Interview by Scott Preston
Photo by Kerry Brett
Now in their 14th year the Dropkick Murphys have risen from their basic Irish-punk roots to become a rocking & rolling, raging, green-clover machine. Dropkick Murphys are now one of the best-known rock bands in the world, thanks in part to their ability to tap into the working-class and sports fan culture that permeates Boston and the New England area but even more so due to their reputation for phenomenal live shows. Each year the band breaks house records when their live shows celebrating St. Patrick¹s Day go on sale. These shows are the peak of the band¹s touring calendar and every year fans from all over the world travel to Boston just for a chance to become part of this unique experience. In 2003 the band released a live album that has so far sold over a quarter of a million copies worldwide. This updated recording is volume two of the series comprising a “best of” or “greatest hits” from the extensive Dropkick Murphys catalogue of albums. The material on this album focuses on the band’s most recent titles and includes a live rendition of their most popular and instantly recognizable platinum selling single ”I’m Shipping Up To Boston” as well as popular tracks like “The State Of Massachusetts”, the Red Sox anthem “Tessie”, St Patrick’s Day sing-a-long “Kiss Me, I’m Sh*tfaced” and the tear jerker sing-a-long “Forever”. Recorded over 6 nights and 7 shows in March 2009 this live CD and Hi-Def DVD package puts the band’s hot ticket live show experience in your own home. What makes this band band truly remarkable? Their insightful lyrics? Memorable melodies? Blow-your-mind live performances? Dropkick Murphys are all of those things along with their boundless enthusiasm, infectious energy and supreme devotion to their loyal fans. Fans who have been eagerly awaiting this release. (1)
Cincy Groove: How did your recent European tour go for the band?
Matt Kelly: It was really amazing. We got to play a lot of venues we never played before. We really stepped up the capacity of the venues we played since the last time we were in Europe. A lot of shows were near 6,000 and Amsterdam was close to 5,000. We played places like Spain, Italy and Portugal, places we haven’t played in 9 years. The support and veracity of some of the fans was just amazing.
Cincy Groove: Where was the first place you played in Europe and when was it?
Matt Kelly: The first show we ever did in Europe was in Hamburg, Germany in 1997 with the Mighty, Mighty Boss Tones. We played a tiny, tiny club in Hamburg, because at the time the Boss Tones weren’t even that popular. We always have had a good following in Hamburg. There was a fellow name Christian who was spinning the original recording of our song Barroom Hero back in late 1996, early 1997 in clubs in Hamburg. So people already knew who we were before we even got there. That tour was pretty small in terms of club capacity. I think the biggest show was at The Garage in London with the Boss Tones.
Cincy Groove: You guys are flying such great distances so often, do you still suffer from jet lag (laughing) ?
Matt Kelly: Of course we do, you can’t escape that. Personally I’m a morning person, I got up at 6am this morning. Most of the guys in the band don’t get up until noon. When we are over in Europe they try to stay on American time, so they are waking up at 2 or 3 in the afternoon. I myself need to see some sunlight (laughing). I get up around 11am when I’m over there.
Cincy Groove: Tell me about the new live album. Any other projects in the works?
Matt Kelly: The new live album is coming out on March 16. The last live album we put out was in 2001 I believe. This one “Live at Lansdowne” which is song for song a completely different set of tunes from the last live album. Luckily we have such an extensive catalog we are able to do that. When I saw the footage I was really amazed, it looks great. Aside from the live cd/dvd, we have been throwing stuff back and forth, working on some new songs while we are on tour. We have been in the studio in our off time and are hoping to record a new studio album sometime this year.
Cincy Groove: What do you think about the Dropkick Murphys being on the video game Guitar Hero?
Matt Kelly: I think its a really cool idea and a great way to introduce kids to musical instruments. I do know of some kids of friends and relatives who started out playing the Guitar Hero instruments and eventually moved on to the real thing. It also introduces the kids to a whole generation of music that they might not otherwise get to hear.
Cincy Groove: I know the band has a long standing relationships with the Red Sox and Bruins. How did that come about?
Matt Kelly: The Bruins came first, we were asked to play a couple times after a Bruins game and just by talking to some of the right people we were able to get in good with them. So much so that a couple times we had Bruins players playing guitar with us up on stage. As for the Red Sox, we were approached by sportswriter Jeff Horrigan and Dr Charles Steinberg who was a part of the Red Sox organization at the time. They asked us to remake this classic vaudeville era Red Sox anthem. The song originally was about this lady singing to her pet parrot, not sure what that has to do with baseball (laughing). But we re-wrote the lyrics to make it a little more about baseball and the Red Sox. They then asked us to put the song in the movie Fever Pitch with Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore. The Red Sox also had us sing the national anthem at a few games which is really freaky because its a tough song to sing and we aren’t exactly pros. Growing up here in Boston and having anything to do with the Red Sox, who are royalty in this town, is a ridiculous honor.
Cincy Groove: Are there any bands you have heard that impress you?
Matt Kelly: Yes, there is a band called The Ashers, who are made up of members of The Other Scene and Crash & Burn. Both greats bands in their own right. There is a band called Battle Ruins who are excellent. There is The Action from Vancouver, Canada who are a dynamite punk band and a band from Australia called T.H.U.G. who are made up of members of Rose Tattoo. I could go on forever.
Cincy Groove: Are there any special plans for this years run of St Patrick Day shows?
Matt Kelly: Well, we don’t want to ruin any surprises, but we will definitely kick it up a notch. It will be night after night of absolute bedlam and us banging the hell out of our instruments. Its going to be at The House of Blues here in Boston, not at the old one in Harvard Square which was in an actual house. But a bigger, newer venue which holds about 2,800 people. Its right down next to Fenway Park. We have some great bands opening up, which is a secret right now as well.
Cincy Groove: What was it like for the band to open for Aerosmith? Them being Boston boys as well.
Matt Kelly: The band and their crew were absolute gentlemen towards us. Sometimes you never know what you are going to get with such a famous band like Aerosmith, but they really bent over backwards for us and our families. They gave us a huge guest list and a back stage area for the band and our guests.
The Dropkick Murphys:
Al Barr – lead vocals
Ken Casey – lead vocals, bass
Matt Kelly – drums, bodhran, vocals
James Lynch – guitar, vocals
Tim Brennan – guitar, accordion, vocals
Jeff DaRosa – mandolin, banjo, bouzouki, whistle, acoustic guitar, keyboard, vocals
Scruffy Wallace – bagpipes
Dropkick Murphys Tour Dates
Mar 1 Dallas, TX
Mar 2 Houston, TX
Mar 3 Austin, TX
Mar 5 Tampa, FL
Mar 6 Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Mar 7 Orlando, FL
Mar 8 Charlotte, NC
Mar 9 Washington DC SOLD OUT
Mar 10 Wallingford, CT
Mar 12 BOSTON, MA SOLD OUT
Mar 13 BOSTON, MA
Mar 13 BOSTON, MA SOLD OUT
Mar 14 BOSTON, MA SOLD OUT
Mar 15 BOSTON, MA
Mar 16 BOSTON, MA SOLD OUT
Mar 17 BOSTON, MA SOLD OUT
Apr 12 Glasgow, Scotland
Apr 13 Newcastle, UK
Apr 14 Leeds, UK
Apr 15 Manchester, UK
Apr 16 Birmingham, UK
Apr 17 Nottingham, UK
Apr 18 Brixton, UK
Apr 20 Belfast, Northern Ireland
Apr 21 Cork, Ireland
Apr 22 Dublin Ireland
June 13 Bonnaroo Manchester, TN
(1) bio from www.dropkickmurphys.com