INTERVIEW: DROPKICK MURPHYS

Dropkick Murphys
If you are any kind of punk stalwart then you know Dropkick Murphys brand of down to earth, raucous fun. Since 1996 they’ve been encouraging you to loudly sing along. Possibly off-key, possibly after too many whiskey’s. Definitely with a smile on your face. With a new album and tour on the cards for 2013, vocalist and bassist Ken Casey chatted to us about inspiration, enthusiasm and how they still call Australia their (second) home.
By Bec Hennessy
You are set to release “Signed and Sealed in Blood” your eighth studio album in January 2013 Can you tell me a bit about how it came together?
We had such a great time making our last record, “Going Out In Style“, that when we were finished we found ourselves very reinvigorated about writing songs and we were dying to get right back into the studio. It’s the quickest we’ve ever turned an album around since 1999.
Rose Tattoo” from the album is a beautiful song, and clip. Where did the idea come from to include images of fan tattoos?
Throughout the years of being in this band, we’ve probably seen over 1000+ fan tattoos of different logos of ours. It’s amazing; the dedication to the band is what inspires us. I have my favorite band’s logo tattoo on me so I understand the significance and importance.
When we looked at the finish product of the artwork of this album, we all immediately said, “this is a logo lots of fans would get as a tattoo”… For the first time ever we were ahead of the game with finishing the music and artwork before all the deadlines, so we decided to post the logo prior to the release. People responded just how we thought and within 5 days we received photos of over 100 fan tattoos, and we were happily able to include them in the album’s artwork and Rose Tattoo video. It’s so awesome.

 

You guys are hugely popular. In part I’d say, due to a refreshing sense of old school punk ethos and inclusiveness. How have you maintained this over your career and the increasing popularity?
Nothing has changed and nothing ever will change from the day we were playing small shows at the Rat in Boston to wherever this ends up. The fans that support the band are the reason we have this amazing opportunity. Any band that doesn’t have time for the fans should be taken outside and slapped silly.

Your music conveys a sense of hope as well as fun. As firm believers in working class solidarity how do you feel about the state of the union movement and it’s relevance in America today? Also any thoughts on the Occupy movement and it’s impact?
We’ve always supported organized labor, it’s who we are and what we are. Sad to say support seems to be dwindling in many places as people panic about the current financial situation, they are more apt to lose sight of the long-term good for short-term gain. Politicians have used this fear to prey upon the working class and turn them against one another. Instead of a worker being grateful that someone is paid well and aspiring to gain those same benefits, they become jealous and want to fight against their fellow worker instead of standing with them.

The band also has it’s own charity The Claddagh Fund. What sort or work are you involved with through this?
We started the Claddagh fund two and a half years ago as a way to give back to our community. We’ve been able to channel the efforts and enthusiasm of our amazingly dedicated fanbase to be able to do great work on the behalf of charities that benefit children, veterans, and those suffering from addiction. We’ve raised over 2 million dollars for charities in the Boston area and have also started a second chapter in Philadelphia.

Your annual St Patricks Day tour sounds epic. This year ending at TD Garden in Boston. How do you do it each year? Can you tell me a bit about what it means to you?
When you tour a lot and you’re away from home, you miss out on a lot of cool things with friends and family. But for us, our St Patricks shows have turned into Christmas, New Years, St Patricks and 4th of July all rolled into one. All of our friends and family are there to see us and we catch up with everyone who we’ve missed.

What artists/people are inspiring you these days in music and/or in life?
Boxer Danny O’Connor who I have the privilege to work with. To watch the dedication and drive he has for his sport and to excel in it is truly inspiring. Also athletes like Bobby Orr and musicians like Bruce Springsteen who are icons yet still give back and make time for their friends and fans. These are the people that inspire me.

I’m looking forward to seeing you when you come to Australia next year as part of Bluesfest. What can we expect? What’s your experience been of gigs here?
Australia has literally become like a second home to us. We get homesick a lot, but ironically the place we get least homesick is in the country farthest away from our home. Since coming there for the first time in 1999, we have made such close friendships that we truly feel like we belong there. Your nature as people alone is so welcoming and to say that you know how to have a good time would be an understatement. The gigs in Australia are over the top with enthusiasm, and it’s crazy as anywhere in the world.
So, since the season is almost upon us – How will you be spending Christmas?
Luckily we’re home for the holidays every year. My daughter’s birthday is in December and one of my son’s is on New Years Eve and you just can’t miss Christmas. So all those things make December a good month to take off…. at least we try.
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Many thanks for Ken for taking the time to chat to us. A special thank you to Jodie @Dew Process for arranging the interview.
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