Real McKenzies Off the Leash

Real McKenzies Off the Leash
Kind of like a kilted, bagpiped, Canadian version of Rodney Dangerfield, the Real McKenzies can’t seem to get any respect. They’ve been busting out solid Celtic punk rock for over a decade, yet you’ll still find kids on the internet calling them out for ripping off bands like Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly, both of whom came out of the gates a few years after the McKenzies released their first album in 1996 and were doubtlessly influenced by the band’s sound and look. Point is, the McKenzies are great, original and Scottish (well okay, they’re from Vancouver), and we’re proud to have ’em. Off the Leash is another rock-solid addition to their canon of ass-whupping songs about drinking, Nessie and drinking, with tracks like "Chip” kicking things off with a traditional-sounding bagpipe lead and "Guy on Stage” offering a subtle acoustic take on the band’s throwback sound. On the whole, there’s a lot more variety here than on past McKenzies outings, and the band prove equally adept with the restrained rock of "My Mangy Hound” as they are with the walking bass line of "The Maple Trees Remember.”

How is it you guys still get accused of ripping off bands you’ve influenced?
Vocalist Paul McKenzie: Years ago it infuriated me but now it’s just like water off a duck’s back. We don’t have a patent on a kilt or the bagpipes. The more people that are making that kind of music, if it’s making them happy, go for it. But there are myriad pocket titans on the internet who love to get their anger out in strange ways, and when we finally meet them, it’s kind of like The Wizard of Oz. "You were that man behind the curtain? And I was mad at you?” I don’t have the time or energy to spend on negativity in that respect, so let them do what they want.

Is it at all difficult to keep writing music that’s original and exciting to you when you’re also really entrenched in a certain style?
We’ve moved off in some unexplored directions on this record. I like to think that it’s like a candy box with a variety of songs for everybody. Me, I don’t go for the peanut clusters, I go for the dark chocolate. (Fat Wreck)