Tue 26th Oct, 2010 in Features
When August heralded the arrival of the latest addition to the summer festival juggernaut: metal heads joyfully wept into their long locks. Punk kids the nation over sat down to write Santa a thank you note for granting an early Christmas.
The No Sleep Til festival is set to scissor kick summer into action on December 14 with a bill boasting 25 of the world’s biggest metal, hardcore and punk bands.
One of the bands leading the charge to our shores — war cry stinking of whiskey — are the Celtic sons of Boston, Dropkick Murphys.
Dropkick Murphys are the band you want to be when you grow up. Their fierce Irish folk-infused punk has provided the soundtrack to sporting victories, blue-collar uprisings, political rebellion and even a Scorsese flick. They own a pub, have their own label, feature in a video game and recently made history as the first band to adopt a union cause as the main theme of a music video.
FasterLouder caught up with bass player and vocalist, Ken Casey to chat about their impending visit, getting shot at by Russians and beating the crap out of NOFX.
Are you looking forward to shipping back to Aussie shores to play No Sleep Til?
Very much so! I’ve become very fond of coming down to Australia. It’s a home away from home for us. I want to move there to be honest with you. Can you get me a green card?
NOFX are one of the festivals headliners: what do you think of Fat Mike and crew?
We are going to beat the crap out of Fat Mike and his crew. They think they are going to run the show down there.
I’m kidding; I love those guys. It’s always entertaining to play shows with NOFX. You never know what’s going to happen.
It’s good to see a band have fun and do it the way they do. A lot of younger bands should pay attention. You see bands on the road that have been touring for three or four years and they are burned out and miserable. NOFX is a band going on 25 years and they still act like they are doing it for the first time.
Who else on the bill are you keen to see?
I’m very excited about Descendants. Playing with NOFX and Descendants is going to be awesome!
You guys are festival veterans: what’s the best festival you have played at?
Oh my god! Jeez. We have played Reading and Leeds in England, Fuji Rock in Japan, and of course, Big Day Out. We have played a lot of festivals in Germany and Holland. Getting an opportunity to play in front of 50 000 plus people is great.
The Warped Tour in the States is always good in the sense that there are so many bands you’re friends with on it. We have been very lucky to play at a lot of great festivals.
Surely over the years there has been a fair bit of mischief, have you got a good festival yarn to share with me?
[Laughs] Oh man! One time we were doing a festival in Australia and we actually were trying to beat someone up. I can’t remember the band’s name now but that was a good bit of fun chasing them around. They deserved it, whoever they were.
We put out a DVD called On the Road with Dropkick Murphys and one section of that, called “64 Days of Hell is the Warped Tour”. It is twenty minutes of mischief and practical jokes; doing stuff to people that we thought was funny but they didn’t always think it was funny.
We need examples Ken!
We were coming from a festival in Finland and the bus driver told us we were only a quarter of a mile through the woods to the Russian border. So we go running across this little brook and you see this big red hand and all these different languages that basically say if you pass this sign you’re going to be shot.
We were over there in Russia dancing around and having a great old time and then suddenly a big flare goes up and when it lit the sky you could see that we were dancing right beneath a Russian guard tower. We barely got out of there without getting shot to death.
Live on Lansdowne, released in March this year, was recorded during a week of mammoth shows you do every year for St Pats in Boston. Why is the energy so insane at those gigs?
Well, aside from the fact that it’s our hometown, it’s a special time. You travel all year and you don’t get to see your friends and family as much as you would like and then you come into town and for one week everyone’s coming to see you.
It just becomes a huge giant party. It’s actually got a little out of control to be honest with you. But we love it. A lot of people travel too so the whole city turns into a Dropkick Murphys convention for that week.
The band is determined to stay true to its roots, why is that so important?
As kids we were let down by a lot of the bands we listened to. Early on they talked about being on the same page as you and then they get a little success and turn into rock stars. A lot of the Boston hardcore bands turned into metal bands. A lot of the British punk bands wanted to be The Who all of a sudden. So we always wanted to keep the listener in mind and try not to let them down.
The video for Tomorrow’s Industry was released last month to help raise awareness for hospital workers and their struggle for fair pay and conditions. You have teamed up with unions before: is that an important connection for the band?
Throughout the history of the band we have had a great rapport with labour unions. I think a lot of unions have looked at us as a medium to reach a lot of people, especially young kids who are coming up into the workforce.
We’re friendly with 1199SEIU [union representing healthcare workers] and we have watched their struggle. These hospital workers are there day in day out working to help save peoples’ lives yet they can’t get the adequate health care they need for their own families. The irony is ridiculous.
I think we’ve been kind of successful at helping a small segment of society –– as they grow up listening to our music –– open their eyes to some of what’s going on in the real world. A lot of us were brought up in that world and we want to preserve what we fought so hard for.
What can we expect from the Dropkick’s set at No Sleep Til?
We’re gonna break shit, we’re gonna allow everybody up on the stage and hopefully have a big party and never get invited back.
Dropkick Murphys tour Australia in December to play at the No Sleep Festival.
No Sleep Festival dates:
Friday 10th December – ASB Showgrounds, Auckland
Sunday 12th December – Arena Jondalup, Perth
Wednesday 15th December – Entertainment Centre, Adelaide
Friday 17th December – Showgrounds, Melbourne
Saturday 18th December – The Entertainment Quarter, Sydney
Sunday 19th December – RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane