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Luke Henderson chats with DKM’s lead vocalist Al Barr:

The season of the Irish in Denver, also known as March, is about to get a great big green infusion of music. The Dropkick Murphy’s will be returning in concert on March 1st at The Fillmore Auditorium on the same day that their newest album, ‘Going out in Style’, debuts from their own Born & Bred Records label. . The band’s seventh album is both unique in scope and familiar in content. It tells the story of an Irish character named Cornelius Larkin. The concept is that the songs tell his story through the reflections of a traditional Irish wake, and while the focus may be the fictitious Cornelius, there isn’t a track that listeners won’t be able to relate to. Immediately the album starts with the thumping anthem ‘Hang ‘em High’ that harkens back to earlier DKM albums and their punk rock sensibilities, it is aggressive in nature, yet the subtle message seems to be more focused on the companionship of battle.

“You’ve got it, we’re always about that,” Al Barr, lead vocals in the band took a moment from the start of a very hectic 2011 to talk about the album, “that’s a common theme with us. The world is tough, it’s a tough time, and who are you with?” Similarly, the seemingly judgmental ‘Deeds not Words’ explodes with anger at the betrayal of one of those same people. To some listeners, it may seem bleak in its anger. “I can see where people might see it as pessimistic, but I don’t. The thing there is, there is accountability for our actions, and the guy in the song has done wrong and is caught, and is getting judged. He is guilty of what he did, in some ways, we all are,” Barr said. But like all DKM albums, there are ballads that speak to historical ponderings that are relatable still today, such as the Civil War inspired epic, ‘Broken Hymns’. “I’m a big history buff, and I was watching that Ken Burns special The Civil War -the box set, and I heard them mention that both sides had favorite songs, but one that they both agreed on. So I searched for it, it was about a woman, of course, and I came across all this great stuff, and one record about songs from then that I just really loved.”

It may be startling for some fans to realize that many of the songs that speak to historical moments are not covers, but inspired musings of Barr and his band mates. One song on the new album though is a remake of a classic Irish standard, ‘The Irish Rover’. When asked if he feels more responsibility when handling beloved music of the past, as opposed to his own work, Barr was quick to point out his quality control standards. “Like you said, some of these songs were important to our parents and grandparents and are part of the narrative of our lives. They got handed down, and like everything we got from our families, they are important to us and our story. But no, I treat every song with the same reverence; I want everything to be good and to be memorable and relatable for the listeners,” Barr said.

None is more personal to the band though than ‘Peg O’ My Heart’, a toe tapping love song that any Irish man can relate to, and any Irish woman can long for, however Barr says the song started out on the cutting room floor. “The funny thing about that song is that it wasn’t supposed to be on the album at all. Ken [Casey] came in and said ‘Listen, both my grandmothers are named Peg and they’ve been asking me when we’re going to learn to play this old song Peg O’ My Heart. It isn’t going on the album or anything, but let’s learn it as a gift for them so we can play it for them live’. We all agreed, of course, because family is so vital to us, and once we did it, it sounded good.

Then you know, Bruce Springsteen ends up singing on it and there you go.” The throw away comment could easily be missed, but the idea that a song was nearly left off an album and then ended up with the vocal styling’s of one of the most popular singers in history, is shocking. “Yeah it’s funny; he was amazing to work with. At the concerts, I’ll be singing his parts, but who knows, he might show up sometime. He said, ‘I’ll see you out there’, which I’m not totally sure what that meant, but you don’t argue with Springsteen,” Barr said. The sentimental song favorite has to be ‘Cruel’ though, which reflects on the diverse nature of family and just how contradictory the feelings related to those we know best can be. “We do work hard, we tour a lot and we record a lot, but we have very distinct times and areas for that.

