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L.A. Beat

Popes frontman cleans up life for new tour and CD

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Going to prison ended up being a blessing in disguise for Irish punk legends the Popes’ guitarist/vocalist Paul “Mad Dog” McGuinness who is enjoying taking his Paddy punk legends on the road to Canada with the Mahones. McGuinness has known Mahones frontman Finny McConnell for many years. The Popes, the Mahones and Delinquints along with DJ Ray Gange play the Slice tomorrow (Oct. 14).

Paul (Mad Dog) McGuinnessHe wrote the music for the Popes’ latest CD “Outlaw Heaven” while doing a five month stint in prison but wanted to break away from the band’s more traditional Irish sound because  Popes’ banjo player  Tommy McManaman was the driving force behind that before he passed away at the end of 2006.

“We’re rebranding ourselves. We’re not a Celtic band, we’re a rock band that sounds Irish,” McGuinness said, explaining while the new music retains an Irish influence, there are a lot of other sounds incorporated into it.

“Five years ago,  the Popes ground to a halt when Tommy died. We’re letting people know the Popes are back. We felt it was time to go to the next level. He was a huge part of that sound,” McGuinness said, adding he always liked Thin Lizzy, a  another Irish rock band who retained traditional influences.

“ I spent five months in prison but it turned into a positive experience. I had a fairly serious alcohol and drug problem. There was lots of time to realize  I was pretty lucky to be playing music for a living and that I was not making the most of my opportunities,”  he said adding he is already working on music for the next Popes’ CD.

The Pogues’ frontman Shane MacGowan, who McGuinness has known for many year, sings on three tracks of “Outlaw Heaven.”
“It’s funny, after getting out of prison I couldn’t get arrested. But Shane was a true friend. He’s always been there for me,” he continued adding they met and became close friends at the Pogues’ second gig when McGuinness was in popular Irish punk band DC 9.
“People say he’s difficult to work with, but he’s not. I was playing with the Pogues when they sacked Shane, so when he was putting a new band together, he invited me to be in it,” he continued.
“It’s been the longest job I’ve ever had,” he said.
“ He’s working on a new solo album and asked me to play on it,” he continued adding the Popes’ new CD has drawn rave reviews from major UK music magazines.
The dark subject matter comes from cleaning up his act in prison.
“When you’re on alcohol and drugs, you suppress a lot of emotions. There’s a lot of very dark stuff on it like “Crucifixion” but there’s also some very hopeful stuff like “Angels.” So it’s all about being optimistic,” he said adding he didn’t have a guitar in prison, but learned the priest used a guitar during a folk mass, so he started arriving early so he could play the guitar and work out the songs.
“It’s the only time I ever forced a queue to go to a church,” he said.
“It’s great to find my road legs again and be on the road with a band I’d die for,” he enthused adding he is enjoying the tour with the Mahones.
“In Ireland there is a complete change of scenery because it is so small. But here  there is long stretches of  mountain. It’s a very beautiful country and I love the people here too,” he enthused adding while he went to m,ajor cities like Toronto and Vancouver with the Pogues, this has been a nice opportunity to see smaller centres, not to mention visit his sister and nephews here.
The shows are going well too.
“The last few dates, things have all started to come together,” he said.


— Richard Amery, L.A Beat Editor

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 14 October 2009 21:50 )  
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