One year ago the Dropkick Murphys (DKM) proved that innovation can overcome adversity in a big way when they continued their Saint Patrick’s Day performances at a time when COVID lockdowns were a novel idea (Dropkick Murphys Share a 24 Year Tradition). Who would have thought that one year later DKM would be doing it again?
Last year the band’s performance was considered to be outside the box. As it turned out, DKM redefined live music and became the standard for the music industry in 2020 and now into 2021. I had the opportunity to ask Matt K. from DKM a few questions about what has transpired over the last year. The interview follows the link to their upcoming Saint Patrick’s stream that will occur on March 17th at 7 PM EDT.
To access the show and for more information go to the DKM website.
Thank you very much for being willing to answer a few questions for Digital Beat Magazine. My name is Dave Pearson and I am a correspondent for the magazine. Last year, after seeing a promotion for your virtual St. Patrick’s Day show on the Tin Pan (a Richmond, VA venue) feed, I checked you out and did a review on what I thought at the time would be a one and done type review. Here it is a year later and the tune is about the same.
Thanks very much for the interview. I hope I can elucidate some thing about our band. -Matt K., Dropkick Murphys
DBM – Your St. Patrick’s Day stream last year was a lot of fun to watch. I am going to go out on a limb and say you may have been one of the first bigger name artists to utilize a stream to keep a live tradition going. When did you realize that your St. Patrick’s tradition was in jeopardy?
Matt (DKM) – Thanks a lot; it was fun! It was three days beforehand that we had to pull the plug on the real show, so it caught us off guard to say the least.
DBM – Facing a certain cancellation of the live show, tell us about how you arrived at the virtual performance alternative?
Matt (DKM) – Well, we’d been rehearsing on a sound stage nearby as we’d put together kind of a crazy production for one of the gigs. We needed the pre-production time to get used to it… so we were set up and ready anyways. No kidding here— the place has cameras and the equipment to livestream ANYWAYS, and we’d planned on utilizing the stuff for promo stuff, maybe footage for music videos, etc. But then of course we had to shift gears!
DBM – You did not have a lot of time to make it happen, I would love to hear about the efforts and cooperation it took to put the show together in such a short time. What were some challenges and what did you learn about yourselves as a band and those who supported the effort?
Matt (DKM) – We were fresh off a European tour so we were pretty much as well-oiled a machine as we could have possibly been. The band was airtight and the crew was on-point— so with the help of a local company, PEGA, we were able to get this done as quickly as possible.
DBM – When the stream ended, what were your thoughts about the performance and the future? Did you imagine we would be in a similar place today?
Matt (DKM) – At first it was weird obviously because we were playing to… cameras…. no crowd except our loyal road crew and the techs in the building… and we had no idea we’d still be in the midst of this crap today.
DBM – Obviously, the last year has been a change for performing artists. How has the paradigm shift impacted DKM? What have you learned about yourselves as a band, as individuals?
Matt (DKM) – Well, we haven’t toured since a year ago…. we’ve been on the road about six months out of the year on average since 1997, so it was a real kick in the gut. I guess we all took some much-needed time with our families and hunkered down— so that is time you can never replace and I’m grateful for that.
I hope I can speak for the whole band when I say that the year without playing gigs has made us even more grateful than ever to have the best “job” in the world.
DBM – What are one or two positives that came out of the last year?
Matt (DKM) – The vinyl market finally surpassed the CD market in the USA for the first time; I contracted Covid-19; we got to spend that important time with our families.
DBM – I will be honest, until the Tin Pan announced your virtual show I was not familiar with DKM. It was my (very strong) desire to experience live music that drove me in your direction. Has adversity broadened your fan base and do you have any stories you would like to share about fans who experienced DKM for the first time over the past year?
Matt (DKM) – Well I think that having played the gig at Fenway Park last May put us in the homes of millions of people who’ve never seen us live before. Obviously, those numbers don’t translate one-to-one to ticket sales to real gigs, but I think it might have won us over some fans who might have had preconceived notions about what we sound like… or lost us some fans, who knows?!
DBM – Since your show last year several artists have taken to the stream. What are your takeaways from your streaming efforts over the last year (challenges and positives) and what would you recommend to any artists looking to add streaming to their performing arsenal?
Matt (DKM) – The biggest challenge is to get psyched up for and actually give off the same energy you express while playing in front of a live audience. That’s incredibly difficult, especially for the frontmen. I don’t know how they do it, but they have fun up there!
Since all this crap has happened, there are venues that offer live-streaming services… I’d say, call up your local venue, and for a fee you can do a livestream as well. Bring your tuner, use your mute button, and have a setlist full of segues to keep dead air at a minimum.
DBM – You are now preparing for your second virtual St. Patrick’s performance. How has your approach to this performance been different than last year’s performance? Has time to prepare been your friend or foe? How so?
Matt (DKM) – Time HAS been our foe. The last time we’d all played together was last May at Fenway Park, so there was a LOT of rust to kick off— so we got into the practice space about a month and a half ago and started going over songs from the upcoming album, and pretty much anything and everything else we know…. just wood-shedding. This being different because, like I mentioned earlier, last year’s St. Paddy’s Day live stream was just after coming off an extensive European tour. We’d been playing together for twenty-plus years non-stop… and this year’s has had quite the time lapse, so there was the chance of having lost that symbiosis that bands get, that “gelling”.
DBM – I am going to assume you will gain new fans after this performance as well. To all those who will be experiencing DKM for the first time, what should they expect?
Matt (DKM) – Well, I hope we do, haha! I guess they should expect a setlist of old, new, borrowed, and blue. We’re digging deep into our ten-studio-album catalogue, as well as a couple surprises, and the stage set is pretty crazy. Although it will certainly be a high-energy experience, the one thing that always puts it over the top— and that we’ll be missing — is the actual interaction between band and crowd. The stage is yours as well as ours, and you’ll typically see Al and Ken out in the crowd giving the mic to people to sing along, and hoards of maniacs up on stage. So basically, what I’m saying is that a typical Dropkick Murphys gig is absolute bedlam and the audience are as much a part of the gig as the band is.
DBM – Do have anything else that you would like to add that I missed?
Matt (DKM) – Yeah, listen for TWO big announcements during our St. Paddy’s Day gig! Thanks for the interview, Dave.