Interview with Brendan Kelly of The Falcon (etc.)

My buddy Julian spoke with Brendan Kelly recently about The Falcon's new album among many other random as fuck things, check it out! 

This is your first venture up to the Great White North since Gather Up The Chaps dropped, any particular reason it took so long to get up here after it was released?
BK: There’s no particular reason it took so long to get to Canada per say, it’s just a little bit difficult to get organized, we have a lot of very busy people in the band and there are certain places that we really kinda have to go.. like we need to go to the East Coast first because that’s where Dave is from, that’s where Toby who is our tour manager and my partner at Red Scare.. he lives out East so the East Coast is kind of a no brainer. The mid-West you know we have that tradition of being a Chicago band even though I’m the only one who still lives in Chicago but we have that mid-Western DNA. And there’s California man, and that’s where NOFX is from so you have to go out there if you’re gonna be punk! Canada kind of comes after those things. You have the list of things you want to do and it’s sorta hard to make everyone’s schedules align. We’re really excited for it though, I’m personally a huge huge fan of Canada.

I figured with those Eh Calcutta shirts!
BK: Oh yeah, fuck yeah! Those are some great items! The thing is, there’s places like the American south that we just don’t hit at all.. there’s just no use in going there. I don’t want it to sound like I’m treating Canada as like some after thought, it’s a very important part of the touring cycle for us there’s just certain shit we had to first and now we’re lucky to finally be able to go!

Do you have any fond memories of past Canadian visits you want to share? 
BK: I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad time in Canada! I love going up for Pouzza Fest, and going to Toronto reminds me a lot of Chicago, it’s like a much smaller and a much cleaner Chicago with the highways and the city built back from it and the parks near the water you know they’re very similar cities. I feel very at home in Toronto and have many great great friends there like guys in The Flatliners and my man Wade MacNeil, I love that guy, and Melanie Kaye is the best! Every winter I go up to Edmonton and Calgary to do shows because nobody ever does anything up there and I did it one year and it was just so stupid. Worst Days Down and Fire Next Time are these two bands out of Edmonton who are both just terrific and they play with me in the middle of winter every year and I go up there and I have the best fucking time with those guys in that weird fucking back woods of the world and it’s so fun and cool and there’s a lot of other awesome bands from out there like that Audio/Rocketry band is really cool. I just can’t say enough good things about Canada. My two favourite bands of all time are from there which are Propagandhi and No Means No.

Do you have any fun stories from Montreal or the French Contingency of Canada? 
BK: Ummmm yeah you know man it’s funny back in the day when I first started going to Montreal they had this thing that was like sex booths, they don’t have them anymore and most people younger than me don’t even know what I’m talking about but it was like you go in.. you know that Madonna video where it opens up and there’s the girl behind the glass and you can’t touch her but you can like jerk off if you’re that kind of person.. well in Montreal they used to have these things like that but there was this morbid outline of a woman in the glass and a tube where you could stick your dick in like where the vagina could be and this was apparently a really popular thing, and I was like 18 or 19 in Montreal for the first time, we’re talking like early 90’s, and I was like wait what! And this guy goes *in French accent* ‘yeah you stick your dick in this tube and she puts her tits right in this thing and it’s shaped like tits and you’re feeling the tits’ and I was like I have to see this so they take me up there and keep in mind in the early 90’s it’s funny to think about because I thought we were such like tame wimps compared to like what the punks used to be eating bat heads and putting safety pins in their face and shit but we’re like the most disgusting foul human beings, dressed in rags and we looked like hobos… and the French Canadian versions of us were even worse because they’re French Canadian for fuck sakes.. and fucking they walk me to this place and I’m like yeah I’m fucking going in, I had like maybe $11 in my pocket and it had to last me like 3 weeks and I walk in and it’s like a doctor’s office essentially and I’m like so I hear you’ve got a thing with like dicks and tubes? I didn’t even know what the fuck to say and the woman kind of like takes me by the hand and she takes me back to like a procedure room and gives me a pamphlet and I see the tube and it’s got this like.. you know how in certain airports where the toilet seat plastic will shift around after every single person so you’re sitting on the same ass juice as the last guy… it was like that but in a tube and the woman was like ‘you put your cock in here… it’s $75’ and I was like okay I’m out of here, bye! I just wanted to see that shit. Let me tell you, for all the people out there who think Montreal is like sexually crazy and it is, but it used to be way weirder.

