Dropkick Murphys

Ken Casey, Bassplayer in Dropkick Murphys.

Your influences obviously come from all kinds of bands, but is there any band (or record) in particular that has inspired you to play Punkmusic? How did you get into punkrock?
-Well, I got introduced to punkrock through Hardcore which was huge in Boston when I was 12-13 years old, I got in to the music and bands like SSD, Gang Green that’s not so apparent in our music, I have to say that it
Inspired me into the whole lifestyle which eventually led to the music and playing music, you know.  But you don’t hear that music as a main influence when you are listening to Dropkick Murphys. That’s just the bands that got me involved in punkrock.

Ok, so you got into punkrock through Hardcore.
-Yeah, But back then punkrock and hardcore was the same thing.

What’s the current line-up?
-Right now it’s my self on bassguitar,  Al Barr on vocals, Matt Kelly on drums, James Lynch on guitar, Marc Orrell on guitar, Ryan Foltz on mandolin and tin whistle and Spicey McHaggis on bagpipes.

Your Line-up has been changing a lot since you started out, what positive / negative effects do you think has come out of that?
-I don’t really se the negative because the two people that left the band
left because other things in their lives where either more important or they had to many other worries or didn’t want to be on the road, travelling or so. Those things have a tendency to bring a band down when there’s someone out on the road that don’t want to be there you know. I don’t know if it has been negative since the people who has joined the band in place of the people that had left had just kind of wanted it more and more and to do it more. It has not been like fallouts or anything, people has left and we are still friends with them for most parts. It´s kind of like Manuto* (*I don’t know how to spell it) that old Spanish band where just new  members pass. Then you know its like Punkrock Manuto*.

How has the line-up changes affected your sound? What influences have the new members brought?
-We have two guitarists and we could do so much more musically and melodywise.  And then we have mandolin, tin whistle and bagpipes live which we used to dub this things on all of our records. We never wanted to do it to much because we knew that we where not  going to recreate it in the live show. Now that we do recreate it in the liveshow we decided, well let’s put a lot more of this musical influence on the records.
It just makes it so much more fun to write songs and easier to write songs and to make songs more lively.

So now you can do what you always wanted to both live and in the studio?

Do you see any difference between the European,  American and Asian scene?
-We have only been to Japan and that was great so I can only speak for Japan. In America the scene is pretty much the same all over America.
Europe is hard to say because each country is so different, we could get to one country and have huge turnouts and great response and then travel two hours to another country and barely anyone knows us. It’s much more of a roller-coaster, up and down in Europe, the scenes are very different and that’s not  to say that there are no strong scenes in those countries.

How’s the unity between skins/punks and hardcore kids in those scenes?
-In Japan and America it’s good  but there are some  American cities that there ain’t so much unity. It’s some times hard to say ,but once with Europe I’ve seen some countries where there is no unity at all and other countries where it’s great, you know.

According to Hardcore, I know that you’re in to HC… Do you think it’s important to bring more unity between the HC and Punk-scene?! Cause some Punk-kids turn their back on HC as well as some HC-kids turn their back on punk-music..
-Yeah, I mean it’s all from the same base, it’s all from the same roots,
we should be in this together. I think a lot of bands now days are adopting that attitude, I know in Boston in the late 80:es, early 90:es it was very divided. But things has turned around a lot and I think it’s very important with that unity because it’s all from the same roots, it’s all punkrock!

I think it’s important for the HC people to know their roots.. some people think that HC comes from Pantera and Slayer.
Ha ha ha ha, yeah!

The scene is growing strong and lots of new bands are up and coming, what do you think of the new breed of Punkrock and Streetpunk bands?
-There is a million great new bands, I mean Boston alone has new great bands coming out every day. In America we got bands like Hudson Falcons, Tommy & Terrors The Authority, there are so many bands that are really good. Sweden has a lot of great bands like Bombshell Rocks and Voice of a Generation all those bands are just incredible

How was the last tour? How did the audience react to the new line-up?
-It’s  been great, nothing but positive! I think that people has always wanted to experience what they get on the record with bagpipes and all the other instrumentation. Also the new members that have joined the band are all pretty young and something about their youthful enthusiasm has really caught on the whole band.

Are there any plans for another European tour, including  Scandinavia yet?
-Yeah, we’re gonna do some shows in Europe in I think May-June and then we’re gonna come back in September-October. We are not sure where we are going when so at the very latest we in the fall.

Are you going to play at any festivals in Europe like Hultsfred in Sweden?
-We would love to play at Hultsfred I hope that works out we had a great time when we played there a couple of years ago!

What’s your favourite DKM song?
-That’s a tough one, It’s some of our old songs probably Boys On The Docks because it’s about my grandfather so it kind of have most personal meaning to me, but there are a lot of songs on the new record
that I’m kind of really proud of that wrote like the song “Heroes Of Our Past”, that’s probably my favourite song from our new record.

Could you please make a short comment on each of your albums.

