Without a doubt, one of our favorite bands to catch live is the Dropkick Murphys, as we have never witnessed a performance from this band where they didn’t give it their all and put their entire heart and soul into each performance. Their recent performance at the 2019 Louder Than Life Festival held in Louisville, Kentucky was no different, as we thoroughly rocked out to their entire set!
The Dropkick Murphys flawlessly blends together elements of punk, rock, hardcore and Irish folk music to create a sound that will forever be unique to themselves and have done a fantastic job of carving out a place from themselves among some of the top rock bands. At any time during a Dropkick Murphys performance, you can find yourself seeing not only just your average guitar, bass and drums on stage but rather an array of instruments that include everything from accordions to bagpipes, banjos and mandolins. They always provide a truly memorable performance.
The Dropkick Murphys have nine studio albums under their belt and many fans wait with bated breath for the band to perform their massive hit single “I’m Shipping Up To Boston”, however the band has such a strong catalog of music it is always hard for us, at least, to choose a favorite track. Dropkick Murphys are touring in support of their “11 Short Stories Of Pain & Glory” album, released through the band’s own Born & Bred Records in 2017. The album debuted at #8 on the Billboard Top 200 and was the #1 independently released album. There’s a feeling of purpose throughout the album, influenced by the band’s work with The Claddagh Fund, a charity the band established in 2009 to help support addiction recovery as well as children’s and veterans’ organizations.
While out at Louder Than Life Festival we had a chance to catch up with Dropkick Murphys guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Tim Brennan to talk about the band’s touring plans, history, music and more.
When chatting with us about their earlier set time at Louder Than Life and them being known for keeping the party going all night long, Brennan tells us with a laugh, “You’d be surprised what time bedtime turns into, but we try to, yeah! ”
Speaking about the band’s approach to larger festivals versus the small intimate club show, Brennan reveals, “We try not to treat it too differently. There might be songs better here and there that work with a bigger crowd than they do with a tiny crowd, but other than that we treat it as business as usual.”
We asked Brennan about what the band is currently working on these days to which he replied, “We are just getting ready to wrap up a tour with Amigo The Devil, Hatebreed, and Clutch which has been phenomenal. We are gearing up for a little bit of time off for the rest of the year. We might do a few things here and there and I would venture to say that we are going to start hunkering down and writing another album soon. Hopefully, in 2020, we can put out some new music, as we are hoping to start working on that sooner rather than later.”
We also wanted to know if Dropkick Murphys were a band that puts bits and pieces of new material together on the road or need to take some time away from touring to get the creative juices flowing. Brennan says, “The way that we tend to do it, is we will block out time when we are home. We’ve tried to write on the road before and it doesn’t work so well for us for whatever reason. There are a few of us who write most of the music and are constantly coming up with stuff, but we won’t all sit down and look at it together until we say, let’s sit down this week and start doing some writing. It’s cool. I’ve been in bands before where we’ve just written as we go along and I’ve been in bands where we haven’t so it works, however, it works for us and it just so happens with this group of guys the blocking out the time is how we do it .”
Dropkick Murphys are veterans of the music scene and have obviously witnessed quite a few changes over the years since they began back in 1996. When asked which of these changes has had the biggest effect on the band Brennan tells us, “I would say that the biggest thing has been streaming, but it hasn’t affected us too much in the sense that we were always that under the radar band, meaning that we would sell records, but it was never so much that it would grab the attention of mainstream media or anything like that. Fortunately for us, it hasn’t been too bad, as the streaming thing has affected everybody. Anyone who made part of their living off selling records it had an effect on.”
We asked Brennan about the name the band has made for themselves within pop culture as their songs have popped up in various tv shows and films including the 2006 Academy-Award winning film “The Departed”. Brennan comments, “It is still so surreal to us. I come from a big Notre Dame football family and Notre Dame is the “Fighting Irish” so they use a couple of our songs, so to be sitting there and watching a Notre Dame football game with my dad and hear “Boys Are Back” or “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” it’s strange. It’s very strange. It almost doesn’t register that it’s us. It’s definitely wild. I also think “The Departed” thing really kicked the door open for that as well.”
Speaking about their charity organization The Claddagh Fund and the recent show they performed for a young boy with cancer Brennan tells us, “Ken and I went to go see this little boy Quinn and his family who live right outside of Boston so we were able to get down there and he can’t leave his house, so he’s got a little window. He was so cute and his family was so nice and we were so happy to do that. The Claddagh Fund, right before we left, held their annual golf tournament where we raise a bunch of money for addiction treatment, alcohol, and drug addiction, and because we have such a loyal fan base we’ve been able to help a lot of people and that, to be able to use whatever popularity we have for good like that has been amazing.”
You can see Quinn and the Dropkick Murphys heartwarming video below:
Dropkick Murphys always have something big planned for St. Patricks Day and it appears that 2020 will be no different. Brennan teases, “I can’t really say yet! But you would have to imagine it would have something to do with playing in Boston, for what seems like a long amount of time. Normally we will do a tour in Europe or in The States that kind of runs up to it and then we will play for about a week at home. We haven’t completely locked in the plans yet so I can’t say too much, but you can bet it’s going to be the normal, fun Dropkick Murphys St. Patricks Day.”
Brennan also told us a bit about Ken’s [Casey] boxing promotion and their work with the Claddaugh Fund, as the band will sometimes play acoustically at the fights. We commented that it is amazing to see a band give back to the community the way that Dropkick Murphys do and Brennan says, “Thank you. We are so lucky to be where we are and get to do this for a living, as we are literally just seven idiots from the northeast who happened to fall into being able to do this so as long as people keep coming and loving what we are doing, as it’s just so phenomenal, and as long as they do, we’re going to keep doing it.”
Revealing to us what he “nerds” out about in his spare time Brennan reveals that he is a “huge TV and film buff! ” He goes on to say, “I retain a lot of weird movie quotes. I come from one of those families that communicates with one another through film quotes, so that and music are pretty much the things that I grew up with. He is currently binging the new “Dark Crystal” series on Netflix and “Arrested Development” is his favorite show ever!
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