What was your favourite part of the tour you did in March?
BK: The Chicago show was spectacular, the Brooklyn show was awesome too, it was the first stop of the tour and it felt really cool and new and there was a lot of young kids who had never seen us before.. for old guys it’s not often you get to look out and feel like you’re doing something no one has ever seen before… whether or not we were actually that good I don’t know, I was under that impression! It was really kind of like a ‘this is why you do it’ moment, seeing all the young kids into it like that.

Were there any low points? 
BK: Well, I definitely got a little loose at the show in New Jersey and Dave was like ‘yo man, I know this is kind of your band and however you wanna roll that’s fine but…’ but Dave is sober so he was like ‘if that’s how you’re going to roll I don’t want to be in your band’ and I was like OK fair enough, that’s good, we’ve had this conversation and we’ll never have to have this conversation again, that’s fine. I don’t think it was a low point per say, I think it was handled by Dave with a lot of class you know.. he could have just been like ‘fuck you dude, I’m outta here’ but to be honest the show was still totally awesome! I say that, everybody else doesn’t agree but I still stand by that! But yeah Dave handled it with a lot of class and you know I’m a grown up enough guy to be like alright you know.. I can wait to do my fucking dumb shenanigans and I’m getting too old to be fucking drunk on stage anyway. So yeah that was kind of a low point but in a weird way maybe that was one of the high points because that really sort of stepped up the game for how we’re going to perform on stage. Bam!

It’s cool that it didn’t turn into a ‘thing’, because that can easily turn into a thing within a band.. 
BK: Oh, absolutely, and that’s why I have to hand it to Dave. And the next morning I was like ‘hey man, I don’t know how wasted you think I was last night but I remember every word of our conversation and you’re never going to have to have that conversation with me again’ and he was like ‘cool, man’ and I could tell he was still furious but that was it, and that night we played a great show and it was totally squashed! Props to Dave. Dave Hause! Anyone out there who says anything other than Dave Hause is a fucking stand up human being send them to me and I’ll fight them!

I noticed on Twitter the other day that you said that this would be the last tour for the foreseeable future, why’s that? 
BK: Well, speaking as we were about my friend Dave Hause he might put out a big record soon and he’s going to go on tour with it and it’s like, this lineup, since The Falcon hasn’t been a real band ever for like the 10 or 11 years we’ve been in existence, now it feels very much like a real band so the idea of doing it without Dave is just crazy to me. When Dave gets busy and can’t do it, and the others are going to be getting busy too, and I’ll just be sitting around waiting to die, but if those guys can’t do it we can’t be The Falcon. If they can’t play, we can’t play.

So it’s pretty much solidified now like, this is The Falcon, this lineup? 
BK: Yeah, if The Falcon makes another record this will be the lineup on that record, absolutely.

Speaking of, was Gather Up The Chaps received the way you expected it to be?
BK: Um in that we’re a bunch of old men I think the reception for Gather Up The Chaps was very much a bunch of guys who we know can really do this pretty well did it pretty well this time! Like, it wasn’t like the wild fanfare of a new fucking Front Bottoms album or something and it also wasn’t the crushing fart sound of you know the new fucking Better Than Ezra album. I guess that’s how I thought it would be received, I don’t know, I really thought we put together a really good album and I’m glad that people have enjoyed it.

It does and it doesn’t sound like another Falcon record, you know? Dave just being in the band seems to have added a lot to and the whole thing sounds, I wouldn’t say evolved but with a new perspective on how The Falcon sounds..
BK: Yeah, it’s been 10 years so what I feel like I can do has evolved and I hope that we all feel that way, and yes the addition of Dave is spectacular. Him and I have talked about this a few times but him and his staunch professionalism and me and my kinda like fuck it let’s just get in here and start cooking dumps and see if anything turns out perfect attitude has really worked well together, it’s been really rewarding to work with Dave for that reason.

