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Tag: "Celtic Punk"

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Superlatones: Best Drinking Buddies

Lately, it seems that we are hearing more and more from new and unexpected partnerships between artists of different genres. This is why, through Superlatones, we are creating our very own directory—a musical wish-list, if you will—of artists who have yet to join the collaborative bandwagon.

It’s the middle of March and once again, St. Patty’s Day is just around the corner. Luckily for us working folk, this year the anticipated holiday falls on a Saturday, which means we are free to participate in the festivities and “celebrate.” So grab a buddy, pour yourself some Guinness and let this week’s dynamic duo start up your weekend with a little Irish flair.

The Dynamic Duo:
and Streetlight Manifesto





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Q&A With Dropkick Murphys

Bagpipes, accordion and tin whistle aren’t usually part of the formula for success in a rock band, but Boston’s Dropkick Murphys managed to build a considerable following by infusing their unique Celt-punk with traditional Irish elements. And after “Shipping Up to Boston” was featured in Martin Scorcese’s Academy Award-winning film The Departed, the Murphys and their offbeat rock became a household name. Not that the sudden attention went to their heads— the dynamic rockers continually put out albums filled with insanely catchy, hard-hitting anthems and melodic ballads perfect for tavern sing-a-longs.

As the band gears up for the release of their seventh studio album Going Out in Style and prepares for a two-month tour of the US and Europe, OurStage got a chance to sit down with guitarist/vocalist/accordionist Tim Brennan to get the lowdown on the new album, their post-“Shipping Up to Boston” success and what it’s like to play with Springsteen.

OS: First things first: how exactly does one get into the accordion?

TB: As a kid, I had always heard Irish music being played. My mom would listen to it, my grandparents listened to it. I liked it, but when I was a kid I just wanted to buy Springsteen records, and stuff like that. But when I was probably fifteen or so, I got really into The Pogues, and from there I started re-listening to a lot of Irish stuff that I had heard when I was a kid. I just wanted to be able to play along, so I initially got a tin whistle and taught myself how to play along with that. Actually, an English teacher at my school taught me how to play, and he actually introduced me to Dropkick Murphys. When Do or Die came out he brought it into school and was like, “Check this out, you’d like it.” He got me into The Pogues and stuff. So I started playing along to the songs with the tin whistle and then one day I was like, “I wish I could play the accordion like this dude plays the accordion.” I didn’t really have the means of getting an accordion, but I was in a band with this kid whose father was a musician, and down in his basement he had an accordion that had just been sitting there the whole time. It didn’t seem as though anybody was really using it, so I asked him one day at practice, “Can I borrow that to try and teach myself how to play it?” And he said, “Sure,” so I took the thing home, and much to my parents’ chagrin I started playing along with Pogues songs and The Chieftans and stuff up in my bedroom.

OS: It’s funny, you don’t usually hear about people just picking up the accordion.

TB: Yeah, I feel like the accordion is the kind of instrument that gets thrust upon somebody when they’re a kid, and their parents make them take accordion lessons. Luckily, I was interested in it just from listening to The Pogues so much, and I just wanted to be able to play along to the stuff. I think I probably picked it up for different reasons than your average accordion player.

OS: Can you tell me about Going Out In Style? It’s a concept album, right?

TB: Well, sort of. It’s loosely based on the story of this guy, and the songs sort of all tie in together. We didn’t write it with the intent of it being a concept album by any means, but as things were unfolding lyrically there was definitely a common thread running throughout the songs. We just sort of pieced it together in a way. Initially, we were going to come up with a mock obituary of a guy and include it in the liner notes. But then Michael McDonald—he sort of took it and just ran with it a little bit more. When we were writing it definitely wasn’t our intention, but you know, whatever happens, happens.

OS: You also got to work with Bruce Springsteen on the track “Peg o’ My Heart”— how was that experience?

TB: He did it at his studio in New Jersey, so we didn’t get to sit there with him while he was singing, unfortunately. But we sort of threw it out there to each other like, “Hey, what if we try to get Springsteen to sing on this song?” And the fact that it happened is just unbelievable.

OS: Didn’t you propose to your wife at a Springsteen show?

TB: I did, yeah. I proposed to her onstage at a Springsteen show in Boston. We had met him—he came to one of our shows in New York with his son, Evan. He came backstage and hung out with us for a little bit, and then he invited us to come see him in Boston and invited us to play a couple songs with him. A couple months earlier at practice, just in jest, I had said— because he was playing two nights and I wasn’t going to be able to go to the first one but Ken, our bass player, was going to the first one — “Hey, when you talk to him, ask him if I can propose to Diana.” [Laughs] Literally, it was more of a joke than anything. Nothing was ever said about it again. And then a couple months later, when Springsteen came to town, Ken called me at about midnight after the first show, and he said, “He wants us to play with him tomorrow, and he said it’s cool if you propose onstage.” So that was quite the event.

OS: Do you guys feel pressured to top the success of “Shipping Up to Boston” when you put out new material?

TB: No, not really. We just sort of kept writing the way we normally do, and it just so happens that “Shipping Up to Boston” and songs like that are just the kind of songs that we write. I’m hoping that anybody who became a fan through the “Shipping Up to Boston” thing can buy this album and still like the material as much as they like that song. But we certainly didn’t go in saying, you know, “We’ve gotta make something more popular than ‘Shipping Up to Boston.’” We didn’t necessarily try to chase that sound or anything, that’s just sort of what we sound like. So we just went in and did our thing. I think new fans— people who heard about us through “Shipping Up to Boston” or The Departed or whatever— hopefully those new fans will like the new album as much. As well as the old fans, of course.

OS: It’s funny that you mention new fans, because I’ve heard a lot of people say “I wish there were more punks at Dropkick shows! There are all these bros now!”

TB: Yeah, well, as something—whether it’s a song, or a band’s record, or whatever, as it becomes more… [pauses] I mean, we’re not mainstream by any means, but when there’s a song like “Shipping Up to Boston” that is able to reach a wider audience than we would normally have as a general fan-base, that’s always going to bring some new people into the mix. And it’s going to be people that don’t know about us because they’re music fans, but because they heard the song in a movie, or a sports game or something.

OS: So you’re cool with the changing demographic of Murphys fans?

TB: Oh, yeah! It’s perfectly fine with us. We’ve never compromised our sound to become a mainstream band, by any means. The fact that we have more quote-unquote “mainstream fans” speaks for The Departed and Red Sox and Bruins and stuff like that. But that’s cool with us.

OS: The new album’s called Going Out In Style, but that doesn’t mean you guys are planning your exit from the scene or anything, does it?

TB: Well, we’ll see how many people buy the record. [Laughs] No, that title was taken from a song I called “Going Out in Style,” and it’s about a guy’s wake. So that’s more about leaving the world in style, more than our band going out in style.

OS: You also have your annual St. Patty’s dates in Boston coming up. Are the Boston shows usually crazier than your other shows throughout the year?

TB: We’re lucky in that those shows could be any night, pretty much. But for us, at least, there’s definitely a different feeling to those shows. All our friends and family come out, and it’s rare that we play in Boston these days. Before you go on stage it’s definitely a little bit of a different thing. Sometimes, maybe on the first night, there’s a little bit more anticipation. You’ve got people chanting for you to come on and stuff, because it’s a hometown crowd. But we love doing them. Last year we did seven shows in six days, so it’s definitely taxing, but well worth it.

(Ed. Note: Brennan elaborated on the St. Patty’s shows in an interview with OurStage last March)

OS: What else is going on for you guys this year?

TB: We hit the road a little bit more than a week before the album comes out. Then that comes out on March 1, and from there we’ll just be everywhere. We’re back at it. We’re definitely looking forward to it. The last time we were in Germany, they were like, “You guys are great, but you can not come back here until you’re on tour again.” [Laughs] It’s been four years or whatever since the last album, and we’ve been back to Europe, you know, how many times. So this time they’re like, “We’re glad to have you guys, but please, give us something we can use.” So we’ll go back there, and we’ll do the states and stuff. We’re definitely looking forward to it.

You can get your celt-rock fix with Going Out in Style (out today!), and be sure to catch the Murphys in concert when they roll through your town.

