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Who hears The Pants?

Ted AlvarezVail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily
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The Town Pants: Its a name that gets attention. And while you might guess it’s an extravagant clothier or a left-field art collective, The Town Pants are actually a Celtic rock band from Vancouver. Theyve dubbed their sound West-Coast Celtic, as it weaves everything from acoustic pop, Americana, Australian and even Mexican influences into traditional Irish drinking songs. Tin whistle, mandolin, musical saw player and vocalist Aaron Chapman gives us some Town Pants wisdom and insight before their Bud Light Hot Summer Nights performance today at 6:30 in the Ford Amphitheater. (As told to Ted Alvarez)

There are a lot of avid hikers in the band. Between Duane (Keogh, guitarist and vocalist) and Virginia (Schwartz, fiddle) weve got a lot of hiking folks. Im usually too hung over to attempt a task like that. They do it for me.

We grew up playing rock and roll, thrash, whatever, but we heard Celtic music as kids, mostly from our parents and grandparents. We are all sort of an amalgamation of our influences.

Ive never been to Ireland, so Id feel silly writing about the streets of Dublin or Glasgow, so we write about places where were from around Vancouver.

I listen to the Clash. Punk and Irish music have the same honesty and immediacy, at least when its played well. The best punk I played in my teens had the same honesty and passion to it. It has the same raw energy, and you cant fake that.

The Town Pants we hear a lot about the name. It was the name of a horse that the brothers (Dave and Duane Keogh) bet on in Ireland. They bet on it as a joke, but it came in to win. It kind of got chosen because we wanted a name that didnt suggest something so Irish-y, like The Boys on the Docks or something. It frees us up to experiment one song even has a Mexican twist, and on another well add a digeridoo. People dont necessarily know what theyre going to get when they look at our name on the bill. They might say, are these garment makers or something? Its a surreal name that we can use to incorporate whatever we want into what were doing.

My father was from Scotland, but I couldnt stand (Celtic music) as a kid I thought it was hokey and silly. Later, when I heard it in my teens, I appreciated it for what it was worth. But at the time, I remember having to endure listening to my dads bagpipe records.

I know for myself and for the brothers, we had lots of songs sung around the table at night and lots of instruments passed around. I dont know if its so prevalent in America as it is in Canada. Its funny, because when we come through the states, people ask, where did you learn how to do this? Maybe because this music isnt so readily available here its tougher to come across. Sometimes (Celtic) music would be seen even on television in Canada. But here, its Britney Spears and hip-hop.

It takes a certain type of person to find Celtic music, but they get really into it. Whats great especially is that all ages and kinds get into it. At our shows, youll see a granddad dancing next to a punk with a mohawk. Its a great time.

I think our parents are a bit befuddled by it. They sort of wish that youd go off and be a doctor or accountant or something safe that keeps you home. We travel and dont get to see them as much they ask, when are you going to settle down? But its fun for us. We see lots of places we normally wouldnt get to go. They do like our music, though theyre certainly strong proponents. But its like that saying, mamas, dont let your babies grow up to be cowboys dont let them grow up to be musicians.

Weve got a new live album, called Coming Home, that we recorded over one show in Vancouver in May. It wasnt our intention, but its pretty strong offering of what weve been up to in the last half-dozen years.

Live, anything goes. I think were not too beholden to traditions; theres a bit of a reverence with Celtic music, a you must play this way. Were not the guys with Ponytails singing songs about Saskatchewan sunsets. Since we all come from rock bands, we all play with that rock n roll spirit.

With the crowd excited and a couple of Irish whiskies in em, you can really hear it in the 17 (live) songs. The last couple songs were unusable, because everyone wanted to buy us a couple rounds. But the very last one is on there, because we really had the crowd going wild with us.

Overwhelmingly, people can sense an honesty of approach and an original idea, especially in this day of Pro Tools and prepackaged pop stars. Even if theyre not fans of Celtic music, they walk away liking what we did because theres an honest energy and a sense of humor that pervades what we do.Arts & Entertainment writer Ted Alvarez can be reached at 748-2939 or talvarez@vaildaily.com.


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