The Mahones’ Finny McConnell has done things his way throughout almost a quarter-century in the music business. And he’s not about to start caving to others’ demands at this point in his life and career. McConnell is arguably one of the coolest, most cordial musicians in Canadian music. He has simply listened to his gut when it comes to taking the Celtic-punk band down paths many musicians can only dream of.
The past few years have been among the group’s most high-profile periods. Last year, the group was awarded the 2012 Independent Music Award for best punk album for their record The Black Irish. In 2010, the song “Paint The Town Red” landed in the award-winning film The Fighter.
Performing at Plan b Lounge in Moncton Friday, the band’s newest record Angels & Devils was created in a short three-week span. From his home in Montreal last week, McConnell says that the quick completion of Angels & Devils, the group’s eighth studio record, was important to help keep the momentum of the past few years going in their favour.
“We finished touring behind The Black Irish with a show in Dublin, Ohio on a Saturday night this past August. By Monday morning we were in the studio making Angels & Devils,” McConnell says. “We finished the record and then started touring the new album almost immediately. We have largely been on the road for the past six months, having played Moscow, Madrid and Paris to name just a few of the places we have played.
“We completed the new record so quickly because we were acutely aware of how much we’ve had going in our favour these past few years. It was great to see the way that people connected with The Black Irish. We wanted Angels & Devils to reflect a bigger and better band. I truly believe that we are a band that is getting better with age.”
For the past 23 years, the group’s albums have been relatively successful while the group has become renowned for their energy-packed, electrifying live show.
There have been a number of different musicians come and go from the Mahones since their inception, however, one thing has remained constant: McConnell along with his wife Katie McConnell, Dom Whelan, Sean Winter and Paul Mancuso have maintained a very hands-on approach to the Mahones for their entire career.
“The policy with the band has been that I am the singer-songwriter-producer of the band and despite the lineup rotating from time to time, it works fine at the end of the day. We are not the type of band like Blue Rodeo where there are two primary songwriters. I actually set the band up like that on purpose to help ensure our longevity,” he says. “Once you’re in the Mahones club, you’re in it for life. Sean left the band for a period of time to raise his children but then came back when the timing was right. It’s important that the band keep evolving and that we keep a good relationship going with the musicians who play with us.”
While some independent groups struggle with making ends meet while trying to live their dream, the Mahones seem to have mastered the practice. Touring, while time consuming, especially when your band tours as extensively as the Mahones, is very much a necessary evil in today’s music business.
A large part of the Mahones ongoing success could be attributed to the fact that McConnell has always been a forward-looking individual, using technology to the group’s advantage.
“It is very much an Internet market these days,” he says. “iTunes saved all of (us) because so many bands were having their music given away for free. But with people getting their music via iTunes, bands like us are getting paid again which is just amazing. Right now is a great time to be a musician or be in a band because we have all of these great tools at our disposal to help promote the group.”
Article published in the May 17, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript