The Larkin Brigade

THE LARKIN BRIGADE: S’n’O interview with Pat Kennedy AKA Paddy Keys

The Larkin Brigade is a 4 piece Punk’n’Reel band straight outta Boston who have recently released their debut CD, “Paddy Keys For Mayor!” on Squealing Records. The band describes itself as “a loud and fast Irish folk band from Boston….. …… if the Wolfe Tones had sex with Ben Folds Five, and then, nine months later, a tearful Ben Folds Five left a bassinet on the doorstep of a bewildered Minor Threat, who, after attempting to raise the little bundle itself, passed the kid off into the social services system, where it went through a series of foster homes including the Pogues and Blood for Blood, before it was taken under the wing of the Rolling Stones, who paid for it to take piano lessons from Scott Joplin and then Jerry Lee Lewis, each of whom in turn kicked the kid out of class for not practicing, and finally the kid ran away and worked in an Irish pub, where it osmotically memorized every song in the book while mopping puke off the floor, until one day the Wolfe Tones walked in to order a pint and recognized its own offspring running cases of Magner’s behind the bar, and, after a brawl that caused thousands of dollars in damage and a bar tab that cost hundreds, bestowed upon the kid a lucky cladagh ring with special powers, then that kid would grow up to be the Larkin Brigade.”

Pat Kennedy (vocals & piano) was good enough to answer the following few probing questions.

(S’n’O)
So who the feck is Paddy Keys and why should I vote for him?

(Pat Kennedy AKA Paddy Keys)
That’s just my stage name. (Other monikers include Paddy Flyers because I always have show flyers on me — and I mean even at weddings — and Pit Kennedy because I always cut a rug at hardcore shows). But this one’s taken on a life of its own with that album title. “Paddy Keys for Mayor” was actually (drummer) Dennis’ idea, and at first I thought it was re-tahded. But then he described his cover concept, and we all dug it, and Brian McCaffrey from Overnight Color & Graphics did an awesome job with the campaign sign, and Dennis’ fiancée Nancy took a great photo of it on a Dorchester street, and we’re all pretty happy with the outcome. But it’s just a humorous album title. I wouldn’t run for deputy dog catcher.

(S’n’O)
And, what have you against present Boston Mayor, Mumbles Menino – especially when I suspect your drummer is one of his illegitimate sprogs?

Dennis/Mumbles one and the same

(Pat Kennedy AKA Paddy Keys)
Oh, that guy gets a worse rap than he deserves. He’s done a decent job – although it is high time for some new blood in that office. I voted for Hennigan in the last election, and she’s supposed to be insane.

(S’n’O)
Last political question – who’s Larkin and why isn’t he running for mayor?

(Pat Kennedy AKA Paddy Keys)
We named the band after Big Jim Larkin, a prominent Irish labor activist in the early 20th century. As you know, there’s a statue of him out in front of the GPO in Dublin.

(S’n’O)
The band is a little different from most Celtic punk bands who are basically 4 piece punk bands with additional traditional instruments – TLB have neither electric or acoustic guitars. Was this deliberate or could you just not find one? What else makes you stand out from the pack?

(Pat Kennedy AKA Paddy Keys)
That was deliberate. We knew we could achieve a pretty full sound with just piano, fiddle, bass, and drums, and we just wanted to keep it simple. Guitar and say, whistle, on top of that, would have just made the band unwieldy. And Joe (fiddle) and I are also very into Cape Breton music in addition to the Irish stuff, and that is basically just piano and fiddle. I mean, I absolutely love the Bothy Band and Planxty and those kind of Irish ensembles, and of course the punk Irish ensemble, the Pogues — but they’ve already done it, and this is just the best way for us to rock out. Let’s see, what else sets us apart? Well, for better or worse, I don’t do a gruff thing with my voice; I really try (operative word) to sing, like say a Tommy Makem (may as well shoot for the stars). Paul and Joe are stepping up with the harmonies, too. And at the same time, we are very loud and rockin’ – if they took Dennis’ energy and turned it into an injectable liquid, all the ballplayers would be trying it to get around the MLB steroid rules. And finally, we’ve spent a lot of time in the past going to see New York hardcore bands like Murphy’s Law and Sick Of it All, and local ones like Blood for Blood, and I think that no-pretense kind of shit-talkin’ and rough-edged but fun party atmosphere naturally comes out in our stage banter and overall live vibe.

(S’n’O)
Did making the piano the lead instrument have anything to do with your fixation with Elton John and The Pet Shop Boys?

(Pat Kennedy AKA Paddy Keys)
Oh, Liberace, almost exclusively. No, I just suck at guitar. But I’ve always loved the Black Crowes (that’s right – believe it, three out of four Larkin Brigade members are huge Crowes fans) and duh, the Stones, and other piano-laden rock ‘n’ roll (that includes some of your pubbier Oi!), not to mention old-school Jamaican ska music, and obviously Irish ceilidh and the aforementioned Cape Breton, and ragtime…and of course the music of Randy Newman, specifically that written for the movie “The Three Amigos.” Oh, also, while I suppose you’re right to say piano is the lead instrument, I don’t generally play leads so much as lay down the foundation — I’m equivalent to a rhythm guitarist while Joe is the Yngwie J. Malmsteen who shreds hot lixx.

(S’n’O)
Is there any truth to the rumor that the piano has been replaced by a synthar so the live show won’t be so boring?

(Pat Kennedy AKA Paddy Keys)
Well, first we have to save up for the headset microphones. Then the keytar, and finally the fretless five-string stick bass for Paul. In order to swing this, of course, we may have to replace Dennis with a drum machine, but that’s a trade-off we’re willing to make.

(S’n’O)
Who’s better, the Skels or the Larkin Brigade? Who’s fatter? Who get the most groupies? Which band has the most lawyers in the band?

(Pat Kennedy AKA Paddy Keys)
The Skels used to be better, because they could drink for three seconds. But now we’ve got ‘em beat, because we drink for four seconds! I don’t know what they could do to compete with that! Fatter? Jaysus, but that’s a good question. They have more members, and they talk up their fatness an awful lot, but Joe is one hefty fellow, and Dennis is no slouch (although note, he’s actually more of an exercise nut than any of us). Henry and I are the skinny guys in each band, so we cancel each other out. Paul and Rich are average. I’m gonna say it’s too close to call. The more important question is who produces more sweat on stage? We played with them at the Rippin’est Town Rally a few weeks ago, and by the end of the night, little fish had bred in the puddles on the floor. Okay, most groupies? Gosh, that’s tough. I guess the Skels, because our ladies reject the term “groupies” in favor of “band aides.” More lawyers in the band? I believe that’s a draw. We got more nurses, though.

(S’n’O)
How do the punters outside of Boston catch the band live?

(Pat Kennedy AKA Paddy Keys)
Talk to your travel agent for the best deals on flights to Boston. Ah, no, we do play New York sometimes, and we even played Toronto once, and of course we’ll play other towns in New England. (Check our website, www.thelarkinbrigade.com.) But we’re all workin’ stiffs, and this band is strictly DIY, so a serious tour is not an option for the time being. If you really want to see us live, a) drop us a line to let us know there’s some interest out there, and b) get our CD into the jukebox at your local bar, request it on the hip radio show at the area college, post a song on your myspacial profile, saunter down the street blaring it on a ghetto blaster, and maybe eventually a promoter in your town will get wind of the buzz and offer us a doable gig there.

(S’n’O)
Finally, who thought up the description of “The Wolfe Tones had sex with Ben Folds Five”, that’s sick, really sick.

(Pat Kennedy AKA Paddy Keys)
Naturally, yours truly. Disgusting, isn’t it? Hey, for real, let me say in closing to all you readers out there in computerland that John Murphy is truly doing one hell of a job with Shite ‘n’ Onions, and I hope yez all appreciate his efforts! Now buy the CD. He gets a cut. And we want to buy that keytar.

http://www.thelarkinbrigade.com

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