More than drinking songs

Irish-punk band the Mahones for having a close relationship with fans

The Mahones are known as an Irish-punk band.
The Mahones are known as an Irish-punk band.
Credit: 
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Finny McConnell has a habit of forging unusual relationships with his fans.

As the lead singer and founder of Irish-punk band the Mahones, McConnell has no problem getting personal.

“We’ve met a lot of fans, we’ve become friends with,” he said. “[Wife and band member] Katie and I allow our fans to add us on Facebook.”

After being together for 22 years, the five-piece band has learned the importance of a fan’s experience.

“I went to the university of rock and roll on the streets of London, England,” he said. “That’s where I met The Clash and the Pogues.” McConnell cited the bands as some of the biggest influences on the Mahones’ changing sound.

“I know what it’s like for me when I got to meet those guys,” he said. “That’s all part of the experience.”

While McConnell doesn’t regret their songs being labeled as “Irish drinking songs” he maintains that it’s a misnomer.

“The first album we did was very popular for drinking songs, and since then we don’t’ write drinking songs as much,” he said.

The band has produced 10 albums, becoming a household name with punk lovers across the world, regardless of any Irish linkages.

“If you’re into punk rock you’re going to love us and if you’re not, you won’t,” McConnell said.

McConnell is the only remaining member of the original band. Seventeen have cycled through the group since forming in Kingston in 1990.

“When you’re in a band for 22 years a lot of guys get married and have kids,” he said. “Most people who aren’t in the band now usually left because they were tired of touring.”

McConnell managed to do both, marrying accordionist and vocalist Katie McConnell and having a daughter, who doesn’t join their rigorous tours.

Last month, the Mahones toured for nine months. They’re currently finishing up a tour with the Dropkick Murphys. “They’re good friends of ours, we don’t usually open for bands much, their pretty much our favourite band,” he said.

Despite being away from their Montreal home for a majority of the year, McConnell is always excited to return to Kingston.

St. Patrick’s Day also holds special significance to the band, and not just because of their Irish roots.

“We started to play a St. Patty’s day show for a friend of mine in the Toucan,” he said. “Everyone started liking it so much we ended up playing all over Kingston.

“It’s like the Irish New Year’s Eve — because we’re Irish we drag it out for the whole week.”

McConnell has high hopes that the kids in his life, like his 11-year-old daughter, will grow to appreciate his music.

“She doesn’t even like our music,” he said. “She’s into Avril Lavigne, Selena Gomez.

“I don’t expect kids to like Irish punk, we all go through our phases.” McConnell’s Kingston-based 15-year-old godson Shane ‘Muzikk’ McConnell is an aspiring musician.

“We’re going to produce a record for him,” he said. “He’s like a Lady Gaga, he’s just over the top, he’s rock and roll.”

The Mahones play Ale House on March 13 at 8 p.m.

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