Sunday, September 29, 2013

An interview with Mark Lind of the Ducky Boys! Boston punk rock and roll since 1995...

I recently had the unique opportunity to interview the front man from one of the longest standing street rock and roll bands, Mark Lind from the Ducky Boys.  The Ducky Boys have been a prominent staple in the Boston punk rock scene since 1995 and have been extremely influential and friendly to many up coming bands today.  With several full length albums, splits, and 7'' records combined, the band remains strong through their career.  Tonight I present you, Mark Lind of the Ducky Boys.  Enjoy!

Q: The Ducky Boys happen to be the longest standing punk band in Boston (longer than Dropkick Murphys which is strange to think about!).  Why don’t you tell us who you are and give us a brief history of the band? 
A: Wow. That’s actually a really interesting point that I’ve never considered. Mung and The Unseen were around before us. I’m not sure how active those bands are these days though. Maybe they only do reunion shows now; I’m not sure. The Ducky Boys have basically existed in three separate installments. We find that it makes sense to go away for a while now and then so people eventually grow to miss you. The first leg of the band went from 1995 to 1999. We did two albums in that time along with three split 7”s and a live EP. We played sporadically over the next couple of years but the second full on leg of the band went from 2003 – 2006. Again we played sporadically over the next few years but eventually let it go dormant again by 2009. Then we picked it back up in 2011 to current. Each of these stints have produced two albums plus some additional odd n’ ends.

Q: As a band, you guys have adapted musically and lyrically over the years.  From your first release, “No Gettin’ Out” and to the latest, “Dead End Streets”, what are some of the milestones or experiences that you went through and met that made you guys what you are at today?  You guys have had several different lineup changes, even though you and Jason Messina have been the core of the group. Talk about that as well!
A: This is a long one to answer. We’ve adapted and developed mostly because we’ve grown up. There are a few events that transpired to get us to where we are today. First, we toured off and on for a couple of years. That sort of thing isn’t for me. I’m a homebody. You need to adapt to changes and if you aren’t going to tour then you gotta step up the music so that word of mouth exposure matches or exceeds the exposure you would get from touring. I spent a LOT of time listening to new bands outside of the punk world and paying attention to how they structured their songs. Putting a lot of time in with the Beatles will make anyone step up their game. I really believe you gotta listen to things beyond your reach if you ever want to improve. It does a punk band no good to listen exclusively to punk bands; they will never surpass their influences and that impedes a band’s ability to grow. You gotta listen to the best and hope to land somewhere further than you are now.
Another development came in the form of a one sentence comment from James Lynch. He was playing guitar with us at the time and he just said “you gotta stop singing with the chord changes.” We didn’t know how to write songs or develop songs. That simple fact may have occurred to another band but it didn’t occur to us. But those words triggered a lot of thought and introspection that led us to new pastures.
Playing with Sinners & Saints introduced me to new ideas. Dustin played a big role in helping both me and my brother learn how to edit ourselves, trim the fat and develop a song. Working with Dirty Water was a huge learning experience. We edited the hell out of our songs and we learned even more from working with Andrew and John. Then we felt it was time to circle back to Ducky Boys and pick it back up. Bringing Douglas on board in 2003 was a major milestone. His talents exceed what we could ever hope for and we’ve been able to make 4 records with him. Finally, adding Rich to the band took it up yet another level and completed the band. All of these factors together as a narrative explain how and why things happened the way they did for us.
The last thing to consider is the idea of friendly competition. I’m Rob Lind’s brother and I need to try and keep up. Believe it or not, he does the same thing back to me. We also came up with great bands. Today the bands seem to have unfriendly competition. When Jay and Doug and I were kids we watched our peers like Dropkick Murphys, Pinkerton Thugs and The Trouble and we loved those bands. We were fans of them. And they made us want to be a better band. We’ve kept that mentality in some ways. Those were the days when having a pool of good bands bred more good bands. It doesn’t feel the same way anymore but it feels like it’s coming back in bands like The Welch Boys, Bryan McPherson and others.
Q: What major changes in the Boston scene did you see when the Rat closed, then the early-mid 2000s, and then today?  It’s pretty clear things have gone up and down as they always do though it seems like there is about to be another big push with the Boston punk scene and in particular, the Oi! scene.  What would you like to see happen?   Do you see any resemblance from what it was back then compared to now?
A: The first major changes were obvious. The people changed. The 96-era Rat scene was truly about community. I remember a show we did at the Middle East in January 1998. We got 620 people paid at the door. The Casualties canceled so we dropped the admission price and asked The Trouble to play since they were all at the show. The other scheduled bands were us, The Unseen and Pinkerton Thugs. You can do the math on that. A lot of money came in that day. The four bands split the money evenly after dropping the cost which was the right thing to do for the kids. None of us saw ourselves as “headliner” or opener. It was a community. Then Dropkick Murphys blew up. For good reason of course. But people started relocating here to start bands or they transplanted their bands here so they could call themselves Boston Punk. Bands were forming and taking promo pictures before they wrote their first songs. It turned into a parody of itself. It was a lot like what you read about of the LA hair metal scene in the 80’s. There have always been great and honest bands here but they were few and far between. All these people were trying to chase the success of Dropkick Murphys. The problem is that you can’t manufacture that sort of thing. Dropkick Murphys are who they are because of hard work, good music and a lot of luck and good timing. You can no more copy that than Candlebox or Bush could copy Nirvana.
Now that many have tried and failed it seems like people have either been humbled a bit or the ones that were chasing the dollar have dropped out and the people remaining are playing music because they want to play music and not because they have an expectation. My old pal, Mark Noah, from the Anti-Heros once told me that this form of music peaks and rallies every 10 – 15 years or so. If that’s the case then we may be due for it again. The Midway is serving as a nice, albeit smaller, home base similar to the Rat. The kids and supporters haven’t changed. But they can sense sincerity even if they don’t realize it. If they keep doing what they’re doing and the bands continue to move toward genuine motivations then it has the potential to peak again.
Q: What were some of the first bands you saw when you were younger that influenced you?  Did seeing your brother play in Blood for Blood make an impact on yourself to play? 

