What started out in the late ’90s as a group of friends in Boston getting together to play some punk rock is now the phenomenon that is Dropkick Murphys. For those who listen to punk and have always listened to punk, the “Murphs” as they are so often called, need no introduction. For those of you under a rock, they are the group who made that one song you liked after watching The Departed. Yeah, that group with the bagpipes and gritty, anthemic vocals. Those guys.
The group released Signed and Sealed in Blood, their eighth full length album, back on January 8 and are currently on tour to support it. Good news for fans in Austin is The Murphs are bringing their raucous and energetic live-show back to Austin for a headlining concert at Stubb’s on Wednesday night, Feb. 27. Before the show hit the road, I was able to chat with drummer Matt Kelly briefly about the new record, challenges the band faces and their upcoming plans for after the tour.
First and foremost, can you tell us little about the new album? What were some of the changes to your process when writing, recording?
Matt Kelly: Well it’s called Signed and Sealed in Blood, came out literally like a year after the previous one Going Out in Style. Just after Going Out in Style and, you know – got so much energy and you keep writing tunes…so we just started rehearsing and it just started coming out and we were psyched about them- between tours we’d be in the studio, between studio’s we’d be on tours, playing a few of them live – songs like “Rose Tattoo,” “My Hero,” and a couple others we were playing live back in June I think before we even recorded them, I can’t remember – parts of them were recorded. As far as writing process I mean…after the last album – I guess so much left over energy and ideas and all we wanted to do was regenerate, go out to dinner, continue on back – staying on a bunch of tunes that we’re just psyched about.
What inspired you or inspired your favorite song off the new record ?
Matt: I really dig “The Boys are Back” the lead off track,…”Rose Tattoo” and maybe, I really dig “The Battle Rages On” too. As far as “The Boys are Back” we were on a flight to Europe and one of the guys was drunkenly talking about we should write a song the boys are back and they’re looking for trouble and literally like a month later and it was the first lyric to the song. “Rose Tattoo” we were actually playing on a European tour and it was Ken, who brought the lyrics up about how personal tattoos are, well can be, should be.
I imagine in all your years there have been more than a few crazy nights on the road, what’s the weirdest or craziest thing that happened while out touring ?
Matt: Well it doesn’t involve us oddly enough, we’re pretty straight up dudes i guess, you know a few beers afterwards, hang out, listen to music, and go to bed. One night in I want to say Saratoga, upstate New York somewhere in a club, and one of the guys after the set dropped some stuff of his like cloths to the bus – so he went on the bus to get them and there are people on there, cool – must be friends of somebody, oh cool..and then he comes out..oh so another guy finally went in the bus and literally there’s a couple who were naked…on the couch on the front part of the bus, banging. These people- we had no idea who the hell they were having sex on our bus, they sneaked on…and were clearly banging.
What would you say are some of the challenges the Dropkick Murphy’s face as a band after all these years?
Matt: Being able to play an hour and a half every night, it takes its toll. This last tour I mean, Al lost his voice…for two shows in a row which is a problem. You play a bunch of shows in a row and it’s winter time, it’s not the best conditions.
What are the plans for the band after this tour for the rest of the year?
Matt: Well we get home for like nine days and then we go to Australia…to a festival with Iggy Pop and Status Quo which I’m really psyched about. From that we play Hawaii and then some dates on the west coast and then we have a couple months before we start some festivals and stuff in the states in June, July and August – and then we’ll have some other stuff coming for September, October – nothing really set in stone so nothing I want to say, but you’ll be hearing and seeing a lot of us.
Watch the video for “The Boys Are Back” from Dropkick Murphys below.