Who played the accordion part on “Sergio’s Here”? 
BK: That was me. My wife bought me one for Christmas and the funny thing about it is I don’t know how to play it at all so I would like do just like a random fingering and I would pull that thing apart and be like hmm that sounds like it’s in the key and it would be like *fart noise* and I would be like yeah that sounds fucking perfect. It’s not quite the whimsical concertina playing that you think of when you think of the man outside your favourite Bistro. Nobody knew how to touch that thing. But I do love that sound!

Here’s a question for all of the gear sluts out there, what kind of acoustic guitar did you record with?
BK: A 1971 Martin, and it’s like the best instrument I’ve ever seen. Matt Allison who records the Lawrence Arms stuff, he didn’t record The Falcon record but he was in the studio, it’s his studio we were in, and he was like wow let me see that thing and he picked it up and played it and said ‘I think this is the nicest musical instrument that I’ve ever seen in my life!’

What model is it? 
BK: Now see this is where I become the dick who owns this 1971 Martin and can’t even tell you that.. it’s not the Dreadnought it’s the other one.. I’m not a gear person, I buy guitars because I like how they sound and how they feel in my hands and it’s to the extreme annoyance of like every single person I work with. They’re like can you care about this just a little and I’m like no I just don’t care about it at all, that’s just not my passion. I get really into the ins and outs of words and turns of phrases, that’s really where my passion lies, like the best lyric I’ve ever heard anybody ever write is Lil’ Wayne in the song “I’m Me” and he says ‘Yes, I'm the best and no I ain't positive, I'm definite’ and I’m like damn that is attention to detail because it’s like positive and definite can mean the same thing but when you separate their meanings it’s profound you know, he’s like I’m the best, not in a good way, I’m the best fuck you, this isn’t a positive statement, it’s a statement of assurance. That’s the kind of thing that gets me off, not which model of Martin I have!

Right on. It’s pretty cool that you guys decided to bring a comedian along on tour to open the show.. whose idea was it to bring Kyle?
BK: First of all I’m a huge fan of Kyle’s and if you’ve never heard his stuff he’s one of the greatest stand ups I think working today and he comes from a punk rock sensibility and he’s from Chicago and like the same scene I kind of grew up doing punk rock in he grew up doing comedy in so we have a really similar sensibility and he and I are just buddies and he wanted to do something punk rock and was like oh it’d be so cool if I could go on tour with a band or something like that you know and I was like yeah that would be cool, sounds awesome, so then when The Falcon got back together we were all talking about how like The Falcon is kind of a weird band, we’re not really fitting in to any scene that’s popular right now so there’s not like a really obvious band to get to open for us so we wanted to just do weird stuff like get magicians and acrobats to open for us instead of a band, keep it real weird you know. We’ve got this whole like leather daddies pervert cocaine and boners theme I guess to our albums so we wanted to have weird stuff like that opening each show. Of course that didn’t work out for practical reasons but while all this shit went down me and Kyle were just talking and I was like ‘Kyle would you do that’ and he was like ‘you know I’d love to’. He’s the punkest guy on the tour.

It seems like Chicago is one of the most productive cities in terms of punk rock, there’s a lot of awesome bands from there and there always seems to be something going on in the scene. Do you think there’s something about the culture of the city that breeds the like question everything and accept nothing motherfucker that is a punk rocker? 
BK: Umm, this is like a canned answer to that question but I don’t know it’s cold and we’re not on the coast and we have a chip on our shoulder and whatever but like I’d also say that the torch is kind of passed, I think that Philadelphia is really the place that has been cranking out all the punk bands these days. Personally my heart is in Chicago but when I look at where the young, vital, punk bands are it’s Philadelphia.. like Modern Baseball, The Menzingers, Restorations… it’s like a breeding ground right now. I think we had our time but it’s like, now I’m 40, my time was a long time ago! I think that the world has turned and I just don’t know enough about the new bands in Chicago and I haven’t seen a lot of them that have a huge following. And I would love to say this and have people hit me up saying ‘well you haven’t heard this band’ and then find those bands because there’s nothing I want more than to play with young, up and coming hot bands from Chicago that people want to hear but I just haven’t seen it in a long time here. Chicago is still a better town though, and we’re in the World Series this year so there’s that! Condolences to Toronto.. It’s funny because I would have really loved Toronto vs the Cubs in the World Series because it’s like two such underdogs, but the thing is if a non-US team beat the Cubs specifically… you’re talking about a Canadian baseball team beating the Cubs… the hatred would be so dark! I didn’t even want that to be an option!

