If it’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend, it’s the Dropkick Murphys heading home to celebrate in style.
This year the Celtic punk septet hosts three parties: Friday at the TD Garden, Saturday at the Brighton Music Hall — where they will play their second album, “The Gang’s All Here,” in its entirety — and Sunday at the scene of most of their St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans, the House of Blues.
This year, the band has a whole batch of new songs to hear shouted back at them by the hometown faithful from the solid new album, “Signed and Sealed in Blood.” We chatted by phone with bassist-singer Ken Casey from a Washington, D.C., tour stop about all things St. Pat’s, tattoos, and “Signed.”
Q. In the notes for “Signed” you say you all experienced a “songwriting attack.” For a band that’s been doing it as long as you have and tours so frequently, was that sense of creative vitality a happy surprise?
A. Absolutely. Because of the touring schedule we’ve never really been a band that wrote on the road. And we actually did this time. We brought this little acoustic setup where we could go find an empty room and set up and play. We went away from sound check into a room every day and worked on new songs. It’s a nice feeling to feel motivated. I think this is a second wind.
Q. You’ve never shied away from the personal before, but “Rose Tattoo” on the new album, where you talk about your ink, feels particularly heartfelt.
A. For me, when I look at what’s on me in that way it makes me think of places, eras, times, and people in my life. Obviously they’re all important to me and I find it an emotional thing to think about it all at once, especially since some of them are memorials to people who have passed away. So yeah, it was an interesting way to write a song. It was interesting how much people could identify with it even if they don’t have a tattoo. It’s almost the same sentiment if you look through an old scrapbook or photo book from your childhood.
Q. So it must be humbling when fans show you tattoos they’ve gotten of the band logos.
A. Absolutely. I think any musician will tell you that when people come up to you and say, “Your music got me through a hard time,” or any of that stuff, that’s what makes it all worthwhile. But when someone tattoos your name, that’s for life, so that’s always by far the most humbling thing you can encounter. We finished the album way ahead of schedule for the first time ever, and we had six weeks before the final artwork was due. And we already had the logo, so we put it up online and people got a tattoo before they even heard the record, which to me is the ultimate sign of trust, because what if we’d totally laid an egg? (Laughs.)
Q. This year, you guys are playing the Garden as part of the festivities. Even though you’ve played events there before, does headlining feel more special?
A. It was kind of like Fenway was, we had done appearances with the team. We had played the Garden twice on a little, tiny stage after the Bruins game and those are great, but to do it as a proper concert is a whole other thing. It’s been a huge goal for us, almost like the final goal for Boston. I don’t know that there is any other venue we haven’t played in the city, so we decided to go for it. We thought it would be cool to do Brighton again and have the complete opposite of the [Garden show]. And the House of Blues, it just wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s Day if we didn’t play one House of Blues show. I can’t even imagine how many shows — between Avalon and House of Blues — that we’ve played on that footprint, having been doing this now there for 12 or 13 years, and many of those years playing upward of seven shows. It’s crazy.
Q. How was it playing the Bruce Springsteen MusiCares benefit last month? It was a pretty star-studded affair.
A. Oh man, that was wild. My MO on that was that I was just going to show up and stay under the radar and not even introduce myself to people because I don’t want to be “that guy.” I got there and we had to do a dry run through of the show, so everybody was in the building at the same time, from Elton John to Sting to Faith Hill and Tim McGraw.
I think what I had going for me was one, they didn’t know me soI was kind of like the new guy on campus; and two, most people were doing either mellow songs or mellow arrangements of songs. I come out and do “American Land” and it’s like a foot-stomper and people are just like, “What the hell? Who is this guy?” I came off the stage and Sting, who I figured would be like meditating and doing yoga in the corner, was like, “Where are you from?” And I said “Boston” and he said, “I knew it!” And the whole rest of the night at the afterparty he would yell across the room “Boston, come over here and meet Johnny Depp!” and he introduced me to everybody. And I was like “Oh man, this is not what I expected.” And honestly, every single person could not have been nicer. But then it dawned on me after, all these people were personally invited by Springsteen to do it and he’s such a good guy that chances are he’s not really going to associate with someone who’s a jerk.
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