Raising A Glass to One and All: An Interview With Paul McKenzie of The Real McKenzies

Vancouver’s Celtic punk veterans The Real McKenzies continue to make waves across the country this year as they tour extensively in support of their impressive 25th anniversary AND eleventh studio album Two Devils Will Talk. No strangers to raising a pint with those who show up in great numbers to experience their energy and grit, The Real McKenzies will make their way to Montreal’s 7th annual PouzzaFest this May before they take their party to Europe. We here at Bucketlist were lucky enough to get a chance to ask them a few questions on touring and keeping things lively.

How important is identity (i.e. Canadian, Scottish, Celtic) to the way you approach your music as a band?  

We like to take old stories and arrange them to music. It doesn’t really matter to me where they are originally from, just as long as they are interesting. There are a lot of Celtic [stories], and so we go there a lot.

How do you feel about being considered one of the founders of the Celtic punk wave in the 90s?

 I have never even thought about it. I suppose it is because my head is busy thinking about things today; the future as opposed to dwelling on past victories. In my books, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but seriously I don’t think I am any better than anyone else.

The Real McKenzies have featured many different musicians throughout the years. How has this shaped the soul and direction of the band?

Each album has a personality shaped by those who were involved with it. We accept diversity, and change is always good.

How important is the past and current political climate to the way you approach your music?

Political tyranny has done nothing but good for alternate [style of] music. It helps to create awareness for the average individual.

Two Devils Will Talk is your eleventh tudio album. What keeps things fresh and fun as musicians, and as a band, from album to album?

Beer and good food help a lot to keep healthy and active. This also reflects in a healthy attitude, which is very important when dealing with creativity.

Where did the inspiration for Two Devils Will Talk come from?

Our booking agent in Berlin, Germany coined that title. We all liked it so we stole it from him.

On your album Westwinds you cover Stan Rogers’ “Barrett’s Privateers,” which is one of my favourite sea shanties. Why did you choose to cover this particular song?

We love all Stan Rogers songs.

You also have a song dedicated to The Bluenose on the same album. How often do you get to visit the schooner’s hometown of Lunenburg, and why did you choose to write a song about it? 

To be quite honest, we don’t get to that part of the world as often as we like, but we are with them in spirit constantly.

Have you ever tried the dark rum at the Iron Works Distillery in Lunenburg? If not, be sure to stop there the next time you’re in town. It is wonderfully deadly.

We shall. I love black rum.

Given that the eastern provinces are very rich in Scottish and Celtic culture, how do you find the experience of touring Canada’s east coast?

We absolutely love it, but sadly we don’t get there as often as we’d like.

You have recently wrapped up a western Canadian tour in support of your new album and your 25thanniversary. Is there a particular town or venue that you guys love to play in?

Everywhere we play has its own unique charm. It is undoubtedly the people that make the place.

What are you’re looking forward to about playing in Montreal’s 7th annual Pouzza Fest this May?

Well, aside from playing a wickedly excellent festival, I would have to say the Pouzza.

What do you enjoy most about the ability to tour the world and sharing your music with both the old and new fans that live for the energy in your live performances?

Drinking copious amounts of beverages with everyone.

Your love for the sea and sailing is well documented… barring the complicated logistics, have you ever considered a world tour via sailboat?  

We all would love to do that, but it would be extremely difficult.

Not that I would wish this on anyone, BUT, if you could only drink one whiskey for the rest of your life, which would you choose? And if the same applied to beer?

Sorry! That question is absolutely impossible to answer at this point in time. We drink most of them.

What is one thing on your kilt-clad bucketlist?

I do not know what a bucket list is. I do wish to invite one and all to our show, regardless of race, religion, or sexual preference, all are welcome. We do not discriminate.

Written and Compiled by Jordan Hodgins
*edited by Kate Erickson

About Jordan Hodgins 77 Articles
Jordan, in an attempt to avoid an overly-romantic bio, has chosen to stick to the cold, hard facts about her life. She has been reading ever since she can remember, but didn't decide to try her hand at writing (heh heh) until she had no other choice while attending university. Jordan has always been an incredibly passionate person, and for her, writing and music provided the perfectly blended outlet to keep her relatively out of trouble. Jordan's heart lies with the kind of old-school blues and gospel that gave rise to and inspired Elvis; she enjoys anything with soul, or has the ability to unite an eclectic crowd according to (in)tangible ties. Jordan's goal in writing for Bucketlist is to organize her intuition in a way that makes sense enough to which at least one person will relate. Enjoy!

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