Believe it or not, it’s been 20 wild years of reveling in drunken debauchery while rockin’ out to American Celtic Punk band, Dropkick Murphys, who while humble in their brilliance have indented their mark into history as the frontrunners of their genre. Whether it’s the riotous celebrations that stem from their drinking anthems or the onslaught of instruments from guitars to bagpipes that led you in their direction, Dropkick Murphys have paved the way for a variety of Celtic Rock musicians. In celebration of the release of their ninth studio album, I caught up with drummer, Matt Kelly, to discuss his favorite beers, the release of ‘11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory’, what’s in store for 2017, and more.
Congrats on your ninth studio album release, ’11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory’. How was the creative process different from previous release this time around?
Hey, thanks very much. We’re proud of it. Well, as far as the creative process, we’ve been at it for just over twenty years now, and the creative process hasn’t really changed much: it’s a combination of a few different ways of writing songs. Sometimes a guy brings some lyrics with vocal melody in mind, and we put chords to it; there’s writing the music and then adding lyrics and vocal melodies after; there’s “hey, I have these lyrics!”, and we’ll come up with a melody and then put music to it; sometimes it’s a spontaneous mixture of writing a musical piece and the lyrics sort of pour out of a guy’s mind.
Tell us about your songwriting process. Is there a certain member who contributor all of the lyrics or do you all contribute?
Usually Ken or Al have the lyrics, either collaboratively or separately, but I and some of the other guys have written a bunch over the years. Even if a guy has a full set of lyrics for a song, there will usually be creative input from others, whether if it’s for clarity or writing another verse if needed.
Any upcoming tour plans or festival appearances that you can fill us in about?
Sorry, can’t say right now. There WILL BE APPEARANCES, THOUGH!! Hahaha…
As a pioneer of the Celtic rock genre, what advice would you give your younger self when you first joined Dropkick Murphys?
Well we weren’t really a Celtic rock band when I joined! We were pretty much a street punk band. However, I’d tell myself, “Watch your tempos! Pace yourself! Don’t be so God damned serious!”
Who is one musician from another band who you would recruit to record your next album with and why?
My brother, Mike Kelly. He plays the five-string banjo(and pretty much every other instrument) really, really well and sings like an angel. Oh, and cos he’s my brother!!!
What are your top three favorite beers and beer companies?!
Beers and companies: Tree House Brewing Company “Green” American IPA(Massachusetts), Westvleteren “Abbey 12”(Belgium), and Trillium “Mosaic Dry Hopped Fort Point” American pale ale (Massachusetts).
I was once only into Belgian beers and was a hater of IPA’s, but once I tried Pliny the Elder by Russian River Brewing Co., it “fixed” me. New England has some of the best breweries in the world in my opinion.
What do fans of Dropkick Murphys have to look forward to in 2017?
LOTS OF GIGS! We’re playing quite a lot this year, and we’re re-energized and psyched to play. We’ll be playing a bunch of stuff of our new album, as well as old favorites that we might have put down for a few years. For our American supporters, watch out for a big summer tour with some old friends of ours…grub?!
As you travel the world often on tour, tell us your favorite country to soak up music culture and chow down on local grub?!
I tell ya, it’s a toss-up between Ireland, England, and Australia. Aside from America(pretty much New England in particular), the friends, yes the food!, and hell yeah the music, of Ireland, England, and Australia are the greatest. Pie’n’mash, boxty, kangaroo, real ale, Guinness, a schooner of New and a shot of Stone’s, Pretty much all my favorite bands(with a few exceptions) come from those three countries, too…
Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for your fans?!
Yeah, thank you for giving us twenty years of fervent support! You allow us to have the greatest “job” in the world. See you out on the ice!