Paddy from Larkin Brigade was really nice to me and sent me first their record and after that answered a lot of questions in april 2009.
-Ten years ago, Dennis (drummer) and I started an Irish cover band, doing a lot of Pogues and Wolfe Tones songs, and we soon brought in my brother Paul (bass). Of course, we were heavily into the punk rock etc. scene, so we were more about putting on a show. (Previously, I had been in a short-lived punk band called the Molly Maguires, and Dennis had been in a funk-rock band called Epileptic Disco.) We were just too loud to really do the professional, dinnertime background-music thing, so that band didn’t last too long. But that’s sort of where it began.
In 2003, Paul and I started a similar band with a different drummer, and I started writing originals until the point where we just became an original folk-punk type band (with a few covers thrown into each set). And that was the Larkin Brigade. Our drummer then, a labor organizer for a living, came up with the name, in honor of Jim Larkin, a big-time labor activist in Ireland early in the last century.
Our first show was actually at Boston’s storied Paradise Rock Club – but we played in the small front room. That was October 2003. For the next couple of years, we played with a series of fiddle players. Then two things happened in 2005: 1) Our drummer had to move to Detroit for a job, so Paul and I got Dennis to play with us again, and much to our surprise, he was fired up for it. 2) We got a new permanent fiddle player, Joe.
This is when we really gelled as a band. And soon, in early 2006, we finally recorded a full-length album. For a couple years, we really went on a tear. Our fan base grew in Boston and beyond -- We played around New England to support the album, and traveled to New York City a few times, plus Jersey. We also played as far away as Toronto and Madison, Wisconsin. Almost all our shows were a blast, especially our second annual Evacuation Day Extravaganza, at the Middle East Upstairs in 2007. But we also played the WBCN Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble that year, and Darkbuster’s Hometown Throwup a year later. We were also surprised to be nominated for a Boston Music Award. Just a lot of great times and great shows.
After playing every weekend for a while, we were in danger of burning out, so we started scaling back. Now, with job and family responsibilities and even other music projects, we’re down to two or three shows a year, just locally.
Please tell me about every member, age, work, inetersts , family and something bad about every one?
-I’ll start with myself, Paddy Keys, vocals and piano. I’m 32. My full-time job is as an editor/writer at one of the local universities here – I edit alumni magazines and write marketing copy and whatnot. On the side, I freelance write (in fact, I just published my first book, a pictorial history of Boston) and I also teach editing. My girlfriend and I aren’t married yet, but we do live together. Scandalous! Um, that took care of “family” and “something bad” in one shot.
Next, my brother, the bassist, Paulie Thunder. (We all adopted stage names because none of us is named Larkin, so the liner notes would have looked dumb, to have two brothers not named Larkin, in a band called the Larkin Brigade.) Paul is 28. Occupation (and something bad): lawyer. He is married and his hobbies include biking.
Diesel Dennis is the drummer. He’s also 32, and he’s a nurse. Dennis is married with one five-month-old son. He enjoys playing softball. I don’t like to say anything bad about my bandmates, so I’ll just say that as a singer, Dennis is one hell of a drummer.
Finally, we got Heavyset Joe on the fiddle. Joe is the baby of the bunch at age 26. He is a sous chef for a living, and his interests include cooking and shooting, hence his new knuckle tattoo: “OPEN FIRE.” That’s pretty bad. And ladies, he’s single.
Folkpunkmusic without a guitar, how come?
-Honestly, guitar would just clutter it up. The piano is pretty loud and full as it is, and I’m playing the chords – that’s sort of like rhythm guitar – and the fiddle takes care of the lead. Joe and I are also into Cape Breton music -- that’s basically just piano and fiddle, yet it totally rocks. And in fact, that was true of a lot of Irish ceilidh music as well, that piano was the rhythm instrument. You know how back in the day, a piano was in every parlor – that was the stereo. Instead of a CD, you had sheet music (and someone who could play). So, we’ve got that sort of old-timey early 20th century thing, except filtered through our own late 20th century youth listening to Minor Threat and whatnot. We basically do what the Pogues did on their first album, but with piano and fiddle rather than guitar and accordion. I think it works.
Are punks who plays folkpunk different if you compare with other punks??
-I don’t know. Some are, some aren’t. I’ve definitely met people who were strictly or primarily into folk-punk. But there are plenty of people, like us, who like folk, folk-punk, ‘70s punk rock, ‘80s and ‘90s hardcore, classic rockabilly, rockabilly revival, traditional ska, two-tone and ska revival, Motown, soul, funk, classic rock, bluegrass, Gypsy swing, you name it.
You have named your CD after a member in the group, why??