Did you find a bit of humour in how big of an uproar there was over that Toronto dude who threw a beer at the one outfielder, like how many times have you had beer thrown at you while you’re doing your job!?
BK: My son and my daughter they talk all the time about like ‘how come everyone throws wine at you when you play’, they’re just little kids they don’t know the difference but they were at one particular Lawrence Arms show… I mean, I play acoustic, I play with the Wandering Birds and I play with The Lawrence Arms and I obviously have a lot of friends in a lot of bands but I’ve never seen a crowd as drunk as the Lawrence Arms crowd, they’re fucking maniacs! The funny thing is if you look at the band itself, we don’t have a single song that’s like “get fucked get fucked”, there’s nothing like that in our catalogue at all! But for some reason it’s like we almost have this like.. and I hate to use this because I hate these people as individuals but it’s the Guided By Voices thing where people get soooo drunk! I hate Guided By Voices because I stage managed one of their show and they were such assholes and one of the guys tried to fight me on stage while I was trying to load his gear off the stage and it was late at night and he was drunk and he’s like an old guy.. I don’t want it to sound like I’m talking shit, I mean I’m kind of talking shit a little and I’m fine with kind of talking shit a little but … not ‘fuck those guys’ but not not ‘fuck those guys’ you know! But we have that kind of same thing that for whatever reason we bring out the rebelry in kids and it’s fucking great, it’s dope, it’s great for us I mean, Guided By Voices fans might be assholes but Lawrence Arms fans are some of the greatest fans I’ve ever seen but they do throw their wine at me like my daughter says. I got off the stage that night and it looked like I had jumped in a pool with my guitar and my clothes on.

Obviously drinking and doing drugs is a fairly major subject matter in the punk rock culture, I know a lot of The Lawrence Arms fans who like their wine, but have you noticed a difference at all in people’s vices and chosen substances since Tony Sly passed? I know that hit a lot of people really hard. 
BK: I’ll say this man, first of all Tony was a good buddy of mine and it was pretty devastating, like I was like the youngest guy in that little Fat Wreck family with like Joey, Mike, Tony and me.. was I as close as those guys all were, no, but I was pretty close to all of them and No Use were a band that we toured with a lot. And here’s the thing, I have noticed and I don’t know if these things have anything to do with each other but like Fat Mike had to get sober, Matt Skiba had to get sober, Chris from Lawrence Arms doesn’t really drink, Neil doesn’t drink when he’s on tour, our old roadie who is now just a visual artist and living in Detroit and is the subject of a lot of our songs and of my blog posts who was my favourite partners in crime.. now he’s sober. I don’t really have many friends left who still drink or party and I wouldn’t say those two things are connected but I also wouldn’t say that they’re totally separate either. You get to a certain age and you’ve got two choices, pull it together or die. And people have to come face to face with that. From what I know of Tony’s passing he was misprescribed two things that really shouldn’t have gone together and I wouldn’t be comfortable saying anything more than that, not like I would hate for somebody to see this and read it wrong but I just really don’t know. It’s just like it was more of a preventable tragedy than the sort of classic like oh the mother fucker drank himself to death. It wasn’t one of those. I think he was given the wrong batch of shit. Like when I die it will be oh that mother fucker drank himself to death.

Check out The Falcon on tour:
11/09/16 Lancaster, PA @  American Bar & Grill
11/10/16 Washington, DC @ DC9
11/11/16 Garwood, NJ @  Crossroads
11/12/16 New York, NY @ Rocks Off Boat Cruise on The Jewel
11/13/16 Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts
11/15/16 Providence, RI Firehouse 13
11/16/16 Montreal, QC @  Katacombes
11/17/16 Ottawa, ON Zaphod’s
11/18/16 Toronto, ON  @  Lee’s Palace
11/19/16 Hamilton, ON @ Absinthe
11/20/16 Lansing, MI @ The Loft
11/21/16 Cincinnati, OH @  Northside Yacht Club
11/22/16 Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups

Thanks so much to Brendan, Julian and Melanie!!