Saturday, October 4, 2014

Full Interview, Dropkick Murphys Drummer Matt Kelly

Posted By on Sat, Oct 4, 2014 at 12:42 PM

The Source Weekly's full Q&A with Dropkick Murphys drummer, Matt Kelly. 

click to enlarge KERRY BRETT
  • Kerry Brett

Dropkick Murphys
8 pm. Sun., Oct. 5
Midtown Ballroom, 51 NW Greenwood Ave.
$32. Tickets available at

Source Weekly: How did you originally get into punk rock?

Matt Kelly: I was always interested in it in the ‘80s when I’d see skaters, punks, and skinhead kids wearing Black Flag shirts, and sensationalistic stuff on the news. I figured, “yeah, that’s for me”. When we were in seventh or eighth grade, my buddy’s older sister made a comp tape of the Misfits for me. The first song I heard was “Where Eagles Dare”, and from there on I was down for it… I went home and destroyed all my heavy metal records(aside from Iron Maiden anyway) later that week.

When did you start combining punk and traditional music? Was it a conscious move or did it just happen that way?

MK: The first song the band wrote, “Barroom Hero”, combined both styles, so you could say that it was an aspect of our sound from the beginning. It was in the delivery of the singing, the lyrical content, and the “ahead of the beat” style, skipping forward instead of laying on the backbeat, that gives our sound that style I guess.
Of course we consciously did it, as our influences were/are the Pogues and punk bands like Stiff Little Fingers(whose sound definitely has an “Irish” flare). 

SW: You’re one of the longest standing members of the band. What has it been like to be a part of the group since 1997 and how much has the band grown and changed in those years? 

MK: It’s been a fun ride, I’ll tell you that. Well when I joined in April ’97, it was the four of us and our merch guy Brian in a van. From then, various lineup additions and changes brought us to the current seven-piece band— this is the definitive lineup for our band, and I believe the best incarnation of it. I suppose that throughout the years we’ve grown as people and as musicians and learned to better articulate our ideas. ***

SW: Why is Boston the greatest?

MK: Haha, that’s a tough one. The culture, the weather, the food, the people, the history, and the fact that our roots are here make it the greatest.

SW: How does the rest of the wide world relate to songs like “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” and the “The State of Massachusetts?”

MK: I think the fact that the songs are catchy is first and foremost. “Shipping” is easy and a song of few words, so you can sing along to it immediately. “State”’s subject matter is relevant to a lot of people who have either grown up through the child services system or have children who have. 

SW: How many St. Patrick’s day tours is too many St. Patrick’s day tours? Or will you guys keep having your homecoming shows in Boston until you physically can’t anymore?

MK: There will never be too many St. Paddy’s tours— if people come, we’ll play. I think that yeah, the idea is to just do it until people want to kill us! 

SW: I was just reading an interesting article on Salon that was talking about Bruce Springsteen fandom (how millennials hate Bruce Springsteen, who I know you guys have worked and toured with). It basically said that if you look like you’re working too hard, there’s not enough irony for millennials to connect with your music. Do you feel that way? As a band who gives it all on stage and puts on a pretty damn honest performance, do you feel like most of your fans are a bit older or that you can connect with younger folks, too?

MK: That’s ridiculous. It might be true, but those people can go to hell as far as I’m concerned. I’m sure our crowd/audience doesn’t fall into the category of those so-called “millenials”, even if they by default, due to their age, do. The age of our audience is all over the place. We have twenty-something parents bringing their little children who sing along to every word, and those parents bring their parents sometimes, who connect with part of our sound. Then there are the young teen kids who come to see us.
I sure hope we don’t fall prey to the whims of instantly-jaded millennial hipsters. They can listen to Skrillex or something.

SW: I saw that you guys are doing a live webcast of your concert in Portland. How is technology affecting touring and live performance and what advantages does a free live web broadcast have for you as a band?

MK: I don’t think that it affects either touring or live performance except perhaps to drum up interest in actually being at one of our gigs. Seeing videos/webcasts will hopefully get people to see everybody at the show having a blast, and ultimately make them want to come next time. Other than that, we still have to play a good set and get there and to the next town, which is just as important to us even if it isn’t being recorded.

SW: The guys from Larry and His Flask are from Bend and I know you’ve toured with them and been a big influence on the band. As you crisscross the nation, who are some of your favorite up and coming bands that you’ve been able to play with and where do you see top-notch smaller musical communities?

MK: Yeah, Larry & His Flask are great dudes and a hard-working band. As far as other up-and-comers I dig, there’s NOi!se from Washington State, Sydney Ducks from San Francisco, MFP from Boston, Hard Evidence from St. Louis, Rival Mob and Boston Strangler from… Boston, Oblivionation from Boston, the Repos from Chicagoland, and Midnight from the Cleveland area.

SW: Is punk dead?

The media declared that Punk was dead when they got bored with it. It never died, it just slithered out of the spotlight and had a great time for a long time, and still thrives across the globe.

What’s next for the band? I know you’ve got a 2015 European tour planned and have a large following over there. How are those shows different than playing at home?

We’ll finish up this leg of our tour at the beginning of October, and then do the next leg in November. Right after that we’ll do Mexico City for only the second time, and South America for the first time ever. I’m really psyched for that!
The European tour should be amazing as always. Playing in America is the best…. but… My thoughts on the difference between European and American gigs is that in Europe, people aren’t afraid of looking goofy or stupid during a gig, and will have a blast regardless of who they think might be judging them as cool or uncool. They’re not afraid to sing along.

SW: Working on new material any time soon?

MK: Yeah, we’re currently getting some new material together for an album we’ll be recording next Spring. I’m psyched to start working on new stuff, it’s always a blast.

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