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Interview: Ken Casey of Dropkick Murphys

Shipping up to Lansdowne Street again
By JIM SULLIVAN  |  March 16, 2009


St. Patrick's Day approaches and, to no one's surprise, Dropkick Murphys are setting up shop on Lansdowne Street, this year at the newly opened House of Blues, where they'll play seven sold-out shows March 12-17. The 13-year-old Celtic/punk band, Boston's working-class heroes, have become the city's biggest rock ambassadors. They've written numerous songs about life and strife here, and they're the virtual house band for the Bruins and the Red Sox — they contributed two songs, "Tessie" and "I'm Shipping Up to Boston," that were played at Fenway Park during the World Series seasons of 2004 and 2007. (The latter was also featured in Martin Scorsese's Boston-set, Oscar-winning The Departed.) Their tour, which began mid January in Australia and wraps up here, is called "All Roads Lead to Boston." I spoke with songwriter/singer/bassist Ken Casey about what it all means.

Rumor has it you'll be recording the House of Blues shows for a CD and a DVD.
We're looking to document the end of an era. Our first live album encompassed our first three albums, and we've done three albums since then, so we want to get down on record everything we've been doing. It's a culmination of the past eight years. We're gonna record every show, so who can screw up seven shows in a row? The venue itself is a change for the better. A great venue, great sight lines, big stage. For us, it's always been, "Where do we put all our people?" You've got seven guys [in the band] with big families who know a lot of people in the town, and there's 300 people trying to get on the stage.

And it seems most find a way. You're demi-gods here. How about out of town?
I don't know whether it's the nature of punk rock in general — going back years ago, people supported you as if you were one of theirs, no matter what city you were in. Now I think it's a matter of the Internet; every city's really the same. You get the wider age bracket where some kid might be in his 30s and tells his dad he'll like this band because of the Irish influence. Or, vice versa, dad will bring his 10-year-old kid.

Your previous album, The Meanest of Times, came out in the fall of 2007, before the big crash. People experience a lot of adversity in those songs. And now we really do seem to be in the meanest of times. Were you prescient?
I think I would have thrown a little more venom behind the lyrics if I'd known it was gonna get this bad. We don't try to be too overtly political and soapboxing, but we do try and document what's going on around us. The writing was on the wall for the past eight years. Even though we went through some great economic upswings, there was some stuff going on with the man at the helm I was very distrustful of, and here we are.

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Related: Hot love, The politics of baseball in Boston, Ten years of great sports, More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Boston, Baseball, Sports,  More more >
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