How you probably prepare for Saint Patty’s Day:
- Get some arm weights to build up your lager lifting biceps
- Pick fights with “little people” in anticipation of the leprechaun toss
- Practice falling down without spilling your beer.
How do the Dropkick Murphys prepare for Saint Patty’s Day?
Try two weeks of warm-up shows.
They’ll be in home sweet home Boston come shamrock shenanigans time, but Phoenix fans can get their dose of Dropkick when they play Marquee Theater on Monday.
Need more Murphys? Check out an expanded version of their last album The Meanest of Times out on March 11. Along with a generous smattering of bonus cuts, there’s a DVD that includes a live concert recorded last St. Patty’s Day and a documentary on how their recording of “Tessie” broke the Boston Red Sox curse and carried them to victory. Also mentioned is the fact that “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” was featured in The Departed, the movie that broke director Martin Scorcese’s string of Academy Award losses.
Read on for an interview with Dropkick Murphys singer Al Barr.
New Times: Your last album was called The Meanest of Times. How did you mean “mean” to mean? In “Shattered” you mention, “our athletes are being replaced with Neanderthals” and “priests molesting boys.” That’s pretty mean!
Al Barr: On that song for sure. Mean times doesn’t necessarily mean bad. You have good experiences and bad and that’s what kind of shapes you growing up.
NT: Punk has pretty tight parameters, as does traditional Celtic folk. How much harder is it doing Celtic punk?
Barr: I think the punk audience has always been the most critical of all rock audiences. What’s nice about our band is they know what to expect from us and they allow us to do a folk song, a punk song, a ballad, and a hard-core song. We’re not shoved in one box.
NT: How do you chart out your tours in relation to St, Patty’s Day? Do you always make it a point to be in Boston for those gigs?
Barr: A few years ago we started doing these St. Patty’s shows and we wouldn’t do any touring until them and we’d do these gauntlets of shows, sometimes as many as four shows a day or six shows in three days and it burns everybody out. We’re all pretty fucked by the end of it. So a couple years ago we started doing two week runs before the actual St. Patty’s day shows start it just kind of greases our wheels on the road into St. Patty’s so it isn’t so hard for us. It feels like its just another part of the tour. We’re kind of fooling ourselves that it isn’t as bad as it actually is. The St. Patty Day shows, as much fun as we have, they’re very demanding. We’ll do a morning breakfast show and then a radio promotional show in the afternoon and play a show that night, the next day we’ll do two shows in one day. The next day we’ll do another three performances.
NT: Do you plan tours so you’re not in the same market as Flogging Molly?
Barr: We’ve played together; they’re a great band. I think booking agents worry more about those logistics than we do. We don’t really think about that kind of stuff.
NT: You don’t think that both of you playing in the same market would split the draw?
Barr: We both definitely are carrying the torch that the Pogues started and the more traditional bands before them. I don’t think we’re alike at all. We’re heavier on the guitar I think Flogging Molly reach a wider audience or at least they did before we got our break with The Departed, because we are more of a punk band our vocals, aren’t as melodic, they’re kind of gritty. And Dave King is a really accomplished singer. It’s a totally different style. They’ve got the violin!
NT: How did things change for the band when you recorded and performed “Tessie” for the Boston Red Socks?
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Barr: We did a song for the Bruins the year before that and that in a limited way got us a little more mainstream recognition and when we did “Tessie” and started performing it at Fenway Park, people for whom we were totally under their radar got exposed to us and then you fast forward to 2006 and we have a song on The Departed soundtrack… that sort of blew the doors off everything. Music such as ours is never going to get played on general radio and the budget for our videos is like a quarter of Puff Daddy’s catering bill. You’re not gonna see our videos on MTV or hear us on the radio unless it’s a specialty show or satellite radio. The local stations in Boston supports us but you’re not gonna hear it on mainstream radio.
But they play Tessie every time the Red Sox win. And Jonathan Papelbon the Red Sox pitcher this last year adopted “Shipping Up to Boston” as his theme song. And now The Patriots are using it and the Celtics are using it. When we got those lyrics from the Woody Guthrie archive and wrote the music for it. We never thought a) it was going to be in a major motion picture that’s going to get Academy Awards. We never set out to do that. We’re not a soundtrack band and I think that’s why our punk core audience has accepted the kind of success that has happened to the band because this would sicken most hardcore punks. We didn’t jump through these hoops to get bigger. It’s sheer luck.
NT:Did you ever use any of those lines in “Kiss Me I’m Shitfaced?” Did “I've designed the Sears Tower, I make two grand an hour” or “I cook the world's best duck flambe” work for you?
Barr: Myself, I was never much of a womanizer but I will say that we have lots of friends past and presence that still try to use those lines!