IT'S PURE DRINKIN' MUSIC FULL OF LIFE
The Mahones, with Acoustically Inclined opening, perform at The Republik this evening.
It's hard not to talk about The Pogues when one talks about The Mahones.
Like the Anglo-Irish band once led by the gap-toothed singer Shane MacGowan, Kingston's The Mahones play a drunken, rockin' brand of Irish music. And, let's face it, The Mahones upon first listen do sound like their famed counterparts from across the Atlantic.
"You get these snarky little remarks about us just being a Pogues rip-off and I get really pissed off about that because they're usually made by people who don't know much about Irish music," says Mahones singer/guitarist Fintan McConnell.
"I grew up in an Irish bar that my dad ran.
"He had all kinds of Irish bands play there, even The Rovers. There's tons of bands doing that music. The Pogues are the only one that people on the rock circuit have ever heard of. So, we come along and boom we get that.
"But we're harder and punkier than they are. Their songs are more like ballads and stuff if you listen to it carefully.
"Our album (Draggin' The Days on Kinetic Records) is like pure drinking songs. That's what we were doing. We formed to play in pubs and play drinking songs."
However, McConnell is quick to admit that The Mahones -- who perform at The Republik tonight -- would likely not exist if not for The Pogues.
"I always wanted to play rock. I was into Husker Du and all that stuff.
"I never wanted to be an Irish musician. I grew up listening to it all my life and I was just sick of the f...ing stuff. My mom was a dancer and she even tried to get me to take Irish dancing for a while. I had to get out of that quick enough," says McConnell.
"The Pogues were actually the guys who really turned me around.
"I remember seeing them for the first time in London, England, back in '85 or '86.
"Seeing them made me realize that maybe there was a way to play Irish music live that I could enjoy."
As McConnell says, The Pogues took the Irish tradition of a hard-drinking group like The Dubliners and gave it a kind of punk-rock edge.
And now with MacGowan off with his new band The Popes and The Pogues searching for a new creative direction, The Mahones are carrying on that tradition.
Even the band's name reflects that.
"When I picked the name The Mahones it was because of the Irish saying 'pogue mahone' (which translates: kiss my ass) and also because they didn't want to use it because they couldn't get played on the radio," says McConnell, referring to the fact The Pogues were originally called Pogue Mahone.
"And also I knew that people would automatically associate the name to Irish music."
The truth is that once one gets by the obvious comparisons between The Pogues and The Mahones, the Ontario group's album is a fine batch of songs that easily stand up on their own. Full of boozing and bawdy imagery, played with a palpable passion, tunes like "Drunken Lazy Bastard" and "Draggin' The Days" are rock solid originals.
In fact, the title track reflects the band's love of music, drinking and life, of trying to get the most you can out of this world before the final nail is driven into the proverbial coffin.
"I actually came up with that expression walking down a road in Kingston, smokin' a doob or something. I had this melody going around in head and the expression 'draggin' the days' just came to me. What it meant to me was just taking things easy and slow, dragging them out to the maximum."
Like The Pogues, The Mahones go for the max.
Your intrepid maintainer is DzM.