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Dropkick Murphys - Scruffy Wallace
- February 26th, 2009
- The Hub - Fargo, ND
So I recently had a chance to sit down with Scruffy Wallace the Piper and Tin Whistle player for the Dropkick Murphys at a show in Fargo, North Dakota. Now ordinarily I would be pumped for such a great opportunity to talk to him but upon my arrival in their dressing room I found that my notes had been lost (Thanks again to the US border patrol see the H20 interview for full explanation) So needless to say I was a bit frazzled but I pulled together, persevered and came out with what you are about to read. A huge thanks goes to Scruffy for sitting down with me and taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions. Enjoy!!!
Dwayne: First what is your name and what you do in Dropkick Murphys?
Scruffy Wallace: Im Scruffy Wallace and I play bagpipes and tin whistle.
Dwayne: How is the tour going so far with H20 and Civet?
Scruffy: It’s been great man. The crowds have been awesome. We had a really good turnout last night in Billings, Montana. The kids were just fucking crazy. Good times.
Dwayne: You guys released the Meanest of Times in 2007. Are you working on any new stuff?
Scruffy: We’re currently writing some new stuff. It’s always a process with us though. We’re always passing around ideas and riffs. Passing things back and forth. There are actually a couple solid tracks that we have written and we will start writing a new album soon. Probably in the summertime I think sometime.
Dwayne: You guys left Hellcat and started your own label which is, I guess, a offshoot of the Warner Family. Have you guys got any backlash for “selling out” and aligning yourself with a major label?
Scruffy: We aren’t really on a major label we have our own label called Born and Bread Records and as far as I know Warner is just the distributer of The Meanest of Times. So technically we aren’t on a major we are our own entity. With Hellcat / Epitaph they treated us great it was just time to move on and do our own thing. We haven’t really experienced any backlash really at all. I think our fans are very supportive and its just been a overwhelming response that we’ve had to The Meanest of Times we have been very lucky.
Dwayne: The song “Spicy McHaggis Jig” was written about the old piper. Say the band was to write a song about you what would that song be about?
Scruffy: I have no idea (laughs) jackass, drunkard. I cant really think of anything. I honestly don’t know.
Dwayne: You have the Saint Patty’s day shows coming up. How did that all get started and what is it like for those 7 days?
Scruffy: Well its mayhem for us because all our friends and family from Boston want to come hang out and come backstage and drink all our beer and basically cause mayhem. It’s really a great time though, Boston is the hometown show its just cool to play year after year and get the same response every year. It’s fun, its draining, it’s miserable and great all in the same breath. It’s really cool.
Dwayne: You guys always invite a lot of fans up onstage with you to finish off your set usually during “Kiss Me I’m Shitfaced” and it gets pretty packed up there. What’s the worst thing that has happened during that song?
Scruffy: We have had the stage break in Toronto, and that’s kinda a nightmare when that happens. Just for the safety of the kids and for playing all of a sudden someone falls of stage and they get hurt that really sucks. It’s cool that people get up there and just jump around and have fun. Its kind of the old adage our stage is your stage kinda thing, just come up have fun and don’t act like a complete idiot.
Dwayne: I heard that usually its more male nudity than any other kind…
Scruffy: I know which kind of sucks. No one wants to see that…. Keep it in your pants fellas, keep it in your pants.
Dwayne: How did you get into playing the pipes?
Scruffy: Well I’m originally from Great Britain and when I emigrated to Canada I wanted to play guitar really bad so I told my grandmother because I was living with her and my grandpa at the time. She’s like well if you learn how to play a instrument from home then I will pay for guitar lessons so I joined the highland cadet core and started playing. I never did get those damned guitar lessons (laughs). I just kind of kept at it and here I am now 22 years later. It’s a cool instrument it’s a very frustrating instrument. I’m having a meltdown as we speak actually ( laughs). Sometimes just the little things don’t want to work for you so it gets very frustrating but in the same respect it’s very rewarding being able to play the pipes for a living. I think there is me and two other people on the whole planet that can say that.
Dwayne: You had mentioned you emigrated from Great Britain to Canada where did you live in Canada?
Scruffy: I grew up in Calgary then I emigrated to Boston. Well I’ve been in Boston off and on for 6 years since I have joined the band. I didn’t move there permanently till about 2 years ago. Then once the band is done ,then myself and my wife and son will go back up north; back to Calgary. Maybe a little west of Calgary I grew up in the mountains and I can’t get it out of my blood. The flag I have on my pipes actually is the flag of Alberta alotta people don’t know that. Just a little piece of home I always keep with me.
Dwayne: I hear congratulations are in order, you recently had a child. Is it a lot harder leaving home now that you have a child in the mix?
Scruffy: Yeah, I mean a little bit of course. Obviously I am not going to be doing this forever. The things that really suck about it is that I’m going to miss the first steps, first words – that kind of stuff. If I wasn’t doing this then it wouldn’t afford me to be able to provide a life for my wife and my son. So its kind of bitter sweet thing. Where it sucks for me to leave but I have to leave because I have to work and provide for my wife and my son. Of course it’s hard for a couple of the guys in the band that have kids, they would concur its hard. With the internet now and all the other technology I get to see them everyday when I am on the road. I get to see him and not really talk to him because he is only 5 months old but hear him screaming because he is teething right now so my wife’s miserable. We only go out for a couple weeks at a time now because a lot of us have kids and wives so yeah it is hard but its gotta be done.
Dwayne: Is it nicer being a band that can kind of pick and choose its touring schedule and not have to go all our for 10 months of the year?
Scruffy: Absolutely. It’s great that we are afforded that kind of luxury. Where there are bands that go out for 3 or 4 months at a time. Even when I first joined the band it was 6 or 8 weeks at the most. We did Warped Tour and that’s the longest we have been out and away from home. Its very nice to be in a band that can do that. I mean we still tour a lot but we just go in and play then have three weeks in 21 days we will have 21 shows so we hit every club and every venue that we can in compacted time. We do work – we just don’t get days off that’s all.
Dwayne: When you guys go in to record a new album it must be tough to coordinate around everyone’s schedules.
Scruffy: Again it has afforded us that kind of luxury where this is all we do. Matt, James and Tim will go in and lay down some guitar stuff then Kenny and Al will be working on vocals somewhere. Jeff and I will do pipe or whistle tracks in another room. We have a studio called the Outpost that we work with Jim Segal in Massachusetts, and so as far as it goes getting us all together at the same time we are all in the same area working on different aspects of the songs. So technically, we are together all the time in the studio but just not all together in the studio at the same time. When it comes to recording the rest of us will sit in the booth and watch and listen. It’s a very communitive thing where someone will say lets try that or let’s try this. It’s a 7 man effort.
Dwayne: What is up next for you guys?
Scruffy: After the Saint Paddy’s day shows we are going to have a little break I believe we are going to be playing some college shows. Then I think we are going to Europe in July sometime. In between that we will be writing and working on the new record. Even though we are going to be off the road, we are still going to be keeping busy with writing and getting ready for the new album. Then I’m sure there will be little things here and there.
Dwayne: Ok last question and it’s a doozey!!! There is a three way street fight between the Dropkick Murphys, The Real McKenzies and Flogging Molly who wins?
Scruffy: Well hands down it would be US!!!! There are some good scrappers in the Real Mckenzies! Those dudes are really close friend of mine. Matt McNasty is actually a real good friend. There a little crazy so between us and them it would be a brawl. But Flogging Molly, I love em to death, but we would trounce them. There would be no chance for them to stand up at the end of the night.