Irish and Punk to the Core

By Alex Kantarelis

Photo by Piper Ferguson

The Dropkick Murphys are a band that needs no introduction.  Formed way back in 1996, they have spent the last 16 years becoming one of the greatest bands in Massachusetts’ history.  Their hit song “Shipping Up to Boston” became the anthem of the Red Sox and was the theme song of Martin Scorsese’s Academy Award winning film The Departed.  Their St. Patrick’s Day shows have become an annual tradition in Boston, and their style of music has become the sound of the city.


Their recent release, last year’s Going Out in Style, showcases the band’s unique Irish punk rock sound which takes inspiration from classic Irish music and ~ of course ~ classic punk rock.  The difference on this release is how well they blend the two.  I got to speak with guitarist James Lynch while he was on tour in Nashville, and he elaborated on the sound of their latest record.  “There used to be a definite line between punk and folk songs.  [On this record] we did a lot more to mix it together,” he said.  The result is a style of music like no other.  They blend all your standard punk elements ~ heavy guitar, fast drums, and loud, in-your-face-vocals ~ with banjo, Irish bouzouki, mandolin, accordion, and bagpipes to form that unique, unmistakable Dropkick sound.  This style of music fits Lynch perfectly since his father was in a punk band and his grandfather in an Irish band ~ this kind of music is in his blood and soul.  He attributes much of his own musical style to his father.  “My father had great taste in music and I inherited his taste.  When I moved out, I took his record collection with me and I never have to go back to the record store,” he said.


DKM just re-released Going Out in Style with a bonus disc of live songs from their sold-out Fenway Park shows last year.  “Playing Fenway was almost an impossible dream come true.  The whole experience of it was unreal.  We were like little kids.  It was magic from top to bottom,” Lynch said of the experience.  Before the show, people speculated that it was overly ambitious to set up 2 shows at Fenway Park, but both sold out in just minutes, proving that people from all over MA ~ and especially Boston ~ really love their band.  And the band loves their city right back.  “Everything about the band comes from the city,” Lynch said.  It’s safe to say that the Dropkick Murphys are one of Boston’s all time great bands, and they have cemented themselves in the history of music alongside legendary local acts like The J. Geils Band and Aerosmith.


Lynch, a Worcester native, just moved back to our city, and has been known to drop by Coney Island or Ralph’s for a beer, just like all the punk rock dudes in the city.  He definitely has a soft spot in his heart for the Woo: “I absolutely love it there and I’m very happy to be back,” he said. 


This Worcesterite is also no stranger to punk rock.  He did some time with the Pinkerton Thugs, and also plays guitar in legendary Boston punk band The Ducky Boys.  Most punk guys who make it “big” tend to have that Fall Out Boy affect, where they are suddenly too cool for their roots, but Lynch still plays in small punk bands.  Long before I ever saw the Dropkick Murphys, I saw his band Fit for Abuse play a show in Boston at the Berwick (a small basement that used to have shows).  With no stage, and a room full of angry hardcore kids, he rocked like he was playing an arena in front of thousands.  For Lynch, it doesn’t matter how many people are at the show ~ it’s all the same to him, because he truly loves what he does.


As 2012 rolls on, the band will continue their relentless touring, writing new material while on the road.  They plan on releasing a new album in the fall, and definitely have no plans of slowing down.  “We will do this until they have to wheel us onto the stage,” Lynch said.  We should consider ourselves lucky, because the Dropkick Murphys are one of those bands that come around only once in a generation.


The guys will be taking [over!] the stage on March 10 at Mohegan Sun Arena, March 14, 15, and 16 at the House of Blues in Boston, at two St. Patty’s day shows on March 17 at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell, and at the Brighton Music Hall in Allston on March 18.  Make sure to check out our April “HOT SHOTS” for live pix, too!