Shine's CatchUp with Dropkick Murphys
Welcome to Shine's CatchUp, a new feature where WFPK host Laura Shine catches up with musicians about their music, new albums, or whatever they've recently been up to.
Dropkick Murphys have a new album called This Machine Still Kills Fascists. The album's songs are Woody Guthrie's lyrics put to the Celtic rock sounds of Dropkick Murphys' music. They also have another album of his lyrics coming out in May called Okemah Rising. I recently spoke with the Celtic punk rockers' drummer and percussionist Matt Kelly about the new albums and how they were drawn to Woody Guthrie's lyrics. They'll be in Louisville on Friday, March 10th at Old Forester's Paristown Hall!
What inspired you to use the lyrics of Woody Guthrie for your latest albums? I would assume you feel a kinship with Woody and wondered why that is?
We were approached by Nora Guthrie (Woody’s daughter) many years ago to take a look in the Guthrie archives and at his reams and reams of unpublished lyrics. At the time, we grabbed two that seemed really cool: “Gonna Be A Blackout Tonight” and “I’m Shipping Up to Boston.” “Blackout” was a whole song’s worth of lyrics, while “Shipping” was just a fragment (but it said ‘Boston’ in it!). Some people say that Woody Guthrie was “the first punk,” or something like that. Furthermore, his brand of folk music spoke against injustice and corruption. Our band has dipped our toe in those sorts of lyrical themes from time to time, and these two albums featuring his lyrics highlight that sort of thing.
What was it like working with Nora Guthrie, Woody's daughter, on the project?
She was very accommodating, and helpful with OK-ing any minor tweaks we had to make to the lyrics to make them work, etc. She liked our musical approach and our spirit, and was
helpful as hell in explaining things, contextualizing lyrical themes, etc. Basically, she was a joy to work with!
You recorded in Tulsa, Oklahoma close to where Woody was born. How did that inform this record? What was that like?
We recorded at The Church (in Tulsa), Leon Russell’s studio, where countless classic records have been cut. I think that being in Guthrie’s old stamping grounds sort of got the guys into the ‘vibe’ of his sound. Nice joint. The live room, where we actually tracked everything live, sounded great and had a nice ambience. Dudes seemed to really dig it.
Another album, Okemah Rising, is coming out this May, also a collection of Woody Guthrie lyrics you put to music. Can you tell us about the upcoming album and how it might be different than This Machine Kills Fascists?
I think it’s a bit less ‘Americana’ and more Irish folk/Pogues/Horselips/Dubliners style. Obviously both albums feature the unpublished lyrics of Woody Guthrie, and were recorded in the same session, but we put the songs together that ‘worked together. This Machine... and Okemah are like two different chapters of the same book.
I love the song "Never Git Drunk No More" from the album that also features Nikki Lane. How did you all end up recording with her?
Our producer, Ted Hutt, worked with her and thought she’d be perfect for that song.... and Ted knows his stuff. It worked out really well methinks.
Watch the new video with Nikki Lane and listen to their latest track from the upcoming Okemah Rising called "I Know How It Feels" below.