AFL: First off, congratulations on the 25th anniversary. Can we look forward to another 25 years?
Paul: As an answer to your question yes; and thank you. We can look forward to 25 years, of great Celtic rock and roll.
AFL: For our first time readers tell us about the band, a quick bio, where the band comes from, who plays what instrument, how long have you been together, how many albums have you recorded.
Paul: The band originated in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 25 years ago. We have had a lot of line-up changes, because, today of course over the years people want to have a job or a family and stuff. The current line-up is Aspy Luison on bagpipes…
AFL: Aspy, how long have you played in the REAL MCKENZIES?
Aspy: I’ve been playing with them for six years.
Paul: Then we have Dan Stenning on the drums, we also have Dan Garrison on Guitar, we also have Andrew Peterson on guitar, there are six of us.
TRM: From the background blurt out Troy Zack on Bass.
Paul: Of course Troy Zack on Bass!
AFL: Is there a person from the Hardcore and Punk scene who has especially influenced you?
Paul: Yeah, the MC5 have especially influenced me, I think they could be deemed hardcore so i would say the MC5.
AFL: Do you remember the first Hardcore/Punk record you got and do you still have it?
Paul: Yes, it’s not so very much a hardcore. It’s Ian Dury & The Blockheads. I still have that album.
AFL: In your opinion who are the top three most influential people in Hardcore and Punk today?
Paul: Oh I’m not sure, being on the road all the time I don’t get to follow the scene that much. Well who’s playing tonight?
From the background, both members of THE REAL MCKENZIES and AWAY FROM LIFE blurt out PENNYWISE.
Paul: Are they Hardcore or Punk? Mass discussion ensues between all present, consensus, PENNYWISE is more punk than Hardcore.
AFL: In your opinion what’s the difference between Hardcore and Punk?
Aspy: I think that basically it’s the vocals and the tempo of the drums and music. I think that hardcore has a slower tempo but more power, and punk rock has a faster beat.
A.P.: Everyone you ask will give you a different answer. As far as influential people in the scene, perhaps not so much Hardcore but Punk Rock. I would have to say the guys from PENNYWISE, BAD RELIGION and NOFX, who have been around for years. Before that you have UK bands that started Punk Rock, I mean Aspy would name five different bands.
Aspy: I would mention GBH as an old school band, and LAGWAGON as a newer band.
AFL: Or is there a rock band that influences you?
Paul: Is DOA Hardcore?
Everyone else: Yah you could, kind of, sure, yes.
Paul: I hope I make it to be 70.
AFL: Is there a show that you missed in the past that still pisses you off today and who played and where was it?
Paul: I really wish that I could have seen JJ Keahl before he died and Ian Dury before he died. There are a whole lot of shows that I wish I could have seen.
AFL: What is your all-time favorite club or location?
Aspy: Exhales sharply and reflects inwardly. Clubs and locations hay?
Paul: I like the club that we go to in Munich! What’s it called?
Paul: Yes, that’s right. The Backstage in Munich!
AFL: Do you remember the first show you played with THE REAL MCKENZIES and is the venue still open today?
THE REAL MCKENZIES: It must be back in 1992.
Paul: Right that would have been the Railway Club and it’s been closed for a while, but I heard that it might be reopening. I think that was our first show.
AFL: What was your own best personal performance, to date?
Paul: We are doing it tonight at PUNK ROCK HOLIDAY, it is going to be our best performance. The current line-up is the best we have ever had.
AFL: Is this the first time you are playing Punk Rock Holiday?
Aspy: No, we have played here before about 3 or 4 years ago.
AFL: Other bands are staying here a couple of days. Will you also be staying here?
TRM: We have to leave tomorrow, unfortunately.
AFL: How do you choose which songs to play live?
Paul: We like to play a majority of songs of the new album. The other songs are the ones that are energetic and the ones people know.
AFL: Not being the youngest gentleman on tour how do you stay in shape and keep your voice strong?
Paul: Stay away from power, stay right the fuck away from power.
AFL: What is your favorite whiskey?
TRM: Not the Real McKenzie (everyone laughs)
Paul: There are some McKenzie scotch’s out there, Glen Ord, there is, Lagavulin is another good one very peaty and smoky. Glenmorangie is another one. They use Wild Turkey casks.
AFL: Andrew what’s your favorite?
A.P.: My favorite is actually a Rye from Canada called Fourty Creek. I like a variety but if I’m going to buy a bottle it’s going to be Canadian Whiskey.
