Vancouver based Celtic punk pioneers, the Real McKenzies’ tales of debauchery are legendary. Just read Chris Walters’ book “Under the Kilt The Real McKenzies Exposed” for details.
And, with dropping their latest CD “Two Devils Will Talk,”on the Fat Wreck Chords record label, are sure to become even more so.
“We have a new band, with fresh livers. I love fresh meat,” said Real McKenzies frontman Paul McKenzie getting ready to disembark a ferry on Vancouver Island to join his bandmates for their first tour stop in Victoria. They will be touring non stop until November including Canada, U.S.A., a club tour of Europe including a visit to Scotland, another North American tour and back to Europe for a festival tour.
“We are planning to go to Scotland again, though we never make any money there. We just love being there,” he said.
The Real McKenzies, who include drummer Dan Stenning, Basque born piper Aspy Luison, return to Lethbridge, March 16 for what’s become their annual pre St. Patrick’s Day party, at Average Joes with baseball punks the Isotopes who share bassist Troy Jak and guitarist Dan Garrison with the Real McKenzies.
“They’re doing double duty, but they’re fit, they can handle it,” McKenzie said.
They are happy to be working with Fat Wreck Chords in the U.S. and Stomp Records in Canada for the new CD.
“They’re pretty hands off. They’ve helped us prepare for the tour,” he said, noting they are most excited to play Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas.
“We’re really pleased with the CD,” he said.
McKenzie noted he likes to tease Fat Wreck Chords founder Fat Mike, who is also bassist/ vocalist for punk band NOFX.
“He’s a good guy. I’ll tell jokes he won’t get at first then three hours later he’ll call and say ‘I just got that,’” McKenzie chuckled.
Staying fit and healthy is an important part of surviving a Real McKenzies tour.
“I do one on and one off. And I only drink beer, wine and whiskey. Nobody’s going to put fentanyl in a beer. What they do is scary. They’re even putting it in marijuana now,” McKenzie observed, adding he doesn’t touch anything if he doesn’t know where it’s from, and encourages bandmates to exercise the same prudence, though he can’t control their behaviour.
“Beer, wine and whiskey are better and it’s legal,” he said.
Eating healthy is important.
“Eating fast food every day isn’t healthy. It’s poison. So rather than support people like that, I’d rather go to the grocery store and buy food there, catfish, fresh food, pickles. It’s all good. It’s very important. I’ll sometimes make sandwiches for the band. And I’ll make two stews, a vegetarian stew and a lamb stew for us carnivores,” he said, adding they recorded the new CD in a basement one of his friends turned into a studio, which was also close to a liquor store and a grocery store for the same reason — keeping healthy.
McKenzie always keeps active.
“I clean bird shit off the windows of high rise buildings when I’m not on tour. My bosses weren’t happy when I told him I was taking most of the year off to tour, but nobody else wants to do that job, so I can call them up and pretty much be working the next day,” he said.
“I always like to be working. I’ve always worked and it keeps me fit,” he said.
Several Real McKenzies veterans have quit, been fired and have even died from too much debauchery.
“We’ve lost six men,” McKenzie said, noting one of them was former D.O.A. guitarist David Gregg, who passed away in 2014.
“We was great. I told him the debauchery will catch up with him. But I couldn’t tell him to stop,” he said.
McKenzie also said good bye to long time guitarist Dirty Kurt Robertson, whose debauchery was getting out of hand.
“He’s my ex dear friend. He just had a heart attack and I told him I didn’t want to be the one responsible for killing him. And now he’s playing with SNFU,” McKenzie observed.
“We had a piper who had a meltdown during a European tour. He jumped out of the van while it was moving and we didn’t see him for a couple of years. So we called Aspy who came in and filled in,” McKenzie said.
They have released two videos for “Due West”, in which the Real McKenzies take over a boat, tie up the captain and drink his secret stash of rum, before being captured by pirates.
They just released the sequel “ Seafarer” features the Real McKenzies’ escape from the pirates.
He is looking forward to the Lethbridge show.
“It’s a pretty powerful set of 32 songs. Plus I have a lot of nieces and nephews living in Lethbridge, so I get to party with them,” he said.
“Come out, drink some beer and have a good time and leave your politics at the door,” McKenzie said.
Tickets to the show are $25 in advance, $30 at the door.