Since 1996, the Dropkick Murphys have captivated punk rock fans with their explicit drum, guitar, bass and vocal sounds. The seven group members started off practicing at a barbershop and cited that some of their early influences included Stiff Little Fingers, The Pogues, The Clash and the Swinging Utters.
The Dropkick Murphys have based their career on their ties to the Irish-Catholic working class in Boston, Mass. Their music is a cultural fusion of old and new world sounds, incorporating the traditional sounds of bagpipes, tin whistles and mandolins in many of their punk rock influenced material.
Alongside of their original songs are the covers of traditional Irish songs with an added punk-rock flare that have always been an integral part of the Dropkick Murphys’ career. “We love writing our own songs,” mandolin and accordion player Tim Brennan said. “But every now and again it’s fun to take a traditional Irish song that your grandparents listened to and sort of bring it up to date.”
The Murphys have fully embraced their heritage – taking their name from a Boston-area rehab center, performing at the yearly St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston and, of course, remaining devoted fans of the Boston Red Sox.
The Murphys even revived the traditional Red Sox anthem, “Tessie,” infusing it with their unique mixture of guitars, bagpipes and a sing along chorus. Said to have helped drive the Sox to a come-from-behind victory in the 1903 World Series, “Tessie” took on a new relevance after it was released in August of 2004 and the Red Sox went on to win the Series for the first time in 86 years.
The duality of their music has created devoted fan bases both in the States and in Europe, even in Ireland where one might wonder what is thought of the Murphys’ renditions of traditional Irish songs.
“When I first joined the band I wasn’t sure how the reaction was going to be to a bunch of American dudes playing music from their country, when we’re not even from their country,” Brennan said. “But they seem to enjoy it. They’re not telling us we’re doing it wrong or anything.”
After being signed to Hellcat Records – the label co-owned by Bad Religion’s Brett Gurewitz and Rancid’s Tim Armstrong – the Dropkick Murphys released their first full length album “Do or Die” in 1998. In 2005, their album – “The Warrior’s Code” – debuted at number 48 on the Billboard Chart.
Their remarkable resume boasts a total of five studio albums, numerous compilations and a DVD, “On the Road With the Dropkick Murphys.” The Dropkick Murphys are planning to record their sixth studio album in early 2007.
This time around, the Murphys plan on having a slightly different plan of attack for the recording process. “I think we would like to [go] into the studio with 25 or 30 songs [instead of the normal 12-15] and reduce them down to the best 12,” Brennan said. “We’re going to take our time with this one.”
In the band’s current lineup, Brennan is joined by Marc Orell and James Lynch on guitar, lead vocalist Al Barr, bassist and vocalist Ken Casey, drummer Matt Kelly and finally Scruffy Wallace on bagpipes. The seven members travel all around the world and this fall they were called to play at the University of Rochester.
Having all the necessary credentials of a punk rock band, it was no surprise that on Friday, Oct. 20, the Palestra was packed with zealous Dropkick Murphy fans. The Dropkick Murphys were introduced by 13 traditionally dressed men who awed the crowd with the rhythmic sounds cast by their bagpipes. It has come to be a tradition that these 13 men perform annually with the Dropkick Murphys at Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Just as the Dropkick Murphys were entering the stage, they were greeted by an anxious audience that chanted, “Let’s go Murphys” as many raised their arms and ignited their lighters. Clearly, the young crowd of UR students and local fans were ready for a night full of hardcore punk rock sensation.
With the Palestra set aglow by the green stage lights, the Dropkick Murphys were quick to mesmerize the audience. The crowd literally jumped to their feet as the Dropkick Murphys performed their hit songs, which included “Barroom Hero,” “For Boston,” “Boys on the Docks” and “Kiss me, I’m Shitfaced.”
Suddenly, the crowd began moshing and never let up for the rest of the night. Toward the end of the concert, the Dropkick Murphys allowed members of the audience to come up on stage and sing along with them. Unsurprisingly, a wave of fans gathered around the Dropkick Murphys as they continued into the late hours of the night.
The Dropkick Murphys personify a hardcore punk rock band with a traditional Irish touch. Through their creative and well versed lyrics and sounds, the Dropkick Murphys have proven themselves to be a pivotal force in the world of punk rock. Fans in the Rochester area were given an unparalleled performance. Throughout the night, the fans stood united as they reveled in the band’s luring music.
Swain is a member of the class of 2008.Tase is a member of the class of 2010.