The Mahones love Holland

the mahonesBy: Dorien
So how has Holland been so far?
I love Holland. It is the first place in Europe I came to and for the band it is the base since 1998. Every time we come to Europe we start here. We store all our equipment here, hire a bus here.
Your bass player died here in Amsterdam. You don’t have any hard feelings?
Well I wasn’t in the band at that time. I was in high school when that happened. Finney had a really hard time. But you can’t me angry at Amsterdam. Being here is sort of honoring him, keeping the memories.
It’s awfull. We do charityshows every year for a library that was set up in his name.

What do you think of the audience? Because here in Holland we have this sort of motto: Just behave normal, that’s already crazy enough. We are really sober people.
I love it! We have so many friends here in Holland and all are completely different. Calm, crazy. We have like 50 friends here tonight. But it’s a lovely crowd. People are always singing and dancing.

Your last album has been received really good in the world. Did you notice that a lot?
It’s my favorite album. We did make one huge change. We changed studios, the whole process and I think it really worked.
The title is Angels and Devils, which reminded me of the Vatican.
I have the cover as a tattoo. It’s from a statue in the Vatican, from St. Michael. It’s about the balance between good and bad in the world. About the balance between people. Finney came up with angels and devils and it just worked.
There is nothing religious behind it?
No not really. We were born as Irish catholic. But very liberal. I still like to go to church but they need to modernize, like about gay rights.
Your music has something happy and partying. But also more serious lyrics. How do you combine those two together in a good way?
Well I think you should ask Finney cause he writes the songs but if you look at earlier albums there used to be a lot more partying but everybody has become older, there are kids now, there are family’s, there’s responsibility now. I think that there always will that aspect because we’re Irish, it is undeniably a part of our culture and our lives. I guess it’s just a balance now between what used to be and what is now.
Is there also a message you try to give to the listeners?
Well not really a message just give it all you got. Give 200 percent every single time. Finney really lives by that. He can do this for 23 years. It’s not the easiest industry. It is an industry of rejection. He just always believes in give it all you got, I really admire him in that.

It’s an industry of rejection

The band exists for 23 years now. If you look back at all those years, how do you look back?
Well the five years I have been in the band now have been the five best years of my life. I love it. And I mean I know that he has done everything, the band has done everything. We have been all over the world. We have eleven albums. It really is living the dream. When you stop and think about what you do for living, the thing that you get paid to play music and meet awesome people it’s just amazing. Sometimes I have to punch myself when I think I can’t believe I’m doing this.
Do you also have any lows.
Well there have been hard times over the years. We had a few line up changes where somebody had to leave. Finney is the only living original member, all the other original members are dead. And for the rest, like 90 percent of those people we still hang with, we still talk with them, they got married, got kids and couldn’t tour anymore. It is a hard life and you have to be understanding. We always say like: you can come back anytime and if you want to jump on a show. And well there are maybe one or two people where it didn’t end well, those are the lows. That is really hard.
Have there been any strange things during shows or tours?
Oh yeah like today, it took us seven hours to get here. We came from Frankfurt, that’s like four hours driving.
Well and there have been so many strange things happening. We were on tour with the Dropkick Murphy’s and we had a show in Oklahoma City the night of the tornado’s. And while we were driving I was like omg there is a huge tunnel cloud over there. It’s scary.
And there has been so much weird stuff over the years. You always walk away from a tour thinking: did that really happen?

the mahones melkwegint 2013How is it for you to be in this male-dominated world?
I have it really easy. I have always been a sort of tomboy. And I’m married to Finney, that makes things easier cause when your husband is around people don’t say gruff things. I mean it is fine, it doesn’t bother me at all. There are a lot of amazing women I look up too.
On your last album there were a lot of guest musicians. Are there any musicians you have a special connection with?
Yeah we toured a lot with the Dropkick Murphy’s, they are like family now. I love those guys, they are great. Ken sang on the album. It is a really fast and weird song. And well there are more artists who are special. Like the Stiff Little Fingers.
Also on the album there was a Christmas song. Which reminded me of the Pogues with their Christmas song. Was it inspired by that song?
Well, probably a little bit. If you talk about this music, the Pogues are there, they started it. I think Finney just really wanted to do a Christmas song.
Well now we have some real Christmas songs instead of always Mariah Carey.

According to Wikipedia you are considered as the pioneers of the Celtic punk. How do you see that?
I think about modern punk, the Pogues were there first. I read that too and I liked that so I took it for the website. I think in terms of the punk scene, there is of course the Pogues but then there is the Mahones. Before any of the bands. There can be more than one band that started. And the Pogues don’t tour that much anymore. I think after the Pogues there were the Mahones and we are still going strong.
I think Dropkick Murphy’s and Flogging molly are definitely the bands that made the scene big. The Mahones are around for a longer time. But they made folk punk mainstream. The Mahones were along for a really long time but the people weren’t really understanding it. It was too fast for Irish and not punk, there is an accordion. But then when those bands came and blew it up. Since then it was also a lot easier for us.

Is there any band nowadays you see as a new pioneer?
The Pandroids. It’s a band from Canada and they are doing really well in Europe too. There called celebration rock, it’s the name of their album. I just can’t get enough of them, they are getting huge. And then there is a singer from the UK named Louise Distras, she is like a female Billy Bragg. I think she is going to be huge. We are bringing her over for the tour in Canada.
The story is that you guys started at St. Patricksday. Did that really happen or was it just a nice story you’re telling the fans?
No! it all started with Barry, he was Finny’s mentor and he passed away a few years ago. Barry wanted to put together an Irish band for a st. Patricksday party. Finny was Irish and played guitar so he was like okay let’s put this together and that was it. 23 years later still alive and kicking.
The big celtic punk names all come from Northern America while all the big folk metal names come from Europe. Do you have an explanation for that?
I have no idea. It is probably just the basis. There are a lot of Irish immigrants in America, so that is probably the reason.
Do you ever get remarks from real Irishmen that your music is not good enough or something like that?
Until two years ago, the Mahones had never played in Ireland and Finny was really nervous for that show, really worried. They loved us there! It was great. We’ve been back every year since. Everybody loved it.
How is it with the record label now?
The last three albums were at Northern records. But we are looking for a new label, we are moving on in a couple of days. We want something new. The music won’t change but it will evolve.
You guys also write music for films. That is so cool!
Yeah well like for the fighter, we didn’t write it for the movie, it just happened. We got an e-mail in 2010 to ask us about the song. That was really good luck. In that movie they said the name of the band and we didn’t know. We went to see the movie and then we heard our name and we were so excited.
Is there something you want to tell to the fans?
We love the Netherlands! We love playing here, we love spending time here. Thank you for all the support. We are hopefully going to play here for another 23 years. Dankjewel!