Dropkick Murphys: The Big Daddy of St Paddy

St Patrick is no stranger to a day of Irish culture involving drinking copious amounts of Guinness, loud louts and green clothing to match. Neither are the ever-energetic Dropkick Murphys who have made St Patrick look like a two can Sam by upping the ante and stretching St Patrick's Day celebrations out to a week.


In preparation for their epic week of St Patrick's Day shows in Boston, Al Barr of the Dropkick Murphys converses with tales of mooning Irish kiltsmen, their Live on Lansdowne album release and on being an American punk rock band who utilise Celtic instruments.


With a large Irish community in Boston, the Dropkick Murphys have started an annual tradition that now sees sold out shows across the St Patrick's Day week.


Al divulges, "It's become kind of a staple of the band and the holiday now in Boston. People come from all over the country and all over the world sometimes to come to these shows. This is our tenth year doing them; seven shows in six days, it's a crazy time."


Go crazy? Don't mind if I do! But it's not a carousel ride for the Murphys watching the drunkards pass by, the week seems to take its toll.


"We're so busy making sure all the people we haven't heard from all year and our families are getting in for free. Then we have to play the shows, and usually have some radio interviews or performances, some signings to do somewhere amongst other things. They load the week up; it's like a giant shit sandwich.


"We don't really have time to observe any crazy things going on. The whole week is crazy and the backstage isn't any less crazy then being on stage because you're inundated with all these relatives all fired up and in some cases liquored up.


"Although there always seems to be some jackass who gets on stage wearing a kilt showing his goods to the world, but that's just part of the course."


If you do live on the other side of the world, as we do here in this lovely little land of Oz and can't get to the shows in Boston to experience the madness, not to worry as this year the band is releasing a live album that captures the thrills and spills of their Paddy's Day performances.


"We did a live (St Patrick's Day) record in 2002 and it just covered what we had done up until that point. It's been three studio albums since then, and there has been a lot of line up changes so this time we want to imprint where the band is now, with the current line-up and what's going on.


"The band is so rooted in our live show, that's really what we're all about. The audience is such an integral part of the Dropkick Murphys experience. There are no songs that were on the first (Live on St Patrick's Day) record; it's an all-new roster of songs with some special guests. I think it's a good record, wait I think it's a great record for Christ's sake."


These special guests include The Mighty Mighty Bosstones who help them belt out one of their telltale works, ‘Shipping up to Boston', which also features in Martin Scorsese's The Departed and is the anthem for the current AFL advertising campaign.


There are no plans to come to Australia any time soon though, but with a new studio album on the way, the Dropkicks will be leering over this way eventually.


"We're working on one and will hopefully be in the studio this fall (our spring) for a release late in the year or early next year, so we will definitely be back down under. We twist our arm to get to Australia; we have a great time whenever we're there.


"Even though our live record is something we're excited about, to travel so far I think people are going to want to hear some new songs. We owe them that."


Their sound is unique. Traditional Irish folk tunes that are hijacked by kick arse punk rock.


"It has been an evolution over the years. With the first two records the band was a four piece, then we added a second guitar player, shortly after that we added the Celtic instruments. We always knew people that could play Celtic instruments and we had little splashes of that on the first two records but we thought that it was a bit cheesy to do a song in the studio and not be able to recreate it live.


"That's why we never really went full bore until we found people that could tour and be band members. Since we have been able to incorporate that it's been a progression. Sing loud, sing proud - you'd have a punk song then a folk song in a punky vein. With the latest album you have an infusion of both in one song that has developed through years of doing it."


So what kind of reception does an American Irish Punk band get in Ireland?


"It's always a good one. The first time we went it was a little prickly. We only played one show in Dublin in 1998 and the show was great. But the interviews I did, the people were a bit leery; they didn't understand what these yanks were all about playing Irish music.


"But we made them realise that all we were doing was going outside the rock and roll and punk influence to incorporate Irish folk. There are people in the band of Irish decent but it wasn't as if we were trying to claim that we were from Ireland, we are all American punk rock band.


"Then (the Irish) people were a little at ease after that. We do well over there. It's a smaller audience like Australia. We say that one Australian is worth a hundred anywhere else."


A little mischievous leprechaun has finally led us to his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, The Dropkick Murphys' Live on Lansdowne record which is out now.

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