The Kid: We’re pretty healthy, so I figure we’ll still be around…

Al: well some of us..(laughs) Some of us have been avoiding the doctor for years.

(Brian/X-58/S’n’O)
Brian/S’n’O: You’ve been leaning more & more towards using traditional Celtic instruments, Is that going to continue on future recordings?

(DKM)
Al: From the inception of the band, we’ve always used those instruments. In the studio records like Sing Loud Sing Proud, we got guys in the band that were in the punk scene, but played Celtic instruments, so we were able to take that on the road. Before we had a ceiling, so we weren’t gonna put alot of those intruments on the records because, If we can’t recreate it live, it’s a bumout, know what I mean?, Now we have the instrumentation, so we will continue to incorporate that.

The Kid: We’re looking at a didgerido player. He’s gonna be coming in for the next record. It’s gonna be pretty cool.(Trys to keep a straight face – but starts to laugh)

Al: Yeah, we’re gonna fly him in from Australia (laughs) No, that’s not gonna happen.

(Brian/X-58/S’n’O)
As of today, who are your favorite bands? Extra points for naming Hudson Falcons.

(DKM)
Al: Not the Hudson Falcons.(laughs) Although they are friends of ours. I’m being honest, but favorite bands right now? Jesus, the new Joe Strummer record…

The Kid: The new Joe Strummer record is REALLY good.

Al: Yeah the new Joe Strummer record, and I don’t wanna cheapen that answer with any others, so i’d just say the new Joe Strummer record.

(Brian/X-58/S’n’O)
Tell us about the Boston Bruins gig, you guys have lined up.

(DKM)
Al: Well, what we’ve been told is we’re gonna play the FleetCenter, on the 15th of November, when they play Vancouver, and we’ll see how that goes, I mean it’s the first time we’ll play…

The Kid: At the FleetCenter, at a sporting event.(Laughs)

(Brian/X-58/S’n’O)
On the ice or what? (laughs)

(DKM)
The Kid: No, they’re taking out handicap seats and building a stage for us, so it’ll be pretty cool. We wanted to play in between the periods, that would be cool. Hopefully people will stick around for the set after the game…

Al: We’ll see who sticks around and see who throws shit at us!

The Kid: Ahh, It’s too loud!!! (regarding some “older” fans)

Heather/X-58: If you were on the ice, i’m sure people would stay! (laughs)

Al: Maybe we’ll just rush the ice, and…

(Brian/X-58/S’n’O)
What do you think of this whole Celt-Punk genre? And do you think websites like Shite’n’Onions are doing a great job? (This question was originally for Ken, who i’ve been told is an S’n’O fan)

(DKM)
Al: I ‘m not really familiar with the website (Bastard – that the last time we’re ever nice to you – S’n’O), and obviously there’s a lot of bands that are doing the whole Celtic punk thing. There’s a lot of bands bands that have been doing Celtic music for a long time. I think with the Dropkick Murphys, we’ve always been a punk band first, and then we incorporate the celtic influences later. But yeah, there’s alot of bands doing it, and doing a great job with it. We are just doing what we do, and letting the people decide.

(Brian/X-58/S’n’O)
What was it like working with Woody Guthrie’s lyrics on Blackout?

(DKM)
The Kid: An honor. Al: Yeah, It was an honor, and a daunting task to be asked to write music for unpublished lyrics for someone as great as Woody Guthrie, know what I mean? We had music already that was written. We were calling the music for that “Reggae Ramone” actually, because it sounded like a reggae meets The Ramones song. So we had that music, and actually Kenny and I were in the basement of his house looking though the Guthrie lyrics saying “How in hell are we gonna tackle this job?” because it’s not something we though of as being easy. We had a little handheld cassette recorder of our band practice in the background with these guys playing the music to what became “Gonna Be A Blackout Tonight” and Kenny picked up the lyrics to that, and was reading it, and (the music) just happened to be playing, and said “What do you think of this?” and we said “yeah that’ll work!” and it just kind of fell together.

The Kid: Hopefully, he’d not rolling around in his grave right now.

Al: Hopefully we did him proud. I think in spirit, it’s in line with what he was all about.

Brian/S’n’O: Especially with your background…

Al: Right, it’s in keeping with the whole thing.

(Brian/X-58/S’n’O)
So, any chance of flying me out to the St. Paddy’s Day show in Boston?(Laughs)

(DKM)
Al: We don’t even know where we’re gonna be doing this and where we’re gonna be doing that. Know what I mean, we know we’re gonna be playing some shows in Boston, but there’s now talk of possibly doing some West Coast shows in California that same week. So we don’t really know. (looks at the mic) Don’t plan your calanders around what I just said, because that could all change tommorow. We definatley will be playing Paddy’s Day week. Definatly be playing shows in Boston. As far as how many? Last year we did four…

The Kid: Seems like, No, we did five.

Al: We did five?

The Kid: No, four, but it seems like every year we add a day on.

Al: Or they try to add another day..

Brian/S’n’O: A whole work week!

The Kid: Exactly.(Laughs)

(Heather/X-58 radio)
When you guys were in elementary school, and the teachers asked what you wanted to be when you grew up, what did you guys answer to that?

(DKM)
Al: I Don’t know if would have answered a Singer, but since I was in grade school, I was singing in concert choir. I was always singing along with Elvis, or The Beatles, when I was 10, or 11.Then when I was 12 or 13, I heard some harder stuff like punk, you know, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Clash, that kind of stuff. So I always loved music, & I always loved singin’ along. I had a little Hi-Fi, you know, it looked like a suitcase, and you could open it up and it was a record player.

Heather/X-58: I had one of those.

Al: Yeah you know what I mean. I would always just sing along with music. My father gave me all his Beatles records, my first record was a “Hunka, Hunka Burnin’ Love” by Elvis in 4th grade. I think you get caught up.. Everybody tries to outdo themselfs with the whole (little snotty kid voice) I wanna be a spaceman,I wanna be a fireman,a policeman, oh yeah? well i’m gonna be a friggin’ G.I. Joe. ya know? (laughs) But yeah, I think I’ve always loved singing and loved being on the stage. Like I said, since I was a kid, I was doing the concert choir and stuff, so we’d perform in front of all the old folks, and parents, and that kinda thing, so.

The Kid: I kinda wanted to be a hockey player. I was playing hockey, like for the Lakers, back in Worchester.I always wanted to be a hockey player, I looked up to Wayne Gretsky, and Bobby Orr and stuff. They were always my favorites. Basically I wanted to be a hockey player. I don’t have a long drawn out story like Al did! (Laughs)

Al:(laughs) That’s just cause i’m long and drawn out!(laughs)

(Heather/X-58 radio)
What’s your favorite song to play live?

(DKM)
Al: Right now, i’d say the “Workers Song”

The Kid: “Workers Song” yeah, Definatley, it’s a rockin’ number.

Al: It’s like you said, a rockin’ number. Just the way it kicks in, and the way the audience responds to what the lyrics are saying. You see everybody singing along with that, and as soon as we kick that song in, everybodys eyes bug out, and they’re psyhced. Know what I mean? It gets the hair on the back of your neck to stand up.

(Heather/X-58 radio)
What’s your favorite album of yours?

(DKM)
Al: I’d say Blackout.

The Kid: Blackout, yeah, yeah, definatley.

(Heather/X-58 radio)
Were you influcenced by The Pogues?

(DKM)
Al: I would say that musically…Obviously there are influcences there because The Pogues were doing, what we were doing, years ago, but more in the traditional sense, they had that punk edge, just because I think Shane MacGowan’s attitiude more than anything else, and the time that The Pogues started in London, there was a punk explosion going on at the same time, and his other band The Nipple Erectors were also definatly a punk band for that time period.
We as a band have never sat around, I mean when it comes to writing we don’t sit around to music and write like… I don’t know, I’m 35 years old. I get my influences when I write music from my daily life. So that’s kinda how I write.

(Heather/X-58 radio)
So, how many of you are Irish? Or have Irish in you?

(DKM)
Al: I’d say everybody in the band except me.

The Kid: I’m half Irish, & half English.

Brian/S’n’O:Your part English? (Laughs) So you guys are the butt of all the jokes in the band?

Al: and I’m the Scottish Kraut, you know what? First of all, (stares at the mic) I don’t wanna be Irish. (Everyone laughs) Because the curse is true!

The Kid: Al’s holding up his pinky right now! The Irish curse.

Al: The Irish curse, I don’t wanna part of that. I don’t wanna stuff socks in my drawers! (Laughs) So, you can have the Mick’s. The Mick’s can…You know.. Whatever. My oldest friend, Peter Donovan’s a Mick, I love him. I’ve grown up with Irish my whole life, Irish American, but, yeah, I’m a Scottish Kraut.

Heather: I’m Irish, & German, so I can make the beer and then drink it.

Al: There ya go!

Brian/S’n’O: (Laughs) Either way around huh?

Heather/X-58: Either way, it’s good. So, what’ your favorite beer?

The Kid: (points at a bottle) Budweiser brand beer.

Al: I don’t drink beer anymore, I drink dark rum. That’s what I’ve found keeps me out of fights, headaches, and hangovers.

The Kid: Everytime Al drinks beer he loses some teeth. (laughs)

Brian/S’n’O: Really? Nice work! Yeah! (thumbs up)

Al: Not really, not alot of fun, I don’t recommend it to the kids out there.

(Brian/X-58/S’n’O)
Is there anything you want to add?

(DKM)
Al: (pauses) Ahh……No. (laughs) Thank-you for the interview, we appreciate the interview, but we’re not much on the whole soapbox thing… You kids out there you need to do…Y’know? No, just live your life, and we’ll live ours, and if we’re in town, come check it out.

(Brian/X-58/S’n’O)
The went on to play a hell of a show.

Interviewed by Brian, and Heather, from X-58 radio (A big thanks to Matt for scheduling the interview)

http://www.dropkickmurphys.com/

Black47: the Larry Kirwan interview

April 2002

Black 47 are the original and most original Irish rock band in the US – today, yesterday or tomorrow. Thanks to Larry Kirwan for taking the time to answer my questions.

(S’n’O) The first time I saw Black 47 was back in 92(?) at the “Trip to Tipp” in Semple Stadium, Thurles. If I remember correctly B47 played about 11.30 am and I was there to watch Therapy? (I was a “Heavy Kettler” in those days) who were the next band up. Despite my whiskey induced hangover B47 blew me away musically and lyrically with a sound I’d never heard before. I’ve yet to hear another band that sounds like Black 47. Why is that? What makes Black 47 so unique?

(LK) I remember that show because my voice started to go during James Connolly. I think we had just arrived in the country under a lot of stress. We didn’t have a soundman traveling with us, at the time ,and I had to go an explain to the “house” sound engineer what the band was all about. Which leads to your question. Because he looked at me, his mouth somewhat open ,as I explained the instrumentation – Drum machine, electric guitar, uilleann pipes, African percussion, bass, sax and trombone. Nevertheless, he did an admirable job.

I had actually thought that, with the success of Black 47, there would have been more imitators but the reality is that the sound is unique and the players even more so. They’re not exactly replaceable. Each one comes from a different background of either big band jazz, Stax soul, classical, downtown noise, folk, etc. and each had done stints in improv bands. So, there is a certain fearlessness. As a writer, also, I’ve never been afraid (or perhaps been confident enough in the writing) that I don’t mind the songs being worked on, at an early stage, in front of an audience. Most writers like to have their songs somewhat polished and ready for an audience before they’ll showcase them. Because of Black 47’s schedule, we rarely rehearse; thus as soon as I have a rough arrangement ready, the band tries the songs out onstage, modifies (or even throws away) the arrangement and just goes for it. Then again, the lyrical content is pretty broad, dealing with everything from politics to bawdy humor with gusto and passion. So, there are a lot of contents to the Black 47 sound and, even with this long-winded explanation, I’m probably leaving out some vital elements that listeners would suggest.

(S’n’O) The Irish media have always jumped on the bandwagon of anything Irish that’s making noise in America and Black 47 for years now have been know as “the Irish” rock band and been in every publication from Rolling Stone to Newsweek yet Black 47 are an ignored, unknown quantity in Ireland. What do you attribute that to?

(LK) Oh, politics, undoubtedly. And also, we’ve never fitted in any genre and actually despise the fact that bands should be expected to fit. We’re a genre of one and proud of it. We, actually, did receive quite a lot of press in Ireland around 92 because we were getting such press and word of mouth in NYC. But, we always had a political agenda which was to keep the British problems in the North of Ireland on the front burner. Now, to the politically correct Southern Irish, this was a heresy. They wanted their politics to be the airy U2 type of conviction – that the earth must be saved, and that everyone be kind to each other (views that I share and I think that U2 are a tremendous live band); but ours were much more specific – that habeas corpus be restored to the 6 counties, that the rights of the minority be restored and respected, and that eventually the British should cede security of the “province” to an EU or UN force.

Now, on top of all this, we’ve had two major record deals – one with EMI and the other with Mercury. The Irish representatives of both companies seemed frightened and a bit ashamed of the band’s views – there was a war going on in the North at the time and each company felt very uncomfortable having a band such as Black 47 on their label. They felt that it didn’t make them look good when they would have to go over to London. The British companies weren’t too keen on us either. So, they would release the cds, let them gradually sell out and then not print any more. There you have it. It’s a shame but what were we to do. Drop the politics and become an ugly looking Coors? As Yeats put it, “Was there another Troy for us to burn?” We were and continue to be political. It’s cost a great deal but such is life.

(S’n’O) Larry, would you consider compromising your lyrics/ politics/ activism for the big record label push to success? How important are the politics/ activism to the Black 47 sound?

(LK) I didn’t see this question before answering the last one. I think we’ve already demonstrated that we would never compromise. In fact, I’m not even sure I’d know how to. We are political and activist too. But, for those who are not familiar with the band, it’s important to point out that there are also many other sides to our music. Black 47 is a great rollicking rock band who play and live life to the fullest. About 30 to 50% of the songs are political. Many of the other songs deal with life in general. There’s a lot of romance, humor and loss in the songs. Some are about emigrants, many are about New York City and they all deal with redemption (not the established church type) but the feeling that life is important. You may have a rough day or week or year but you still have to get up the next morning and do it again. Black 47 has written a soundtrack for the people who rise to the occasion, day after day.

(S’n’O) Along the same lines what’s the most important, commercial or critical success (or success at all)? Do you feel that you’ve musically achieved what you wanted when you started Black 47?

(LK) I’ve never thought about critics (professional or otherwise). I know when the song is good and when the audience is with you. I don’t need to be told – for better or worse. I’m a professional musician and a professional writer. We’ve had commercial success and, perhaps, will have more of it. But it never affected how I wrote, perform or feel. I’m immensely proud of the band, what it achieves every night, and of the songs I’ve written for Black 47. In the long run, we have a body or work that is top shelf and stands up to anything out there – both musically and lyrically. But then, I don’t tend to look back. That’s for other people to do. The band is vital and goes on making new music. As soon as we stop doing that, then it will be time to call it a day. But, for now, the new songs sound great. We’re always looking to break new ground. And, I’ve always gone along with Jim Morrison’s words as regards creation – “the future’s uncertain and the end is always near.” I felt that 12 years ago when we formed and it’s still in my mind today. We never set out to do anything except make great music and be original. As long as we continue to do that, we’ll stay together. If we don’t…..there are other easier ways to make a living.

(S’n’O) What are your long term goals/ambitions/dreams for Black 47?

(LK) I think that’s summed up in the last question. Tonight’s show in Boston is the most important we’ve ever done. Then Saturday’s show in Connolly’s will supplant that and so on…

(S’n’O) After songs about Connelly, Collins, Sands, RFK and Joyce (well his grave at least). Is there any other historical figure that you’d like to write about?

(LK) Oh, there are many. You just have to find the right setting for them. I took my background as a playwright and wrote about Connolly, Sands, Collins, Countess Markievicz, etc by delving into their personalities (rather like a method actor) and becoming the subject onstage. It was a relatively new concept in rock writing and performing. But each one was treated differently. Finding the way into the heads of these people and then defining them in a different setting is not easy and takes time. I’m presently working on one about James Larkin (Connolly’s superior in the Labor Movement in Ireland) and I’m having a hard time. Two steps forward, one step back. On the solo cd, Kilroy Was Here, I’ve also worked with (in a more elliptical form) James Joyce’s releationship with Norah/Molly and the Spanish poet Garcia Lorca. So, it goes on. I’ve thought of doing a new solo project where I’ll just take a dozen important poltical figures (to me) and deal with their lives. But time is tight.

(S’n’O) Have you found younger fans digging for information about people like Connelly or Collins that they my not have heard of previously? What’s the feedback from the fans like on these people?

(LK) Oh, yeah, that happens all the time. You see, we don’t lecture people on stage. The songs are written in an allegorical manner. They set out the facts and delve into the personalities. Then it’s up to people to take what they want from those ideas. But we’re not like, say, The Clash (whom I adore). We don’t tell people what they should think. Rather, we introduce them to ideas and hope some of the ideas lead them to investigate topics and people in their own way. And that happens all the time. The emails I receive are extraordinary. People come home from a show and write asking a few extra questions; you reply to them. And then you might hear back a year later. The person has done extensive research and now may inform me of things I didn’t know. And so on, like a ball being batted back & forth. It’s a wonderful experience. The songs are also used in hundreds of college and high school courses around the country. And from time to time, I go out and speak in front of classes at the request of professors and teachers. Which can be fun. But there is nothing quite like the high of becoming James Connolly on stage in front of an appreciative crowd, who no doubt, are experiencing the same transformation.

(S’n’O) Finally, after “10 Bloody Years” how much do you think B47 have had a hand in modernizing Irish-America and Irish-American culture?

(LK) Of course. But I don’t think of it as modernizing. Rather we reintroduce Irish-Americans and anyone else who cares to their roots, many heroes, and to a way of seeing the world around them. We get people to think and that’s about the best gift we can give anyone.

Good luck with the site. Anyone who wants to write to me can do so at blk47@aol.com or visit http://www.black47.com

Celtus: John McManus talk about the past (Mama’s Boys) and present (Celtus)

July 2001

Brother’s Pat, John & Tommy McManus grew up playing Traditional Irish in rural Ireland almost unaware of rock music. That changed one night when they went to check out a Horselips gig. Horselips were the first band to combine traditional Irish music and rock into one powerful sound. So impressed were the brothers that they formed their own power trio rock band Mama’s Boys. The brothers released eight albums as Mama’s Boys and toured the world over their fourteen years together with varying levels of success. Sadly youngest brother Tommy died in 1994 from leukemia and Pat and John called it a day. On the first anniversary of Tommy’s death, John picked up the low whistle and composed the instrumental track ‘Brother’s Lament’ in memory of Tommy. He played it to Pat who loved it and they started to play some Irish music purely for fun. Out of this Celtus was born. Celtus infuse folk, rock and roots styles to create some of the most uplifting original music heard in the last few years. Their latest CD ‘What Goes Around’ has just been released in the UK. Thanks to Lindy Benson for getting these questions to John (and John for taking the time to answer’em).

(S’n’O) The Celtus sound has been a radical departure from the hard rock of Mamas Boys how did this style come about ?

(John McManus) “When Tommy (our youngest brother) died, and Mama’s Boys folded, we weren’t sure if we’d ever do another album. Things could never be the same without Tommy.. After a year, Pat & I got back together and we wanted to do something different. Because we grew up playing Irish music, we wanted to return to the instruments we had neglected, like the low whistle and fiddle – and try to fuse together the Celtic ‘feel’ and also draw on our rock background. It really came quite easily.”

(S’n’O) What type of reaction have you had from the hardcore Mamas Boys fans to the changes and were you able to convert them?

(John McManus) “It’s only by chance that old Mama’s Boys fans know we have a new band called Celtus as it’s been on several websites. So far, no complaints! It’s amazing how many turn up to our shows!”

(S’n’O) Being base in the UK have you noticed a more favorable acceptance of music with Irish overtone then say 15 years ago and if so what do you attribute this to? (I remember criticism of Mamas Boys for using a fiddle by the music press).

(John McManus) “Riverdance, and the Corrs, I suppose.”

(S’n’O) What are you memories of the Mamas Boys days if you could re-live the last 20 years would there have been a Mamas Boys or would you have just gone and formed Celtus?

(John McManus) “Memories? They were all good – especially our tours in America that were so exciting! I think Mama’s Boys, being the 3 brothers, and being so in love with rock music, I would do the Mama’s Boys thing all over again.”

(S’n’O) Of all the song you’ve written over the last 20 years what’s your personal favorite?

(John McManus) “From Mama’s Boys it would have to be ‘Needle In The Groove.’ From the Celtus collection, I’d have to say ‘Cathedral’ from the ‘Portrait’ album”.

(S’n’O) I notice you have left Sony UK to go to an independent label. How is the new label working out?

(John McManus) “We licensed both ‘Live 2000’ and ‘What Goes Around’ to Evangeline – so they basically act as a distributor. Sony only ever released ‘Moonchild’ and ‘Portrait’ in the UK and Ireland. Evangeline have released world-wide which is much better as our music can be obtained by a lot more fans.”

(S’n’O) Finally do Celtus have any plans to tour/play in the USA in the near future (or have their CDs released here)?

(John McManus) “No plans yet to tour in the US. Any promoters out there that want us over? We’d be there like a shot! The ‘Live 2000’ CD and the new studio album ‘What Goes Around’ was released in the US at the end of February 2001. I know both can be bought from CD Warehouse (Media Valley/DNA distribution) and also over the internet on: CDNow, CDconnection, and CDquest. Please DO check out our website: http://www.folking.com/celtus as we love reading the messages from our fans – especially the ones from America.”

Catgut Mary: Ahoy Matey – Will Swan Interview

October 2007

CATGUT MARY: The greatest band to come outta Australia since some guy in a schoolboy uniform strapped on a Gibson SG. Brighid from Celtic lounge sets the questions

Far away in Australia, the Goodship Catgut Mary has set sail. Onboard are Commodore Jason Block on drums, lead vocalist “Fighting” Tim Bradtke, Warren “The Admiral” Fraser on twelve-string guitar, mandolin and electric guitar player Jules “Mad Dog” McMullen, accordion player Captain Will Swan, Owen “Bacchus Aquinas” Thomas on bass, and “Blackjack “ Dave Mackenzie on whistle. Since befriending them on MySpace (www.myspace.com/catgutmary), I have spent copious amounts of time playing through the list of songs on their profile. They are loud, energetic, and fun and you should be listening to them, too. To persuade you, I interviewed with Captain Will Swan about being part of this amazing crew. Keep a weathered eye out for Catgut Mary weighing anchor in the US!!

Brighid: Okay…let’s start with the background. How did you come up with the name Catgut Mary?

Will: I came up with it one night on a roadtrip with a mate, watching a Zydeco rock band in a country town pub.

B: Where are you from?

W: The bulk of the band is comprised of Melbourne boys. Melbourne is considered Australia’s ‘second city’ in some ways, after Sydney which is slightly bigger and is well-known for it’s harbour and beaches and all. Melbourne is a grid city that is overwhelmingly Victorian in its design. It was built on the back of a mid-19th Century gold rush. I’m from Sydney and ‘The Admiral’ (12-string guitar) is originally from Northern Ireland.

B: How did the band form?

W: I came to Melbourne for its extremely vigorous live music scene after mucking around in various bands in Sydney. Melbourne has long held the crown for pub rock in this country. I placed various ads in music shops and tattooists but eventually found the original members through a musicians’ classifieds site. How we found our drummer Block I honestly do not know … I was living in a blur at that time. But now I can’t imagine life before him. We found our singer Tim Bradtke a few weeks before we played a really big St Patrick’s Day event here in Melbourne.

B: How long have you been together?

W: This incarnation of the band is eight months old. Catgut Mary first came together about a year before that. We didn’t start taking it seriously until early this year.

B: What are the major influences on your music?

W: The major influences on this band are the ballad tradition and the punk ethos of do-it-yourself. The Pogues are a lifelong influence for many of us. And of course we love the Dropkick Murphys and loads of bands doing so-called Celtic Punk. The thing about almost all of these bands, as I see it, is that they would all be doing their thing regardless of each other but also really dig each other. Those of us who grew up on British, Irish and Australian folk music have that in us and everyone in this band has ingrained rock’n’roll spirit anyway so it’s natural that we play what we do. I don’t see what we’re doing as fusion music at all. I just see it as amping up what could just as easily be played with one acoustic guitar and a tin whistle or whatever. We’re into high energy music and story songs. Our drummer Block will kick back with Sepultura for instance and our guitarist/mandolinist Jules has a background in bluesy Australian pubrock, AC/DC and Rose Tattoo, among other things. I’ve always thought that there is a bit of a hillbilly influence going on in Catgut as well. I’m into songwriters who have a story and setting going on in their stuff and I’ve always been really inspired by the positive ‘one in, all in’ sound and ethos of bands like Rancid and the Dropkick Murphys.

B: What are some of your favorite bands (that you haven’t played with) that have influenced you?

W: The Pogues showed the world what can be done by going somewhere really high-powered with the innate energy and emotion of Irish music. I’d grown up on The Dubliners so what MacGowan and The Pogues were doing was the most exciting thing I’d ever come across. I never saw it as novelty at all.

The great Australian band Weddings, Parties, Anything are an influence as well. They had a very rootsy sound and cranked it out around the country all the time. Colonial folk music meets country meets pub rock with legendary atmospheric songs.

B: Do you think your Australian roots influence your music?

W: Yeah, big time. Most of us know the Australian traditional ballad catalogue, on one hand. Pioneer songs, convict songs, all that sort of thing. On another level, Australia has a very proud rock and punk history and we’re definitely coming out of that. Traditionally, there hasn’t been much room for poncing about in Australian rock. The bands that have really made their mark were no-nonsense, sweaty, hard-rocking outlaws who came out of the cities, suburban beer barns and country towns and just lived for live music. Melbourne is absolutely crammed with live venues. Sydney used to be, too.

B: Which of your songs stands out to you the most, and why?

W: At this stage, two live (original) favourites seem to be ‘Jacky Butler’ and ‘Melbourne Tram Song’. Jacky Butler is an historical song about an English migrant who flees to Sydney after being involved in some sort of killing, it’s all pretty shady. He lies low and remains a defiant hard man, albeit a romantic one. Although a violent man, he finds some sort of redemption by refusing to get involved in the Boer War. It’s a song about flying the finger but keeping to yourself in a world that will kill you if it can. I suppose people like it for the chorus. Melbourne Tram Song is basically a love song I wrote for the city. It blurs the line between the love for a person and the love for a place.

B: What do you try to accomplish with your lyrics?

W: Without trying to, I’ve found myself writing using traditional ballad cliches. Jacky Butler has a basic introduction line early on in the song; “Well me name is Jacky Butler …”. That’s just an old folk thing, you present a character and they tell their story. Like the Paul Simon song ‘Duncan’; “Lincoln Duncan is my name and here’s my song …”. Likewise, Melbourne Tram Song starts off with “As I roved into the city …”, another textbook folk intro. When I look at old black and white and sepia photos I am fascinated by the fact that people from 1895 or whenever are the same as us, that they had more or less the same concerns and weaknesses and delights. And so with our thing, the music can accompany stories or imagery from the past – even a fantastical, stylized sort of past – or we can draw on old idioms and incorporate them into present day songs.

We’ve got a song we’ve just recorded called ‘Bourbon and Black Porter’ which is about the cycle of drunken madness and alcohol withdrawal and the final decision to give it all away. I quit drinking a year ago and I wrote this one on Christmas Day after being clean for two months. The thing is, I’ve always REALLY loved full-tilt drinking songs so I wanted to do a ‘farewell to booze’ thing that wasn’t some forlorn, self-pitying thing like that Nine Inch Nails song ‘Hurt’. I’ve always been bored to tears by the sight of a pack of drunkards singing the bloody ‘Wild Rover’ … “no nay never, no more” and all that. You either get straight or you don’t, you don’t bloody TALK about it. So this was written as a reaction to that, and from the point of transition as opposed to just talking crap. And I wanted it loud and brash and energetic, so Tim is the perfect voice for this song.

B: So, you guys are touring right now, how’s it going so far?

W: First time we’ve been out and about together and it’s been wicked. We’ve gone through a lot together so it’s been really bloody good to knock the dust off the sails and get her out there. B: You’ve played with a lot of well-known bands – any favorites?

W: It was great to play with Mutiny who are an institution down here in Melbourne and that was really nice of them to ask us along for some shows.

B: If you could play with any one band or artist, who would it be and why?

W: Personally, I would love this band to one day share a stage with The Real McKenzies because they are pure energy. And my old man is a piper.

B: What do you like most about gigs?

W: Other than playing, which is what we live for (clichéd as that might sound) I love getting to talk music with people and make new friends. And it provides us with a chance to try new interestingly scented but masculine deodorant spray cans. I can’t believe how many of those things I go through.

B: When you’re playing, how do you cater to the crowd?

W: We ‘channel’ the songs, not just ‘recite’ them. And I consider that it’s our job to put music under the feet of those who want to dance. Tim’s a natural showman so he’s the man for the banter.

B: Any interesting anecdote about touring, or a show in particular? Maybe your first, or one where somebody ended up in the hospital, or one with an amazing crowd?

W: All of the above. There was one show when one band member was in M.I.A in some hospital somewhere and where I took out Block’s drumkit but that’s all in the messy amateurish past and we don’t talk about it anmore. The fact that I’ve even mentioned it will have earned me six lashes.

So … the latest story here is that we had a member of Rose Tattoo at one of our recent shows; Rock’n’Roll Royalty, so we got a kick out of that.

B: Thanks very much! Slainte!

W: You are very welcome, Brighid, me hearty!

Blood or Whiskey: Barney Murray, Leixlips Finest

October 2001

Leixlip County Kildare’s Blood or Whiskey are one of the finest if not finest Folk-Punk bands on the planet (and I’m not just saying that because I discovered I went to the same High School as Barney). Their second CD “No Time to Explain” is out on Eire Records. Thanks to Barney for taking the time to answer my questions.

(S’n’O) First some band history questions. Can you give me a brief history of the band, how did you get together and who’s in the band?

(BM) “We have been together since 1993. I knew a few of the lads and we got together for a jam and played a few of each other’s songs and it went from there. My feeling was that The Pogues had lost their way after “If I Should Fall From Fall From Grace..” and that we should take it from where they left off. We recorded the first album in 1996. It was all done in three days. Then we went on a never ending or going anywhere tour for about three years till we called a halt to do the second CD. Nearly everyone in the band is from Leixlip, Co Kildare.
The line up is: Barney Murray – Vocals, Bouzouki; Dugs Mullooly – Vocals, Guitar; Paul Walshe – Banjo; Chris – O’Meara – Drums; Tom Touhy – Bass; Aishling De Claire, Tin Whistle (the only girl and the only one not from Leixlip!)”

(S’n’O) Are you happy with the new CD and how would you compare it to the first? It’s an Irish only release right? Any plans for a US release?

(BM) “I’m totally happy with it. The first one was a hard act to follow but I think we have done it. I think there is a greater variance of styles on “No Time to Explain” but I didn’t want to loose our basic sound or compromise the songwriting. It was a hard album to make because with the first one we didn’t have much choice, we were put in the studio, we had to get it done in three days and we were kept away from the mixing. This time we had complete control and loads of time and all these choices to make ourselves and it wrecked our heads. That said, I love the first one and I love this one. I wouldn’t have let them be released if I didn’t. We are trying to get it released in the US and hopefully it will be soon.”

(S’n’O) How’s the CD doing in Ireland, did you get any airplay or support from the Irish music establishment (2FM, Hot Press, Etc.)?

(BM) “The CD is selling well but we have not got much (if any) support from the Irish music establishment. The Punks have kept us going over here. The established media is now just an extension of the major labels marketing arm. It’s been like that for a long time.”

(S’n’O) What do you think of the current state (or non-state of) of Irish rock right now?

(BM) “Non-state is right. It’s rubbish. The bands here just copy the latest trend from England or America. When we started out they were all trying to be Nirvana, now they want to be Coldplay or Blink 182. Next year it will be something else. They have no balls. If it wasn’t for the Punk bands there would be nothing.”

(S’n’O) Do Blood or Whiskey listen to any of you peers (Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys)? What do you think of the whole scene that’s developing stateside?

(BM) “We played support to The Dropkicks in Dublin in 1999 so we know them fairly well and I listened a lot to Flogging Molly. I was surprised how big the whole thing is in America. It’s different in that its a lot more guitar driven than we are. Maybe we are Trad. with Punk influences and they are Punk with Trad. influences or that could be just me talking more shite.”

(S’n’O) You just completed an American tour, how did the tour go, any particular high points?

(BM) “Despite everything it was the best tour we ever did. All the gigs were great and I’ve never been able to say that about any other tour. The Irish bars that we played in never once asked us to do any cover versions or to tone it down and we got a great response in the venues that were pure Punk despite us not having electric guitars and stacks of amps.”

(S’n’O) The WTC disaster took place right in the middle of the tour and I know you actually visited the WTC a couple of days before. Any thoughts, opinions about what happened, did you feel there was a noticeable effect on the remainder of the tour?

(BM) “Like millions of people I still cannot get my head around the whole thing. I’d never been to Manhattan before and I’m sort of tired of cities so I didn’t expect to like it but it struck me as a really vibrant and multi-cultural place with an energy all its own. I still can’t believe what happened. We didn’t know what to do so we just said to the venues that if they wanted to cancel we would be ok with that. They all wanted us to play. It seemed that people just wanted to keep going. I never said a word about it from the stage. It was like everyone wanted us to shut up and play, so that’s what we did. We didn’t play the last gig in Yonkers, it was supposed to have been a benefit night for Firefighters and it was understandably cancelled.”

(S’n’O) Any plans to return to the US in the near future?

(BM) “We would love to go back. It’s the most accepted we have ever been anywhere. More than Ireland. It would likely be next year though at the earliest.”

(S’n’O) What are the future plans for Blood or Whiskey?

(BM) “Its very unPunk of me but I’d love to make it big just to show the bastards that we can do it. I’d love to be doing this in twenty years or more. The lads feel the same. Why should Bono, Britney and all the other talentless wonders live in mansions while Punks go around broke ?”

Blood or Whiskey: Sticks and Stones – an interview with Beano

November 14, 2004

(S’n’O)

1. First of all, congregations on the new US record deal with Punk-core. How did the deal come about? I know when we spoke back in April, you mentioned you had a few labels interested in signing the band but none would commit on tour support. Will Punk-Core be giving you the necessary tour support and can we expect to see a lot more of Blood or Whiskey in 2005?

(Beano/BoW)
YEAH THANX, THE DEAL CAME ABOUT ‘COS BASICALLY WE WERE FISHING ABOUT FOR A NEW DEAL BASED IN THE U.S. WITH GOOD DISTRIBUTION IN THE U.S. AS WELL AS THE REST OF THE WORLD.I KNEW WHAT PUNKCORE’S CAPABILITIES WERE, BUT I MET DAVE THE LABEL BOSS SOCIALLY FIRST WHEN HE WAS ON HOLIDAY IN IRELAND SO AFTER THAT I KNEW HE WAS SOUND ‘COS WE DIDN’T TALK ABOUT THE BAND OR BUSINESS, WE JUST TALKED ABOUT WHAT THE NEXT ORDER AT THE BAR WAS! SO WE HAD TO WORK WITH SOMEONE WHO WE COULD GET ON WITH PERSONALLY SO THAT WE WEREN’T JUST A “PRODUCT” TO THEM, THAT THEY WERE PEOPLE INTERESTED IN US AND NOT JUST IN FUCKIN DOLLARS.BUT SO FAR WE’VE BEEN TREATED GREAT AND THEY KNOW WHAT THEY’RE DOING. PUNKCORE WILL GIVE US WHATEVER RESOURCES THAT THEY HUMANLY CAN IN ORDER TO SEE THIS JOB THROUGH COS LIKE US OURSELVES , THEY BELIVE IN WHAT WE’RE DOING AND WHAT WE PLAN TO DO. YEAH WE’LL BE GETTING A U.S BOOKING AGENT AS SOON AS, THEN THE ALBUM WILL COME OUT EARLY FEBUARY 2005 THEN WE’LL BE ON BASICALLY A NEVER ENDING TOUR.

(S’n’O)
2. Speaking of touring, how did the US tour with the Dropkick Murphys go?

(Beano/BoW)
YEAH THE DATES WITH THE MURPHY’S WERE GREAT. THEY TREAT US FINE ( WHY WOULDN’T THEY?), & ALLOW US ENOUGH TIME AND SPACE TO DO OUR THING. THE BAND AND THEIR CREW ARE NICE FELLAS Y’KNOW? WE WENT DOWN WELL WITH THEIR CROWD TOO AND SOLD A LOT OF MERCH AT THE GIGS. THEY DON’T OWE US ANYTHING AND IT’S GREAT EXPOSURE FOR THE BAND AS WELL OBVIOUSLY.

(S’n’O)
3. How is the new CD coming along, with the line up changes can we expect a different sounding Blood or Whiskey to what we hear on the previous releases?

(Beano/BoW)
THE NEW CD IS GOING GREAT.WE’VE LITERALLY JUST FINISHED RECORDING AND IT’S GOING TO BE MASTERED THIS WEEK. THERE’S 14 SONGS ON IT & IT’S GONNA BE CALLED “CA$HED OUT ON CULTURE” – ‘COS A LOT OF PEOPLE CASH IN ON OUR CULTURE SO WE’RE CASHING OUT! IT DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU MEAN ABOUT SOUNDING DIFFERENT .WE’VE PURPOSELY GONE FOR A MORE PRODUCED SOUND SONICALLY BUT LIKE OTHER BLOOD OR WHISKEY RELEASES IT’S GOT STRONG MATERIAL PLAYED BY A BAND THAT BELIVES IN ITSELF. WITH REGARDS TO LINE UP CHANGES IT’S BOUND TO SOUND SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT, BUT WE’RE PLAYING TO THE SAME BEAT WE’RE JUST BANGING A DIFFERENT DRUM!

(S’n’O)
4. Blood or Whiskey seems to had a ton of bad luck over the last few years – contract problems, label problems, van crashes, line-up changes, illness and jail time – what keeps the band together? mearer mortals would have knocked it on the head a long time ago.

(Beano/BoW)
A BELIEF IN WHAT WE DO AND IN WHAT WE HAVE TO OFFER ,A GOOD DOSE OF STUBBORNESS TOO PROBABLY. THERE’S X-AMOUNT OF DETRACTORS AROUND WHO HAVE NO LIVES AND WHO CONTINUALLY TRY TO SOUND OFF ABOUT THINGS THEY HAVE NO FUCKIN CLUE ABOUT REGARDING THIS BAND.AS FAR AS I’M CONCERNED IF WE’RE DOING NOTHING ELSE APART FROM ANNOYING THESE SAD PATHETIC SACK HOLES THEN THAT ALONE IS REASON TO CONTINUE.

(S’n’O)
5. Irish/Celtic punk bands seem to be everywhere these days – from Norway to Japan and the Billboard top 20 – and while Blood or Whiskey were argubally the first of the post-Pogues and authentically Irish as well, nothing else similar has come out of Ireland. Why do you think that is? What do you think of all the non Irish bands playing trad. Irish based punk?

(Beano/BoW)
I THINK THE MAIN REASON THAT BANDS/PUNX FROM IRELAND DON’T PUSH THE “PADDY” ANGLE IS BECAUSE I THINK IT’S SO BRED INTO US THAT WE DON’T HAVE TO WEAR IT ON OUR SLEEVE.IT’S NOT SOMETHING TO SHOUT FROM THE ROOFTOPS.IT’S JUST SIMPLY WHAT YOU ARE WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT. IT SEEMS IN THE U.S. PEOPLE ARE REALLY PROUD OF THEIR FAMILIES ORIGINAL ROOTS TO GO ALONG WITH THEIR AMERICAN ROOTS HENCE THEY’RE “IRISH-AMERICAN” OR “ITALIAN – AMERICAN ” OR WHATEVER.THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT BUT PERSONALLY I COME FROM AN ANGLE IN PUNK WHERE NATIONALITY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH PUNK ROCK.IT DIDN’T MEAN YOU WEREN’T PROUD TO BE IRISH OR WHATEVER IT JUST WASN’T AN ISSUE Y’KNOW? IT WAS AN ANTI-SYSTEM THING I THINK.OBVIOUSLY FOR SOME BANDS IT’S A PRIDE THING OR FOR OTHERS IT’S A COMMERCIAL THING BUT FOR SOME OF THE BANDS I’VE HEARD FROM GERMANY AND THAT IT’S JUST A FUCKIN SAD THING! THINGS LIKE THIS DON’T REALLY BOTHER ME EITHER WAY , EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN TAKE ON IT. A GOOD EXAMPLE IS THE AMOUNT OF ENGLISH OI! BANDS WHO I WOULD PERSONALLY KNOW NOT TO BE NAZIS/RIGHT WING, BUT AS SOON AS THEY SING ABOUT ENGLISH PRIDE THEY GET A NAME FOR BEING RIGHT WING.WHY IS IT OK FOR “IRISH” PUNK BANDS TO BE PROUD AND NOT ENGLISH/BRITISH ONES?? THIS TO ME IS WHY NATIONALISM FUCKS UP PUNK ROCK. ANYWAY WHEN I HEAR THE TERM IRISH PUNK I DON’T THINK OF US OR THE MOLLY’S OR THE MURPHY’S , I THINK OF THE OUTCASTS, SLF,DEFECTS, RADIATORS ETC. ANYWAY.

(S’n’O)
Beano – thanks for thaking the time to answer my questions – anything else you’d like to say?

(Beano/BoW)
JUST THANKS FOR THE INTEREST AND THANKS TO ANYONE WHO SUPPORTS US AS FOR ANYONE WHO DOESN’T SUPPORT US FOR WHAT EVER REASON , FUCK YOU! WE’RE DOING IT ANYWAY, GET A LIFE!!! – BLOOD OR WHISKEY WWW.BLOODORWHISKEY.IE