Monday, October 29th,
Interview with Matt Kelly of the Dropkick Murphys
The Dropkick Murphys are a seven-piece powerhouse of Celtic punk rock that began in Boston in the mid-'90s. This interview took place before the show at the Rialto Theatre on Oct. 24 with drummer Matt Kelly.
The Dropkick Murphys are:
Al Barr - Vocals
Ken Casey - Bass, Vocals
Matt Kelly - Drums
Spicy McHaggis - Bagpipes
James Lynch - Guitar
Mark Orrell - Guitar, Accordion
Ryan Foltz - Tin Whistle, Mandolin
Wildcat: Have you guys started the tour yet?
Matt: We're close to the end of it.
Wildcat: Really? How long has the tour been going for?
Matt: We started Oct. 4 in Connecticut.
Wildcat: You have been touring off your latest album Sing Loud Sing Proud?
Matt: We did one U.S. tour. But we have 10 shows left, or this might be one of 10 shows that we have left on the tour.
Wildcat: Then where are you going?
Matt: We are going to Japan after this - we should be there for eight or nine days.
Wildcat: Have you been overseas with the band before?
Matt: Oh yeah, I have been in the band since '97.
Wildcat: How has the tour been for this album?
Matt: Fuckin' great · it's a nice combination of all of our styles. We have spent a lot of time trying to get all of the other minstrel-type instruments - accordion, tin whistle, mandolin, (bag)pipes - on more than one song. It has been great being able to write songs like that and then delivering it live. That was always a problem; I mean, we would play with a tape of bagpipes, and it's cool to actually have somebody playing - especially this drunken lout Spicy (McHaggis). It is kind of weird though, because we have to write the songs in B and E flat because those are the only keys that particular type of pipes plays in.
Wildcat: Who decided to put the quote from Martin Luther King Jr. on the inside of your new CD?
("We must learn to live together as brothers, or we are going to perish together as fools.")
Matt: I did.
Wildcat: You did really? What was the reasoning behind it?
Matt: Well, you know because a lot of these little shitheads have (been) telling us we're Nazis and saying we're Nazis. I think it was just to set the record straight because I am sick of having to defend myself for being a skinhead. I am not apologizing, none of us our doing that - we are just sick of the crap. We are not a Nazi band. People that know us know that.
Wildcat: What kind of questions did kids ask you?
Matt: Especially in the beginning most of our crowd were skins. And in Boston, people thought "oh, well you have a skinhead crowd so you must be racist because all skinheads are racist." And they are not because 90 percent of them are not. The Nazis hate Catholics, and most of us are Irish Catholic - and they don't like the Irish for the most part either.
Wildcat: What do you think about all of those ideas?
Matt: I think it is ridiculous. All of that racial superiority crap · it's just not true.
Wildcat: I am just curious, but were you guys on tour on Sept. 11?
Matt: No, we weren't. We were at home. I woke up when the first building was hit. One of my roommates woke me up pounding on my door, and we were wondering what was happening. I sat and watched it all day.
Wildcat: Did the rest of the band get together after that?
Matt: We were practicing that day and the day after, and we decided then that the proceeds from this tour are going to the firefighters in New York. We also have shirts online which all of the proceeds (from) are also going to the fund. I mean, if you have the power to do something, you do it.
Wildcat: How much of the money from the ticket sales are going to the fund?
Matt: I think it is close to 50 percent. We have friends who were involved, doing the bucket brigade. It was a pretty grim situation. You can see big explosions in movies and stuff, but to see it actually happening live on TV is a completely different situation. It's just a horrible, horrible feeling.
Wildcat: Do you think these events will have an effect on what you are writing for your new album?
Matt: We have been writing mostly music. It is going to be tough because everyone is going to be doing it (writing the music). I especially do not want to come off as sounding clichˇ, or jumping on a bandwagon. We have always had a pro-American stance. I just don't want to get caught up in the mob mentality. I think the subject will be brought up on the record, but to what extent I don't know. It's not going to be a concept album or anything like that.
Wildcat: Do you think you will have some sort of dedication?
Matt: Oh yeah, kids we went to high school with died in those planes. We actually had a lot of friends who ended up dying. It has affected us, and it will definitely come up on our next record.
Wildcat: Does everyone just sit down and write the lyrics?
Matt: It's mostly Ken, me. And Al has written some on this one. We start off with just a bare bones structure to a song and then slowly add instruments. We have the root of the songs with the bass - and everyone else adds on to it.
Wildcat: How has it been playing with Tiger Army and Sick of it All? I mean you guys are all very different bands.
Matt: It has been really good, and 90 percent of the time it has been amazing. Everybody will go nuts for every band. And Sick of it All · I have been listening to them since their first album came out. And it is an honor to play with them, and Tiger Army is great. It is diverse enough, but at the same time, each of the crowds likes the other kind of music.
Wildcat: When you are playing on stage, does Al mention that the proceeds are going to the relief fund?
Matt: Oh yeah, we always try to mention that a portion of it is going to the fund. But we do not focus on it or do any soapboxing or anything like that.
Wildcat: Have you noticed a change in the crowds since the attacks?
Matt: Actually, no. People have asked us that a lot, and it has been just as good if not better than before. I don't think it has affected it at all.
Wildcat: Have you guys been recording anything?
Matt: Recording? No, we have just been messing around.
Wildcat: Do you have any idea when you will be heading into the studio?
Matt: Maybe in the winter because we are not going to tour for another eight
months. We're going to play some shows around St. Patrick's Day. We are probably going to put out a live album. We have been recording stuff live for the album; we just want to make sure we have the best quality recording as possible.
Wildcat: After this show where are you guys headed?
Matt: We are heading up to Tempe.
Wildcat: Well good luck on the show.
Matt: Thanks, and come see us play and get beat up at the show · it's fun.