Top of Mind: Ken Casey, Extended Version
Dropkick Murphys Frontman, Publican, Philanthropist, Lucky Bastard, 41, Hingham
If you could engineer the perfect Boston rock star, you’d probably come up with someone who looks and acts like Ken Casey, frontman for the Dropkick Murphys. The band’s Celtic punk combines the city’s Irish heritage with its aggro attitude, and on stage Casey is raucous, funny, perhaps a bit obnoxious, and always engaged with his insanely intense fans. In person, Casey has the same wiseass humor, but tempered by an endearing earnestness and patience with dumb questions. He’s also a very industrious guy: We met him at his bar, McGreevy’s, and after the interview and photo shoot, he had to discuss the kitchen with his new chef, meet with a consultant for his Claddagh Fund charity, finish a shoot for an episode of the new TV show Grill Seekers, and rehearse with the band for a slate of shows around the U.S. and Europe. He was generous with his time, though, spending the morning talking about the Boston music scene, tours, and why he won’t play weddings.
[sidebar]MRB: Okay Ken, the main goal of this interview is to just have you talk, be a little circumspect about Boston in general, and cover a bunch of subjects, like where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you look to go. After all, you’ve kind of hit the trifecta of every Boston guys’ dream, which is hanging with the Red Sox, fronting a killer band, and running a popular bar. Think back to where you came from and where you are now. You’re at the top of Boston society in a lot of ways; how do you feel about that?
KC: I definitely would not say I’m at the top of Boston society. But, you know, I have a lot of good friends, and a lot of good people in my life and a lot of good opportunities. I think in this town if you’re honest, hard-working, and treat people right, it goes a long way toward making sure you do all right. If you do the opposite, people don’t forget; they’ll go out of their way to cut you off at the knees. But no doubt, I feel very fortunate starting a band that was supposed to be a hobby, and not even literally to play live, just to play for fun to blow off some steam. And now, going on 15 years later, we not only have had opportunities in music, but also have been able to cross over from the music: being involved in sports, tying the music and the sports into McGreevy’s, and being able to channel a lot of the charity stuff we’ve done throughout the years into the Claddagh Fund. Those are all things that every day I never take for granted. I always say, “Wow, that’s a pretty fortunate situation.” I know that what you were saying about high society was just a joke, where it puts you on the list of things, and yeah, in some ways, that’s a lot of changes in my life. But in other ways, nothing’s changed, which is good. You know, I don’t know half the big shots in the town who people think I roll with. I still hang with the same friends I grew up with, and it’s good to have it that way. That’s what’s very unique about a city like Boston – you can be like that and it’ll still work for you. If it was New York or something, I don’t know if that would work. But here, it works.
MRB: How have things not changed for you?