Dude to Dude with Dropkick Murphys Drummer Matt Kelly


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 Image Credit: Dropkick Murphys

Whether you have Celtic heritage or not, St. Patrick’s Day brings out the Irish in us all, and so does this group. When I heard that Dropkick Murphys were doing a show in a (fairly) nearby town, I jumped at the chance to request an interview. While I wasn’t able to speak with the group in person, I was able to land an email based interview with drummer, Matt Kelly.

Being one of my favorite bands, it was quite a challenge to rein in my excitement and come up with some level headed questions. If you’ve ever read any of my pieces, I love to give dudes advice (or my opinions if you will) on life. Being a massively popular group who’ve made album after album of great music and toured the world, I was intrigued as to what kind of advice Kelly could give about life in general. To my surprise, he gave me not just one, but three. “1. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, but know when to hold your tongue. 2. Nobody else in public places wants to hear your music, so use headphones. 3. A true test of your character is what you do and how you act when you’re alone.” Great advice that applies to all dudes at any level- famous or not.

It was announced on the DKM Facebook page in late January that the guys are in the process of starting another album. When I asked about it, Kelly says “that is true, yes we are working on new stuff.” He says the group is set to begin recording in late May. As far as a time frame for pushing it through, he says “the sooner the better of course, but we won’t be putting anything to tape that we don’t fully back.”

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 Image Credit: Dropkick Murphys

Lead singer Al Barr has been quoted previously saying “we’ve always said we’re like The Ramones or AC/DC with what we do; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But at the same time, we have to keep challenging ourselves. And if we find that tunes we’re putting together for a record are boring us, we’re not going to record them.” After reading this quote, I was very curious as to how many songs they have chopped over the years. Kelly says he guesses that over the years there’s only been five or six songs that they reviewed and went “ahhhh… nope!” over. He goes on to say that “they’d come together as songs, and were just not up to snuff or were just bizarre. We actually even recorded most of the basic tracks for one of them during the “Sing Loud, Sing Proud” sessions, but it never saw the light of day.”

Building upon the mystery of these never pursued songs, I asked if any such songs were ever revisited and later released. The answer nearly floored me, as one of their most popular tunes nearly didn’t make the cut. Kelly says “yeah, oddly enough it was “I’m Shipping Up To Boston”. We did a horrible, poorly-played, demo-quality recording of it, and then revisited it a couple years later.”

With musical groups today, we’re seeing a large and very short turn-around time. I like to call it a revolving door industry. One group that’s popular today may not even get radio air-time six months from now. “I think it’s (the music industry) in a strange period of flux right now” Kelly says. “It certainly isn’t what it was twenty years ago, and isn’t what it will be in twenty years. It’s a very strange time for a band to be putting out records, because the old ways of marketing them are pretty much out the door.”

When asked about the long term vision for the group, Kelly had this to say “we just want to do this until we can’t anymore. So far we’ve met some serious milestones along the way, most of which we never would have dreamed of when we started out. I’m really thankful for the huge, loyal following we’ve amassed over the years. Somehow it just keeps getting bigger and bigger— you really can’t ask for more than that. I guess in a nutshell, my personal vision would be for the band’s continuing success while retaining a degree of personal anonymity. If we somehow earn an iota of the coolness or longevity of the Ramones, I think we can say we’re doing something right.”

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 Image Credit: Dropkick Murphys

It was recently announced that Boston, Massachusetts is one of the finalist cities in consideration for the 2024 Summer Olympics. Being based just outside of Boston, I was curious if the band would be interested in doing a show at or in conjunction with the games. Kelly says “it would basically be in my back yard, so it’d be a nightmare for me… as far as playing it, I think there are more appropriate bands for such an event.”

Anyone who knows anything about DKM knows that over the years they’ve been huge supporters of unions and charities. I asked, what charities are closest to the group’s hearts? He says “we actually started a charity called the Claddagh Fund. It raises moneys to three main worthy causes: underprivileged children’s charities, drug and alcohol recovery and wounded veteran care.” More info on the Claddagh Fund can be found at: http://www.claddaghfund.org/cf/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=171&Itemid=220

Finally, for my last question, I had to settle a debate. When thinking of questions for this interview, I consulted a long-time friend (as I sometimes do), Logan. He suggested that I ask where they’d spend St. Patrick’s Day, insisting that because they’re an Irish punk rock group, they’d want to spend it out in bars. I disagreed, saying that if they weren’t on tour, they’d want to be at home with family and friends. This debate sparked and landed into a “Phonebook Bet.” Now if you’re unclear on what this is, here’s the skinny. Basically, the winner gets to strike the loser across the face with a predetermined phonebook. In this case, we settled on the Lexington, KY phonebook.

For the bet-settling answer, Kelly had this to say: “At home on my block with my family and neighbors.”

I had hoped to record the execution of the bet and post along with this interview; however, weather and conflicting schedules have caused us to be unable to carry it out. Once we’re able to get together and do the bet, I’ll be sure to post it here for your viewing pleasure; so keep clicking StuffDudesLike.com!

With that, I just want to say a huge thanks to Matt Kelly for his time and a Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone reading!

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 Image Credit: Dropkick Murphys

 

– Cameron Blevins

Follow me: @CamOnAir