Pouzza7

Pouzza Fest 7: Real McKenzies and Worst Days Down

Paul McKenzie and Ben Sir

Pouzza Fest
By on April 26, 2017 at Email

 

 

For the seventh year in a row, downtown Montreal is preparing to be overtaken by punks from all over the world as Pouzza Fest rolls into town. With over 150 bands from Lagwagon and The Flatliners  to The Bombpops, Iron Chic, and The Homeless Gospel Choir alongside Rvivr and Red City Radio – there’s a little bit of something for everyone there.

Leading up to the festivities on May 19th, we will be releasing a series of interviews with bands playing the festival. Each band will be tackling ten questions about the festival, giving advice to new attendees, retelling their favourite stories and generally just getting excited for the three day extravaganza!!

We kick off the series featuring interviews with Paul McKenzie of The Real McKenzies and Ben Sir of Worst Days Down.

Without further ado, we bass the baton over to Paul McKenzie to lead the way.


The Real McKenzies – Paul McKenzie

Real McKenziesOver the past couple years, there’s been a marked increase in festivals – especially punk related festivals. You have The Fest, Goezrock, Death to False Hope Fest, Punk Island, Riot Fest and, of course, Pouzza Fest among many others. Why the sudden rise in festivals?

Perhaps it is because young and old people alike are becoming more interested in live music instead of computer based techno shit. Perhaps. 

What makes Pouzza stand out?

Potatoes.Gravey.Curds.Cheese.Dough.

If I had that I too would stand out.

What are some of your favourite festival memories, either going or performing? Pouzza or any other festival. 

Both and none. Lying face down drunk in the horse shit of many many festivals. My best memories of the best festivals are the ones I have yet to remember.

What are the elements that must combine to create the perfect festival memory? 

The Real McKenzies 25th Anniversary album Two Devils Will Talk and the 6x mystery of what is under the Real McKenzies kilts. Is it Pouzza or Pimmel? (That’s deutsch for dink.)

For the past couple years, Pouzza has added an outdoor stage. What does having an outdoor stage bring to a festival like this? Or do you prefer the real venues? 

Any stage is a real venue. Sometimes we perform without any stage and make our own venue. Rock n Roll is an attitude not a venue.

There are over 150 bands playing. Who’s on your MUST see list and why?

The Real McKenzies. Because we’re playing there. I’ll bring a mirror.

How do you make your band stand out in the schedule to try and pull a crowd to see you?

By lifting our kilts. Our gargantuan hard on’s will stand out on their own.

There’s also a lot of non-music related activities, family friendly mornings, stand up comedy lines ups, Jason Guy’s Smiley pineapple party, yoga, BBQs, even a baseball tournament this year. What does having those bring to a festival? Especially one with such a community like the punk scene? Will you be partaking in any of these non-show festivities? 

Of course all of them. Even though I’m pushing 70 years old, we Real McKenzies are very active and supportive, even though we might all be very drunk and close to death.

Pouzza is, of course, Poutine Pizza. Have you had it before? If so, what are your thoughts and how does it compare to other unhealthy dietary delicacies?? 

We love it, but of course at our age we need our poo a little older than that.

Do you have any advice for someone attending Pouzza Fest? Survival tips for a three day, non-stop punk rock onslaught?

Prepare to see the best rock n roll band you’ll ever see in your life, The Real McKenzies, With Searing guitar, spot on drums, soaring bag pipes, my bastard son and the best singer in the world, me, Paul McKenzie.

If you see someone passed out, check their pulse, roll them on their side and steal their wallet….so you can track down their family and set up a date with their mum! 

On behalf of myself and The Real McKenzies we extend a glorious open invitation to one and all to have a most excellent time. And don’t forget to bring your mum! And buy our new record Two Devils Will Talk. We can shamelessly promote ourselves too you know? 


Worst Days Down – Ben Sir

Worst Days DownNow moving west from the rainy gray skies of Vancouver to the cold blue ones of Edmonton, we now catch up with Ben Sir of Worst Days Down to see his take on the festival circuit and the awesomeness of Pouzza Fest as they prep to play the festival for the first time.

Over the past couple years, there’s been a marked increase in festivals – especially punk related festivals. You have The Fest, Goezrock, Death to False Hope Fest, Punk Island, Riot Fest and, of course, Pouzza Fest among many others. Why the sudden rise in festivals? 

 Thanks for taking the time to speak with me.  That’s a good question and likely out of my league to speculate and answer, but I shall try.  The optimist in me thinks that people are inspired by other creativity. I think it’s very ingrained in the punk rock mentality to think ‘we can do this ourselves,’ after experiencing something special in places like Gainesville, Montreal, or Belgium. That rules, and certainly a feeling I know well.  Growing up, one of the most attractive elements of punk rock was participating, and making your own fun, particularly in a town that’s covered in snow half the year.

So I’d like to think all these festivals are well intentioned in that way, and believe them to be. That said, there’s also the skeptic in me, and sometimes you know quite quickly if it’s just about the money or notoriety.  That’s not a dig against those that do this professionally. People absolutely should be rewarded for curetting and offering these opportunities to people. It’s just lame when on small or big levels you see people try and rip that authenticity off. I’m a firm believer that good intentions executed well is the best business model.  People can sense authenticity, and Pouzza has it in spades.