Aspy: I don’t have a favorite whiskey. I mix it all with coke so… If I have to drink a whiskey I prefer an Irish whiskey. If I’m mixing with coke everything is good.
AFL: Here at PUNK ROCK HOLIDAY, do you have time to enjoy the amenities and join in on the party here at the Festival, for example the Beach area, and or watch the other bands?
Paul: I think that after this interview we might have some time.
A.P.: I think I’ll stick around and watch the rest of the bands for sure.
AFL: After over 25 years of THE REAL MCKENZIES tell us about some of the tops and flops and the best and worst of times, perhaps a funny story about something that happened while on tour.
Paul: There was one time when we played with the MISFITS in London at the Underground in Camden. One of the RAMONES was playing with them.
AFL: Was it C.J. Ramone?
Paul: No it was Marky. So if you know London you have to have your shit together. You can’t park anywhere, so the Misfits took three hours to unload their gear. Marky wouldn’t store his Kit. So we set up our kit in front of his which left me about so much stage (Paul holds his arms out indicating about 3 feet). The crowd started throwing stuff at us, it was bizarre. Then I got electrocuted. It was a good show but really stressful for me.
AFL: Guess that answers this question. What was or is the best and worst band you’ve been on tour with?
Paul: There you have it.
AFL: This year you released “Two Devils Will Talk”. In my opinion faster and harder, filled with singalongs and a grove to dance to. Please tell us a little about the background to the songs and the themes that you address. Especially “Fuck the Real Mckenzies”. Is there an animosity between you and Flogging Molly?
A.P.: You didn’t read the lyrics well enough my man.
Aspy: We mention all the bands from that tour.
Paul: It’s total opposite, It’s meant in nothing but good humor.
A.P.: We are friends with all of those bands.
AFL: Can you tell us a little about your recording process, production, engineering, song writing technique.
Paul: Well first the songs get written then we rehearse. When we’re comfortable we go to the studio. We start with the band tracks. This time we spent a lot of time and money on the drum tracks and sounds. I feel that it really payed off. Because once you have a foundation like that, a good strong foundation and can build on that it makes everything else easier.
AFL: In a previous conversation with Simon you mentioned that you had a girlfriend from Wurzburg, Germany, which just happens to be the capital city of the county where Simon and I live. Were you frequently in the city, do you still have a relationship with the woman and have you ever lived in Wurzburg?
Paul: I have lived in Wurzburg, and as a matter of fact the mayor there was my ex-wife’s father. I really liked the guy we had a lot of fun. I met his daughter we got married and then everything went to hell when she turned 27. It was because of mental health issues, and there was nothing I could do about it. She even lived in Canada for a while. But yeah things just didn’t work out.
AFL: Where did you live with your wife most of the time?
Paul: Well I took her to Canada. I actually didn’t „live“ in Wurzburg but we visited there a lot.
AFL: The band is named after a whiskey, and the whole kilt wearing thing started off as a gimmick, isn’t that correct? Have things changed over the years or is it still just for show? Are you or any member of the band a member of the Clan McKenzie society?
Paul: No. As a matter of fact the last time I visited the Scottish cultural center, the director there said to me „You are ruining our music“ and I said „Oh you see all those Kids over there, well after your dead those kids will be ruining your music“. That was also the last time we played the Scottish cultural center. We do have people that come to our shows who are involved with the Celtic society. But no I’m not a member of the society.
AFL: At this point can the band members live off the music?
Aspy: Well, yeah sort of.
A.P.: Yes. to various degrees. Some of us do have other jobs that we can get to when need be, we are not on tour. If you live frugally and within your means you can live off any amount of money, so…
AFL: Care to mention some newer bands that we should check out.
Paul: Well there is THE RUMJACKS and THE ROUGHNECK RIOT.
A.P.: Yeah, whose apparently are here. Not playing but attending.
Paul: Turned to his band mates and asks what are some other new bands?
A.P.: PEARS, our label mates on Fat Wreck.
Aspy: PEARS there pretty famous.
A.P.: Yeah; but still pretty new.
Aspy: THE REAGAN COWBOYS.
A.P. : Aspy, THE REAGAN COWBOYS have been around for years, they are from Edmonton Alberta Canada.
Aspy: Ok yes, but nobody knows them.
AFL: Can you give three tips towards success for aspiring bands?
Paul: Stay away from powder. Stay right the fuck away from powder.
A.P.: Tip 2 for new aspiring bands tour your or ass off. Hit the road as much as possible.
Paul: And get into the studio as quickly as possible, put your music out there and tour it.
