Meet: The charismatic Johnny Dublin lead rabble-rouser of Dublin band Onion Boys

Words, Abigael Paquet – Photos, Ian Mc Donnell.

Before Onion Boys played to a full Workman’s Cellar venue on the 29.03.203 in Dublin, Abigael Paquet got to sit down for a chat with front man Johnny Dublin.

Onion Boys – an Irish Rock Band – were formed only a couple of years ago over lockdown with the revival of the punk scene as their goal. The rising band – composed of Johnny Dublin, Leadpipe Dan, Sharky Steamers, Al Always Want Moore, Bad Bernie B, Rig Marolé, Brendan the Bricks and Cillian ‘Me Softly’ – have already sold out dates across Scotland and Germany.

AP, So, my first question would be: where did your band name come from and how did you form the band ? 

JD, Well, the band formed over lockdown. ‘Cause we thought that Ireland was missing a bit of absurdity within the music scene and the punk scene needed to be revived – especially coming out of lockdown. I feel like Ireland needed a bit more to start thriving again, so we decided to bring the rock back as best as we could … with absurdity. You got your Samuel Beckett, you got your James Joyce, you got weird shit that Irish people love. And I feel like we’ve kind of lost track with that, so we decided to bring it back. 

And the name just comes from, um, it just came from a … I think it was a children’s book or something that Leadpipe Daniel had. And that was it, yeah ! There you go !

AP, That’s funny ! And what would you say to people who have not listened to your music before and how would you convince them to listen to you ? 

JD, How would I convince them to listen … I’d probably say: “prepare yourself for what once was coming back”. Like Cramps, you know, it’s gonna be … It’s not always enjoyable, but it’s always worth it. You know what I mean ? Yeah. I think that’s what I’d say. 

AP, Intriguing. Yeah, that would intrigue people for sure ! [laughs] So, what can people expect from your shows ?

JD, It’s high energy. You’re gonna have a lot of fun. You’re gonna be sweating, you might be crying, you might be screaming … We’re gonna be having lots of fun at your expense [laughs]. But like, that’s part of it, you know, it’s all enjoyable. You can do whatever you want when you’re there and we’re all a part of it and we’re into it as well so … Join us ! Don’t be afraid of joining in. But usually the crowds are really good and they do. Like, even in Berlin – sold out, and massive amount of people just like, crazy craic. 

AP, Who inspired you to do this ? 

JD, We had a good few inspirations, probably like always: Cramps, Iggy Pop. All the kind of old punk heads. AP, Um, you have Burnt Out as well … Yeah, we listen to a lot of that kind of stuff and that’s what we found in ourselves in that kind of genre. We kind of latched onto it from an early start, you know, and then we used a lot of different genres. We got country and we listened to like different, you know 

AP, And where do you draw your inspiration from to write the songs ?

JD, For writing songs, that’s always like personal anecdotes or something that we think is just hilarious. You know, like Daddy’s arms: “I want to be your daddy’s arms”. This makes no sense but, then you find it’s catchy and it hooks and it’s like … it has to be a catchy sound.
Like … even trying to just get catchy, you know –  we don’t even try really, it just kind of does happen, it flows. And Daniel, the Leadpipe, you know, he’s really good at it: making music and making it all very catchy, tying it all up and we do it together. 

AP, Do you write the lyrics beforehand or do you have the music first ?

JD, Actually, it depends. But, uh, sometimes the music leads to … and yeah, it varies. They kinda blend into each other sometimes. 

AP, Okay. Um, and what’s the most meaningful song that you have written ? 

JD, The most meaningful one is probably Rock Band. It’s about being in a rock band, what it’s like to be in a rock band, what it’s like to be young in Dublin and have a rock band. And that’s me. That means something to a lot more people than you could imagine. 

AP, What’s your favourite song to play live ? 

