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Dropkick Murphys.

THE DROPKICK MURPHYS own Boston. Punk rockers, skaters, even the dirtbag kids that hang out above the T station in Harvard Square--they all rock the Dropkicks. It's the same wherever I see them play. Better yet, you'll often find everyone up on stage singing and causing chaos together. How do these guys maintain the respect of their original pure-punk following while attracting thousands more fans each round? Here's how: they sing about what they know (blue collar pride, to-the-death loyalty, and the Red Sox), they defend what matters most (friendship, family, and Guinness), and they can make anyone feel tough. The Warrior's Code (Hellcat/Epitaph records) is their latest in a tall stack of quality full-length albums.--Andrew Huberman

What is a Dropkick Murphy, and where did you get the band's name?

(Ken Casey, lead vocals and bass): I have always heard old-timers around Boston talk about a dry-out place around in the 1950s and '60s, called Bellows Farms. It was a pre-detox place where alcoholics and drunks who couldn't get off the sauce would go to have a spin dry and get their heads together. The guy who ran the place was nicknamed Dropkick Murphy. They didn't call the place Bellows Farms, they called it Dropkick Murphy's Place. I loved that name so much that we planned to use it for a band name long before we ever had a band.

What shaped the Dropkick Murphys sound?

I was a big fan of Southern California hardcore like the Adolescents and Circle Jerks, and DC stuff like Minor Threat and Government Issue, and all that New York stuff, including Agnostic Front and the Cro-Mags. But seeing and knowing the Boston-area bands was the real motivation for us to start a band. Our sound draws from hardcore, which is obvious if you heard the early singles we put out. You might not know how much hardcore influenced the band if you just bought some of our full-length studio albums, but hardcore is definitely part of what shapes our sound.

Hailing from an old rock and roll town like Boston, where do you get your influences from? The Clash, Aerosmith?

I grew up in the '80s and I don't think you can be from Boston and not have a few Aerosmith rock records in your collection, but that really wasn't what was motivating us to play music. We might have listened to Aerosmith when we were 12 years old, but when you went to your first hardcore show when you were 13, your eyes were opened. That's when I said, "Holy shit, I have got to do this someday." I didn't aspire to perform with a mic stand having all kinds of scarves tied around it like Steven Tyler; I just wanted to kick people in the mouth.

Talk about Joe Strummer and the Clash's contribution to punk rock history and to the Dropkick Murphys.

When I first heard British punk rock, I was like, "Holy shit." It was a perfect blend between hardcore and Aerosmith. I got into punk rock backwards. First, I got into punk through hardcore, after bands like the Clash and Stiff Little Fingers had already been around for six or seven years. I probably would have never discovered them if it wasn't for hardcore. That's what a lot of kids do. Once they find something they like, they want to find out where it all came from, its history, and its origin. That's why kids might get into Good Charlotte, then go back and find out about Dropkick Murphys, and then go back even further and discover who started these styles of music. For a kid listening to punk rock and growing up in my generation, Joe Strummer of the Clash was one of the greatest songwriters and a great guy. I am thankful I had the opportunity to meet him a bunch of times, and the Clash were a huge influence.

Compare punk rock then to what punk rock is now.

When punk rock first started out, it was a lot more raw, dangerous, scary, and fun. You would have butterflies in your stomach just going to a punk show. Punk rock today is not the same, but it's a better outlet for kids than listening to top-40 or rap, but nowadays some punk bands are top-40 anyway. Punk rock has become such a wide genre now that in this generation it's kind of like saying "rock and roll." Major label acts like Good Charlotte and Green Day are mainstream successful punk, but on the opposite end, you have some DIY punk band that's been playing to 20 kids a night for 10 years. It's cool and I'm not knocking it, but to call it all punk rock leaves a lot to figure out. Dropkick Murphys falls somewhere in the middle.

A punk band like Dropkick Murphys records an old baseball fight song?

When the Red Sox won their first World Series back in the early 1900's, they had a team fight song called "Tessie." They wanted to update it and use it again. It was cool that they realized that a local band should do it, people that were actually Red Sox fans that have gone through the years and years of pain and agony with the team, not by some hired band out in California. To live in Boston, play in a band, and be asked to record a song for the Red Sox completely legitimized us. The band has great support from family and friends, but when you do something with the Red Sox and it comes out good, man, everybody wanted to give us a pat on the back--so that those far-reaching elements of your family who once said, "What the hell are you playing in this rock band for?" are all of a sudden like, "Hey, didn't you do something with the Red Sox?" and now you're their buddy.

What's with the emergence of Irish bands?

A lot of the bands that I know that play the music were brought up on Irish music and love those songs. They're entrenched in your soul. No matter what type of music you go on to play, it's going to creep in there. Part of it is that Irish folk music and punk rock music go so well together. You have this folk-based music that's still got aggression in it and melts so perfectly into punk rock, and it's fun music to play. There are some people jumping on the bandwagon because it seems like a quick way to get popular. For the most part, the bands doing it are legit, great bands that are doing it for the same reason we are. Flogging Molly, for example, remind me of the Pogues in the sense that they are more of a folk band but used the punk rock backbeat for aggression. I always thought of us as more of a punk rock or hardcore band that couldn't keep the Irish influence out of our music, because we were raised with it.
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Author:Stain, John
Article Type:Interview
Date:Mar 1, 2006
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