AFL: The German hardcore band WOLF DOWN recently underwent an Outing, which led to the band calling it quits. Some band members were accused of rape and sexual assault. Do you see a sexism problem within the Punk and hardcore or Celtic Rock scene?
Paul: I’ve seen it happen over the years, girls get in the mosh pit and they get taken advantage of, getting groped and that. I’ve never been involved with it. I have never even conceived of doing that to another human being, but i have seen it happen. I have also seen guys getting in trouble for something they didn’t do. It’s a double edge sword. People should just have more respect for one another.
AFL: How is the Hardcore and punk rock scene in Canada? Big bands like COMEBACK KID, seem to be touring the US and Europe a lot and everywhere else but Canada, why? There doesn’t seem to be a lot of festivals in Canada either?
Paul: Canada is very difficult to tour. It’s a huge country. At that level you don’t make a lot of money. You spend so much money on gas and everything is really expensive.
A.P.: There is something like 35 million people spread out across the entire country.
AFL: To the Best of our knowledge the Canadian government imposes strict rules and large fees on foreign bands who come to Canada to tour.
Paul: There is a large fee imposed on bands per show.
A.P.: That’s the same in the U.S.A. and the UK, Europe on the other hand is nice to tour. The cities are closer together, and the population supports lots of different types of music.
AFL: In view of recent acts of terrorism at concerts and other spectator events in Europe, and most recently the attack on Gary Meskill from Pro-Pain. Have you taken steps to tighten and elevate your own personal security while on tour?
Paul: We do take care of one another. It is really unfortunate that a couple of really big concerts got canceled because of that. What they are doing is taking money out of bands pockets. As for me. I think what they are doing is otter cowardice. To pick on kids and Rock’n’Rollers is cowardly. They’re not making a friend out of me.
A.P.: You can’t stop touring in light of those events. They are devastating to the community and the world. It’s not going to stop bands from going out and playing shows.
AFL: Have you ever experienced a problem with groupies?
A.P.: Personally no, but hey, Paul you’ve had a lot more experience, than the rest of us.
Paul: Yeah, some. Take for example this one fan. She posted that I was with her on this one particular night. My wife saw it and freaked out, and i wasn’t even in that city on that night. I eventually got to prove it. It’s a different scene all together. There are not so many groupies as there used to be. Groupies are just interested in the younger guys.
A.P.: They are at the Justin Bieber concert.
Paul: We have had limited problems over the years.
AFL: Do you see differences in punk rock, hardcore and celtic rock between the times when you came on the scene and today, if so what are they?
Paul: For us it’s the line-up. There used to be a different feel in the scene all together. Like in light of terrorism being involved, it’s starting to scare people. Also a lot of younger people stay home and go on their computer instead of coming out and supporting a live acts. That’s very different, and as a matter of fact it’s helping to kill off the scene in its way.
AFL: What things from the past would you like to have back in the scene today? What if you could change three things in the world what would they be?
Paul: I would reel in, the World Bank. The people who control money are out of control.
Aspy: I would take away political power, and give decision making back to the people. I would change the way wealth is distributed, because the gap between the super-rich and the poor is too much.
Paul: Health care, and poverty and starvation. You can’t have people starving. It is a part of the problem we are having currently in the Middle East. People are going without and it’s terrible, and to have kids going hungry is just wrong.
AFL: Are members of the band politically active?
Paul: In terms of our attitude, the whole Punk Rock thing is political. Also the Celtic Rock thing, is all about rebels songs.
A.P.: Songs like “Scots Wha Hae”.
Paul: They all have political confrontation. In terms of actively running for a political party or something like that no.
AFL: Does the band actively support any social, charitable or activist organizations?
Paul: I was a member of the SNP for a while until they started to become racist. I just tore up my card, I’m not into that. We support St. Pauli football (soccer) club. They are anti racists.
AFL: Where can fans best follow the band?
A.P.: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.
Aspy: I think all of them.
A.P.: I don’t think that we have a MySpace anymore. Check out the sites where you can find our interviews. Like this one on AWAY FROM LIFE.
AFL: What is the reason for choosing the tittle “West Winds” for you album?
Paul: We live on the west coast and the wind blows strong out of the west. At the time we were all into sailing.
A.P.: “Two Devils Will Talk” is the tittle of our new album. Anyone who has’t heard it please check it out.
AFL: Thanks for the interview. Is there anything you would like to add?
Paul: As a closer an behalf of myself and THE REAL MCKENCIES we want to thank all of the support that we have been given. All of the fans that have stayed with us over the years and have helped us to become who we are today. I thank them all very much. Because we know that without those fans we are nothing.