Interview: “Punk Rock 101” with Jason Messina of the Ducky Boys

“So are we gonna do this fucking interview or what?!” is not the way I’d normally ask a musician to sit for an interview, but The Ducky Boys‘ Jay Messina isn’t the average interviewee; I am lucky enough to also be able to call him a friend. And so we sat down, had a few bloody marys, and started talking about his 18+ years in the Boston music scene. Here’s what happened.

Although Messina started off with a Muppets drum set at age 4, he didn’t take it up seriously until high school (though he never had formal training). At that point, he was “drumming” with a makeshift set consisting of a kick pedal against a wall and paper “cymbals,” when he connected with Mark and Rob Lind, and began to play seriously. Since then, he has drummed for the Ducky Boys, Dirty Water, and toured Europe with Far From Finished.

How did you get exposed to punk rock?
Mark [Lind] and I used to drive around, and he made me a mix tape that he called Punk Rock 101, with songs by the Misfits, Sex Pistols, the Bruisers, Dead Kennedys, and Operation Ivy.

What drew you into the punk scene?
I loved the sound, and the fact that you can go to a show, drink beers, smoke butts, laugh and be crazy in the pit. I love the shared experience of people coming together in such a cool community.

How do you describe your drumming style?
[laughs.] Not very good?! I try to hit really hard, and to be powerful and loud. I use 2B sticks, which helps.

Who influenced your drumming style?
Steve Adler (Guns n’ Roses), Dave Grohl (Nirvana), and Lars Ulrich of Metallica.

Describe the evolution of the Ducky Boys’ style?
Dark Days had a huge Springsteen influence, then Three Chords and the Truth was straight-up punk. The War Back Home was mid-tempo rock, and Chasing the Ghost is such a varied mix of styles, from punk to rock to a country feel. Dirty Water [a side project with the Ducky Boys’ Mark Lind] is more of a poppier rock.

Which album is your favorite?
Every new album becomes my favorite, but for the longest time I’d say Three Chords, until we released Chasing the Ghost.

What was your best moment with the Ducky Boys?
In general, I just want to have fun, play good music, and meet new people. The shows we’ve played with Rancid, Dropkick Murphys, the Misfits, and the Mighty Mighty BossTones, make me feel like I can “die happy,” but I have just as much fun at smaller club shows.

Do you consider yourselves to be “representatives” of Boston?
There are only so many hometown songs you can do, but we are proud of where we’re from. Not all of our fans grew up in the Charlestown/Boston area, so we try to let them know that Boston isn’t just funny accents and clam chowder. We try to represent the scene.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Ducky Boys recently raised over $15,000 in a kickstarter campaign to record a new album. To date, they have 7 songs completed, with another 17 in the works. The band plans to release the songs in 2 volumes, with the first one slated for release in early 2013.)

How do you feel about the success of the kickstarter campaign?
It’s unbelievable. I was blown away. People want to hear our music as much as we want to make it.

What does the new stuff sound like?
You can expect more of the Chasing the Ghost style—lots of punk and rock and roll, with some good surprises thrown in.

What’s your favorite song to play live?
“Fight,” “Kids,” and “We’ll Find a Way.”

What are your goals going forward?
Just to keep making music and to have fun doing it. I can’t wait for [14-month-old son] Matthew to be able to come to shows when he’s old enough. He is already constantly banging on things, and loves to hear me play the acoustic guitar.

The Ducky Boys play next at Bogies in Albany on December 8th, and the Dirty Water crew (including Messina on the drums) hit TT the Bear’s in Cambridge, MA, on November 21st.

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