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Dropkick Murphys are scheduled to perform this Sunday (August 25th) in Asbury Park at the Stone Pony's outdoor Summer Stage. Share this article on Twitter with the hashtag #JerseyShoreDropkicks to automatically enter to win a pair of tickets to the event.
After being on the road and making music for a good chunk of the previous two decades, it may be hard for most bands to keep things fresh and exciting, but not for the Irish-punkers of the Dropkick Murphys
. The bagpipes and electric guitar combination of the band mixed with their heavily blue-collar rooted lyrics has been giving the Oi-punks of the world something to root for, especially after the release of the band's eighth studio album, Signed and Sealed in Blood
, earlier this year. We recently sat down with the Murphy's drummer, Matt Kelly to talk about the band's "If it ain't broke don't fix it" writing style, their favorite places on the road, and how the band may have helped their beloved Red Sox win a World Series.
You guys have had a very extensive touring career. Do you still get excited coming to venues that have the history/reputation as the Stone Pony?
It's always cool doing that sort of thing, definitely. We've done the Stone Pony numerous times over the years and it's always cool to walk around and check out the old photos of famous and forgotten rockers in the club. There certainly is an ambiance to venues like the Stone Pony, CBGB (RIP), etc.
As a Jersey boy, I got to ask. What was playing with The Boss like?
He's a top-notch gentleman, and his reputation is earned and deserved. I couldn't think of a bad thing to say about him, as he's the kind of guy who seems to have time for anybody and everybody.
In a perfect world, what other rock legends would you love to play/record with?
That's tough, because as the saying goes, "don't meet your idols because you might be disappointed," or however it goes. But with that out of the way, I'd love to either play or record with Malcolm and Angus Young (AC/DC), Steve Harris (Iron Maiden), the remaining living members of the band Rose Tattoo, Keith Richards, Hoxton Tom McCourt (the 4-Skins), and so many others.
Obviously, Boston will always be home for you, but what are some other cities/venues that you get excited for when you see them on the schedule? What's the home away from home?
There are a lot of venues I enjoy independently of the cities they're in, but cities I love playing in due to lots of friends or just the city's character: London, Brussels, Glasgow, Dublin, Belfast, Cologne, Berlin, Tokyo, Melbourne, Chicago, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Kansas City, KS, Milwaukee, Austin, NYC, Vancouver, Quebec, St. John's (Newfoundland). Home away from Home? Toughie there. I've probably spent more time in and around London than any other non-New England town. Lots of good friends there!
After doing this for almost 20 years, how do you keep the live shows/tour from becoming monotonous? What's changed from what you do on a band level to what happens on stage?
Well, since day one we've changed the setlist up almost every night, so every night is a new gig. The setlist may include a lot of the same songs as the night before, but we're always adding/replacing a few songs. Every tour has a different setlist, so it keeps it fresh for us and our supporters. The guys up front don't have some pre-rehearsed drivel they say between songs to the crowd; they're addressing the crowd on a night-to-night basis, shooting from the hip. There's nothing that irks me more about seeing a band two tours in a row than hearing the same set list in the same order, and the same B.S. between songs. I think that's
a big part of how we keep it from being monotonous. I think it's a big part of the band's identity as a live act, too.
What was the shift like for the writing/recording process going from Going Out In Style to Signed and Sealed in Blood? How do things change coming off the concept album to a more free form style?
was very calculated, the songs were turned over and dissected, and we had the album ready to go before we got into the studio to record it. One of, if not the only song, we played live before the album came out was "Hang 'Em High" at Colby College in Maine. With SSIB
, we wrote a lot of the material on the road and in the studio, so it was sort of by the seat of our pants and the "Three R's": "(w)rite it, rehearse it, and record it". We didn't over-analyze a lot of the material, as it was a bit more carefree than, and without the parameters of GOIS
. Since we were in the practice space/on the road/in the studio during the creation and recording of SSIB
, we had the opportunity to play more than half the songs in a live setting, and really get people familiar with (and psyched about) the new songs. As far back as last June, we'd been playing "Rose Tattoo", "My Hero", and a couple of the B-sides live almost every night. People would record the songs and put 'em on Youtube, and a couple weeks'd go by and people would be singing along to brand-new, unreleased tunes. It was really cool, and people loved the new songs, reacting to them better than I've ever seen people react to new material. I mean, let's face it: when you're going to see a band, the last thing you want to hear is new stuff. People really ate the new stuff up though.
You've said before that you follow the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach to songwriting but are still looking to challenge yourself musically. How do you continue to challenge yourself in that way?
Luckily our approach covers a lot of stylistic ground. We have fast, hardcore punk songs, ballads, street-punk/Oi! type stuff, rock and roll songs, and full-on acoustic type tunes, so we have and have had a lot of ground to cover and avenues to explore musically without painting ourselves into a corner. Having unorthodox instruments like bagpipes, banjo, bouzouki, mandolin, and others, it's easier to facilitate them for leads or lines that add a different texture to songs that the typical guitar/drum paradigm can't capture. No matter how long you've been playing music and writing songs, there's always
room for improvement in your skills. As good as (you might think) you are at one thing, there are always other facets of your playing that need improvement. Not speaking for the other guys, but sometimes I'm horrified and embarrassed at things I've played, and always strive to improve myself in that way (and of course other ways, too).
Your cover of "Tessie" was released in 2004. That same year, the Sox won their first series in 86 years. Coincidence or did you help win the Series?
[Laughs.] We'd like to think we helped them win it, and we're still waiting for our World Series rings!
Signed and Sealed in Blood
is out now. Get your copy here
. And purchase tickets to Dropkick Murphys' Stone Pony show here