Formed in 1996, the Celtic punk group Dropkick Murphys (see photo, right) has become a Bay State institution.
While scoring hits with songs like “Tessie,” “Shipping Up to Boston” and “The State of Massachusetts,” the band has also taken a firm stance on all things Beantown, resulting in undying love for numerous New England sports teams and support for all the people and fans who call the area home.
No time has this loyalty been more fervently put on display than during the period immediately following the Boston Marathon bombings, which tore through the city on April 15th, killing several people and injuring hundreds.
In the aftermath of the attack, the Dropkick Murphys began selling a special “For Boston” T-shirt at shows and on the band’s website with all proceeds going to the victims of the bombings as well as their family members.
The band also played a charity show at the House of Blues in Boston in addition to participating in the Boston One Fund Benefit Concert, which was held at the TD Garden on May 30th, to raise more money for the cause. And if that wasn’t enough, the Murphys teamed with Bruce Springsteen for a re-recording of the group’s song “Rose Tattoo” for a special EP, whose sales also go towards victims of the Boston attack.
As of this writing, these fundraising efforts by the band have resulted in over $300,000 and counting being donated to those in need. Yet, according to Murphys’ drummer Matt Kelly, praise shouldn’t be directed at him and his band mates.
“It was basically the people who bought these shirts and bought the single that actually raised all this money. I mean, it was very little effort on our parts,” Kelly said during a recent phone interview from his home in Boston. “Basically, being in the position we’re in, we’re a pretty popular band these days. We just made an easy way for people to help out directly through [our charity] the Claddagh Fund. We just acted as a conduit for people.”
“I’d say it’s hats off to those who helped people in need,” he continued. “It’s a testament to their good will that people would do the right thing. When someone else is down, you lend them a hand you know? Not to speak in clichés, but you get my drift.”
Watch the official video for “Rose Tattoo” by the Dropkick Murphys here:
Still Kelly and the rest of the Murphys aren’t afraid to put themselves at the forefront of issues that relate to their city either.
On July 16th, after Rolling Stone magazine announced its decision to feature accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of the publication’s August 1st issue, the Dropkick Murphys were among numerous protestors, who thought such an idea was in poor taste. On its Facebook page and on Twitter, the band wrote, “Rolling Stone you should be ashamed. How about one of the courageous victims on your cover instead of this loser scum bag!”
When asked about this statement, Kelly stood by the message his group put out there as a spur of the moment reaction to the announcement.
He said, “Whatever they say, it was a cheap ploy, cheap publicity for their dying subscription sales. It was tasteless. I haven’t been a fan of that magazine since I knew what was up a long, long time ago. That just puts another nail in the coffin.”
Meanwhile, amidst all the charity work and speaking out, the Dropkick Murphys have also found time to continue touring behind the release of the band’s eighth studio album Signed and Sealed in Blood, which hit stores in January.
Kicking off with the anthem “The Boys Are Back,” the record has been heralded as a return to form for the Murphys, who had to stave off rumors that the band was calling it a day after its seventh album Going Out in Style was perceived by some as a musical swan song.
Also steering away from its last disc’s tag as a literary-driven concept album, Signed and Sealed in Blood features more straightforward songs that have been well received by audiences almost immediately.
“Right off the bat, the reaction was great,” said Kelly. “The best reaction to new, unheard material that I think we’ve ever had, since we were doing the songs off Do or Die originally live. Nowadays with everything going up on YouTube, people record it, and people learn the freaking words. Then the next city, or a couple of weeks later, people are singing along to the words just from watching a video. It’s been awesome.”
Watch the official video for the new song “The Season’s Upon Us” by the Dropkick Murphys here:
Currently celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Utters’ career has been a constant source of inspiration for the drummer and the other members of the Murphys.
Kelly said, “We wouldn’t be a band without that band. They were a huge influence. They’ve only gotten better with age I think, and their newest record’s awesome.”
Though a bit more on the younger side, the Heroes have impressed Kelly too with their tenacity and professionalism.
“They started off really young. I think they were 10 years old when they started. Now I think they’re maybe 15, 16,” Kelly said. “When I was that age I would’ve given my right hand for my band to have been that tight and professional.”
Still, with a date already scheduled at Holyoke’s Mountain Park for August 16th, fans in Western Massachusetts will have a prime opportunity to see what Boston’s finest punk rockers have to offer when the Dropkick Murphys take the stage.
“Don’t expect laid back,” Kelly said. “Expect energy, power, and bring your ear plugs. We don’t mess around man. The best way to see the band is live. So come to the show, don’t be shy.”
For more information on the Dropkick Murphys or to see future tour dates please visit www.dropkickmurphys.com.
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