Interview with Matt Kelly of the Dropkick Murphys

Interview with Matt Kelly of the Dropkick Murphys

(Summer 2003)

It’s summertime again and that means one thing, Warped Tour is in town. This was the second Warped for Simi and I, so this year we were a bit more prepared for what was in store. After checking out the vendor and band tents and catching a few bands, we made our way backstage to interview the band Dropkick Murphys, who had just finished playing to one of the hugest crowds of the day.

After waiting for a couple of schmucks from the WB moring show The Daily Buzz, fumble with their equipment and their interview (Which consisted on the interviewer telling the band how much his brother was a fan of theirs and asking for autographs as the rest of us had to wait) Simi and I finally got to speak to Matt Kelly, the drummer for the Dropkicks Murphys.

CFS – How many years have you been involved with the Warped Tour?

HV – Let’s see… I think this is our fourth year, the second time we’ve done the whole thing.

CFS – What is it about the Warped Tour that keeps the Dropkick Murphys coming back?

MK – You get to see your friends bands. It’s a cool little festival thing. You get to drink a lot of beer. Barbeque. Sometimes you hit places you wouldn’t normally hit on your own tour, and hopefully play to a different audience. We don’t see a lot of our fans coming to our show on this tour, with the exception of today. It was crazy. It seemed really our crowd out there. It was awesome.

CFS – I got good photos of the crowd waving flags.

MK – They had great flags to today. It was the best.

CFS – You’ve been around since 1996, how does it feel to have a younger crowd getting into your music?

MK – It’s great. It’s crazy because it’s not just the young kids. It’s even their parents and grandparents. It’s sick. It’s amazing. Doing what you love and what you’re good at and people appreciating what you do is the best feeling in the world.

CFS – where you surprised when you realized that you were actually making a living out of what you loved doing?

MK – My dad tried doing it for years and he’s wasn’t too successful at it, so I feel blessed. He played drums as well as my uncle. My cousins play the accordian and bagpipes.

CFS – Sounds like you come from a musical family.

MK – Definitely.

CFS – Are any of them in bands?

MK – The Kelly Family in Germany. They’re like a pop band or something. They fill soccer stadiums. They sell out huge gigantic places, but it’s not really my bag.

CFS – What made you decide to have an Irish influence to your music?

MK – My last name’s Kelly. His last name is Lynch. We have a Casey, Orrel… I grew up playing Irish folk music. Outside of Ireland, I think Boston is the city with the biggest Irish or Irish descended population in the world.

South Boston is a huge Irish neighborhood as well as Dochester which is next to where I live.You can go to almost any bar and there will be a traditional Irish folk session playing any night of the week.

When they band started playing it was almost accidental that we had an Irish sound. The first song we ever had was called “Bar Room Hero”. Ken didn’t even know how to play the bass. He just had this song in his head. A friend, this guy from the legendary Boston band, the Freeze, said you guys sound like a cross between the Ramones and Pogues.

It’s just how we write. I listen to the Pogues, the Clancy Brothers, the Chieftians, plus growing up as a kid hearing the stuff. Your grandparents, parents playing the stuff at weddings, you hate it at the time but it seeps under your skin. Now I enjoy it.

CFS – You put your own twist to it.

MK – Yeah, we’re not playing traditional music by any means. I listen to more AC/DC than that.

CFS – The cool thing is that your music helps turn kids, who do listen to the Ramones or AC/DC, on to traditional Irish music.

MK – A lot of kids have come up to us and said, “I’ve listened to this and my grandmother would say that’s an old song.” They’re grandparents would then play the song from their old ’78s. It helps get kids in to folk and traditional music. Helps them go back to the roots of things as opposed to whatever’s shoved in their face via radio or MTv.

CFS – It’s like the Chieftain’s album “A Long Black Veil” where they have Mick Jagger, Sinead O’Connor and other’s singing on it.

MK – We actually use one of the songs as an intro. That’s a great record.

CFS – The great thing about Warped is that people get a chance to see bands that have been around for awhile as well as some great up and coming bands. Are their any new bands that you would recommend seeing?

MK – The Unseen from Boston. They’ve been around for a while, like ’92 or ’93, but they don’t get the recognition they deserve. They’re starting to. Their new album in unbelievable.

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