Vocalist/guitarist Brendan Kelly (The Lawrence Arms) and vocalist/bassist Dan Andriano (Alkaline Trio) comprise half of the punk-rock super group The Falcon, with Dave Hause (The Loved Ones), and Neil Hennessy (The Lawrence Arms) rounding out the band. After a 10-year hiatus from their last album, the band is back with a big splash releasing their “Gather Up The Chaps” album, which was released this past March via Red Scare Industries. It’s a dark album that touches on powerful topics such as sex, drugs, rock and roll, and death.
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Sean Ritchie: Lets kick it off with somewhere local. Where are you from? What was it like growing up there?
Brendan Kelly: I’m from Chicago, but I was born in St. Louis. I moved to Chicago when I was a little kid. I grew up in Boystown, which is the first officially recognized Gay community in all of America. I grew up around a lot of different people in the middle of the city. It was really vibrant.
SR: That’s great to grow up around such diversity. What about Chicago’s music scene? I know it obviously has a rich history in that respect, but how did it influence your career?
BK: For one, Chicago is the best place for music in America, because everyone that goes on tour has to come to Chicago. It can be hit on a West Coast tour or an East Coast tour. Everybody comes to Chicago. There’s also like seven other major cities within five hours from here. On top of that, our local scene here is vibrant and awesome, especially when I was a kid some of the best punk-rock venues in all of America were here. I would go to The Fireside Bowl and other amazing venues growing up. I would see some big names and other local acts.
SR: I’ve yet to visit Chicago, but I’ve heard some amazing things, and you just confirmed it. Now, how does music and travel fit together for you?
BK: Well, I went on my first international tour when I was 16. I went to Canada, played shows up there and the dudes rode in a rag-top Jeep. It was the middle of winter. That was the first time I’d ever really traveled to play music, and it was the first time I’d ever traveled out of the country. I was 16 then, I’m 39 now, so I spent my entire life traveling and 99.9 percent of it has been related to music.
Music has taken me everywhere. To me, the two are so inexplicably linked that I don’t even know where to draw the line. When I travel now for leisure, I will often call my booking agent and ask him to book me a show while I’m there, because I do a lot of acoustic stuff, as well. I couldn’t even imagine going to a place that I wouldn’t normally be and not play a show.
SR: Wow, that’s sick! Definitely awesome to find what you love early on. Having played all over the world are there any cities that stick out in terms of crowd atmosphere or aura at the venue? Was that in line with that city’s nightlife?
BK: You know man, when I think of great cities to play in the US, Chicago comes up first honestly for the reasons I mentioned earlier. I love playing San Francisco. I love New York, Philadelphia — Denver is a wonderful city to play in. You can base it on population really. Internationally, I’ve always had a great time in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne, Australia. I love London and Berlin is always cool. There’s Amsterdam and Hamburg too. Just so many cool places to play where the vibe is so good.
Really the mind-blowing place to play is Japan, where everything is so different. Like to play in Osaka, when you finish a song and the crowd cheers, they’re dead silent right afterwards, because they’re so respectful. They want to hear what you have to say. Most people have never stood in a room with 1,500 people that were dead silent. I know I never had. It’s so off-pudding and unusual. Did I mention Vienna, Austria? There’s just so many!
SR: Hell yeah, respect! When you do have some downtime, and you can break off the stage a little bit, what kind of vacationer are you? Do you relax on a beach or are you looking to stay around the city life?
BK: I am really city bound when it comes down to it, but my wife is from Colorado and she’s a mountain girl. We usually compromise with say a small-beach town in Mexico. That’s a place where we tend to vacation a lot. We do a lot of vacationing around family. I’m an Italian citizen, my mom is an Italian citizen, so we like to vacation in Italy. We like to vacation in Colorado too. Then we like to do some hot spots like Panama City. We also like Bucerias, a town about an hour and a half north of Puerto Vallarta.
SR: Wow that sounds perfect! To tie it into The Falcon do you have any shows coming up? Any places that you’re excited to hit?
BK: This line up is going to be sick. We did an East Coast and Mid-West run. We’re looking to book a West Coast tour and hopefully get to Europe, because there are some festivals over there that I think would have us and we’d be excited to play. We’re looking forward to do it all. As weird as it is to say, for a band that’s been around for 10 years, this is a brand new thing. It’s just really exciting to just get out and play anywhere to be honest. The first show was in Boston, and it was like, “Hell yeah, The Falcon is playing in Boston!”
SR: That’s great! Is The Falcon, being a super group outside of all the member’s more well-known bands, more a labor of love? Is it more enjoyable, because it’s something extra?
BK: The Falcon is now, I would say, my main focus. Just because with the record we just put out these are dudes that I’ve known and worked with forever. Even though I know I’m more well known for Lawrence Arms, The Falcon is where I’m at right now. Will things change at some point? I guess so, but this isn’t a side project for me. I’m kind of all-in here. We’ve been busting it to make a record. I’m surrounded by good players and going on tour. The Falcon is something that is important to me. I tried the hardest I could to write the best record I could.
