“KMRIA stands for: Kiss My Royal Irish Ass,” says Casey Neill of Portland-based Pogues tribute band KMRIA. “The reference is from James Joyce’s Ulysses,” Neill says, explaining KMRIA is also referenced in Pogues’ song “Transmetropolitan.”
KMRIA is a super group of sorts, featuring former Eugenean Ezra Holbrook, popular Portland-based songwriter Casey Neill, Scott McCaughey of The Young Fresh Fellows and The Minus 5 as well as Jenny Conlee and Chris Funk of The Decemberists. The group came together over a shared love of the Pogues. “Right away we had so much fun,” Neill says, “and crowds were rowdy and enthusiastic.
While the Pogues are often pigeonholed as an “Irish rock band,” Neill finds their punk-rock roots underrated. “I contend that the Pogues are a great punk band first and foremost,” Neill says. “By combining the darker themes in traditional songs, the energy of Irish dance music, punk fury and rock instrumentation, they came up with something completely unique at the time.”
If you’re unfamiliar with the Pogues, Neill says Rum, Sodomy & The Lash and If I Should Fall From Grace With God “are both perfect records.” And Neill feels KMRIA brings something unique to Pogues’ songs by having no one band member take the role of notorious Pogues lead singer Shane MacGowan.
“All of us take turns on different songs,” Neill says. “Shane’s alcohol consumption is of course legendary — a reputation that too often obscures his poetic genius. We do attempt to play the show with the same spirit and drunken bluster. To do that and remember all the twisty complicated musical parts at the same time is no small task.”
Neill jokes, “I am training at the moment.”
KMRIA plays 9:30 pm Friday, Dec. 12, at Sam Bond’s; $10. 21-plus.