by Jason Terry
Rarely has a punk band gone from being an opening band, to being a national headliner in less time than Boston's Dropkick Murphys have. Since the release of their debut full-length, the punk classic Do Or Die in 1998, DKM have gained a huge, steadily growing fan base that includes kids and adults alike. They have even been invited to perform live on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, twice. No longer just a four-piece band, as when they started, the band is now seven members strong, having added another guitarist as well as a mandolin/tin-whistle player and a bag piper into the mix. Now on the tour supporting their fourth CD, Blackout, the band is tighter than ever, with their one-of-a-kind mix of celtic-influence punk rock. I had an opportunity to sit down with lead guitarist Marc Orrell on their stop through Anaheim at the House of Blues, where they were playing two shows in one night.
What is your name and what do you do in the band?
I'm Marc Orrell, I play guitar for the Dropkick Murphys.
Did you keep up with the baseball playoffs and the Red Sox?
I did, we actually were watching, we were in Florida while we were watching it. We actually had the tour bus, the windows open and there was a deck right next to the tour bus. And all these kids, people from Florida, you know the Marlins were in the playoffs and the World Series now too. The kids were just screaming when we had the game was going on. We had a couple Yankees fans on our bus, like the Casualties, and the sound guy. And they're all screaming when they would get hits and stuff. We're all, shut the fuck up, you know, and all the people outside are yelling fuck you, go Red Sox. It was pretty cool though.
Who are you rooting for now that the Sox are out?
I'm a Yankee hater, so I'm going to have to go for Florida. When you're from Massachusetts, you gotta be like that. You don't party that way. You get shot for wearing a Yankees hat around Boston.
You are playing after the Bruins game November 15th, how did you get to do that?
I'm not exactly sure how we got to do that. But it's going to be amazing, we're playing after the game. We wanted to try to do something in between periods, that would have been cool. Hopefully people will stick around, you know, watch the show. They're taking out handicapped seats and building a stage up there for us. It's really cool, maybe a few Bruins players will come up and play songs with us. That will be cool, you know, interesting.
This summer you played the entire Warped Tour, how was it?
It was fun, it was hot and it was a gi-normous punk rock summer camp. That's basically what it is. You know, and it's really cool. I love touring in clubs, that's my biggest pride and joy because its so intimate, its in there and its chaotic, you know. Warped Tour is really cool, because if some random kid is just walking by and never heard of us... oh who's this band. It's just really cool, you know. But it was really cool to meet the variety of bands on that freaking tour. Something like 50 or probably more bands. They're really cool, it was awesome, made some new friends. Andrew W.K., those guys rule, those are my boys. But yeah, it was fun, it was a lot of fun.
You just finished up a tour with the Sex Pistols, what was that like touring with them?
That was like a dream come true. I'm a big Sex Pistols fan, and it was just like...oh crap that's Johnny Rotten. Steve Jones has the best guitar tone ever, out of any guitar that's ever come out of a stereo. Steve Jones has the greatest guitar sound. They're just totally nice guys, it was really cool, nice guys. The catering was fucking beautiful, they had all kinds of setups. They played these gi-normous stadiums, which was really strange too. We were with Reverend Horton Heat, people didn't start showing up until the Sex Pistols went on. We had a good crowd, it was just spread out throughout a stadium. It was strange, it was cool though. It was an experience. Nice guys too.
You guys tour a lot. What do you figure is the most you've toured in one year?
The most? This is the most. We've been on tour since the beginning of June. So that's going on almost five months. This is the longest I've ever done with the band. It's tiring, but its just what I do, I'm having fun, you know. Of course you're gonna get homesick, everybody does. But you know, we're pirates sailing the seas of the asphalt. It's great.
Scruffy Wallace is your new bag piper, where did you find him?
He actually contacted us through the website. He's from Calgary and he's just been piping for like 15 years. He's an actual piper, somebody who knows what he's doing. Spicy was completely tone deaf, his pipes were always out of tune, he didn't know what the hell he was doing. Now we got a real piper now, who knows about the pipes and knows what things to do to make it sound good, he's a good piper. He wasn't on the last record, that was Joe Delaney on Blackout, though. We didn't find Josh until after the record was done.
You have been on Conan 2 times now, does he personally ask for you guys to do it?
Yeah, cause he's from Brookline, Massachusetts. It's right outside of Boston. The first time we played, it was really cool, Max Weinberg came out and said "oh you guys rocked tonight and my daughter is totally into you." And then we turned around, Max Weinberg just said stopped by to say what's up! And then we were hanging out in the hallway, and we were taking pictures with Conan's picture on the wall. We're just like, yeah, we met Conan O'Brien. Then he just comes out, and is like "what are you guys doing?" And we were just like, we didn't think you were going to come out, so we were taking pictures with your picture. And he goes, "cool...that's the saddest thing I've ever heard." It was just totally spot on just like Conan O'Brien. It was really cool, he was a nice dude. He's got a lot of freckles they fucking cover up with makeup. Tallest dude ever. And he was just really cool. He was like "yeah, we'll have to have you guys back again." And we're like yeah, cool. Sure, this guy's never gonna talk to us again. And then sure enough, we got back on. He's a really nice dude. He's really cool. Hilarious.
Tell me a little about your DVD. What is going to be on it and when will it be out?
