Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Young Dubliners bringing Irish roots to Chicago area in March


The Young Dubliners has been at the forefront of Celtic rock since forming in 1988.

After moving to the United States, Dublin native Keith Roberts started feeling homesick for his Irish roots, leading him to form the Young Dubliners,

The band will perform at several area venues in early March, kicking off March 1 at Ballydoyle Irish Pub, 5157 Main St., Downers Grove. In addition, the band will take the stage March 2 at Ballydoyle Irish Pub at Stratford Square Mall in Bloomingdale, and March 9 at Ballydoyle Irish Pub, 28 W. New York St., Aurora.

More information is at

I had the opportunity to talk to Roberts about the band's latest activities .

Q - You guys are taking a break from the studio to go and tour. Is this a good time to start a tour?

There is no way we can sit around and not play during March. We work it out so we can do this.

At the beginning of the year, we are just sort of writing away. Everybody is coming up with their own ideas and then we do the tour, and maybe do some of the new stuff live if it develops quick enough.

Then we come back in April at the end of it all and we lock ourselves away and actually start writing. That's sort of the way we do it.

We always release albums usually around March. We're either promoting a new album or we're touring on the very end of another one. It just doesn't seem right not to play in March.

I think everyone would be bummed out if we didn't.

Q - Are you going to play new songs on this tour?

I never agree to that because you never know. We're very picky about how are songs are, what level they are at, before we play them live.

It will all depend on where they are at.

Q - What should people expect from the new CD? Are you building on what you did previously?

Yeah, that's what we do basically. We set goals. On our last album (2009's "Saints and Sinners,") we put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

We won't know until we see all of the material exactly what direction we will be going in. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be relevant and be a bit of a leader in the Celtic rock genre.

We approach every album like it's the most important album we've ever done. That's why we don't rush it. We have a no filler policy.

Every song has to be something that we are already proud of and want to be on the album. That determines how many songs will go on the album.

Q - How do you think the band has been a leader in the Celtic rock genre?

We are sort of the elder statesmen of the genre. When we started, the only band I knew that was doing anything in America at that time was Black 47.

I hope that if you listen to our albums chronologically, you can see how we pushed ourselves.

We all loved rock 'n' roll, we all loved writing songs, and we also wanted to be true to where were from in our music. It became known as Celtic rock, a blend of the two styles.

Q - Do you think it's an appropriate label?

I don't know, really. There are so many labels out there. Obviously, when we started the band, we were just two guys from Dublin playing acoustically, and then they called us The Young Guys from Dublin.

The next thing you know, we were The Young Dubliners. When we got the record deal, we wanted to change the name to something else, and it was sort of told we couldn't.

The label Celtic rock is kind of wide. It's a little bit too generic of a term. It's kind of like the term alternative rock.

Q - That's true, because bands like Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys, they have more punk elements in their bands.

We've all got our own vibe. Hopefully for all of us, there's an audience for us out there.

Q - Why do you thinking blending rock and Irish music works so well?

In general, when you mix Celtic music and rock music, it's fun. It's fun music to listen to.

Q - U2 is an Irish band, but their Irish influences aren't that apparent in their music.

That was a band that came up during the rock-pop era in England. As a band in Ireland, you had to get to England if you wanted to make it big.

So that's what U2 did. They started out as a rock band.

Back when they were beginning, I was beginning as well, and my bass player Brandon Holmes. We were starting bands in Dublin, and that's what we were doing too. There was no talk of anything Irish being included.

But when we moved to America, that sort of home sickness kicked in, and all of a sudden I realized how much I missed Irish music. It was just a cool way to stay in touch with all that.

I think that's where we try to be unique. Had we just become a rock band from Ireland, there would be all these U2 comparisons. We were not striving to be U2. We were striving to be original.

Q - After your U.S. tour dates, you guys are going back to Ireland. How are the audiences over there compared to U.S. audiences?

The audiences over there are great. We also bring a lot of American fans with us when we go to Ireland.

It's fun, because the band is Irish and the band is American. It adds a great vibe to the tour.

Q - You guys have been together for a while. Do you have any advice for an up and coming band?

You have to learn to live together and give each other a break now and again.

You have to get along with each other, and that's not always about playing together, it's about hanging out, having dinner and a few beers, and talking to each other about your personal lives.

In our band, we do disagree a lot, but we agree way more. That's a huge part of the longevity of a band.