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Chris Remmers: To ease into it where you are from? How has it influenced you and your career over the years?
Dan Andriano: Well, I am from a town near Chicago called Carpentersville, Illinois. I guess being from the Mid-West it’s pretty easy to get to different places in the country. So, when I first started playing it was easy for us at a pretty young age. I was 16 when I first started touring. We could go to Detroit in four-five hours, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Minneapolis and Milwaukee, places like that. That quickly turned to jumping over the border into Canada, playing like London, Ontario, Toronto and things without a lot of hassle. We could do weekends and not miss too much school.
CR: Wow, that is amazing! Out of all the cities you’ve performed in, were there any that stood out in terms of crowd atmosphere? Was that also in line with the city’s nightlife?
DA: You know I have to give props to St. Louis, because that was one of the first places we really started going to regularly. We started selling out little clubs and people were going crazy. I can’t really say whether or not that’s in line with the normal St. Louis nightlife though. Chicago was always great, but that was our home base. So, getting out a few hours away from home, which at the time seemed pretty far away, and playing these pretty crazy gigs was cool — people were going off. That was interesting.
CR: Have you played a show in a destination that was so crazy, and then you went out after and it’s like, “Where did everybody go?”
DA: Well, it’s got everything to do with where the club is actually located. We played, especially earlier on, as many independent venues as we could. A lot of those were located out in the suburbs or in the middle of nowhere. So, you definitely could have a crazy show, but then as soon as it’s over people want to go somewhere else. Then, you could end up in somewhere like Nashville or Brooklyn, New York, and you go out with 50 places to go.
CR: When you go to a new destination what are some of the first things that you try and do when you get out there? Are you a foodie, or do you try and see the sights?
DA: Oh absolutely, I’m kind of busy on Yelp! I find out where I’m going to be and then I do a search from there. But, depending on how I’m feeling, I’ll either look for restaurants or sometimes I’ll look for a park and see what’s around there. When you’re in a bus for so long you do a lot of sitting around and waiting. I have to get some fresh air. I like to do stuff like that. Looking for restaurants is kind of a big one.
CR: I agree, anytime when we’re traveling and get to a new destination, the first thing I’m doing is looking up the first barbeque place – anything. I’m a foody myself.
DA: The whole reason me and most of my friends still do this, and the whole reason that we fell in love with this as a lifestyle was to travel. It was getting out seeing the country and seeing the world — meeting people. We did a lot of sleeping on floors and counting on people for help that you hardly know. Then trying to return those favors down the road. Those kind of things are what made me really appreciate this lifestyle, aside for me being in love with the music and realizing there’s a different scene out there.
Recently, I’ve been doing other things with different bands, different types of travel, where I’ve kind of gone back to that. I did a tour with Brendan a couple of years ago where we were just taking the train all across England and Europe playing acoustic shows. We stepped on stages, we slept on floors. It was awesome! It was kind of hard at this point. I’m older and have a kid. Doing that was difficult, but it also was really fun. People wanted to know how I could do that after all these years. It was nice and refreshing. It kind of reminded me why I do this. It reinvigorated my spirit to get out and tour.
CR: That’s just wonderful to hear! How would you say that music and travel fit together in your life?
DA: They go hand-in-hand. I equate certain records with certain places I’ve been. On certain trips I’ve taken I’ve listened to different music more and more. I remember the tour I was on when I started hanging out with my wife. I remember that tour more than any other tour I’ve ever done. For having done this for 20 years at this point, it’s a huge part of who I am, the travel with the music.
CR: So, even with being a 20-year traveling vet, are there three destinations you haven’t hit that you still have to?
DA: Yeah, it’s hard to narrow it to just three. I really want to go to Southeast Asia — Thailand and Singapore. Places like that. I’d like to go back to Japan, because I haven’t been in a long time. When I was there I wasn’t in a place to appreciate everything that was going on around me. I was sort of closed off. I kind of want to go back now and let the weirdness overtake.
CR: Is there a specific reason Southeast Asia interests you so much? Is the culture?
DA: The culture and it seems like a beautiful place. It’s a very old, very traditional place that I wouldn’t mind seeing more of. I’m very fortunate to have seen as much of the world as I have. I’d like to just see it all at some point.
CR: That’s the same for us here at SCP. Lastly, when’s the next big trip and what for?
DA: I am going to Belgium with The Falcon to play a festival called Groezrock. That’s a really fun, started out as a punk-rock, festival, and over the last 10 years or so it’s grown exponentially. It’s pretty huge now. The Falcon is flying to Europe for one show in Meerhout, Belgium. I’m excited to get back over there.
CR: Amazing! We’re looking to get over to Europe sometime end of this year, maybe next, to London. I’ve heard great things about London, but haven’t been yet.
DA: That’s probably Alkaline Trio’s best city to play in all the world — London and Chicago.
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For more on The Falcon‘s latest album “Gather Up the Chaps” find them on iTunes: