Blowin’ sunshine up yer arse!
The Dropkick Murphy's new bagpiper Scruffy Wallace of Calgary brings the boys back home
Rising through the ranks of fandom to ascend the stage with the band that he has long admired was the ultimate dream come true for this hairy-stemmed Calgarian. Now he has the pleasure of showing off his talents and (what’s under) his tartan to the city he knows so well.
"We’ve been touring like crazy," says Scruffy of the Murphys’ hectic schedule. "But even if I did complain – nobody would listen. We recently played in Scandinavia, and it was just awesome. They have the most beautiful women over there. They seem to breed them, and metal bands, by the dozen..."
"I’m good friends with Jay Bentley, the bassist for Bad Religion, and we got the chance to play alongside them while we were in Europe. I’ve always been a fan of their music – they are the godfathers of punk. Jay and I spent some time hanging out and decided it would be great to do a tour in the fall. I didn’t even ask anyone, we just booked it!"
Of course, if he did bother to ask, no one would listen. But put him onstage in a kilt and hand him the bag and people will listen, especially when his unique instrument is paired with the irreverent yet nostalgic, Celtic pride-centred rock of the Dropkick Murphys. Combining elements of the old with the new they create a distinctive, ear-catching sound that is at once as stimulating and soothing as a warm pint of Guinness at your local pub. And that’s just where you’ll find ol’ Scruff – polishing the bar with his elbows at The Ship and Anchor or The Castle and waiting for you to drop in and buy him another round.
"We’ve always loved playing in Calgary, it’s never run-of-the-mill. We’re continually changing up our set-list to keep things interesting and fresh. We haven’t had much studio time but we have added covers of The Who’s ‘Bob O’Reilly’ and Minor Threat’s ‘Minor Threat,’ which is fun."
Scruffy continues. "We pack an average of 28 or 29 songs per set – that’s an hour-and-a-half, with me playing on about 60 per cent of the numbers, but people are always complaining that we didn’t play for long enough, or didn’t get round to their favourite tune. I’m out of breath after playing four or five songs in a row, maybe it’s the oxygen deprivation talking, but I think that’s a lot, especially when we’re all so sweat-soaked and look like we’ve showered in our clothes."
DROPKICK MURPHYS perform Thursday, September 28, 2006
by Christine Leonard
Originally published September 2006 in FastForward Magazine.