Kilt clad punk rockers expose themselves

Who could forget the many great Scottish exports: golf, bagpipes and delicious haggis. Well, proud Scots and Scotland aficionados, you can now add…

Who could forget the many great Scottish exports: golf, bagpipes and delicious haggis.

Well, proud Scots and Scotland aficionados, you can now add punk rock to the list.

All of those looking for proof need only have a wee listen to Vancouver punk group the Real McKenzies.

Legend has it that the band started after lead singer Paul McKenzie heard an Andy Stewart album being played in one room of his home and a Sex Pistols album blaring out of another.

The resulting music is what might have happened if you gave William Wallace a guitar and taught him how to play power chords.

The group added a set of bagpipes, dug their old kilts out of the closet and became the Real McKenzies in 1994.

The band prides itself on its ability to have a good time while it entertains.

“I can hold my own with the McKenzies,” said guitarist Dave Gregg, who joined the septet in 2005.

“My surname is Gregg, which is a variation of MacGregor, so I’m genetically predisposed to be able to drink a lot of whiskey and still conduct myself like an adult.”

“In fact, I think I’ll have a drink now — hold on a second.”

Over the phone there was a brief thud as the receiver was set down, shortly followed by the gurgling sound of Gregg swilling scotch.

“That’s not to say that a teetotaler couldn’t join the band,” added Gregg after a sigh of satisfaction.

“It just so happens that we all enjoy a wee dram of whiskey from time to time.”

Despite his Scottish heritage, Gregg still had to undergo a “terrible initiation.”

“They punch you in the arm repeatedly until you develop a bruise loosely in the shape of Scotland,” he said.

“I didn’t mind, I knew it was part of the initiation thing.

“But it kind of made some of the other passengers uncomfortable.”

McKenzie chose to wait until a 12-hour Air Canada flight to Japan to conduct the initiation rites.

“I swear if we had been over dried land they would have landed and kicked us off.”

The McKenzies’ Scottish origin doesn’t colour their raucous behaviour alone.

During all of their shows the McKenzies display their heritage by rocking out in traditional kilts.

Each member wears his own tartan — the plaid pattern that identifies each Celtic family.

Gregg wears the MacGregor hunting tartan.

“But it’s kinda dark, so I’ve just ordered another one because I wanted something a little on the lighter side.”

Originally hailing from Saskatchewan, Gregg has ordered up a Saskatchewan tartan kilt for himself.

Each of the provinces and territories of Canada have their own registered tartan.

Unfortunately, none of the McKenzies will be wearing the Yukon’s light blue with green, dark blue, magenta, yellow and white stripes.

This is both because none of the members hail from the Yukon highlands and the kilts are expensive.

“It’s a serious investment. This is my second kilt and I had to think about it and budget for it.”

Concert goers be warned, when the kilts start flying you might see more than you bargained for.

“Of course, we don’t underwear. That’s grounds for being thrown out of the band,” said Gregg.

“Even if you put a silk liner in there — to prevent chafing — that’s against the rules too.”

November in the Yukon will be the group’s first cold-weather experience with the kilts.

But hey, Scots wore the things into combat in the north of Scotland and it gets pretty cold up there.

The band has played gigs in their ancestral land and toured across the rest of Europe, from Lisbon to Moscow.

The Real McKenzies are currently getting together in Vancouver to start working on a new album.

“So when we get up to Whitehorse, hopefully we’re going to be playing some stuff that nobody has heard,” said Gregg.

“We’ll have just been in the studio for three weeks, so we’ll definitely try to break in a few new tunes.”

On its three previous albums — Loch’d & Loaded, Oot & Aboot, and 10,000 Shots — the McKenzies mix a number of traditional Scottish tunes with its own originals.

The new album will be no different.

“There’s a lot of really great traditional stuff out there,” said Gregg.

“There are some real tear jerkers — rip your heart out tales about the Scottish experience.”

The band was looking forward to its upcoming trip to Whitehorse, said Gregg.

“I’ve been there before, but some of the band members are from Phoenix, Arizona, and San Francisco so it remains to be seen if they can handle the sub-Arctic temperatures.

“And in kilts no less.”

The Real McKenzies will be playing two shows at Coasters on Friday and Saturday night.

Tickets are $15 in advance, but you can save $5 if you wear your kilt to the event.

Haggis will be served at the door by Tundra Punks

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