Dropkick Murphys: An Interview with Ken Casey

DKM has established a reputation for hectic touring, but would you agree that what you guys do is intensive or right on compared with other punk bands?


Over the course of our career I think that it probably has been a bit intensive, but I think that nowadays, working under our own record label... we tour a lot, but we've also got families so we don't do it to that part where you're sacrificing sanity or y'know... we get to where we need to go, so, we're definitely not the touring animals that we were. There's also that shift in popularity that makes it more of, you don't want to go back too often, you want to give the fans something new.


So, how about the Drugs and alcohol? Are you all drinking or do you have any straight edge guys in the current line-up?


I think there are some guys in the band that enjoy a beverage y'know. But, it is what it is.


I ask because DKM has something of a political side, like a lot of punk bands, and I was curious to see what the blend of that is with regard to the straight-edge punk movement, from a band which has a "convivial" image like yours.


Yeah, well I think that any band that tries to package themselves too carefully, or too perfectly, y'know, they're probably full of shit. We care about the causes we support and we take them seriously, but at the same time we don't want to take ourselves too perfectly if you know what I mean. You want to have fun with what you're doing too.


And that's what DKM is in a lot of ways, a fun band, especially with the St. Patricks day marathons. How do you physically make it through those multi day schedules?


It's a tougher spot after shows, I mean sometimes we do nine shows in, I think one week, and on occasion there're added acoustic stuff in there like this St. Patrick's Day Roast we did for somebody, so that's ten! But like you said, it's not the shows, it's the carryin' on afterwards that gets you. Even when we're not in our hometowns, when we're on the road we've got so many friends in different towns, you can have like 50 people carrying on. Then with the St. Patrick's Day shows when we're home we've got the after-hours stuff. I mean, sometimes there are more people out the backstage than there are out front watching the thing. But y'know, when you're in a touring band, one of the things you sacrifice is your free time, to spend with friends and family, so it's good to have that time to catch up.


Would you say the touring has anything to do with the notable line-up changes?


Some of it's that. A couple of the guys have met women on the road, and they had to make the choice. Sometimes it's been guys that didn't wanna stick it out; they just didn't see the bigger picture...it's like... they say when the goin gets tough...If the ship gets rocky and things aren't perfect... We've always had a "Love it or Leave it" kind of attitude with the band. "If you wanna be here, great. If you don't, y'know, there's the door."


Did you start that early on by establishing the identity or the attitude of the band?


I think a lot of bands are afraid of losing the original lineup, but then you get too much tension if someone doesn't really want to be there. I can honestly say that we've always had great relations with the guys who've left the band y'kno. If you're not into it then don't be here, because you're bringing the band down, and that's not why the fans are there; We've got to be having fun and to love what we're doing or there's no point.


It's no understatement to say that mainstream news in the US is unreliable, childish and worthless. So, with all the touring, how do you keep in touch with reality and politics, do you feel a part of the USA?


I guess, I think that... we're never really gone for more than a couple of months or so. Every few days you can easily stay in touch with your family y'know. I suppose the best story is that, we were flying from Mexico City to... ah, I forget the name of it, on the Texan border, and there was a hurricane bearing down on that part of Texas. So we're in the hotel room trying to figure out if we should fly there at all, cos there could be a hurricane comin' right at it! And you know, all week we're checking CNN, FOX news etc. And they're giving you 24 hour news feed, but once it crosses the Mexican border they don't talk about that. They're only worried about what it does in the US, but if it kills 10,000 people once it crosses the border, they don't talk about that. (Laughs)


So it's kind of funny, here we are first hand, needing the facts and it's like, ‘Well, the great news is that it's gonna miss the Texas.'


But y'know, like I said we keep in touch with our families and it's so easy now to do that. It's a really big thing to be able to go online and actually see them; that visual connection to your kids is really something. And y'know I've been doin' this for 15 years, it's not like you're running around tryin to find a payphone or something.


How about the use of your music in sports? Clearly there's been the association with the [Boston] Bruins and the Red Sox, but how do you feel about the use of your music in other countries for sports you may not even know the rules of?


Yeah, I don't exactly know the ins and outs of Aussie Rules, but I know that it's something people are passionate about, and I mean, we're sports guys too so that's something we can understand. If it were used in a shampoo commercial, then I think we'd be a little concerned. Now that we're under our own label we have a lot more control to do what we want to do.


So, you're saying that we probably won't get to see ‘ Fields of Anthenry ' used in a Romantic Comedy with Katherine Heigl?


(Laughing) No, I guess not.


DKM has stated that you're not interested in being thought of as an "Irish" band, but what is the crowd reaction in places like Scotland & Ireland, in comparison to places like Australia, Canada, or England?


I think the Irish respect that, y'know we are a Boston band. Being in Boston, there's such an Irish population and that culture is still really alive there, so that music was influenced upon us, but we're still just American. I think the Irish appreciate when you're not trying to be something you're not, you get accepted faster when you don't get off stage and go ‘oh, it's so great to be home' y'know, that bullshit. If they want to treat us like we're part of the family, then that's for them to say, and we have met some really great people, they wanna take you home and feed you dinner y'know. But it's not something you impose upon yourself.


With regard to playing a big punk/metal festival like this [No Sleep Til], are you aware of any difference between Celtic Punk fans, and your average punk or metal fans, or the energy of the crowd?


After touring all over and places like Japan, I think that they don't have to be that familiar with the Celtic side of it, there's a universal nature to punk and ah... when we play in places like Australia where you've got people who have that Celtic background, they get it at a different level, but... on the other hand, people all over just seem to be, ‘oh this is cool, this is something different. There's an instrument that I never heard!' And you put that into a fast, heavy song...there's a uniqueness factor y'know. I think that, in some ways, in countries where it's almost expected that the music follows the same rules, it's... whether there's a background to it or not, it sticks out, and that makes it fun. We're probably gonna be the only band that's on stage with banjos and bagpipes y'know.


Lastly, what would you prefer, to be able to Time Travel, or to live forever/be invincible?


That ah, is the best question I've ever been asked. I don't know how to answer... I guess I gotta say Time Travel because like, if you're gonna live forever there's probably gonna be a point where it's like, ‘I'm kind of over this' y'know what I mean. So I gotta say Time Travel, that'd be pretty wild.


Any specific time or person you'd go to first?


There's a few people I'd go back to and kick their asses.

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