The Real McKenzies – Interview
The Real McKenzies is a Canadian Celtic punk band founded in 1992 and based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Paul McKenzie is the founding member and the band is credited as the cornerstone of the Celtic punk movement. In addition to writing and performing original music, The Real McKenzies perform traditional Scottish songs, often infusing them with a punk-influenced sound. They have shared stages with many other bands inside and outside of their genre including Rancid, Shane MacGowan, NOFX, Flogging Molly, The Misfits, Metallica just to name a few. They are hard working as a band in studio and out of the studio, constantly touring and sharing their music with others (as well as a drink or two, three, four!)
Paul McKenzie has been the only consistent member of the band since its inception; as one might say they are probably has set the world record for members being in and out of the band. One thing is certain; the music has been consistent, true and enjoyable over their 30 year span putting our 14 plus albums. Paul McKenzie agreed to interview with Folk-Metal.nl, and you can see in his responses, the wit and humor behind the man.
Congratulations on the new album, ‘Songs of the Highland and Songs of the Sea’. I love sea shanties and old songs that look back to another time; the fact that they are resurrected and presented in the modern day is super exciting to me. The new album is now out, what made you decide to songs of this nature and that travel way back to another time?
“It is because spiritually we are all way back from another time didn’t you know?”
What kind of music did you grow up with and how did that play into the genre you are currently in
?”Personally I grew up with classical, old jazz and Northern soul. I discovered punk in the late 60’ early 70’s, and here l am today. Celtic music has also played a major role.”
You have a knack with blending poetry into your songs, when you read poems; does the music just come to mind and flow as you read the words?
“The poems and music naturally are inspirational. I hear them in my head they speak to me and l write them down and the band works them out.”
Sometimes fans say that we did not play their favorite song, so many times l sing it especially for them
Traveling thoughts – do you like to travel and play live? How do other cultures receive your music?
“I love to travel and perform every night. All of our fans worldwide love us. Sometimes we have three to four generations attending our shows, it is heartwarming.”
Are there any countries you haven’t played in and would like to someday?
“Yes. South and Central America, Africa, Malaysia, China and India and everywhere else again and again. We love to entertain and we are not afraid.”
Especially for them
Some consider you to be the pioneer spirit when it comes to Celtic Folk/Punk what do you think sets you apart from other Celtic Folk/Punk bands and how do you view the competition.
“There really is no competition as we are completely unique. Our need to speak and party with our public sets us apart. We go directly to the merch booth after the show to sign stuff and speak to the fans. Not all bands do that but as mentioned earlier, we are not afraid. We feel it is our obligation. Sometimes fans say that we did not play their favorite song, so many times l sing it especially for them. It is nothing for me and everything to them. I have been doing that since 1992 and shall continue to do so.”
Some bands use war pipes/bagpipes as fill, but you incorporate them into almost every song. What is your perspective on the instrument and why you incorporate it the way you do?
“To use and play the war pipes one must know them and play with compassion. Our Galician piper Aspy says this really makes a big difference. It is not just a visual novelty.”
Where do you get ideas/inspiration for your lyrics?
“Our creative musical imagination and historical inspiration.”
All of them
What is your all time favorite song to play live?
“All of them!”
Luckily, we are coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic, what did you and the band do during this hiatus? I heard you were thinking about calling it quits.
“Nope. This is absolutely untrue. We hung out, slapped one another around and drank beer and whisky knowing that once Covid fucked off we would be right back at it. Business as usual. So here we go!!!”
What bands have you toured with and any favorite ones in particular?
“Yes all of them! We love and support our fellow musicians.”
What are your interests outside of music other than sailing the seas? And as a follow up how do spend time when not creating or touring/performing?
“Driving high speed cars/ motorcycles in the Canadian mountains, cooking, playing vinyl records, dancing and kissing.”
a low quality scotch whisky called The Real MacKenzie
How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?
“I have had the experience to watch the transition of the music industry go from absolutely no social media to what it is today because l am ancient. In my opinion it has done nothing but good in terms of instant communication to the worldwide masses and l like it a lot.”
How do you feel about the recording process, do you find it exciting or burdensome?
“My first recordings were done on expensive two inch tape and it was burdensome compared to digital format. The warm natural has been lost though. The analog wave is round and warm. The digital wave is square and cold yet is much less time consuming.”
How did you come up with the name for the band, was there a previous name and if so what was it?
“We are The Real McKenzies! We humorously took the name from a low quality scotch whisky called The Real MacKenzie. The name stuck and we have been flying the banner since 1990.”
What is one message you would give to your fans?
“Yes. Of course. We wish to extend a warm welcome to our fans worldwide and all who wish to attend a Real McKenzie show. We can guarantee a high quality unique mix of Celtic, rock and punk music all mixed up to a night of fun and adventure. All are welcome. On behalf of myself and the band we love you all and can’t wait to see you all again. Please don’t be afraid to come to the merch booth and tilt a glass and have a chat.”