Dropkick Murphys: grilled by Barnacle Brian
Dropkick Murphys Interview With Al Barr, and Mark Orrell aka (The Kid) October 27, 2003 Portland, Oregon
We got ahold of Al and Mark, for X-58 Radio (a local radio station) before the Portland gig at the Crystal Ballroom, Here’s what we got…
I know you guys have come along way since the barbershop basement days, where do you see the Dropkick Murphys in 3-5 years?
Al: That’s a tough…That’s hard to say, I mean we’re always growing, (know what I mean) in numbers in the band (laughs).
The Kid: We can’t predict the future.
Al: We like to think our music is growing and not changing, but getting better, hopefully. So just doing pretty much the same as what we’re doing now, we’re just trying to put out the best music we can, and touring…
The Kid: We’re pretty healthy, so I figure we’ll still be around…
Al: well some of us..(laughs) Some of us have been avoiding the doctor for years.
Brian/S’n’O: You’ve been leaning more & more towards using traditional Celtic instruments, Is that going to continue on future recordings?
Al: From the inception of the band, we’ve always used those instruments. In the studio records like Sing Loud Sing Proud, we got guys in the band that were in the punk scene, but played Celtic instruments, so we were able to take that on the road. Before we had a ceiling, so we weren’t gonna put alot of those intruments on the records because, If we can’t recreate it live, it’s a bumout, know what I mean?, Now we have the instrumentation, so we will continue to incorporate that.
The Kid: We’re looking at a didgerido player. He’s gonna be coming in for the next record. It’s gonna be pretty cool.(Trys to keep a straight face – but starts to laugh)
Al: Yeah, we’re gonna fly him in from Australia (laughs) No, that’s not gonna happen.
As of today, who are your favorite bands? Extra points for naming Hudson Falcons.
Al: Not the Hudson Falcons.(laughs) Although they are friends of ours. I’m being honest, but favorite bands right now? Jesus, the new Joe Strummer record…
The Kid: The new Joe Strummer record is REALLY good.
Al: Yeah the new Joe Strummer record, and I don’t wanna cheapen that answer with any others, so i’d just say the new Joe Strummer record.
Tell us about the Boston Bruins gig, you guys have lined up.
Al: Well, what we’ve been told is we’re gonna play the FleetCenter, on the 15th of November, when they play Vancouver, and we’ll see how that goes, I mean it’s the first time we’ll play…
The Kid: At the FleetCenter, at a sporting event.(Laughs)
On the ice or what? (laughs)
The Kid: No, they’re taking out handicap seats and building a stage for us, so it’ll be pretty cool. We wanted to play in between the periods, that would be cool. Hopefully people will stick around for the set after the game…
Al: We’ll see who sticks around and see who throws shit at us!
The Kid: Ahh, It’s too loud!!! (regarding some “older” fans)
Heather/X-58: If you were on the ice, i’m sure people would stay! (laughs)
Al: Maybe we’ll just rush the ice, and…
What do you think of this whole Celt-Punk genre? And do you think websites like Shite’n’Onions are doing a great job? (This question was originally for Ken, who i’ve been told is an S’n’O fan)
Al: I ‘m not really familiar with the website (Bastard – that the last time we’re ever nice to you – S’n’O), and obviously there’s a lot of bands that are doing the whole Celtic punk thing. There’s a lot of bands bands that have been doing Celtic music for a long time. I think with the Dropkick Murphys, we’ve always been a punk band first, and then we incorporate the celtic influences later. But yeah, there’s alot of bands doing it, and doing a great job with it. We are just doing what we do, and letting the people decide.
What was it like working with Woody Guthrie’s lyrics on Blackout?
The Kid: An honor. Al: Yeah, It was an honor, and a daunting task to be asked to write music for unpublished lyrics for someone as great as Woody Guthrie, know what I mean? We had music already that was written. We were calling the music for that “Reggae Ramone” actually, because it sounded like a reggae meets The Ramones song. So we had that music, and actually Kenny and I were in the basement of his house looking though the Guthrie lyrics saying “How in hell are we gonna tackle this job?” because it’s not something we though of as being easy. We had a little handheld cassette recorder of our band practice in the background with these guys playing the music to what became “Gonna Be A Blackout Tonight” and Kenny picked up the lyrics to that, and was reading it, and (the music) just happened to be playing, and said “What do you think of this?” and we said “yeah that’ll work!” and it just kind of fell together.
The Kid: Hopefully, he’d not rolling around in his grave right now.
Al: Hopefully we did him proud. I think in spirit, it’s in line with what he was all about.
Brian/S’n’O: Especially with your background…
Al: Right, it’s in keeping with the whole thing.
So, any chance of flying me out to the St. Paddy’s Day show in Boston?(Laughs)
Al: We don’t even know where we’re gonna be doing this and where we’re gonna be doing that. Know what I mean, we know we’re gonna be playing some shows in Boston, but there’s now talk of possibly doing some West Coast shows in California that same week. So we don’t really know. (looks at the mic) Don’t plan your calanders around what I just said, because that could all change tommorow. We definatley will be playing Paddy’s Day week. Definatly be playing shows in Boston. As far as how many? Last year we did four…
The Kid: Seems like, No, we did five.