A: The Bruisers, Only Living Witness and Tree all come to mind. Seeing my brother form his own band and get on bills with bands like Life of Agony inspired me to start my own band but, believe it or not, we had established ourselves in the punk scene before they gained steam in the hardcore scene so they didn’t necessarily influence us per se. Trying to keep up with Rob over the years is another story though. 
Q: What tours that you played on stand out to you the most?  I recently saw some photos from the Dropkick Murphys, Ducky Boys, and Blood For Blood tour in 2004.  What experience was it like going on tour with two other major Boston bands?
A: It was awesome. Blood for Blood were getting really popular then. Keep in mind that their legend has grown exponentially in their absence. They got a reaction back then but nothing like they would get now. Dropkick Murphys are as popular all over the world as they are here. Seeing 3000 people in Los Angeles singing along to songs about Boston is pretty awesome to see. We’ve played with pretty much every band we’ve ever wanted to play with at this point. I could rattle off a list of them but it’s pretty much everyone except Bouncing Souls and Against Me. I’d like to cross them off the list one day.
Q: Within the last  year and half - two years, the Ducky Boys released “Chasing The Ghost” (2012), “Chemicals EP” (2012), and the most recent, “Dead End Streets” (2013).  That was a lot of music for a band to put out in that time frame.  The band did an amazing job without making it sound similar and giving each release a flavor of its own but without losing that signature sound.  Would you say that this has been the busiest you guys have been in the bands career? 
A: Hmmm…. This is the way we’ve always done it. Short spans of time with a pair of albums in each shot. This was probably the most productive only because we still have 10 songs in the can that haven’t been released yet. So really we’ve done three full albums of material in a short period of time. This time around we are old enough to know that it might be the last go round for us. So we’ve packed a lot into it. We went more for songs than for shows. As a band, it’s our job to make songs. I’m not a happy listener of bands that take too long to make albums. It isn’t that hard.  Thanks for the kind words, by the way.
Q: Like most musicians, you often write about the things that go on in present time in your life, or that you have been through.  The album “Chasing the Ghost” seemed to be a heavy one considering some of the song topics and what you were going through.  If you could pick a few songs off that record, and “Dead End Streets” that are most important to you, which ones would they be and why?
A: That’s a good question. They all meant something at the time or else I wouldn’t have bothered to capture the moment and the thought on a tape recorder. And then show the song to the band, get them to back it and then take it to a recording studio. Songs are like passing moments though. Once you have it down then the moment is gone and you’re on to the next thought. I really enjoy all the songs that Douglas wrote and sang because I can listen to them objectively. It’s not so easy to do that with you own material. And we’re not a touring band so I have no idea which songs are resonating with people at home that listen to the albums. I guess a few standout ones for me would be “Won’t You Come Home?”, “I Guess I’m Broken”, “Feeling Alive”, “Pretty Bad Year”, “Nothing About You”, “In the Scars” and “Damaged Goods”. I’d probably listen to those songs most if another band put them out. Douglas sees the song “Dead End Streets” as sort of being the mission statement of the band and its history. If that’s true then that song would probably be picked too.
