Interview: Paul McKenzie of The Real McKenzines

For 20 years now, The Real McKenzies have been taking Celtic music and adding their own punk rock style to it making for some intense and fun music.  The band, who is part of the Fat Wreck Chords family, has toured the world multiple times in their career and prides themselves on making each night a night to remember regardless of how much you had to drink.

Full of punk rock influence, the band contains members of previous acts such as Good Riddance, Rich Kids on LSD, and even DOA.  They take pride in performing traditional Scottish songs as well as write plenty of their own Celtic-heavy punk rock songs that revolve around everything from getting wasted to tough times.  The band is also known to cover other songs from artists including Hendrix and even Turbonegro, but on their own terms of course.

Sure The Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly may have taken Celtic punk rock to mainstream levels, but The Real McKenzies have been around just as long and are equally as talented.  If you have not heard of this amazing Scottish influenced band, what the hell are you waiting for?  Check them out today.  You might just like what you hear.

I was lucky enough to chat it up with Paul McKenzie of The Real McKenizes the other day.  Read on to hear about their new album Westwinds as well as the time they did an advertisement for a Canadian beer company and even how it feels to be in a 20 year old band..

BHP – First off, Westwinds is incredible! This might be my favorite album by you guys to date. What did you guys do differently while recording this album?

PMc – We recorded in a wee town in southern Alberta with no distraction with a great piper called Goed Taylor who is no longer in the band because he couldn´t take the rigorous lifestyle of being on the road for long periods of time.

Fair enough.  So sid you get help from anyone while putting these tracks together?

Yes, Steve Loree was a great guy to work with.

This album seemed to be full of songs sailors might sing back in the day while on a journey, definitely more traditional sounding in my opinion. What are you referring to with the album title Westwinds?

We come from western Canada and these are the winds that blow around the world, just like us.

Can you give me a little history about how a bunch of Canadian guys decided to write Scottish punk rock jams? I know there is deep Scot history in Vancouver, but what made you guys decided to mix punk with Scottish music?

Having had grown up with lots of Celtic influence, and being a teenager in the late 70s, I guess the outcome of the Real McKenzies was just meant to be.

And you have been around for almost 20 years correct? How does that feel?

I suppose it should make me feel a bit old…but it doesn´t.  I am still kicking the hell out of the world and please remember that time really does fly when you´re having a blast.

Amen.  Did getting picked up by Fat Wreck Chords help with getting noticed?

Yes. Fat Wreck and all the boys and girls who help represent the company have helped us immensely in our campaign for world domination.

They are indeed some good people.  You guys have shared the stage with everyone from Rancid to Shane MacGowan. How awesome is that?

It is and always will be an honor and a pleasure to share the stage with our peers.

Do people tend to automatically associate you with Irish punk rock bands like Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys when they hear you?  Seems to me that every time someone plays Celtic music, it’s automatically labeled Irish.

There have been a considerable amount of confusion in terms of this and that but the bottom line is that we are all great bands helping to keep Celtic music alive for new generations and the generations to come.  We love having the opportunity to be part of a great bunch of bands who like to play Celtic music.

Great answer there.  So you guys promoted Kokanee Beer in the 90s. What exactly did you do and where can I find this beer?

We scared the production crew away and ended up practically doing the commercial with one cameraman and one producer.It is pretty funny. The beer is still available in Canada

Speaking of beer, Westwinds seemed to omit songs about getting hammered. Well, “My Luck Is So Bad” made me want to throw back a few, but still… Did you guys decided to take a break from the drinking songs and focus on something different?

We took a wee break just to catch our breath,but as soon as this hangover has run it´s course ,we shall be right back writing drinking songs for piss tanks like us.

I actually could hear a lot of Scottish pub style songs in this album. It was turned down a notch on some levels at times and really enjoyable to listen to. Who’s idea was it to almost go a cappella on some tracks of the the album?

Well, it´s a funny story and I am glad you asked. We were all ready to do the songs when suddenly , the rental agency with whom we rented our gear came crashing into the studio waggling their fingers at us and repossessed all the gear because we spent all the money on whisky and beer.So there we were with the tape running lots of beer and whisky but no instruments…we had to think of somethingquick so…we just started drinkin´and singing and partying and that is the god honest truth. What does a capella mean anyways ?

I think it is Latin for moose or something.  Wrapping things up, I loved the pipe solo towards the end of the album. Was that something to build up the final end of the album?

We Real McKenzies have always incorporated at least one pipe track on every album. I suppose it has become a sort of tradition with us.

Well, it is amazing to listen to.  I have yet to see you guys play a live show. What am I missing out on?

Beer, blood , sweat, spit, love , hate, and 2 hours of dynamic gut wrenching rock and roll with a bagpipe.

Nice.  So what would you tell someone who has never heard of you before?

Go buy a kilt and some jackboots ,put them on and come to the rock show to have the time of your life.

I believe that.  Do you have any last words before I wrap this up?

I would like to extend a warm welcome to all who wish to attend our Scots rock and roll extravaganza.I guarantee you will not be dissatisfied,if not with the visual spectacle or the quality rock,but we feature some of the most accomplished bagpipers the world has to offer, but don´t take my word for it,come and decide for yourselves. See you at the rock show.


The Real McKenzies’ new album, Westwinds, recently dropped  on March 27th on Fat Wreck Chords.  I will have a review of it shortly and I was completely sincere when I told McKenzie that I thought it was their best album to date.  Check out a track below from the upcoming album:

Download This! The Real McKenzies – “The Message”

Here’s one of their videos from their 2008 release, Off The Leash:

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