Once we are out, we’re out. The switch is off, and our families are all that matters.” And what about the seemingly exact nature of the apologies and ruminations found in the upbeat and hilarious title track, ‘Going Out in Style’? “Yeah, those do seem to be a bit focused don’t they? I can’t speak for any of that, but there may be some true stories behind some of the things mentioned in that song. That’s one of the steps to recovery right? I think some of our friends, or some of my band mates friends and family, might hear that song and finally get closure on some events. They’ll hear it and be like, ‘I knew it you bastard! I finally get my apology’,” Barr said with a laugh. It’s impossible to talk to anyone from DKM without asking about their incredibly popular ‘Shipping up to Boston’ song whose prominence in the film, The Departed, rocketed their already devoted fan base to rarified air status. “The first time we sang that song, afterward, it was like a fart in church, quiet as anything.

We walked off stage and said, well, let’s never f**king sing that again. Then Mr. Scorsese put it in The Departed and it went from there,” Barr said. But, like with any big hit for a band that prides itself on evolution and improvement, there is the danger of trying to follow it up, for Barr, he thinks they have avoided that trap. “It’s funny, at concerts I can see the person yawning and looking bored and you know they are there just for the one song. You don’t want to ever get pigeon holed, and I think we haven’t. There is enough meat on the bones of the band that if you come in, we’ll give you more and you’ll want to stick with us,” Barr said. That meat will be on display in the form of new favorites and classics that DKM is known for in March when the band returns to what Barr refers to as one of his favorite places. “I love Denver, we all do. We’ve had some great concerts there, and I’m a lifetime NRA member and I love Colorado’s gun laws.” And what about the album that debuts the same day they are in concert? “Yeah the album comes out that day, not sure what we’ll do to celebrate it.

How about we set ourselves on fire onstage? Too much?,” Barr said laughing. No matter what antics the band is up to, their latest album is a worthy addition to the canon of DKM. It appeals to the punk in us all, while giving songs of historical importance, ballads of intimate portrayals and an overall feeling that even in our bleakest moments, including a fictional wake that is just as easily a metaphor for our changing world landscape, there is hope and there is friendship and there is family. The album is a sure hit and one that everyone, Irish by birth or by decision, should add to their play list.
Luke Henderson chats with DKM’s lead vocalist Al Barr:The season of the Irish in Denver, also known as March, is about to get a great big green infusion of music. The Dropkick Murphy’s will be returning in concert on March 1st at The Fillmore Auditorium on the same day that their newest album, ‘Going out in Style’, debuts from their own Born & Bred Records label. . The band’s seventh album is both unique in scope and familiar in content. It tells the story of an Irish character named Cornelius Larkin. The concept is that the songs tell his story through the reflections of a traditional Irish wake, and while the focus may be the fictitious Cornelius, there isn’t a track that listeners won’t be able to relate to. Immediately the album starts with the thumping anthem ‘Hang ‘em High’ that harkens back to earlier DKM albums and their punk rock sensibilities, it is aggressive in nature, yet the subtle message seems to be more focused on the companionship of battle. “You’ve got it, we’re always about that,” Al Barr, lead vocals in the band took a moment from the start of a very hectic 2011 to talk about the album, “that’s a common theme with us. The world is tough, it’s a tough time, and who are you with?”

Similarly, the seemingly judgmental ‘Deeds not Words’ explodes with anger at the betrayal of one of those same people. To some listeners, it may seem bleak in its anger. “I can see where people might see it as pessimistic, but I don’t. The thing there is, there is accountability for our actions, and the guy in the song has done wrong and is caught, and is getting judged. He is guilty of what he did, in some ways, we all are,” Barr said. But like all DKM albums, there are ballads that speak to historical ponderings that are relatable still today, such as the Civil War inspired epic, ‘Broken Hymns’. “I’m a big history buff, and I was watching that Ken Burns special The Civil War -the box set, and I heard them mention that both sides had favorite songs, but one that they both agreed on. So I searched for it, it was about a woman, of course, and I came across all this great stuff, and one record about songs from then that I just really loved.” It may be startling for some fans to realize that many of the songs that speak to historical moments are not covers, but inspired musings of Barr and his band mates. One song on the new album though is a remake of a classic Irish standard, ‘The Irish Rover’. When asked if he feels more responsibility when handling beloved music of the past, as opposed to his own work, Barr was quick to point out his quality control standards. “Like you said, some of these songs were important to our parents and grandparents and are part of the narrative of our lives. They got handed down, and like everything we got from our families, they are important to us and our story. But no, I treat every song with the same reverence; I want everything to be good and to be memorable and relatable for the listeners,” Barr said.