I'm not sure, it's sometime next year 2004. I'm not sure what the release date is. But its gonna have a lot of Warped tour footage actually, its like a segment in it. I'm not sure if its gonna take up the whole DVD, because we have so much other crap and just like weird stuff. The Warped Tour footage I think it might be called 65 days of hell. I'm not sure, I don't know if we're going to be set on that. Because it was just hot as a mother fucker. The first couple of days on the Warped Tour it was just raining. The first day we got rained off the stage. We played four songs and like, ok you guys better shut it off, there was lightening going everywhere. Our merch fucking table went...eh it was crazy. You'll see it on the footage, it's pretty nuts. But, there's all kinds of segments. I think some Spicy stuff should be on there, a bunch of European tours that we just randomly filmed, its going to be a lot of stuff. I don't really know, I play guitar, I don't know that stuff.
Your fans are some of the most dedicated, doing everything from making banners at the Warped Tour and even getting tattoos with your logos, does this surprise you?
Yeah, fuck yeah. That shits crazy man. I see dudes that come around with Dropkick tattoos. I'm like, you're insane. I know you love... well, it depends how much you love the band, if you really love it that much, its fucking cool, you know. The banners though, that stuff is awesome, man I love that. First we had the fly the flag contest, which was really cool. Whoever makes the best flag gets a bunch of merch so we give you a prize or something, you know. But after a while, kids just started making them left and right. Boston, we had something like fucking 40 flags, you know, it was nuts. The kids go crazy, and they worked so hard. Kids are like, "I stayed up all night doing this for you guys." And I'm like, holy shit, you're nuts, dude, you're weird. And like he's been sitting in the sun all day, "I'm wasted man, I did all this for you." I'm like you're crazy. It's so nice, it's really cool, it's overwhelming, you know. We have dedicated fans that much.
Joe Strummer passed away late last year, and you were fortunate enough to know him. What can you tell me about him and maybe share an experience you had with him.
It was definitely a highlight of my life when I met Joe Strummer. Because, I'm such a huge Clash fan, I love the Clash and I love the later stuff that Joe did. I love the Clash stuff, don't get me wrong, but I think Joe's voice got so much better as he got older. He could get all the deep sounds and shit. But anyways, the highlight of my life was meeting Joe Strummer. We played some festival in London, I think it was the Guiness. And it was us headlining on the small stage, and on the bigger stage it was like the Proclaimers, you know, "I would walk 500 miles," they played, and Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros and then the Pogues. I don't know if it was the original lineup, but it was close to the original dudes. And it was just like, let's play the show and get over and see Joe and the Pogues. We get over there, and we're watching Joe Strummer and holy shit! It's the closest thing I've ever seen to the Clash, and like half of his set are Clash songs. It was fucking amazing, I remember it was just me and Al, we're rocking out on the side of the stage, you know, it was just so cool. And then after he played, we went over to his dressing room, and there was this crowd around this dude and everybody is like Joe, Joe, Joe, hey Joe. And at first, I didn't want to be the guy that's like, hey Joe, and annoying the crap out of him. So I was like, screw this. Then Al goes up and is like Joe, I'm from Dropkick Murphys. And he's like, Dropkick Murphys, holy shit. Joe Strummer is like Dropkick Murphys, I'll see you guys later, and he just ditched all those people. He brought us into his dressing room and we hung out and chatted with him for a little bit. And then I could hear the Pogues going on. I'm like...Joe Strummer, the Pogues, Joe Strummer, Pogues. Joe, I'm sorry I gotta go watch the Pogues, you know. He's like oh no, cool, I'm coming up there too man. And so I run up there, and I go up there and I go on one side of the stage and everybody's all fucking packed on one side of the stage and I'm kind of peeking over and I can't really see. So I'm like screw this, I'm going to the other side, the other side doesn't really have anybody. And I look down and who's there, its Joe and his wife sitting there Indian style by themselves. And I was just like...ok. So I sat down right next to them and Al came up and sat down with me too. We're just sitting there, and this dude just kept bringing him wine, bottles upon bottles of wine. And Joe's like, you guys want some wine? I'm like, do I? Sure! I mean, on stage watching the Pogues with Joe Strummer sitting right next to me with his wife, and we're just drinking wine. Like I said, the highlight of my life. I was like, am I alive right now, you know, what the hell's going on? Yeah, that was an amazing moment and we snapped that one picture of us. I was just like oh my god, I was so ecstatic, you know. When I heard that he died, I was crushed. It was so unexpected, he had so much stuff to do, you know. And his new record is out. Al's got a copy of it on the bus. I tried to get it at Borders the other day, but they don't sell it there. So I was just like, fuck you, what the hell's wrong with you, don't you know who Joe Strummer is? I was getting all mad and stuff. But I was crushed, I really was, he had so much stuff to do. And it hurts, I think about it enough, I burst out into tears, he was only 50 years old. But whatever, life goes on, his music will too.
What is in the future for the band?
The band, well, who knows, keep going, new albums. I don't know what the hell else is gonna go on. We should be doing alright. The same thing, hopefully we get more shows, meet other bands, hopefully just keep doing it. I don't really know about the future, who knows about the future, you know. Keep going, we're pretty healthy right now, so I think we're gonna be going for a while.