The stereotype of punk music lovers sporting pink mohawks that can get tangled up in telephone wires is nearing an end. The Dropkick Murphys, a band mixing upbeat Celtic music with heavy rock ‘n’ roll and punk, rocked the Grove in Anaheim on Sunday. The band is notorious for implementing an all-for-one, one-for-all environment that encourages audience members to participate, sing along and have fun. The band has made a healthy name for its influences include bands like Stiff Little Fingers, The Clash, AC/DC, the Swingin’ Utters and The Pogues, who are widely viewed in the music world to be the founding fathers of Celtic punk. The band has made a healthy name for itself and built a large following with year-round touring all over the world and famous St. Patrick’s Day shows held in its hometown, Boston. They also support unions, reflected in some of its songs. The band is known for its affiliation with the Boston Red Sox as well as the Boston Bruins hockey team. If you haven’t guessed yet, they harbor a lot of Boston pride and work that appeal very well.
Originally nothing more than a group of friends getting together to play music for fun in the basement of a friend’s barbershop, the Dropkick Murphys formed in 1996 in Boston, Mass.
‘Our goal was to blend the musical influences we had grown up with (punk rock, Irish folk, rock and hardcore) into one loud, raucous, chaotic and often out-of-tune mix that we could call our own,’ the band writes on its Web site. These meetings in the barbershop’s basement continued until the band saw to its surprise that people actually liked its music. From then on, they began to record its songs and to tour.
The Murphy’s third album, ‘Sing Loud Sing Proud!’ was a shining example of its developing style, and even included collaborations with The Pogues’ frontman Shane MacGowen and Cock Sparrer’s Colin McFaull. It was also the checkpoint of a significant change in the band. Guitarist Rick Barton was replaced by former The Ducky Boys guitarist, James Lynch, while Marc Orrell, Ryan Foltz and Robbie ‘Spicy McHaggis’ Mederios played newly added instruments. Spicy McHaggis’ name was inspired by a McDonald’s menu item the band saw while touring in Scotland.
The Dropkick Murphys now tour constantly and have released over ten singles, two EP CDs and four full-length albums. They have toured all over the world, including the United States, Canada, Europe, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Scandinavia and Australia. Just last year, they started its own vanity label, Born & Bred Records, a division of East West Records. The first and only album so far to be released with the label’s name is the Dropkick Murphys own ‘The Meanest of Times.’
The group has incorporated more than just a tough, in-your-face attitude. ‘We were singing about real-life stuff at a time when [the] standard 18-year-old punk rock message [was] ‘F authority’ and ‘F the police’,’ said founding vocalist and bassist Ken Casey in a ZMag interview. To be more direct, the band identifies heavily with the working class and blue-collar workers.
As the Dropkick Murphys’ fan base has grown, so has the demographic of its audiences. The band now reaches age groups ranging from teens to parents from every class, including white-collar workers. ‘A lot of these kids would have never been confronted by [labor struggles],’ Casey said ‘But you have a kid that maybe is from an affluent family, and really it’s not a life or death struggle for him, but