NationStates Jolt Archive

This article pretty much sums up why I have so much respect for Dropkick Murphys

23-07-2005, 13:51

Being of Irish descent and all, the Dropkick Murphys understand the importance of a good wake. So when the Boston-based Celtic punks set out to pay tribute to the dead on their just-released The Warrior’s Code, they saw no point in getting maudlin. The album starts out with the bruising “Your Spirit’s Alive”, a 21-gun salute to Greg “Chickenman” Riley, a fallen member of the Murphys’ extended family. Twelve tracks later the septet roars across the finish line with “Last Letter Home”, a supercharged memorial to Sgt. Andrew Farrar, an American soldier who died in combat earlier this year in Iraq. A huge Dropkick Murphys fan, Farrar put a request in his final missive from the frontlines: that the band’s cover of “Fields of Athenry” be played at his funeral if anything happened to him. The Murphys honoured that wish, performing the song while the casket was carried into a Massachusetts church, and then doing Farrar’s family one better by using his story as the basis of “Last Letter Home”.

Both of the sonic eulogies on The Warrior’s Code are loud enough to wake the dead, and that’s not by accident.

“I know that Greg would have said, ‘A ballad at my funeral? What the fuck, guy—you can’t write a hard song for me?’” says Dropkick singer-bassist Ken Casey, on the line from his Beantown home. “I think both Greg and Andrew Farrar, from what we know about him through his family, would have preferred songs in their memory to be hard-charging.”

And, as devoted fans, they both would have loved the fact that they’ve been immortalized on The Warrior’s Code. At its fiercely beating heart, the album is East Coast punk at its finest, exploding with street-thug vocals, the distortion-blurred guitars of Marc Orrell and James Lynch, and Matt Kelly’s unrelentingly bludgeoning drums. But as everyone who knows the lyrics to their “Barroom Hero” will testify, Boston’s finest aspire to more than causing wars in mosh pits. Five years ago, the now-decade-old Murphys reinvented themselves with Sing Loud, Sing Proud!, injecting a lethal dose of bagpipes, tin whistle, bodhran, and mandolin into the mix on a full-time basis. If 2003’s Blackout placed the emphasis back on overheated Marshalls, then The Warrior’s Code is the revenge of the Celts. Bagpiper Scruffy Wallace is a kilted weapon of mass destruction on power-punk bangers like the aforementioned “Your Spirit’s Alive”, while multi-instrumentalist Tim Brennan actually manages to makes the tin whistle and accordion sound bad-ass.

“We didn’t intend to, but we basically ended up with a record that swirls together everything that we’ve done in the past,” says singer Al Barr, interviewed long distance a couple of days after Casey. “Not in a repetitive way, but more like taking the best of every record and putting it together for this one.”

With proudly working class?–themed songs that cannonball from car-bomb hardcore (“Citizen C.I.A.”) to old-country pub anthems (“Captain Kelly’s Kitchen”) to crystalline rockers (“The Burden”), The Warrior’s Code is indeed the Murphys’ most musically varied album to date. The best argument for that is “The Green Fields of France”, a haunting ballad that, with its delicate piano and ethereal strings, marks a melancholy departure for the band. For the first time in their career, the Dropkicks sound like the sons that Irish traditionalist Donald Lunny never knew he had.

“?‘The Green Fields of France’ is a song about war in the early 1900s—we’re talking gas masks, barbed wire, and trenches,” Barr says. “Here we are in 2005 and we’ve got trenches and barbed wire and men firing guns at each other and young kids dying in battle. What have we learned?”

If the Dropkick Murphys have learned anything over the years, it’s that they’re often tarred as something they’re not. “Wicked Sensitive Crew” off The Warrior’s Code finds them acknowledging this with lines like “In Sydney they misunderstood us/They called us thugs and mean-spirited types”. It’s obvious why people sometimes get the wrong idea. No only do the band’s songs often sound like sing-alongs for soccer hooligans, but their fans have never been afraid to show their devotion at festivals like the Warped Tour, this year’s edition of which brings the Dropkicks to Thunderbird Stadium on Tuesday (July 12).

“I think our crowd can sometimes be intimidating,” Barr admits. “For many years on the Warped Tour, we’ve watched bands that are on right before us get drowned out by chants of ‘Let’s Go Murphys’. We kind of cringe when it happens to friends of ours, but it’s fun when it happens to bands who think that their shit doesn’t stink. Our fans usually give it to them with both barrels.”

What gets punk’s left-leaning faction most upset is that, where bands like Anti-Flag are lined up to bash the war in Iraq, the Dropkicks have been vocal about their support for the troops. Casey has no problem admitting he hates George Bush, but he’s not going to turn his back on soldiers who would rather not be fighting a war they never asked for. The Dropkick Murphys may be of Irish descent, but there’s no doubt they are proudly American.

“It’s easy to get up in front of a crowd and give the ‘Fuck America’ speech,” Casey says. “You’ll always get the cheer. I’ve got an American flag on my bass, but it’s there because no one stands up for what the flag is really about: equality. In my opinion it stands for everything that George Bush isn’t. The soldiers in Iraq are there largely because they come from poor neighbourhoods in this country. When you’re in a band like ours that stands up for the working class, you can’t turn your back on them.”
23-07-2005, 13:59
I went to school with Marc Orrell. He used to live right up the street from me.
23-07-2005, 14:05
Have you ever encountered Blood Or Whiskey? An actual Irish band that beat the Dropkick Murphys to the punch with their blend of street punk and irish trad music?

Unfortunately there don't seem to be any MP3s of them currently available on their site, for some reason:

They aren't fantastic, but they are entertaining enough and worth checking out if you are into that kind of genre.
23-07-2005, 14:12
The dropkick murphy's played the fields of athenry live at celtic park last year and were'nt overly bad as far as pre match entertainment is concerned...