-Yeah. You’d think that would have been my idea, but it wasn’t. It was Dennis’ idea, and he really had to talk me into it. I wanted to name the album “Piss & Vinegar,” but Dennis said, “Google ‘piss and vinegar,’ then google ‘Paddy Keys for Mayor’” – obviously there were no such hits for the latter. How he came up with it, I’m not exactly sure, but now I think it worked really well. Boston’s a big political town, or was when we were growing up, with high voting turnout, heavily Democratic, with a lot of characters, a lot of people supporting their buds and holding signs for them in hopes of getting jobs out of it later, that sort of thing. And I’ve always had a fascination for legendary figures like James Michael Curley, who was mayor of Boston several times in the first half of the last century. Maybe that’s what gave Dennis the idea. At one point we talked about naming subsequent albums “Heavyset Joe Gets Religion” and “Diesel Dennis Is Saving Lives” and such, but we’d have to actually write and record more songs in order for that to happen.
Have you done anything more that I can listen to? Or that you can send and be reviewed?
-Yeah, we have a 7-inch record called “Boston Harpcore.” I’ll work on getting you a copy. I should have read this before sending you the T-shirt.
How would you describe your music in three word?
-Loud Irish ragtime.
What does punk mean to you, is it only a word or is it a lifestyle?
-Honestly, I’ve never had huge chaos spikes, I’ve never squatted or ridden the rails or anything like that, so I can’t say I’ve ever considered myself A Punk Rocker. I was always more like a clean-cut hardcore kid. But I’ve always respected the hell out of true punk rockers, the people who really live it. In fact, that’s why I’ve stayed so clean-cut – when someone is half-assed and grows a tiny faux-hawk and wears a Bad Religion shirt and thinks that makes them punk, I think that’s an insult to the real punks. That said, I have been involved in punk rock for a long time when it’s come to the music. And in that sense, I’ve adhered to the DIY ethic, for sure. Putting on your own shows in VFW halls, printing your own literal cut-and-paste black-and-white flyers and passing them out at other shows – that’s a big part of what punk rock means to me. Also, the very inclusiveness of it, the fact that you do see all types of characters – punk, skin, mod, greaser, miscellaneous – at a single show. Anybody who doesn’t fit into the mainstream. (And I can honestly say that I watch almost zero television and listen to very little commercial radio, so I barely even know what is mainstream anymore.) Furthermore, it’s about the friends you make. Most of my really good friends – and I mean people I’ve lived with, now worked with, people whose weddings I’ve gone to – most I met going to shows back in the day. I wouldn’t be who I am today without the experience of punk rock. So I don’t know, it means completely different things to different people. I imagine anyone who was “around” in the ‘70s thinks everyone who’s come after them is totally ridiculous. So whatever.
Idols when you were small?
First, last and most expensive record ever bought?
-First record I ever bought must have been a Metallica record – and I should say tape, because this was 1990, and all my music was on cassette tape. I definitely remember the first tape I “borrowed” from my Dad – Led Zeppelin IV. I will never forget the first time I listened to that. First CD I bought was the Sex Pistols (pretty cliché, huh?). The last CD I bought was probably by a local band, like Muck & the Mires. I burned the Harder They Come soundtrack from the library the other day. Most expensive? No idea. I’ve never bought a CD that was so expensive it would stick out in my mind for being expensive.
Most embarrassing record in your collection?
-Possibly the Bee Gees best-of double CD. I fucking love it.
-Well, for a while we were playing every weekend. Nowadays, not so much. Our audience looks like a bunch of hooligans.
Which is the biggest band you have played together with?
-The Skatalites, at the Three Floors of Ska fest in New York City.
Which other big artists have you played with?
-The Toasters, the Pietasters, the Aggrolites, Darkbuster, Black ’47, the Hudson Falcons, the Tossers, Big Bad Bollocks.
How have the reviews been to the CD Paddy for mayor---?
-Good, which is gratifying.
Do you care about reviews?
-Well, all our reviews have been positive, so I guess it’s easy to say: “Yes.”
What do you know about my
Have you heard any Swedish
Your lyrics, what are they
about, which is the most political song you have written?
Politics and music, doesn’t that
goes hand in hand?
When we talk about politics, how
do you see on downloading and mp3 and that stuff?
Is it good or bad for a band like yours?
-It’s really not bad, it’s just one more thing to think about – we can’t just sell this in stores, we have to put it on ITunes. But effectively, it isn’t bad at all. If that’s where people are buying their music, fine. It’s good that they’re actually buying it, as opposed to the Wild West sort of period when kids were just ripping songs and artists weren’t getting paid. Not that that matters to us as a band, because we’re amateurs, or at least semi-pro – I mean, we all have regular jobs, we don’t depend on music for our incomes. But I did think that shit was kind of wack.
Is itt many interviews? Is it
Do you have any favourite
website to recommend?
All those new things with
MySpace and those stuff, have it helped you a lot?
Future plans for the band?
Futureplans for yourself?
-I was lucky enough to have a book published just this month; now I have a few ideas for more. We’ll see how that goes.
-Another cliché: Nobody ever looks back and says, “Gee, I wish I had spent more time at work.”
Something to add?