JD, Uh, Frankie Rashers. That’s about Francis Bacon, the artist, and it’s fucking nonsense. That’s amazing ! That’s why it’s fun – the most fun one. Um, it rocks. And it’s very punky and it’s very heavy and usually we put it at the end of the set because I just die after it.

AP, Do you ?!

JD, Yeah, it’s kind of like the end of it. I like, really go for it. 

AP, Yeah, just to leave everyone on a high. 

JD, Exactly. 

AP, And so, you recently sold out in Germany and in Scotland, but if you could play in any country or venue, where would you like to play ?

JD, Uh, I would like to play, not Leixlip.


Um, say Gorey in Wexford. 

AP, Okay, so you want to stay in Ireland ?

JD, [laughs] No, I don’t wanna stay in Ireland. I want to go everywhere. That’s a dream. 

AP, Is there any artist you’d like to collaborate with ? 

JD, Irish or anyone ? 

AP, Anyone !

JD, I suppose like, uh …I’m just trying to think. It’s kind of like I have everything I need, you know … [laughs] No, no. Like, James Blunt. 

AP, Oh yeah ?? Why James Blunt ?

JD, Yeah ! Ah f*cking why not ?! Roughen him out a bit and see what comes out. 

AP, Is he too soft ? 

JD, Yeah he’s soft, yeah. I’ll have a boxing match with him or something. 

AP, [laughs] Okey … Now, funny question: What is the most useless talent you have ? 

JD, What’s my most useless talent ? I don’t know … Probably the fact that I can speak; I shouldn’t be allowed to fucking speak [laughs].

No, what’s my, um, … I have a dip in my chest but that’s not really a talent. 

AP, Can you do anything with that ? 

JD, I can eat cereals out of it ! There you go, I can eat cereal out of a dip in my chest. I don’t know if that’s a talent [laughs].

AP, [laughs] No, that’s actually pretty cool. Uhm, are there any questions that you wish journalists would ask you but never do ?

JD, Oh, uh, that is a good one … Oh, yeah : “Can I get you a pint?’’ ! That’s a great one !


AP, Okay, I’ll keep that in mind. What was your worst moment on stage ever ? 

JD, I think the worst time was when Mac the Shack – he’s one of our guitarists – and he tried to … I dunno, what did he try to do ?  … He took his arse out anyway ! He took his arse out because the song was Mark Stevenson’s Arse. And then, a lot of German people were telling him to put his arse away. But I think that’s brilliant ! I thought it was amazing. So ,maybe it’s not the worst moment, but like, I thought it was funny that others hated it. You know, I liked his ass ! People were slapping it. There was a different kind of reaction, you know …

AP, … the disgusted ones and then the ones that were enjoying it.

JD, Yeah. 

AP, Well that would be one of the best moments on stage. 

JD, That would be the best moment, yeah, maybe. Sorry. Bad moments … I mean, there was one time we were really drunk and we tried to play our soft song and it went really badly. And then at the end I said, that’s why we don’t play that song. But then, we still play the soft song. 

AP, And what was the first concert that you actually went to, if you can remember ? 

JD, Wow, that’s weird. What is the first concert I went to ?! … [laughs] Whoa, that’s crazy !I mean, I don’t know ! Fuck, I don’t remember. 

AP, That’s okay. Um, uh, let’s just say one of the first ones you can remember.

JD, The Heathers or something like that [laughs]. Say James Blunt. Yeah. James Blunt was my first concert.


AP, Great. And what was your favourite band or artist growing up ?

JD, Oh. Um, my favourite artist was Francis Bake. 

AP, Okay. I thought you were gonna say James Blunt …

JD, Oh, James Blunt, f*ck ! Missed the beat ! Yeah, put James Blunt ! [laughs] Sorry. Yeah, you’re right.

AP, And finally, is there anything you’d like to tell your fans and everyone else ?

Uh, go …

AP,  [laughs] Careful now …

JD, Go … fuck yourself [laughs]. No. Go forward and live long, you idiot !

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