Feature Interview: Dropkick Murphys


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(by Erik Ofgang)

What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas.

Dropkick Murphys guitarist and sometimes vocalist, James Lynch learned that the fun way when the band played Sin City in May. After the show Lynch decided to tie the knot with his girlfriend in grand Las Vegas style. Four months later he’s still happily married.

Lynch and his Dropkick Murphys band mates will be shipping back up to Vegas for a performance this Oct. 14 at the Beach Club at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino at 8:30 p.m.

The Boston based Celtic punk rock band and blue-collar Irish American bar room brawler heroes have sold four million albums since hitting the scene in 1996. The group is currently touring behind the new album Going Out in Style – a concept album that tells the story of a character named Cornelius Larkin. Though fictional, Larkin was inspired by the family history and lore of the various band members.

In a recent interview Lynch – who as you may have guessed speaks with a thick Boston brogue – talked about the new album, performing with Bruce Springsteen and how the band’s mega-hit “Shipping up to Boston” started as a goof.

Can you tell me how you guys decided to do a concept album?

JL: I had found a newspaper article about my grandfather. He moved to the States when he was about 20-years-old and he went to Korea before he was even a U.S. citizen and came home with a Purple Heart, and married my grandmother. That led us to a song “1953.” Then – we all have very similar backgrounds and it’s not to hard to draw a line through a bunch of family stories – so we just kind of boiled a bunch of different relatives into the one character Cornelius Larkin. Our friend who’s an author from Boston, Michael Patrick MacDonald, took it and elaborated on the story a little bit more and brought the character to life.

Bruce Springsteen does a guest spot on the song “Peg o’ My Heart” how did that collaboration come about?

JL: Bruce’s son is a Dropkick Murphys fan and we met the two of them when we were playing in New York City. We just kind of maintained contact after that. When it was time to do the new record we were thinking about who we could get on it. It was just kind of “all he can do is say no,” you know? So we asked him. He was totally cool about it. He was more than happy to do it, and then he came and played songs live with us St. Patrick’s Day in Boston last year which was even more amazing.

The Boss drops in on the Dropkick Murphys in Boston on St. Patrick's Day (Photo via CoverMeSongs.com)

Can you tell me how “I’m Shipping up to Boston” came about?

JL: That song, starting right at the very beginning of it, we were sitting around in a dressing room in Spain, probably 10 or 12 years ago. It was when I had just joined the band and we were getting ready to start writing songs. We came up with that one and played it at sound check that day. We never really thought twice about it, we recorded it and it came out on a compilation. Once again no one really seemed to really bat an eyelash. Then Scorsese got a hold of it and put it in “The Departed” and now it’s all anybody wants to hear us play.

So it didn’t become a hit till “The Departed?

JL: We’d been playing it live at shows and stuff, no one really cared about it until it was put in the context of that movie and now it’s the biggest song we do every night. The movie’s phenomenal too.

Can you tell me about the lyrics? They were taken from a Woody Guthrie poem or…?

JL: Woody Guthrie when he died left thousands and thousands of unfinished songs and they’re all archived in New York City. His daughter got in touch with us and offered us the opportunity to go and choose some of the lyrics and finish the songs. That’s something very few people have been lucky enough to get to do. We had done a few of them and that one we grabbed just because it referenced Boston. It seemed so ridiculous, it was just four lines about a pirate loosing his leg and stuff. It’s amazing that it’s turned into what it has based on the fact that it seemed like such a goof right out of the gate.

Are there any misconceptions about the band? Anything fans would be surprised about?

JL: We’re pretty normal people. I don’t know if there’s anything anyone would be too surprised about unless they were surprised that everybody just wants to get home to their wife and kids at the end of the day.

What’s the craziest thing a fan has ever done at a show?

JL: I couldn’t say. Our fans are absolutely unbelievable. Everybody says it but we honestly are able to do the job that we do because our fans never, never let up. At our shows everything is so chaotic but everyone is respectful to each other and takes care of each other and you never see any kind of real disaster. Even though the show seems constantly on the brink of destruction we always maintain.

Obviously you’ve played in Vegas before, what have past visits here been like?

JV: We just played in Vegas in May and I got married right after the show.

Wow! That’s awesome congratulations Was it by an Elvis?

JV: No. We went about as traditional as you could possibly go with an hour to get the thing going at the Viva Las Vegas Wedding chapel. It was beautiful.

Thanks for answering our questions James!

The Dropkick Murphys are playing at The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Fri. Oct. 14th, get your tickets here!

For more on the Dropkick Murphys, check out:

DropkickMurphys.com, their Myspace Page, LastFM, Plyrics,Stlyrics, Altsounds,

(Top Photo of the Dropkick Murphys by Kerry Brett (Via DropkickMurphys.com)

(Bottom live photo of Dropkick Murphys & Bruce Springsteen via CoverMeSongs.com)