Top of Mind: Ken Casey, Extended Version

Dropkick Murphys Frontman, Publican, Philanthropist, Lucky Bastard, 41, Hingham

KC: The friends and family, obviously. The friends I grew up with are still the people I surround myself with now. And even with the shows in other cities, too. The people who were at our very first shows in 1996, when we were playing in the VFW hall or someone’s basement, and someone put on a show through their own blood, sweat, and tears, and maybe we got 50 or 100 people there…those are the people who are backstage at our shows in Los Angeles and Chicago now. I think as a band we just surrounded ourselves with good people from the start. The thing is, with the ball-breaker friends I grew up with, if you ever changed the person you were – man, would you ever hear about it. But I think that makes the whole experience that much better. In terms of the music – with both the Irish side and the punk side – it’s a unique form of music in the sense that I can have generations of people in my life [at our shows]. Like, I can have both of my grandmothers in their eighties come to the show. I can have my mother be proud, my wife. My daughter Irish step-danced with us last year; she goes to the Forbes School in Quincy. You know, I can have my five-year-old and one-year-old there. So that’s spanning some 80-odd years, and you know, I can have the friends I grew up with, some of whom aren’t even into punk rock. And it’s nice to be able to do that. Whereas, let’s say we had success as a metal band – we probably couldn’t have that. So it’s interesting. It takes a unique style and combination of music to spin it into not only something everyone in your life can take part in, but also something that has different opportunities attached to it, whether it’s owning a bar or doing charity work and all that.

MRB: You guys have obviously been a hard-working band, and you’ve also had a bunch of luck. So how much do you think is luck versus hustle and hard work?

KC: I’ll always say I think it’s all hard work. There are a few strokes of luck, and the rest has been hard work. But the thing is, if you’re not working hard, you don’t put yourself in the position for the good luck to happen. We’ve been just touring and touring and working hard and working hard, but then there’s two strokes of luck we’ve had. After shooting my mouth off that the Red Sox would win the World Series in ’04, and after being down in the Yankees series 3–0 and having friends calling me and threatening to kill me – telling me not to get involved with a sports team ever again – the team actually came back and won it all. Because that made the whole story; it made McGreevy’s a story. I’m not going to say it was luck, but if we had released “Tessie” in ’03, we would have looked like idiots. The other piece of luck would definitely be Martin Scorsese using “I’m Shipping up to Boston” in The Departed. It was interesting the way that went down. I had all these friends of mine who had small parts in the movie, and they were telling me, “Oh yeah, I talked to Martin, and I’m going to get your song in the movie.” And then we don’t hear anything, we don’t hear anything, and then the movie’s wrapped. And for all I know we’re not in it and the movie is about to come out. Then we get a call and they’re in the final edit saying, “We want you in the movie, we want you in the trailer.” And I’m like, “Holy shit,