What makes Pouzza stand out? 

As simple as it is, I think the city itself.  Montreal is such a cultural hub, and Quebec so unique within North America.  I love going to Gainesville, but part if it’s charm is that it’s a small college town.  Montreal is a city of (rightfully so) international acclaim with its own culture. Even within Canada it has such a different feeling and aesthetic, much more European with less importance placed on ‘live to work’ as opposed to ‘work to live.’ I’ve had some very late nights in Montreal, some debaucherous, some not, and I look forward to more this year.

What are some of your favourite festival memories, either going or performing? Pouzza or any other festival. 

My favorite Pouzza memories are honestly of just reconnecting with friends. The first year of Pouzza I attended, not played, to visit one of my best friends who was going to school there at the time. Another close friend who lived in Vancouver also flew in.  My highlight was enjoying their company,  talking on his balcony, with the backdrop of punk rock having brought us together again, which made us friends to begin with.  My favorite fest memory was from my first time attending and running between venues, trying to catch as many bands as possible. Watching the first half of Dead To Me’s set, kicking out the backdoor and sprinting two blocks to catch the second half of The Flatliners, right as they kicked into July!August!Reno!   Felt like being 15 again.  Obenuse Fest in Zurich was pretty special for me as well. Piece of advice though, don’t offer to buy rounds of drinks in Switzerland.

What are the elements that must combine to create the perfect festival memory? 

Great question.  I suppose that moment when you forget yourself, how you are perceived, or your problems. Sounds cheesy, but I feel like that’s what we all pursue at festivals, whether it be laughing uncontrollably at something dumb your friend said, or scaling amps to stage dive singing along to one of your favorite songs that still packs a punch. I may have done that at Fest a few years back during Hot Water Music. I owe an apology to whichever volunteer tried to stop me. I said some not so friendly things, but there was no preventing me doing that. 

I suppose it’s the combination of people, settings and details that you recall. Watching people play acoustically in a parking lot amidst swampy Florida heat, a toothless cab driver, a hare krishna named Norm. Just the random anecdotal cocktail that travelling provides.

For the past couple years, Pouzza has added an outdoor stage. What does having an outdoor stage bring to a festival like this? Or do you prefer the real venues? 

I like all of the above, and think it really adds to the festival, providing a diversity of settings to enjoy music. One moment you can stage dive in a sweaty, packed club, or you can sit on the grass in the sun, enjoying a drink and some music.  It’s going to be hard to leave the outdoor stage on Saturday when Iron Chic, Great Apes, The Flats and many others are playing.

There are over 150 bands playing. Who’s on your MUST see list and why? 

There’s three goals for the festival. To support friends bands, catch some must sees, and check out a few bands every day that I’ve never heard of.  Iron Chic because they are the best new band I’ve heard in the last five years, The Flatliners because they’re the best people, Daggermouth because it has been so long, Clipwing, Brian Wahlstrom, Jon Creeden, The Penske File, Old Wives because they’re good friends, and Typesetter, Great Apes, Snacks and many others to enjoy new bands for the first time.

How do you make your band stand out in the schedule to try and pull a crowd to see you? 

That’s definitely the question and challenge as a small band. How to stand out when there’s so many other great, well known bands playing.  I think a big thing for smaller bands is working hard and being involved in your local communities. Helping out bands when they come through your part of the world, and they in turn reciprocate the favour. I’ve always been bad at that, worrying that people may interpret kindness as being self serving, but I realize that’s largely in my head. I think working hard and being nice along the way will always be the most sure fire way to growth and success.

There’s also a lot of non-music related activities, family friendly mornings, stand up comedy lines ups, Jason Guy’s Smiley pineapple party, yoga, BBQs, even a baseball tournament this year. What does having those bring to a festival? Especially one with such a community like the punk scene? Will you be partaking in any of these non-show festivities? 

Wait, baseball? Oh man, I am into that. Last time I was at Pouzza I went for a few runs. It’s a great way on tour to see more of a city, but also not feel like curling up and dying.  I’m awful at yoga, but have ambitions of partaking. I will certainly be a Jason’s pineapple party, because I’ve heard so much about them. I love all the extra activities, the acoustic barbeques etc. That culminates in a diverse experience that welcomes extra interests beyond just punk rock. There’s a lot of different levels for us all to connect on, so I look forward to participating as much as possible.

Pouzza is, of course, Poutine Pizza. Have you had it before? If so, what are your thoughts and how does it compare to other unhealthy dietary delicacies?? 

This will by my third pouzza, and I can proudly say I have not had it.   Maybe that’s heresy, but I feel I do enough damage to my body at Pouzza, that I don’t need to add that to the tally. I’m just not much of a food person in general, so maybe I am missing out on some of the Montreal experience. 

Do you have any advice for someone attending Pouzza Fest? Survival tips for a three day, non-stop punk rock onslaught?

Water, water, water.  I know that’s lame, but hear me out. If the goal is to have as much fun, see as many bands and drink a thousand beers a night, all will be more attainable if you force (seriously, force) yourself to drink more water. You can sleep less and not hate your existence (as much) when you wake up. Other than that, say hi to strangers in line for the show or a drink. It’s amazing the friends you can make that way, and we are all there for the same reason.  Have a great Pouzza everyone!


Buy tickets to Pouzza Fest here.