The Real Deal

28 August 2013 | 5:00 am | Daniel Johnson

"It almost began as sort of a joke: ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if we grabbed kilts and took all these songs and gave them a Scottish flavour?’"

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The Real McKenzies last toured Australia at the invitation of The Go Set's frontman Justin Keenan. At the time, The Go Set were in their infancy, touring their debut album Sing A Song Of Revolution.

“Justin was a fan of our band back in 2004 and he really wanted to see us play down there,” Boland explains. “So he flew us down there and we played a lot of good shows. I guess to mark the (Go Set's) tenth anniversary they wanted to redo it.”

Since The Real McKenzies first started playing their brand of bagpipe-infused punk rock in 1992, the Celtic-punk sub-genre has grown exponentially, and as Boland explains, the band's members didn't take themselves too seriously to begin with.

“It almost began as sort of a joke: 'Hey, wouldn't it be funny if we grabbed kilts and took all these songs and gave them a Scottish flavour?' Iggy Pop's I Wanna Be Your Dog became I Wanna Be Your Scot, and Low Rider became Highlander and then we added the bagpipes and it was pretty unique.

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“Some bands were influenced by it and some of those bands have become really big and it's frustrating because when we came to light a little bit after those bands had achieved their popularity, a lot of people accused us of being a copycat band and that's just not true.”

Boland is quick to clarify that he doesn't begrudge any of these bands for the success they have achieved.

“good luck to those guys – I'm happy for their success. I know some of the people in those bands and they're really good people. There's no bitterness here.”

The line-up The Real McKenzies will be bringing to Australia for this tour differs fairly significantly from the last time the band was here, but Boland assures us they're as tight as ever.

“We have a new drummer, Jesse (Pinner), who played in DOA for a while – great kid, fantastic drummer, one of the best we've had. And we have a new bass player, Troy (Zac) – he was in a punk band called The Vibrators – and Dirty Kurt, our guitar player, recently had heart surgery, so he's on the bench right now and we have a guy, Brent, filling in for him, and of course me and Paul. Our bagpiper actually isn't coming with us either, so we're going to use one of the Go Set guys.”

For those who haven't seen The Real McKenzies live, Boland promises an energetic live show.

“Chances are you're going to have a beer and leave with a smile on your face… and we're going to show you our nuts.”