The Charmed Life of Father, Partier, and Punk Rock Guitarist Brendan Kelly of the Falcon

Punk rock is many things. It’s fun, it’s furious, it’s chock-full of rebellion, and for some, it’s a labor of love. With any luck, it’s all four of those things. Enter Brendan Kelly, singer/guitar player of the Falcon.
Kelly’s a busy man.

The Chicago-area native is married, a dad to two young children, and a member of another pretty popular band, the Lawrence Arms. He has a bit of a reputation as a party dude, but speaking to Kelly reveals a, dare we say it, an endearing, thoughtful side. While he appreciates that his fans enjoy that he is a “fun” guy and having a good time is important to him, it’s something of a misconception, too.

“[It’s] a little bit annoying that people think that I’m, like, ass-blackout wasted all the time. Which is totally the case, like, 60 percent of the time,” he says, laughing. “But seriously, though, I have to keep it together before a show because I’m an old guy. ... There’s a sober guy in the Falcon, so the quickest way to piss off the sober guy in your band is to be too wasted to play.”

One thing that is extremely clear during our discussion with Kelly is how much he cares about putting out the best possible music for his fans.

“When I decide to write a record, I’ll write somewhere between 10 and 20 songs a day so I can just get through the bullshit. It’s like working out. In order for your muscles to get bigger and stronger, you have to use them. When I’m writing a record, it’s the same way,” Kelly explains.

Joining Kelly in the Falcon on drums is his current Lawrence Arms bandmate Neil Hennessy, former Slapstick bandmate Dan Andriano on bass and vocals (Andriano also plays in Alkaline Trio), and guitar player Dave Hause, most notably of the Loved Ones.

Earlier this year, Kelly and his Falcon bandmates released Gather Up the Chaps (Red Scare) which is the second full-length LP in the band’s 12-year existence. For fans of the Lawrence Arms or Alkaline Trio, the sound of the Falcon is definitely a departure of sorts, even if there are unmistakable similarities to the musician’s other projects. Kelly explains this best, actually.

“It’s very, very dark. I usually don’t think of dark and fun going together,” Kelly says.

Nevertheless, the Falcon’s effort is certainly a fun but dark punk-rock record. Kelly’s vocals add some serious edge to songs like “War of Colossus,” where Kelly sings during the opening verse:
“You hate that boy in the mirror / You hate that boy in your clothes / I’m kinda starting to hate that boy too / I don’t give a shit if he knows.”

The theme of “War on Colossus” is pretty heavy, but the way it is packaged into a minute and 47 seconds will please jaded old-school punks and younger poppy-punk fans alike. Other stand-out tracks on Gather Up the Chaps include “Hasselhoff Cheeseburger,” whose name alone is worthy of attention, and “If Dave Did It,” which weaves a tale of jealousy and potential for murder.

Considering the success of the band’s other projects, it would be easy to consider the Falcon a side project, but Kelly doesn’t see it that way.

“I consider the Falcon very much as important as anything else I do. Right now, it’s my main band,” Kelly says.

For a pro like him, to just “mail it in” wouldn’t be good enough at all.

“I’m very cognizant of bands that I won’t name that I used to think were amazing but now have gotten lazy. I want to stay hungry and keep my bullshit detector on 10. As you get older, you have to do a lot more work for less results,” Kelly says.

The Falcon is scheduled to play Pub Rock in Scottsdale on Wednesday, July 6.
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Tom Reardon has written for Phoenix New Times since 2013. He's been in several notable bands over the last 25 years including Hillbilly Devilspeak, North Side Kings, and the Father Figures.
Contact: Tom Reardon