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Ducky Boys | Three Chords and the Truth | interview | Mark Lind | punk | Lollipop

The Ducky Boys

Three Chords and the Truth (Thorp)
An interview with bassist/vocalist Mark Lind
By Ari M. Joffe

As long as people have been struggling, loving, dying, and crying, certain individuals have sought to hold up a mirror and, either through literature, art, or song, explore the ups and downs of the human condition. For proletariats, the sound of their failures, accomplishments, frustrations, and dreams has always been rock 'n' roll. Regardless of what it was called - folk, country, blues, punk - it's always really been rock 'n' roll. Music by the people, of the people, and for the people. Populist rave-ups about white lightnin' and gambling, and smoking trains that'd take you somewhere where maybe your life (and in some cases, skin) wouldn't seem so dark.

To that long list of artists who've sung for the underdogs - from Leadbelly to Waylon Jennings to Mike Ness - add The Ducky Boys, an utterly unpretentious punk rock trio from Boston who've just released their appropriately-titled third album, Three Chords and the Truth.

Your music's "punk rock," right? But to me, it seems to have a much more uplifting, life-affirming vibe than a lot of the punk stuff I'm used to hearing. It seems less nihilistic, and more real about the ups and downs of ordinary folks' lives. It seems real populist, kind of like the best aspects of country music, especially on tunes like "Break Me," "Hang On," and "Untitled."
The best way I can describe what we're doing is playing rock music with a punk rock mentality. We listen to all types of music, especially now that we're older, but we still attack it like a punk band. We're also not very gifted technical musicians, so we have limitations on what we can do. I'm not too familiar with country outside of Lucero, Johnny Cash, and Whiskeytown, but I think country music is known for appealing to the everyman and addressing issues of life. That's pretty much what we go for. Our early music was all about the town we're from, which is Charlestown, MA. It's an area of Boston that until recently was predominantly Irish-Catholic. It's kinda like Good Will Hunting-type people there. Our music is about our lives, so Charlestown and Boston have a big impact on our music in that sense. The town's a weird mix of poor and wealthy people. You have city projects located directly across the street from upscale condos that cost a million dollars apiece, so it really makes you think a lot.

How'd you guys meet? How long have you been playing together?
Jay (Messina, drums) and I started the band. We played a lot of cover songs together for fun, and one day we decided we wanted to play original songs, whether they were good or not, just for us. We looked for a guitar player for a while and finally settled on a guy named Mike who played on the first two CDs. Eventually, things kinda took off. We weren't making money or getting chased around like Beatlemania or anything, but there was a demand for our band. It got a little out of hand from what we'd intended, so things sorta fell apart. When Jay and I decided to give it another go, we started working with Douglas (Sullivan, guitar) and things just really clicked like we'd always wanted them to. So we made an inspired record.

Were the tunes 100% written before you went into the studio? Had you played them live?
All of the songs were written before we went into the studio, but there were a couple of parts that got a lot cooler when we were in the studio. A band like us doesn't have the luxury of extra time to screw around and write in the studio. We'd been playing about four of the songs live before recording, and we had demos of almost half of the songs, which helped going in to make the record. We could just listen to the demos and decide what needed to be cut, elaborated on, or sped up. I also have a home studio, a 10-track or something, so I was able to make basic reference versions of the other songs for the guys to hear. The difference between this recording and previous recordings was that we actually thought about what we were doing. In the past, we've made two records that were sorta half-baked. The first one I see as more of a demo than anything. We'd been picked up by a label before we even started playing shows, so we basically just made recordings of everything we had at the time. We hadn't started to find our sound yet. The second CD was made with just a two-week break before recording, so we basically had to get everything worked out as a band in two weeks. This time around, we had six years between records, so there was plenty of time to write and reconsider songs. We took May and June to work out the songs, then spent the summer recording.

There are lots of great vocal harmonies on the record. Do you guys listen to any Clancey Brothers, Louvin Brothers, or Motown: Older stuff with all those great harmonies?
I'm not really a fan of traditional Irish music, but Douglas is. He hits the harmonies. From a songwriting point of view, I see it as going for more of an oldies vibe. I think the mix we each bring to the table makes it sorta diluted, but in a cool way.

Any thoughts on the re-election of G.W. Bush or the effect this will have on the next four years of rock 'n' roll?
I wear one of those bracelets that says "I did not vote 4 Bush" from or something like that. I absolutely despise the man and everything he stands for. Sadly, I think rock 'n' roll's days of being able to rally the public are behind us. But, I think every person counts, so hopefully we can dig up some sort of change.

What does the immediate future hold?
We just started working on a new record last night. We're gonna work on that while playing weekends, and we hope to hit the road before the end of the year. I'm also playing shows with the Hudson Falcons and a great band called Far From Finished. And I'm sitting in for one more show with a band called Confront. I've never spent so much time learning other people's songs! (laughs)

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