Boys On The Docks EP
-That was the first thing we put out on CD and there are some of our original songs on it. We recorded it in a lousy studio but it’s written when the band started to be a real touring band. It wasn’t our first release but
it was the first album we went out on tour with and supported and it’s kind of our first album.

Do Or Die
-Do Or Die is the one when people started to find out about us and it’s the first record on a big label. It had a lot of success and surprise to people. It’s like, Boys On The Docks was our beginning on a national level and Do Or Die was the beginning for us on a international kind of level

The Gang’s All Here
-I think that The Gang’s All Here is like a hard record or angrier record.
We had success with Do Or Die and so many bands after they get a little bit of success try to be rockstars and release some wimpy second record and try to be stars. We wanted to make a something that takes people by surprise and a thing that catches people and just a little bit more heavier and hard hitting than the other records.

Sing Loud Sing Proud
-I will call it the perfect combination of all  three records before it!

Like “The Complete  Record”?
-Yes exactly!

Shane MacGowan is singing on  two of the tracks on the new album, how did that happen?
It was just very spontaneous, he happened to be in Boston doing a show and we have met before in the past. We went down played him the song and asked him to do it and he said yes. I think that it’s the only way to get Shane MacGowan to do something like that, if you try to make
big fancy plans with the manager and all that, it would never happen. But he liked the song and said yes, we couldn’t  believe that he said yes!

The sound on the new record is more rock n roll and more Irish music, was that something you really wanted to do, or was it simply a natural development of your sound?
-I think it’s just a natural development. We just get in to the studio and write songs, we never start a record off by saying “we want the record to sound like this…”.  We just make the music and it just started to develop in that way. Looking back at it having the album finished I wouldn’t want it to turn out any other way.

There’s lots of younger kids in the scene today, how do they react to your traditional songs?
-It’s been great, its kind of like we are the Pouges of that generation.
We are teaching them in traditional music and folk. It’s great when you see a kid with a shaved head or a guy with a mowhawk  come up and say that his favourite song is a folksong of your record. That’s when you know that really broaden peoples horizons

Last year, one of Sweden’s daily newspapers accused the DKM for being a racist band, and Anti-Flag made comments about you beeing racists. Things like that are as old as the scene, but does it surprise you that people never learn?
-It just continues to be the whole misconception in media that all skinheads are racists and we have a bit of skinhead following a non racist following we made it clear from the start that we are completely antiracist, and we’ve done things, played shows to support causes such as the ARA (anti-racist action). It’s just the simple continued iscommunication and misjudgement of skinheads.

You got a lot off support from the Swedish scene, a lot of people called and e-mailed the guy who did the article and list of racistbands and told him that a lot of the bands on is list not where racistbands.
-Yeah I heard that and that’s good because you should check your facts before you make a statement like that. I actually called that guy my self on the phone last year and he said “well, whitepower people runs some whitepower website where your band was listed” and I said “ well if a whitepower guy says he reads your column  in your newspaper does that make you a racist?”. I mean we can’t control if it’s any whitepower people that are listening to our music, If they do listen to our music I’m sure it’s less than 1% because no one wants to focus at the 99% of positive punkrock audience that listen to us, what is it for the media to focus at, something good and positive, there is always gonna to be something negative.

How did the “Mob Mentality” Split CD with The Business come about? Will there be any follow-up, like a tour or something?
-That was just supposed  to be a 7-inch we went in to do for fun but Curties the owner of Taang Records was there and just kept pushing and pushing “do another song, do another song!” and every one was drunk and tired and we just kept on recording songs and next thing a know was a full-length CD. I still don’t know how that happened but it was fun.

Heard that you called the singer in Slapshot and asked him for the lyrics to “Hang Up Your Boots”…
-Yeah, that’s how was deciding the songs, like last minute and then just recording them at the spot in the studio, It was fun and spontaneous.

Will there be any follow up like a tour or something?
-I don’t know, It’s been no talk of it, we’ve toured in the past together, that’s probably the main reason why we haven’t talked about it because you don’t see bands tour together twice to often.

I heard that some people have been selling bootleg copies of the not yet released “Sing Loud, Sing Proud” at various punk shows, what’s your spontane reaction to that?
-We worked on this record over the last year between tours and it’s just frustrating when you put a year in to something and someone has that lack of respect for the band that they just go out and bootleg it before its comes out. I don’t even mind all the Napster stuff and every thing else to but I just wish that every one will wait until the record comes out before they start bootlegging it.

I don´t think it will hurt your record sales, I think that the people who likes DKM will buy the record anyway.
– We have such a cool fanbase that wants the words and every thing so I don’t think it will hurt us.

What’s happening at FLAT Records? Anything coming up? 
-We have a record coming out in January  by a band called Thug Murder it is a all girl punkband from Tokyo. They are really good it’s like old Clash or early rancid sound.

Do you want to add something to the interview?!
-I just like to say that we can’t wait to get back up to Sweden, I have many friends there and people has always treated us great in Sweden. We wanna come up there on tour and hopefully we will every one soon!

Thank you for your time!
Well, thank you!

Interview by : Kim Ahl