Q: What bands today that are coming out that you currently enjoy?  Which bands that no longer play do you wish would come back (other than Guns N’ Roses)? 
A: First and foremost would be R.E.M.  I love that band. They went out on their own terms and I respect that but I feel like they could have done another 5 albums and I would have still enjoyed them. Reunion shows really don’t do anything for me if there isn’t new music or the prospect of future new music. I’d like to hear new music from The Loved Ones, Bombshell Rocks, The Anti-Heros, Oxymoron, The Explosion, The Unseen, Sixer and Avail. I’d also like Rancid to return to the prolific pace they maintained between 1993 – 1995 where they were putting out one album per year plus 7”s and b-sides. Even the wait between 1998’s “Life Won’t Wait” and Rancid 2000 was short. I’m not psyched on this 5 year gap between albums especially when the guys in the band are releasing new music under other names. They clearly still have gas in the tank. Give it to us, guys.
As for current bands, there really aren’t a lot. I’m referring to popular bands. Many bands don’t get time to develop and have a multi-album career anymore where you can watch them grow or develop or even take interesting turns. I like Taking Back Sunday and Alkaline Trio for being bands that have pulled that feat off. On the Boston front I really like Bryan McPherson, Stray Bullets, Energy, The Welch Boys and about a dozen more bands. There’s some interesting stuff happening locally right now.
Q: Another big project of yours and Doug Sullivan’s was the upbringing of State Line Records.  What is your main goal with that label?  Who have you signed, and put music out for?  What sets this label a part from other punk rock labels? 
A: It’s on hold right now because I put a lot of money into Ramallah and Sinners & Saints which we are trying to sell to another label for distribution. There are about $9000 tied up in that. I couldn’t even afford to repress an existing release today if I needed to. Once that deal goes through and I recoup on that loan then the label will probably re-activate. We’ll probably finish the leftover Ducky Boys’ songs in 2014 and put that out. The Warning Shots have some recording plans that are a bit different from the norm. And we hope to do a sequel to the first Dirty Water EP. Like I said, I’m not for reunions if there isn’t the prospect of new music.
Q: Lastly, what is your biggest accomplishment so far in your musical career? 
A: Everything has been a big accomplishment. We aspired to maybe play the Rat once where we saw the Bruisers and Blood for Blood play. We’re going on 20 years later and we’re still around. We’re still pulling people into our shows. We’re still getting in front of new audiences. The fact that there is a “musical career” to speak of blows my mind every day. We’ve indulged every whim we’ve ever had and, even more surprisingly, all of them have been met with a warm reaction. To me that is both absurd and completely unbelievable. I guess if there was a moment of accomplishment that I am most proud of then it is the fact that we got to play with Rancid. Those guys treat us like we’re just another band and another bunch of guys but they’re the band that got us started. They are to us what the Clash and the Ramones were to them. And then we’ve got to play with them three times so far. Those were three of the best nights of my life. Music is my life; I’m a music fan before anything else and getting to share the stage with Rancid just knocked my socks off.

Ducky Boys Offical Website
Ducky Boys Facebook Page


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