Al: We did five?
The Kid: No, four, but it seems like every year we add a day on.
Al: Or they try to add another day..
Brian/S’n’O: A whole work week!
The Kid: Exactly.(Laughs)
When you guys were in elementary school, and the teachers asked what you wanted to be when you grew up, what did you guys answer to that?
Al: I Don’t know if would have answered a Singer, but since I was in grade school, I was singing in concert choir. I was always singing along with Elvis, or The Beatles, when I was 10, or 11.Then when I was 12 or 13, I heard some harder stuff like punk, you know, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Clash, that kind of stuff. So I always loved music, & I always loved singin’ along. I had a little Hi-Fi, you know, it looked like a suitcase, and you could open it up and it was a record player.
Heather/X-58: I had one of those.
Al: Yeah you know what I mean. I would always just sing along with music. My father gave me all his Beatles records, my first record was a “Hunka, Hunka Burnin’ Love” by Elvis in 4th grade. I think you get caught up.. Everybody tries to outdo themselfs with the whole (little snotty kid voice) I wanna be a spaceman,I wanna be a fireman,a policeman, oh yeah? well i’m gonna be a friggin’ G.I. Joe. ya know? (laughs) But yeah, I think I’ve always loved singing and loved being on the stage. Like I said, since I was a kid, I was doing the concert choir and stuff, so we’d perform in front of all the old folks, and parents, and that kinda thing, so.
The Kid: I kinda wanted to be a hockey player. I was playing hockey, like for the Lakers, back in Worchester.I always wanted to be a hockey player, I looked up to Wayne Gretsky, and Bobby Orr and stuff. They were always my favorites. Basically I wanted to be a hockey player. I don’t have a long drawn out story like Al did! (Laughs)
Al:(laughs) That’s just cause i’m long and drawn out!(laughs)
What’s your favorite song to play live?
Al: Right now, i’d say the “Workers Song”
The Kid: “Workers Song” yeah, Definatley, it’s a rockin’ number.
Al: It’s like you said, a rockin’ number. Just the way it kicks in, and the way the audience responds to what the lyrics are saying. You see everybody singing along with that, and as soon as we kick that song in, everybodys eyes bug out, and they’re psyhced. Know what I mean? It gets the hair on the back of your neck to stand up.
What’s your favorite album of yours?
Al: I’d say Blackout.
The Kid: Blackout, yeah, yeah, definatley.
Were you influcenced by The Pogues?
Al: I would say that musically…Obviously there are influcences there because The Pogues were doing, what we were doing, years ago, but more in the traditional sense, they had that punk edge, just because I think Shane MacGowan’s attitiude more than anything else, and the time that The Pogues started in London, there was a punk explosion going on at the same time, and his other band The Nipple Erectors were also definatly a punk band for that time period.
We as a band have never sat around, I mean when it comes to writing we don’t sit around to music and write like… I don’t know, I’m 35 years old. I get my influences when I write music from my daily life. So that’s kinda how I write.
So, how many of you are Irish? Or have Irish in you?
Al: I’d say everybody in the band except me.
The Kid: I’m half Irish, & half English.
Brian/S’n’O:Your part English? (Laughs) So you guys are the butt of all the jokes in the band?
Al: and I’m the Scottish Kraut, you know what? First of all, (stares at the mic) I don’t wanna be Irish. (Everyone laughs) Because the curse is true!
The Kid: Al’s holding up his pinky right now! The Irish curse.
Al: The Irish curse, I don’t wanna part of that. I don’t wanna stuff socks in my drawers! (Laughs) So, you can have the Mick’s. The Mick’s can…You know.. Whatever. My oldest friend, Peter Donovan’s a Mick, I love him. I’ve grown up with Irish my whole life, Irish American, but, yeah, I’m a Scottish Kraut.
Heather: I’m Irish, & German, so I can make the beer and then drink it.
Al: There ya go!
Brian/S’n’O: (Laughs) Either way around huh?
Heather/X-58: Either way, it’s good. So, what’ your favorite beer?
The Kid: (points at a bottle) Budweiser brand beer.
Al: I don’t drink beer anymore, I drink dark rum. That’s what I’ve found keeps me out of fights, headaches, and hangovers.
The Kid: Everytime Al drinks beer he loses some teeth. (laughs)
Brian/S’n’O: Really? Nice work! Yeah! (thumbs up)
Al: Not really, not alot of fun, I don’t recommend it to the kids out there.
Is there anything you want to add?
Al: (pauses) Ahh……No. (laughs) Thank-you for the interview, we appreciate the interview, but we’re not much on the whole soapbox thing… You kids out there you need to do…Y’know? No, just live your life, and we’ll live ours, and if we’re in town, come check it out.
The went on to play a hell of a show.
Interviewed by Brian, and Heather, from X-58 radio (A big thanks to Matt for scheduling the interview)