The Mahones aren’t just a band, they’re an institution of Irish punk. They predate bands like Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly, so it is safe to say that other than the Pogues, they hold the reins as one of the top Irish punk bands around. They have toured endlessly for over 20 years, and played every corner of this wide world with bands like Dropkick Murphys, The Pogues, Flogging Molly and UK Subs just to name a few. They have stuck to their guns and it seems to be paying off big time. I caught up with leader and founder Finny McConnell and asked him 10 questions.
1. What triggered you to become a musician, and who were some of your early musical influences?
I always wanted to be a musician and play guitar. I first heard The Beatles as a little boy, and I was hooked. I loved The Who, The Clash and The Pogues from London, England and then The Ramones, Husker Du, Social Distortion and The Replacements from the USA, and I knew I had no choice. I had to start a band and be a part the the music scene. I never had a plan B, and I have now released 12 records, and I’m lucky enough to tour the world every year. I never gave up. I give it all I’ve got, every time.
2. What was the worst 9-5 job you ever had and why was it so bad?
I worked on a construction site in London, England. That was the hardest and most physically intense job I ever had. I hated it and it made me try even harder to be a successful musician. I really respect those guys now, because that is one hell of a hard job. I even wrote a song about it called Down The Boozer (The Bricklayers’ Song). Respect!
3. What was the best gig you ever played and why was it so great?
Man, that is a tough question. I suppose headlining festivals are always the best gigs. The Guinness Festival in Switzerland, The Lorient Celtic Festival in France, The Irish Fair in St. Paul, Minnesota, supporting Dropkick Murphys on their world tour. ..there have been so many great shows! I am just grateful to be able to do this for a living. I feel very lucky and blessed to have fans all over the world that like what we do!
4. What was the worst gig you ever played ad why was it so shitty?
Well, I don’t want to say anything bad about any one club or promoter, but there have definitely been a few nightmare shows that were in venues that were frightening to even enter, and we always hate the shows where there are fights, racists and that kind of thing. We just stop the show, warn the crowd to knock it off, and if they don’t, we’re gone. Safety for the fans first. No excuses.
5. What was the best live concert you ever saw and why was it so great?
THE WHO is the best live band and still the best for me. Pete Townshend is the greatest songwriter of all time (for me, anyway) and THE WHO put out four of the best records of all time in a row. Tommy, Live At Leeds, Who’s Next and Quadrophenia. Also, THE WHO’s recent Quadrophenia World Tour was one of their best! I have have been going to WHO shows since 1982. I think they’re the greatest band of all time. I’ve also seen The Clash, The Pogues, Husker Du, The Replacements, Social Distortion, Rancid, The Ramones, David Bowie… and they’re all fantastic. There are so many great bands out there, but for me, it’s THE WHO every time!
6. What was the worst live concert you ever saw and why was it so terrible?
I refuse to say anything bad about other artists, so let’s skip to the next question…but probably The Mahones in the early 90s, when we got paid in alcohol.
7. If you weren’t doing music what would you be doing?
There was never a plan B. I was put on this earth to make music and play guitar. I know that for sure.
8. Goodfellas or Casino?
I have said this before and I will say it again.: GOODFELLAS IS THE BEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME!!!!
9. In your opinion what is the greatest song ever recorded and why?
Baba O’Riley. It takes music to a higher level. It makes people go crazy. My wife downloaded it for me for my ring tone – now I never answer the phone because I want to hear the rest of the song!
10. What is your advice to young musicians?
Learn your instrument, learn to write great songs, learn to put on great shows, make sure you look great onstage, and give everything you have to your band and career. Never take NO for an answer and NEVER GIVE UP. You WILL find your audience and you will succeed. And don’t be an asshole!