Interview: Ken Casey of DROPKICK MURPHYS
Words/Interview by Ash Wallace
Known for their punk attitude and candour, the flair of Celtic roots and a stew of hearty tunes featuring all sorts of bags, pipes and reeds, Dropkick Murphys are awaiting the release of their upcoming album “Turn Up That Dial”.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Dropkick Murphys since forming in 1996. “Turn Up The Dial” will be Murphy's 10th full-length studio album via Born And Bred Records, which will be released on April 30th.
Frontman Ken Casey talks about the new upcoming album, relying on music as a necessity during the pandemic and Mick Jones from The Clash stealing pudding, check it out below.
Hey Ken! First of all, just want to congratulate you on your upcoming album “Turn Up That Dial”, to be released on the 30th of April via Born And Bred Records. How are you feeling about the release? It's been a few years since the last.
Yeah, we’re excited! I can't believe it’s been almost 4 years, I feel like with the pandemic we were just kind of put into a time warp. We’ve had it finished for quite a while, it's been a long process of waiting. We have an album that's done and it’s just waiting for the people to hear it and that's hard ya know. We’re grateful that it’s finally gonna be out.
During the writing and recording stage, what sort of ideas, concepts and themes were being tossed around and discussed for this album?
We just wanted to stay super positive and make something that would immediately make people wanna have a good time and put a smile on their face. Obviously, some of the songs were written during the pandemic so that was a concerted effort to help people change their mindset. But also our previous album –– not that the songs necessarily came out heavy and dark but there was a lot of darkness behind the inspiration, with the big epidemic of opioids and opioid and heroin deaths, we had lost family members and friends. So as a rebound to that, we said “we gotta do something, we gotta be happy here”. Obviously our music influences people, and we want them to be happy when they hear it, but also when you’re the one writing the music, it’s influencing the band members. So it's kinda our way of keeping our spirits up.
I got to have a listen to the album and it’s really nice to have a super upbeat, fun, anthem-atic album after what the world is going through at the moment, it must feel good to spread some joy in the form of music during this time because as they say, music is a universal healer.
It definitely is for me. We’ve fallen in love with music we hadn't listened to in years just because we had the time.
Music became a necessity again, not a luxury.
Because you really needed to change the time and place you were in your mind.
The album is almost out and there is a big release party, what can you tell us about that?
The day after the album release, we’re gonna play what will be the fourth live stream of ours in the pandemic. We’re becoming old pros at this thing, we’re gonna forget how to play in front of people again when the time comes! We’re gonna do the album front to back and probably 15 songs or so after that yeah we’ll just celebrate! We can't be there together but it’ll be shown worldwide, and when you guys (us Australians) wake up, it’ll be there waiting for ya!
One of the singles, ‘Middle Finger’ sounds pretty straight forward but could you go through it a bit for us?
So I mean it’s not actually about giving the middle finger, it’s about trying not to give the middle finger and being unsuccessful at it, basically being born and stuck with that rebellious spirit. In a lot of ways, I wouldn't change it for the world that I’m like that but there are times where that spirit does not make life the easiest where sometimes it's easier to just let yourself be walked on and settle for less. I think Dropkick Murphys has always been the type of band and the type of people that –– we treat everyone with respect but if someone mistreats us, you're gonna know about it, and sometimes like I said that stuff makes life a little difficult but hey, we are who we are.
And another single from the album, ‘Mick Jones Nicked My Pudding’ is based on true events as I recall reading, what happened there?
True events of our musical hero stealing our pudding - ah! Basically, our producer Ted Hutt was telling us a story about how he was working in a studio in England and Mick Jones and The Clash were working in another studio in the same property. They had a kitchen and a refrigerator together and he made the fatal mistake of putting his pudding in the fridge and not putting his name on it. When he came out to have it, there was one of his idols having his pudding. “What happened Ted?” and he said “OI THAT'S MY FUCKING PUDDING PUT IT DOWN RIGHT NOW!” and if you know Ted, he’s the most kind, gentle, soft person, in the world so we knew he was full of shit but we thought it was a great story.
It’s super great, I love the music video too, that cartoon style, very funny.
Oh! Wait for a second, by the way, that music video was drawn by an Australian, Adam Murphy (@adammurphyart). Yeah, there's always an Aussie connection with Dropkick Murphys.
Oh, no way! Australia represent!
Yeah, years ago when we had Bruce Springsteen sing on our record, he was back home on tour in Australia and we did it together via satellite, we got a bunch of cool things that have happened over the years in Australia. Adam Murphy also did a second cartoon video for the song ‘L-EE-B-O-Y’, which will be released sometime in May. Our piper Lee had no idea we wrote a song about him on this album. We played the music, we muted out the words so he had no idea and then we finished the song, Adam Murphy made the video and we all sat down and watched and debuted it fully and he had no idea. It was pretty fun to watch his shock and surprise.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today, we can't wait for the release of the album and to hopefully see you guys back here in Australia real soon! I remember seeing you guys at Soundwave a couple of years ago and it was amazing.
Thank you so much. You guys are all so nice down there, I wanna move there let me in!
Preorders for “Turn Up That Dial” are available now