None is more personal to the band though than ‘Peg O’ My Heart’, a toe tapping love song that any Irish man can relate to, and any Irish woman can long for, however Barr says the song started out on the cutting room floor. “The funny thing about that song is that it wasn’t supposed to be on the album at all. Ken [Casey] came in and said ‘Listen, both my grandmothers are named Peg and they’ve been asking me when we’re going to learn to play this old song Peg O’ My Heart. It isn’t going on the album or anything, but let’s learn it as a gift for them so we can play it for them live’. We all agreed, of course, because family is so vital to us, and once we did it, it sounded good. Then you know, Bruce Springsteen ends up singing on it and there you go.” The throw away comment could easily be missed, but the idea that a song was nearly left off an album and then ended up with the vocal styling’s of one of the most popular singers in history, is shocking. “Yeah it’s funny; he was amazing to work with. At the concerts, I’ll be singing his parts, but who knows, he might show up sometime. He said, ‘I’ll see you out there’, which I’m not totally sure what that meant, but you don’t argue with Springsteen,” Barr said. The sentimental song favorite has to be ‘Cruel’ though, which reflects on the diverse nature of family and just how contradictory the feelings related to those we know best can be. “We do work hard, we tour a lot and we record a lot, but we have very distinct times and areas for that.

Once we are out, we’re out. The switch is off, and our families are all that matters.” And what about the seemingly exact nature of the apologies and ruminations found in the upbeat and hilarious title track, ‘Going Out in Style’? “Yeah, those do seem to be a bit focused don’t they? I can’t speak for any of that, but there may be some true stories behind some of the things mentioned in that song. That’s one of the steps to recovery right? I think some of our friends, or some of my band mates friends and family, might hear that song and finally get closure on some events. They’ll hear it and be like, ‘I knew it you bastard! I finally get my apology’,” Barr said with a laugh. It’s impossible to talk to anyone from DKM without asking about their incredibly popular ‘Shipping up to Boston’ song whose prominence in the film, The Departed, rocketed their already devoted fan base to rarified air status. “The first time we sang that song, afterward, it was like a fart in church, quiet as anything. We walked off stage and said, well, let’s never f**king sing that again. Then Mr. Scorsese put it in The Departed and it went from there,” Barr said.

But, like with any big hit for a band that prides itself on evolution and improvement, there is the danger of trying to follow it up, for Barr, he thinks they have avoided that trap. “It’s funny, at concerts I can see the person yawning and looking bored and you know they are there just for the one song. You don’t want to ever get pigeon holed, and I think we haven’t. There is enough meat on the bones of the band that if you come in, we’ll give you more and you’ll want to stick with us,” Barr said. That meat will be on display in the form of new favorites and classics that DKM is known for in March when the band returns to what Barr refers to as one of his favorite places. “I love Denver, we all do. We’ve had some great concerts there, and I’m a lifetime NRA member and I love Colorado’s gun laws.” And what about the album that debuts the same day they are in concert? “Yeah the album comes out that day, not sure what we’ll do to celebrate it. How about we set ourselves on fire onstage? Too much?,” Barr said laughing. No matter what antics the band is up to, their latest album is a worthy addition to the canon of DKM. It appeals to the punk in us all, while giving songs of historical importance, ballads of intimate portrayals and an overall feeling that even in our bleakest moments, including a fictional wake that is just as easily a metaphor for our changing world landscape, there is hope and there is friendship and there is family. The album is a sure hit and one that everyone, Irish by birth or by decision, should add to their play list.

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