Summer Break Series: Warped with Dropkick Murphys
One of the more seasoned bands of this year’s Warped Tour, Dropkick Murphys, who have been together for almost 15 years, have been headlining on the Main Stage all summer long. Shortly before their set, we were able to spend some time talking to drummer Matt Kelly about the origin of their sound, the effects of their songs being placed in popular movies, and 15 years of having fun.
When the band came together and began playing music in 1996, their unique celtic-punk sound was developed as a sort of no-brainer to the guys in the band. Kelly says that Celtic music is something that all the members of the band grew up surrounded by, due to the fact that Boston has the largest population of people of Irish descent outside of Ireland. The initial response to their first song as a band, “Barroom Hero,” was that they sounded like “the Irish Ramones,” which the band thought was “pretty damn cool.” From there, the band’s music has continued to evolve, with “all kinds of crazy instruments being thrown in after a while,” says Kelly.
After being together for several years, the bands experienced boosts in popularity in 2004 with the movie Fever Pitch, 2005’s MVP Baseball 2005 soundtrack, and The Departed in 2006. Their song from The Departed, “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” also became the walkout song of Boston closeout pitcher Jonathan Papelbon, which, as Red Sox fans, was really cool for the band. Kelly says that the exposure of their music to a mainstream audience did increase their popularity, but did not necessarily impact all areas of the band’s sales. While there was a noticeable increase in record sales, and more people began listening to their music, this still did not have much of an impact on ticket sales, as only a small percentage of a band’s fans will come out to live shows anyway. Kelly says that their new popularity came with a type of “local notoriety,” and that they began to actually be recognized walking down the street, and which still kind of freaks them out. The most amusing part, Kelly says, is that people in Boston would keep thinking that they are a new band, despite the fact that they had been playing shows around Boston for years.
For Dropkick Murphys, Kelly says it is their fifth or sixth time on Warped Tour, and they always enjoy doing it, although it is a very tough tour to be on, as the bands are “at the mercy of the conditions.” He says that their favorite part about the tour is playing with a bunch of the bands that they look up to. Some of the bands they have enjoyed touring with this year include Face to Face, Andrew W.K., and Pennywise, says Kelly. The key, Kelly says, to staying together for so long is that “we realize we are just a bunch of dudes that love to play music, and are lucky to be where we are.” He goes on to say that some tips for being on the road are to “take care of yourself, try to be as healthy as you can be… and just be smart.” Dropkick Murphys will also never drink before they perform on stage, which is much unlike a lot of their fellow bands. They just want to give their fans the best show that they possible can.
Kelly says that Dropkick Murphys will still play some local shows around Boston, but usually only if they are for some type of charity, or in support of a local cause. Other than that, they try to refrain from playing too many local shows. After Warped Tour, the band will be heading into the studio this fall to begin recording for a new album. This album will most likely be followed be some tour dates, and any updates can be found at the band’s website, www.dropkickmurphys.com