The Dropkick Murphys
Boston's pride and joy keep it real with Irish folk and punk tunes about blue collar living
They began innocently enough roughly seven years ago when a bunch of guys got together and formed a band in Boston. They didn't have any goals or aspirations about one day being on the cover of magazines or opening for the Sex Pistols, but that's exactly what has happened.
The Dropkick Murphys, who combine punk and rock with a shot of Irish Folk have always been there, churning out tune after tune about the blue collar workers of America and nights of endless drinking with a style that clearly bears their trademark on.
The streets of Boston were good to them for two years, allowing them to self-record and release their albums until Hellcat Records, created by Rancid's Tim Armstrong, knocked on them and produced the appropriately titled Do or Die.
"Irish Folk and punk music were easy to bring together," said Ken Casey, one of the founding members, in a thick Boston accent. "It can be music you sing along to at a party or music that is aggressive and rebellious."
The Irish roots of the band are all genuine. Casey's family is from Cork. But most of the inspiration came from an upbringing in Boston, where the members were raised green with pride.
The group is made up of seven members (lucky 7?) and has Matt Kelly on drums, Al Barr on vocals, Casey on bass, James Lynch on guitar and Marc Orrell on guitar, as well. But that's it for traditional instruments. Ryan Foltz handles the mandolin, tin whistle and dulcimer, while Scruffy Wallace is on bagpipes. And yes, bagpipes do make a difference.
"People enjoy the bagpipes, though I think it's the whole package," Casey said. "Our songs come from real everyday subjects instead of high school girlfriends."
On Dropkick's new album, Blackout, the band is in true form with songs about the futility of marriage to anthems for the blue collar workers of America. One of the band's staples is taking an Irish Folk song and making it their own, at times only changing the sound and leaving the lyrics, as it is found in the track "Fields of Athenry."
"We just gave the song a musical kick in the ass," Casey said.
The surprise on the album comes from an unreleased Woody Guthrie song "Gonna' be a Blackout Tonight." Guthrie's daughter, Nora, approached the band and suggested the band do the song.
"That was a huge honor because we got to go through these pages of unreleased lyrics," Casey said. "Her son pointed out that we would be good for the song. We might do other songs from Guthrie as well, all unreleased."
Another great honor came a couple of months ago when the band was on tour with the legendary Sex Pistols, with Johnny Rotten. The tour ended in Tempe and had Rotten screaming at the crowd that this was it and that the band was through.
"I would say so," Casey said. "When a band does a reunion, the second time out there kind of drops off. We wouldn't have been a band if it weren't for the Sex Pistols."
The future has the band releasing a DVD of live shows, music videos and home movies of the group's drunkenness for all to watch and enjoy.
"No stories yet about drunkenness on this tour yet," Casey said. "We're only four days into the new tour." But worry not DKM fans because when the boys from Boston show up at your door, they'll be armed with a guitar and a pint.
by Eddie Shoebang