The Dropkick Murphys
Dropkick Murphys formed in 1996 in Boston, MA, and blend influences
from Punk Rock, Irish Folk, Rock&Roll, and Hardcore into one their music.
To date the band has released over ten singles, one E.P. CD, and two Full
Length albums, and two more full length albums are coming up this year,
and has toured in the U.S. Canada, Europe, UK Ireland, Scandinavia, and
Australia. The band has a strong emphasis on representing working class
values and a working class background.
Gardar Eide Einarsson: On the DM bio on your webpage you say that
you want to share your beliefs in self improvement as a means to bettering
society. Could you talk about what you feel is the social/political function
of your music, and whether you feel that it can contribute to changing
society/ the system?
Matt Kelz, Dropkick Murphys: Well, I suppose it may just make kids
aware of certain things they may take for granted, such as one's past,
history, family, etc. I don't think the band can change the world or beat
"the system", but we try to live by example and encourage others to follow
suit. Maybe it can open kids up to a more no-nonsense, stick-to-your-guns
attitude, as opposed to complacency in music, culture(or lack thereof),
or attitude. You can't change people----but you can expose them to something
they wouldn't ordinarily encounter.
GEE: You also describe on your webpage wanting to create an all
for one, one for all environment and of viewing the audience and the band
as the same. Could you talk a little about what effect this flat structure
has in getting your message across?
MK, DM: I guess it shows that the band is just a bunch of regular
guys who happen to play music for a living-- --not some untouchable rock
stars with huge inflated egoes. We're a bunch of guys who love punk rock
and having a pint or ten. The "all for one, one for all" stage environ
is sort of putting into action the words of our songs and lyrics.
GEE: Which role do you feel that fanzines (and other fan initiated
projects like web pages) play for the distribution of your music?
MK, DM: 'Zines, et cetera, obviously help spread the word for bands(especially
smaller or new bands) to people from different regions of the country
or world who would have otherwise never heard (of) the band...I'd say
'zines have always been the backbone of the punk scene; today they and
web pages continue that integral task.
GEE: Which role do the smaller independent record labels in your
experience play in the Boston punk scene? Do you feel that it is
important for punk music to be put out by smaller (perhaps more
idealistically run) record labels?
MK, DM: Labels are another invaluable part of local, national,
and international scenes. Atlantic Records isn't going to put out some
new punk band of fifteen-year-olds from Schenectady, NY; major labels
are and always have been solely about profit.
Smaller labels (usually) release records for the love of the music, and
certain-styled bands sometimes go with labels of their style. This isn't
always necessarily true, though.
There are some great punk labels in Boston, too: A.D.D. Records, Rodent
Popsicle, Flat/TKO(we run the Flat part), Suburban Voice(also a fanzine
going strong after about 18 years!!), Espo Records, X-Claim, Bridge Nine,
Acme Records, and probably many, many more.
GEE: Do you do a lot of touring? What role does touring play for
you and your relationship to the audience?
MK, DM: We toured about 10 1/2 months in 1999, and at least 8-10 months
between 1997-'98. This definitely gets the word out to other parts of
the country and world-- --straight from the horse's mouth!
GEE: Do you feel that there is a different sense of community and
unity (both between the bands and the bands and the audience) on your
shows and when you take part in events than in the more commercial music
MK, DM: The underground music scene has always had its downsides
(infighting, stagnation, namecalling), but I'd rather deal with that than
giant egos, labels telling you what to sound like/act like/wear/endorse/etc.
Plus I don't really know too much about what's going on in mainstream
music...I don't watch much television(unless it's History Channel, Discovery,
or movies), and I only listen to classic rock and oldies radio stations...I'm
out of it! What I have heard pretty much sounds like shit to me(with a
few exceptions), and I don't think I'm missing anything, except maybe
being "cool" and "hip"-- --screw that!
GEE: You describe having a working class background and dealing
with issues from a working class perspective. Do you feel that your audience
share your background? Do you feel that this is important for their understanding
of your music and lyrics?
MK, DM: I think some of our crowd comes from it, but how many working-class
kids are there? I'm sure a lot of 'em listen to rap, techno, or country
for all I know...but I do think that being able to sympathise with a band's
lyrics brings you closer to them and gives it personal meaning for the
kid(s). We don't care if rich kids listen to our songs; hell, they're
still kids who need some sort of outlet for their angst. I just don't
know if they can sympathize. I don't just listen to bands whom I can relate
to: I just listen to what sounds good, which usually happens to be punk,
hardcore, Oi!, folk, and good old-fashioned Rock and Roll.
GEE: How do you feel that your music has evolved compared to the
scenes and bands that you describe as influencial on your music?
MK, DM: Well I don't think there were too many Irish-influenced punk
bands out there before us...there were the POGUES, who gave Irish folk
a punk kick in the ass, and there was PIST-N-BROKE whose song "Ireland"
was longing for their motherland...I'm sure there were a few here and
there, but...I think our sound is somewhat uniquely different from normal
punk, Oi!, folk, hardcore, and rock and roll in the fact that we try to
blend all of them without sounding jumbled, ridiculous, or becoming a
parody of ourselves. We never set out to be the House of Pain of punk
rock...we just play what comes out.
GEE: To what extent do you think that the internet has affected
the distribution of your music and your relationship to your fans?
MK, DM: I guess there are a lot of distributions who have online
mailorder(as do we), so that gets world-wide notice...that right there
is a big way for kids to hear the name and/or get records and cds...I
guess that's the biggest and fastest-growing way to spread the word...it's
sad but true...
an interview with 'No Redeeming Social Value'