Mahones shine under indie spotlight

When it comes to the touchy subject of whether the technological advances of the Internet have helped or hindered music, there are two very distinct sides in the battle.

The first side (let’s call it Team Jon Bon Jovi due to his recent comments where he blames Apple founder Steve Jobs with killing the music industry) believes that the Internet and the downward spiral that it has been in over the past decade can solely be attributed to the advances of modern technology. If iPods, MP3s and the like never came into existence, you would have a happy crew on this side of the coin.

The other side, however, feels that the sharing of music via the Internet and file-sharing websites has actually improved the fortunes of a handful of bands.

If you are a part of a band that spends a reasonable amount of time on the road, there is a good chance that you will arrive to play in Weyburn, Sask. and, whether or not your record is in the local record shops, somebody there just might have heard your stuff. After all in many cases, it is as easy as pointing, clicking, and voila, your music is delivered.

So while album sales have essentially tanked over the last decade, artist exposure has actually increased in many cases.

This seems to be the case for Irish punk rockers The Mahones, who perform next Thursday at The Paramount in Moncton. Together through 10 albums, including their most recent effort The Black Irish, The Mahones had found moderate success in Canada in the pre-Internet days. Now though, the band is more popular than ever, something that lead vocalist and guitarist Finny McConnell attributes specifically to the Internet.

“The Mahones had never really been supported by the Canadian music industry in the same way that more mainstream acts have been,” McConnell says from a roadside stop while en route to Cobourg, Ont.

“I don’t want to disparage the Canadian music industry though because they have been great supporters of friends of mine like The Tragically Hip and Blue Rodeo.

“But I think there is little question that the Internet has helped us as a band incredibly. Instead of being told what to listen to by music labels, kids took control of the music and made it their own. It’s really an amazing time for all bands; I think it is much easier for bands to survive now.”

Prior to forming The Mahones in Toronto in 1990, McConnell had spent the previous five years living and taking in the culture of London, England, ground zero for many acts that McConnell looks up to including The Clash and David Bowie.

“I’ve always been a bit of an adventurer and wanted to see where all this great music came from for myself. I had to go to soak up the vibes that the city had to offer. It was there in London that I discovered The Pogues and The Waterboys and learned how to write songs.”

One recent major coup for The Mahones was the placement of their song Paint The Town Red in the Oscar-winning movie The Fighter, starring Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg. Not only was the band’s song featured in the film but the group was also offered the opportunity to be featured in the final fight scene. Asked how the band was fortunate enough to have scored such a lucky break, McConnell says that the band got wind that actor Mark Wahlberg wanted the song in the film and pleaded with their lawyer to make sure that it happened.

“We never met Mark Wahlberg but heard that he was a fan of the band so I guess all of our hard work has paid off,” Finny laughs. “It was especially nice to have him write us into the script.”

McConnell then goes onto say that, due to an overzealous spam e-mail filter, the group had missed out on an opportunity to have their music featured in the Boondock Saints 2 movie. It was only approximately six months later that McConnell discovered the opportunity they had missed out on but chalks the experience up to fate.

“Given the attention and awards that The Fighter went on to garner though, maybe it was fate that sent the Boondock Saints e-mail into my spam folder,” he says.

“I think it helps prove that good things can happen to good people after all.”

Article published in April 1, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript