Irish Roots Meet Combat Boots | Sound Stories & Interviews | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
The Source Weekly’s reporting is made possible by the power of your support. Be a part of it!
Pin It

Irish Roots Meet Combat Boots 

Dropkick Murphys make bagpipes headbang

The first time that Matt Kelly heard punk rock he was in middle school. A friend's older sister brought over a mix tape and it only took a few bars of "Where Eagles Dare" by the Misfits to send Kelly running home to destroy his collection of heavy metal records (save, of course, he said in an email interview with the Source, Iron Maiden). That was the first step in a journey that has lasted nearly two decades as the drummer for hard-rocking Irish punk collective Dropkick Murphys.

"I was always interested in [punk] in the '80s when I'd see skaters, punks, and skinhead kids wearing Black Flag shirts, and sensationalistic stuff on the news," said Kelly. "I figured, 'yeah, that's for me.'"

Kelly joined the band in April of 1997 when it was only four members and a merch guy touring the states in the van. Since then, the band has added and lost members, landing on a round seven-piece crew that covers bass, drums, bagpipes, tin whistle, mandolin, accordion, keyboard, bouzouki, harmonica and vocals. The band has been grinding out records (eight to be exact) and relentlessly touring the world for 18 years.

The rest of the Boston band has similar stories to Kelly, growing up listening to a mixture of Irish traditional and bands like the Pouges and Stiff Little Fingers, all of which have come to bear major influence on the group's signature cross-genre style.

"The first song the band wrote, 'Barroom Hero,' combined both styles [punk and Irish traditional], so you could say that it was an aspect of our sound from the beginning," said Kelly. "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."

Between shouty-guttural vocals, and touches of bagpipe, and breakneck drum beats, and tinny mandolin, and whistling, and songs structured with lofty scream-along phrases, the band has established itself as one of the pioneers of punk-fusion. This year's annual St. Patrick's Tour spanned 23 shows, including 5 gigs in its hometown, and has solidified the band's reputation for thrashing punk performances.

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

Even amongst jaded media buzz that "Punk is dead" and fading interest from passive millennials in honest, sweaty, hard-working, brutal punk rock, Dropkick Murphys have never strayed from making the music they love and performing it every night with the force of a thousand Guinness-soaked hurricanes.

"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," said Kelly. "I'm sure our crowd/audience doesn't fall into the category of those so-called 'millennials,' even if they by default, due to their age, do. 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."

Dropkick Murphys

8 pm. Sun., Oct. 5

Midtown Ballroom, 51 NW Greenwood Ave.


About The Author

Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Triple Whammy

    Triple Whammy

    Eric Leadbetter helps bring joy to the music scene, food industry and hospital workers with the St. Charles Meal Mission
    • Jun 1, 2020
  • Life in the 'Badlands' ▶ [with video]

    Life in the 'Badlands' ▶ [with video]

    Casey Parnell's debut solo album is set to the background of nature
    • Jul 29, 2020
Today | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri
Sweet Red & The Hot Rod Billies

Sweet Red & The Hot Rod Billies - River's Place

Sun., Aug. 1, 6-8 p.m.
Submitting an event is free and easy.

Newsletter Signup

Get Central Oregon daily news
directly in your inbox

Get Social

Latest in Sound Stories & Interviews

  • Shireen Amini Breaks Free

    • Jul 28, 2021
    The Bend artist releases a vulnerable and empowering album that celebrates finding the joy in being yourself More »
  • "Shoot The Moon"

    • Jul 21, 2021
    Jeshua Marshall's new single is the first step toward the Redmond musician's debut solo album this fall More »
  • Artist Fact Sheet: Madison Cunningham

    • Jul 14, 2021
    The Grammy-nominee heads to town for a Sisters Folk Festival show More »
  • More »

More by Brianna Brey

Want to advertise with us?

For info on print and digital advertising, >> Click Here

© 2021 LAY IT OUT INC | 704 NW GEORGIA AVE, BEND, OREGON 97703  |   Privacy Policy

Website powered by Foundation