If the Dropkick Murphys aren't the busiest band in the music business they're not far from the top! By the time St Patrick's Day rolls around on March 17, the Boston based punk band with a celtic flair will have played more than 40 concerts in 13 countries in 2013. They started the year on mainland Europe, went to England and Ireland, flew back to the United States and embarked on a nationwide tour. Just reading their schedule is tiring!
On Monday March 4, "The Boys are Back" in Atlanta to play The Tabernacle as part of their annual St. Patrick's Day Tour. The tour comes on the heels of the release of their latest album, "Signed and Sealed in Blood”. The album is a return to the hard driving Irish influenced punk music for which the band have become known with tin whistles, mandolins, accordions, and bagpipes providing the celtic flavor to some up-tempo hard driving punk anthems.
The real essence of the Dropkick Murphys though, is not in listening to the music through your headphones or on your apple tv; it's about being in a venue as good as the Tabernacle with a crowd of people who are similarly fired up and it's about the live experience.
It's about the manic energy, the dancing, the stomping, the singing/shouting/chanting of some great punk anthems. Most of all it's about having a good time or "craic" as the Irish would say and that's just the guys on stage!
So if the band is going to have that much fun you can bet that the crowd will too.
As busy as the Dropkick Murphys are I was fortunate enough to chat with Matt Kelly, the band's drummer, about the album, the band, the tour, cover versions, and understanding spouses.
“Signed and Sealed in Blood” came pretty quickly after “Going Out of Style” because the guys were continuing to write and they had a lot of material that was good enough for a new album.
Kelly describes the album as “full throttle punk rock,” more urgent than the concept album that was “Going Out of Style.” The album is one of Kelly’s favorites that the Dropkick Murphys have put out in a long time because “full throttle punk rock” is what they do and what they do well.
Kelly’s personal favorite track is the first on the album, “The Boys are Back”. One of the last songs to be written, the tagline was a comment made by a “wasted” band member on a flight to Europe who remarked to another band member as the flight was preparing to land that “the boys are back and we’re looking for trouble!”
Hearing from Matt how the song was made suggests that the creative process had as much to do with it being his favorite as anything else. A bunch of the band’s Boston friends came into the studio, turned the evening into a party and sang beer-fueled back up vocals giving the song it’s anthemic, football crowd chanting chorus.
AC/DC are a big influence on the band and the Dropkick Murphys will likely pay homage to them with a cover version of one of their rock anthems played during the set. Kelly sees doing cover versions as a way to introduce some of the classics to a new generation of fans. Other songs he’d like to see the Dropkick Murphys cover include “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who (they’ve already done “Baba O’Riley”), “Live Wire” by AC/DC and, in a nod to the band they are frequently compared to, “The Body of an American” by the Pogues.
I talked with Matt about the Murphys hectic touring schedule. No doubt he and the other band members get tired; time spent on stage is physically grueling with their flat out high-octane set-lists and the touring is a grind. After their St. Paddy’s Boston concert they take a couple of weeks off before heading to Australia for two gigs and then touring out on the west coast of the USA and Hawaii.
He paid great credit to their wives who understand that this is their husband’s work despite the fact it becomes a 24-7 day job that can last several months at a time. While they’re on the road for prolonged periods of time when they’re home they’re home 24-7 and have that opportunity to spend time with their wives and kids.
As for slowing down, Kelly doesn’t see that happening any time soon. He says it’s because they want to continue to do it while they’re still young, I think it’s because he and his friends in the band are having way too much fun!
Monday night you can join in the fun too, Matt thinks it will be some serious bedlam if last years concert is any indication and if you worry that the Dropkick Murphys are having too much of a good craic on stage, don’t worry you might get invited up there for the encore. That happens quite frequently!