Punk On The Rocks: The Mighty Regis

The Mighty Regis play a brand of Celtic punk rock and roll that would make The Pogues proud. Incorporating traditional folk instruments like tin whistle and mandolin into their sound, their version of Irish classic “Danny Boy” literally had me dancing at my desk. Their energetic live show has attracted some high-level industry attention. They’re scheduled to play the first month of this summer’s Van’s Warped Tour and even held a regular gig at the birthplace of Celt-punk superstars Flogging Molly — Molly Malone’s — which The Mighty Regis lovingly refer to as “The CBGBs of Irish punk.” I caught up with lead singer Frankie McNorman at the beginning of the band’s second annual “11 Days of St. Patrick’s Day” Tour (per their MySpace blog, “If Christmas gets 12, and Hanukkah gets 8, certainly St. Pat’s falls somewhere in the middle, yeah?”) to talk about the Warped Tour, morning talk show hosts and what’s next for The Mighty Regis.
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Live on Landsdowne: A Q&A With Dropkick Murphys

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/DVDLive 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.

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Celtic punks The Roughneck Riot

Celtic punks The Roughneck Riot

Warrington, UK’s The Roughneck Riot are a little bit Celtic, a little bit rock and roll. Taking their cues from The Pogues, The Clash, Johnny Cash and Flogging Molly, this six-piece Celtic punk band features acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo and accordion in addition to the usual guitar, bass and drums. The Roughneck Riot has shared the stage with artists such as Billy Bragg, The Damned and Sham 69. Currently in the studio recording their new album Night Train with The Reaper, the band recently posted the lyrics to the title track on their MySpace page. The words lie somewhere between Dropkick Murphys and Tom Waits, and if the music is even half as good, this is going to be a great record! I managed to catch acoustic guitarist/mandolin/vocalist Matty Humphries during a break from recording to talk about the band’s sound, their album and their plans for the future.

OurStage: I read that The Roughneck Riot started life as a four-piece punk band. How did you make the transition from four-piece punk band to six-piece Celtic punk powerhouse?

Matty Humphries: Personally I’ve always aimed to play Celtic punk, however when we first started out we weren’t the most talented bunch when it came to playing folk instruments and such. We had to let our last 2 guitarists go for personal reasons and I managed to persuade a few of our best friends to pick up a banjo, guitar and an accordion and for the past 7 months or so. With continuous advice and motivation from our good friends The Mahones, we’ve finally managed to focus on our sound, and since then we’ve never looked back!

OS: Even on your mostly acoustic recordings, you guys sound badass. What would you say to people who think that punk music can’t be acoustic?

MH: Haha, Thanks a lot! Well I believe that all the best music started out acoustically, from early blues, bluegrass and folk to gypsy jazz and rock ‘n’ roll, so why can’t punk be played in the same way? People like Johnny Cash always stuck to playing an acoustic guitar, but always delivered.  It’s all about the energy you give when playing, not how loud your amps are or how distorted your guitar is.  And of course our main influence besides punk is Celtic folk, which traditionally started out acoustic. Playing acoustic can also add so many different dynamics to a song, and change the feel completely!

OS: As a Celtic punk band, you must be over the moon to be playing with Shane MacGowan of The Pogues this December. How did this come about?

MH: The magic of MySpace!! We were asked if we were interested in the slot through a message from a promoter, so how could we possibly turn this down! In my opinion Shane MacGowan is one of the greatest song writers in history and has had a massive influence on us, and it’s an honor to share a stage with him!

OS: Your song “Travellin’ Man” made it to the Top 10 in the OurStage Punk Channel last month. Can fans expect a similar sound on your upcoming album Night Train with The Reaper?

MH: This was a great and unexpected thing for us, as half of the band didn’t realize we were signed up to OurStage! But it’s fantastic to know we’re being heard! And yes, Night Train with The Reaper is full of songs that are guaranteed to put “Travellin’ Man” to shame!! It’s a huge mixing pot of influences, from the obvious (The Pogues, The Mahones, The Clash, Flogging Molly) to some more unusual influences to our music such as Johnny Cash, The Urban Voodoo Machine and Tom Waits. Its going to be something we can be really proud of! We’re recording the title track for the album this November with Ex-Mahones’ fiddler Dave Allen in Banbury so it should be up on Ourstage by mid November!

OS: What’s next for The Roughneck Riot? Any plans to tour?

MH: I’ve just this week opened up a recording studio where we should be finishing our album which is all very exciting! And as for tour plans, yes! Hopefully early 2010 we should be touring Europe! Possibly with The Mahones and The Popes, which is another great honor for us! So hopefully we can get Night Train with The Reaper out across the water!!

Check out “Mutiny” from The Roughneck Riot’s EP Drain The Bar in the player below!


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