Few bands are able to call themselves real Celtic punk. However, Dropkick Murphys are true Celtic punk legends. Hailing from Quincy, MA, the Dropkicks first played together in the basement of a friend’s barbershop. Still playing together after more than a decade, the band has stood the test of time. In true Irish style, they are known for putting on killer shows with beer, bagpipes and sing-a-longs.
Dropkick Murphys are currently gearing up for their annual St. Patrick’s Day stint in Boston at House of Blues and releasing a live album/DVD. Live on Landsdowne, out today, features an entirely new track listing all recorded at House of Blues Boston during their 2009 St. Patty’s Day run. With infectious energy and a passion for their work, Dropkick Murphys are an unforgettable band.
OurStage got the chance to speak with Tim Brennan (guitar, accordion, vocals) of the Dropkicks about Boston, St. Patrick’s Day and the band’s evolution as the top Celtic punk band today. Audio from the interview can be found below.
OS: You grew pretty organically as a group through the years. How did you guys all meet?
DM: Well when the band started out it was a few different people than who are around now. The only real original band member left is Ian, our bass player. But Matt Kelly, the drummer, has been around pretty much since the beginning and the rest of us have come in along the way. But as you join the band, we’ve been friends with other members of the band. So we’ve kept it in the family. Jeff, who is our newest member, has been around for 3 years now and was a friend of James’ for a long time before he joined the band. So that’s how we roll. We’re just kind of rolling on down the mountain and picking up some people along the way who are our friends.
OS: So are you all from the Boston area?
DM: Most of us are from different cities, but most people are from around Boston. Josh, our bagpipe player is Canadian. We met him when he lived in Calgary, Canada and he is going to move to the Boston area. But for the most part, we’re all New Englanders.
DM: I think we took things that bands like The Pogues did and added a little bit of something else to it. You know? The Dubliners took Irish folk music and amped it up. The Pogues took what The Dubliners did and amped it up a little bit. And then we just sort of took a hint from The Pogues and turned it up a little more.
OS: The genre isn’t as highly represented as one might want it to be. So how does it feel the bring your sound to huge audiences like those who saw The Departed or those who go to watch Red Sox games?
DM: It’s cool. I mean, we’re happy to have things that expose us to people who wouldn’t ordinarily hear our music or come see a show. There are definitely times now that you can tell people only know “Shippin’ Up To Boston” because they saw The Departed. But that’s fine. If they come to a show that means that they’re interested in hearing the rest of our music. So, that’s cool.
OS: You guys are about to come up to Boston and do your usual St. Patrick’s day stint. How has Boston become your hub?
DM: Certainly when the band started out, everyone was a Bostonian. So, the bend started within the Boston scene as far as a punk band in the scene. As the band worked harder and harder as far as going on the road and stuff, you get exposed to more people and more bands. You get a show where they live, you give them a show in Boston. I’m sure it has a lot to do with what we sing about and the fact that there’s a big Irish population and descendants from Irish in Boston. So I think they can latch on to that Irish folk that’s more modern.
OS: Well what is like to play the same show at the same place every night for a week with different audiences?
DM: It’s actually kind of nice because after the first day, we don’t have to sound check or anything. So that’s nice. There’s little work to be done as far as our instruments during the day. Our crew guys just have to run through the instruments real quick before we play as opposed to going through this full setup all day like we do when we’re on tour. Apart from that, I mean, it’s nice to get know the place, House of Blues, and just sort of walk in and out freely. It feels comfortable when we do it.
OS: Do you think the St. Patrick’s Day show is always the best show of the week?
DM: You know, that’s a good question. I mean, this year, St. Patrick’s Day is the last show of the seven. So it’s entirely possible that it could be the best show. But it’s also entirely possible that we could be exhausted by then. (Laughs.) Who’s to say? They’re all always great in Boston. We love knowing that our friends and family are out there in the audience. Everyday you have a different person on the list, so every night you go out there thinking, ‘Oh, this is the first time so-and-so’s ever seen us.’ So, you want to put on a good show regardless of how tired you are.
DM: I’ll probably just go home and sit on my couch for a couple of days. I mean, I’ll probably just relax. We go back on tour just three weeks after the St. Patrick’s stuff wraps up. So, we’ll probably get together and do some writing and get some new material. But then, we’ll head out back on the road.
OS: Do you have any advice for concertgoers during your stint at House of Blues?
DM: Get there early; because we have some awesome bands this year. And we just hope everyone has some fun.
OS: Will there be any Irish dancers this year?
DM: Oh yea! I’m sure we will have them. We’ve got some very nice dancers!
OS: Well, I’m looking forward that and to seeing you when you ship out to Boston!
DM: We’ll see you there!