ALL AGES caught up with Dropkick Murphy's lead singer Al Barr at Warped Tour 2003 in Milwaukee. We have less time at Warped Tour for interviews, so we do a half version of our normal interview, but this one seemed to go well, and we got a compliment from Al on our questions.
1. "Blackout" has a different feeling to it that your previous work. What went into the songs and the production that made this album different?
There's always going to be the Irish and the punk, Celtic, and folk influences, but for this album it was more blended than before. We're not sitting there now saying here's an Irish song or here's a punk song. Blended is the word I like to use. We blended the songs together.
2. Did you hear a version of Woody Guthrie's "Gonna Be A Blackout Tonight" or did you create the music around his words?
It was collaboration. He wrote the lyrics but didn't have music or anything. We were invited to the archives by Woody's daughter to look at his lyrics. It was very special to say the least.
3. Everyone says that Bruce Springsteen is for the working class man, so would you say that Dropkick Murphy's is for the working class man involved with the punk scene?
We have been involved with situations here and there, but the record really speaks for itself on this topic. All we've done is on the website, but the people who really know us and hang out with us know what we're all about as people not just a band ya know.
4. What do bands like Flogging Molly and The Real McKenzie's mean to the scene you helped create?
Well, the Real McKenzie's predate Dropkick Murphy's. Bands like Flogging Molly and the McKenzie's we consider to be real musicians and we're just a bunch of ham -- n -- eggers.
5. What about the punk scene attracted you to it?
Well I'm 35 years old and started listening to punk when I was 13. My first record was "Burning Love" by Elvis. I was really into rock and roll music and then when I was 17 I started to listen to the Clash and Ramones. Then got into hardcore type stuff like Bad Brains and the Circle Jerks. I liked that there was no separation between the people involved. It was more like you support us and we'll support you.
6. What was the first punk rock song you ever heard?
Wow that's a tough question. I mean I heard the Clash (points to his Joe Strummer tattoo) their first record, but like the first filthy punk rock song was by the Feters and the song was called Jesus Under Glass (sang some of the lyrics) My dad was a teacher and I had put the tape in the tape player and my dad started walking towards the car and I couldn't get the tape to eject (sang more of the lyrics), Then like Bad Brains "Pay To Cum" came along and that was the first American Hardcore band. Then I got like the first DRI single and Social Distortion's album "Mommy's Little Monster."
7. How has downloading affected Dropkick Murphy's?
It's made a bigger awareness of our band. In the long run it really only effects the musician because they don't have the opportunity to surprise anymore. The music is available before the artist wants it to be. If someone downloads a song and doesn't buy the album I really think they are only cheating themselves out of the production and the quality of the songs. I think it's good that people get to hear songs to see if they like something first.
8. What has been the best part of Warped Tour 2003?
We get to be outside all summer. We get to see bands like Rancid. Networking; seeing as many people as we can everyday. We get the chance to open people's eyes to something different than they may have never listened to before. They may come out to see someone else and walk away saying did you see Dropkick Murphy's.
9. What are you most looking forward to with your upcoming tour with the Sex Pistols?
Respect and let me define that. Respect for them, for the whole thing they were a part of. For is it is more networking.
10. What is it like when someone tells you that it's your influence that made them get involved with the scene?
It makes us feel great. Someone or someone's music once inspired me. I used to be that kid so I can relate. This is the reason we do this. There's that whole bread on the table thing and we make a living off of this now, but to hear this is why we do it.