After sixteen years of growl, music lovers can't help but think of Dropkick Murphys when someone mentions Boston. The band with equal parts swagger and bagpipes is as much a part of the fabric of Beantown as the brownstones that dominate the city. Despite the Murphys' undying love for the Red Sox, St. Louis welcomes the band tomorrow, October 31 for a special Halloween show at the Pageant.
In his Bah-stun accent, drummer Matt Kelly recently chatted with us about crazy Europeans and the benefits of inking Dropkick allegiance on your arm. We also may or may not have ragged on the Cubs a little.
Allison Babka: Sometimes I have a hard time describing the Dropkick sound to newbies. "Celtic punk" doesn't quite seem to cover it, you know? How would you describe what you play?
Matt Kelly: Ooooh! Yeah, we're The Ramones meets The Pogues meets AC/DC meets The Who meets Sex Pistols. You know, punk with some traditional [Irish] instrumentation thrown in.
Signed and Sealed in Blood comes out Jan. 8. What's up with the name? Have you been watching Dexter too much?
Ha! I don't have cable! The title comes from lyrics from "Rose Tattoo." It'll be the first single and, I think, the fourth track on the album.
What can we expect from the new album?
We're really psyched! We've been playing the new songs at our live shows since June, and the reaction from fans has been unprecedented. You know, [people] might have heard six songs live and now don't want to wait for whole album. We're just wicked psyched. This one is full of big anthems again. Our last studio album [Going out in Style] was more of a concept album, but this one is loud, straight-up Dropkick.
Tell me about this tattoo deal. If fans tattoo some Dropkick love onto themselves and send you a photo, they might be included in the new album art?
Well, we've encouraged photos and video of tattoos if fans were going to get Dropkick tattoos anyway, and we'll use them in the artwork. We've received some really good stuff! This truly will be a public record. It's a huge honor that someone would enjoy what we do enough to tattoo themselves. I've only seen about ten to fifteen of the submissions so far, but I've been really impressed. It just means so much that a tattoo ties the album to fans and is special to them.
You'll be playing St. Louis on Halloween. Will you be in costume?
[Laughs] One of us might be in a dress or something, you never know. We may do Halloween tune by one of fave horror bands from '80s. With us, you just never know.
What's the best costume you had as a kid?
You guys finish up your North American tour in November, and then you head to Ireland and rest of Europe. How is playing to the Irish-Irish different from playing to the Boston-Irish?
We're always accepted over there. In 1998, we even went to Thin Lizzy's old hangout. Yeah, some of the people there think we're "plastic Paddies," but it [traditional Irish songs] really is the music we grew up listening to in our homes as part of the Irish-American tradition in Boston.
Our audiences of Americans are sort of more reserved compared to those in Europe. Europeans just don't care if they all go bananas. They have, let's say, a goofier reaction at shows. It's refreshing, knowing that everyone isn't same everywhere. People can be homogenous in how they dress and talk everywhere, so it's fun to go to other places. Like, Boston may as well be another country compared to somewhere in California in regards to demeanor and style of dress.
The Murphys have had a love affair with Boston since the band's inception. What's so great about your city?
It's just the character of people in town and in every generation. Admittedly, up to 2004, we all had a love-hate relationship with our baseball team, but the drought, the rise and fall added to character of both our band and the town. Local patriotism is a wonderful thing. We've got history, interesting stuff. The band and our families are rooted here. We're a bunch of kids who grew up with not a lot. Where we come from, we don't forget it.
What's it like performing in Fenway?
Oh man, it's like if you're a priest and hanging out at the Vatican! Fenway is the epicenter of Boston. So much history, joy and sorrow. Just getting on the grass is a big, big deal. It's a memory we'll all cherish.
St. Louis still kind of hates Boston for the 2004 World Series. We were pretty much OK with you guys until then.
After this year's Red Sox season, you all should. I'm even more of a hockey guy, so I'm bummed [with the lockout.]
But it was my brother, James [Lynch], our guitarist and myself in the nosebleeds at Game 3 of the [2004 ALCS] Yankees series. We were losing and freezing, but we thought maybe they'd come back. Well, not that night. But then came the greatest comeback in history the next game [the 12-inning ALCS Game 4] and the other games, lo and behold.
And now you've got the "Curse of the Bambino" out of the way. At least you're not the Cubs.
The Cubs [laughs]. Yeah, they've got it pretty rough. I've got friends in the South Side, and my heart goes out to them. I mean, their curse is, what, some Greek guy and goat?