Dropkick Murphys Biography

From Boston, Massachusetts, USA, the Dropkick Murphys, (their name taken from a local rehab centre) initially formed in 1996 with the sole intention of jamming punk cover versions. Original members, Mike McColgan (vocals), Ken Casey (bass), Rick Barton (guitar) and Matt Kelly (drums) soon progressed to writing original material, the future live staple ‘Barroom Hero’ being their earliest effort. Split singles with the Bruisers and the Anti-Heros, and the Boys On The Docks EP, brought the Dropkick Murphys to the attention of Rancid guitarist/vocalist and Hellcat label boss Tim Armstrong. Produced by Armstrong’s bandmate Lars Frederiksen, January 1998’s Do Or Die was predictably rowdy. Blending traditional folk instruments (bagpipes and tin whistle) with the ever-present guitars, the band drew heavily on both Boston’s Irish heritage and the city’s punk rock legacy. With songs ranging from punk singalong to sombre acoustic folk it was a compelling debut. Released to excellent reviews, tours across Europe and America followed before McColgan, unable to commit himself to constant touring left the band. Replaced by ex-Bruisers vocalist Al Barr, ‘Curse Of A Fallen Soul’ confirmed Barr’s suitability in time for The Gang’s All Here. Again produced by Frederiksen, the album continued where the former had left off.

Another bout of prolonged touring followed, this time including Australia and Japan, during which time Barton also quit (after picking his replacement, James Lynch of the Ducky Boys). Deciding to add some beef to the live sound the band recruited second guitarist Mark Orell, who as a self-taught accordionist could contribute to the band’s more traditional leanings. The addition of Spicy McHaggis (bagpipes) and Ryan Foltz (mandolin/tin whistle) also broadened the band’s live sound as well as adding a new impetus to the material. 2001’s Sing Loud, Sing Proud!, which was produced by Casey, had more pronounced Irish leanings, exemplified by the collaboration with Shane MacGowan on ‘Good Rats’ and ‘The Wild Rover’. Elsewhere Cock Sparrer vocalist Colin McFaull featured on ‘The Fortunes Of War’, while Barr and Casey’s furious vocal trade off on ‘The Rocky Road To Dublin’ perfectly demonstrated the band’s ability to seamlessly combine different genres.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.