DFW Music News

Q&A: Ken Casey of Dropkick Murphys Talks Touring, Menudo, Politics and, Of Course, Red Sox

Dropkick Murphys has been doing its jig-infused version of punk rock for nearly 15 years now. And, in that time, the band has seen its fan base expand greatly as its sound grew more and more Irish-inspired.

Known for its beer-soaked live performances, the band is about to release its second live album. Live on Lansdowne was recorded last year over the span of seven shows performed in six nights during the week of Saint Patrick's Day. Like everything the band has released, the new record is loud, drunken and fun.

Speaking from a hockey rink in Boston, bassist/vocalist Ken Casey took some time away from his three kids to talk about a plethora of issues.

The band seems to be constantly on tour. As a family man, does such become tiresome?
There are some days when you'd prefer to not leave town, but, all in all, it's an awesome job and it's a great way to see the world. If those thoughts ever cross our minds that it's a tiring job, the fans arrive; you realize that you get to play for these great people who appreciate what we do. That makes it all worthwhile.

Many critics see Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly as the de facto godfathers of Celtic punk. Does it feel that way to you?
I think there are not a lot of bands to do it to that degree, on that level. Both bands tour relentlessly and obviously, it's paid off for both of us.

Seeing that the band has almost as many ex-members as it does current members, would it be off base to call you guys the Deep Purple of Celtic punk?
True. When we started out, it was just a four-piece. Then, we expanded to seven. We've always adopted the attitude of love it or leave it. But we've always maintained great relations with anyone who has left the band. I prefer to call us the Menudo of Irish punk. I am hoping at some point, I can pass the torch to my kids.

Was 2001's Sing Loud, Sing Proud the album where the band's popular fortunes started to turn?
I think that record was a big turning point for us. We were always this punk rock band with Celtic influences. We used to separate the songs, play a punk song then play an Irish jig. Starting with that album, we leveled the two into one. And things just took off from there.

On that album, you collaborated with Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan. Was that a pleasant experience?
Working with Shane was a great experience. He was quite inebriated, which is how you would want it to be while you work with him. That's what you expect from him. He is a character. That's for damn sure.

The band has been known as leaning to the left politically. With that in mind, how would you rate President Obama after his first year?
I am never a fan of the politician per se. I think Obama was left with a shit sandwich and it's kind of unfair to truly judge a guy on what he has done in one year. Now, I'm not exactly excited by what he has done either. I don't have much faith in politicians in general. I guess you could call me jaded.

Is that why you think Republican Scott Brown recently won the late Edward Kennedy's Senate seat?
That's just goes to show you how jaded people are over the status quo. I think it's sad that, in a strong Democratic state, such a shocker of an outcome happened. I guess you can thank Scott Brown's truck for proving he is a regular guy. I don't know if he is or not. I don't know the man. He did pose naked, so he may not be as uptight as some of the other politicians.

With seven people in the band, does the stage get crowded?
God yes. Fortunately, these days, we play some good-sized venues. But some nights, you can't help but bump into each other. It makes it fun up there. It keeps you on your toes.

Both the Red Sox and the Bruins use the band's music on various occasions. What makes your music so sports-friendly?
I think the music we play, especially instrumentally--y'know the marching band type stuff, bagpipes. And I think it lends itself to building intensity within the crowd. I think it has allowed the band to cross the road in a different way. We made it without the help of mainstream radio. We've reached so many new fans by being a part of those two franchises.

Dropkick Murphys perform tonight at House of Blues with Strung Out and Larry & His Flask.

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Darryl Smyers
Contact: Darryl Smyers