Doesn’t matter how hard you rack your brain, it’s tough to think of many bands who deserve more straight up respect than the Dropkick Murphys. After eleven years and a definite evolution from practicing in a barbershop basement to becoming St. Patrick’s Day show legends, the group is still the same rare breed of seven average, hard working nice guys who just happen to have the ability to step on a stage and create some of the most rollicking Irish punk rock known to modern man.
Even with the bragging rights to a commanding live show with stronger feelings of unity than those of a family reunion, drummer Matt Kelly holds dear that lovable Murphy sentiment of modesty.
“We’re only in a band,” he explains. “People like our music, not our personalities, per se. So why have an inflated ego?”Good question … then why aren’t humble bands like the Murphys recognized more often, if not for their talent, simply for their borderline anti-rockstar attitudes? In a day and age where one can gain worldwide hero worship solely on the grounds of being a bona fide asshole (think Anna Nicole Smith), it’s refreshing to hear a musician like Kelly declare that “anybody can write a song or strum some chords. We’re just lucky enough to have been at the right place at the right time for whatever success we have. We have more to be thankful for than to be assholes about.”
Amen. A breath of fresh musical air has arrived, and it’s wearing a kilt.
Out of all the compilations the Murphys have contributed to, which has been the most memorable?
Kelly: The Motorhead tribute compilation was a really cool one, as there were a lot of styles represented, and a few unique takes on a very one-dimensional, but great style. Plus, it came out as a picture LP, so it made it even more memorable!
As a self-declared working class Democrat, how’d you feel about the recent takeover in Congress?
Kelly: I’m not a Democrat, and never was. As far as the takeover in Congress, I’m not a fan of a huge majority on either [the] Democrat or Republican side. The ideal situation would be for as even a match as possible. Both sides serve their own agendas and should be watched closely. I suppose what the Democratic takeover means is more taxes and social programs.
Well, who’s your ideal Democratic presidential candidate?
Kelly: Maybe one that is elected because of their qualities as a leader, and one that isn’t elected solely as a backlash to the disastrous Bush regime.
The Pogues, obviously an influence of the Murphys, were largely the band that made Irish-style music acceptable and cool for punks. Do you feel as though you’re doing the same for a new generation?
Kelly: Maybe. There are a lot of other bands that are even more directly influenced by that style, such as Flogging Molly, the Tossers, etc., that the “purists” might find more appealing in that direction. We take influence from it, but it isn’t the only dimension to our sound. I guess you could call us the “gateway band” for that style. (laughs)
How is working under Epitaph different than Hellcat Records?
Kelly: It really isn’t; Hellcat is a subsidiary of Epitaph. They’re run out of the same offices and warehouse. Hellcat was started by [Rancid’s] Tim Armstrong through Epitaph as a new branch of the label.
There’s a lot of unity felt at your live shows. Growing up, what band’s live show did that for you?
Kelly: Thanks! Maybe Agnostic Front back in ‘90-91, Swingin’ Utters in the early to mid- ‘90s, and every time I ever saw Iron Maiden.
Do you have a favorite song to perform live?
Kelly: Either “Wheel of Misfortune,” “Rocky Road To Dublin,” “You’re A Rebel,” [Iron Cross] or “Working” by Cock Sparrer.
Which city do you feel has the most receptive crowds?
Kelly: That’s a really tough one. So many cities have such rabid fans, it’s hard to pick just one … so, I’ll give you a top three, at press time, anyways: Munich, Boston and Tokyo.
If you could give a sort of “State of the Murphys” address to all your fans, what would you say?
Kelly: (emphatically) Thanks so much for sticking by us and for your support over the last eleven years! Also, stop wearing our shirts to our gigs! You just don’t DO that! Oh yeah, get a haircut and wear some clothes that fit you … clean it up, kids! (laughs)