The Boys Are Back

storyThe pride of Quincy, Massachusetts – CeltPunk Rockers The Dropkick Murphys – will be ripping up Atlantic Canada over the coming week, with tour stops in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Recently we caught up with the band’s drummer Matt Kelly.

What is your own background/ethnic heritage?
I’m a mutt. My Dad is Irish and Polish, my Mom is Bavarian and French Canadian.

When and why did you start playing music?
I started playing at the age of nine. Up until then I wanted to play saxophone but my Dad’s drum kit was out and I figured, “screw the sax!” My parents always had records on in the house and we saw plenty of live music ever since I can remember. I knew at the age of four that I wanted to have tattoos, ride a motorcycle, and play music. Now the first and last of the list are accomplished, but I’d rather ride in a bad-ass muscle car than on a steel horse.

What are the challenges of the vocation? Being away from our families, lack of sleep, bad food, sore limbs, hearing loss, playing up to our own personal standards on a nightly basis, and being sure not to become a drunken mess due to so much free time.

What are the rewards?
Being able to wake up and be excited to go to “work” every day! I come from a family of musicians and know that just because you might be a talented player, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll be a success. We are the luckiest guys in the world with THE best “job”.

Why Celtic Rock/Punk?
I hesitate to refer to us as that, but since you brought it up: We started off as a four-piece punk rock band who loved the Pogues and the Dubliners/Wolfetones, Clancy Brothers, and Irish folk/traditional music. Over the years we’ve been able to incorporate those influences into our sound as we added band members. Aside from Punk music and rock’n’roll in all its forms, Irish folk music and traditional jigs and reels are some of our favorite sounds. It’s just a good time!

How has the group evolved since Signed and Sealed in Blood?
Well that’s our newest record, so only time will tell – haha! We’ve just started writing new material to be released sometime next year so you can be the judge of that!!!

Is your creative process more ‘inspirational’ or ‘perspiration’?
It really depends on the song! “Rose Tattoo”: inspirational. “The Boys Are Back”: perspiration! ***

What makes a good song?
Melody, lyrics, and the ability for it to bounce around the inside of your skull for a while.

What are your thoughts on the current Celtic music scene?
It seems to be alive and kicking. I think a lot of the bands that would call themselves “Celtic Punk” are sort of a gateway for the younger generation to get into the classic stuff. That brings in new blood and keeps it from becoming anachronistic.

Is enough being done, generally, to preserve and promote Celtic culture?
I suppose it depends on the area. Some places have it, some don’t. Just like anywhere, it can thrive in some places and wilt in others. It has to be organic; it’d be foolish to force it on an area that has no interest in it.

What can we be doing better?
Make sure it’s more than just a stereotype. To some it’s just green t-shirts shirts, scally caps, and getting drunk. We both know that the culture is much, much deeper than that; the plastic arts and spiritual side of it should also be promoted. Fundamentals over fads.

What does the band have on tap for the rest of 2014?
We’ve got the Riot Fests in September, some US and Western Canadian dates that we’re excited about, and forging some new inroads, but that’ll be announced soon enough.  Thank you very much for the interview, and see you out on the road!