How do you follow an intricate concept album? If you’re the Dropkick Murphys you go back to basics. And the result, with the January-released “Signed and Sealed in Blood,” is a rip-roaring Boston Celtic punk classic.
“The previous record being a concept album was very much mental gymnastics,” says Dropkicks co-founder Ken Casey. “It was a great songwriting exercise. But this time we felt like kids in a candy store ready to write a good, old-fashioned punk-rock record. It never would have happened or sounded like this if the other one hadn’t been like it was — or come as quick.”
Right from the foot-stomping opener “The Boys Are Back,” the seven-man band wear their pent-up punk-rock energy on their tattooed sleeves.
“It’s difficult writing a song, but when you’re trying to tie all the songs into a larger story, it steers you into directions you might not want to go in,” adds Casey. “This one is a simpler record.”
Simpler doesn’t mean dumb, though. The folky “Rose Tattoo” finds the Dropkicks collaborating with Mumford and Sons banjo player Winston Marshall, where the pace gears down.
“Even though this album doesn’t have a true ballad, we slow it down,” he says, “but without pulling the rug from under the record.”
A return for a 'Hero'
Among the hundreds of songs the Dropkick Murphys have under their belt, “Barroom Hero” is a clear fan favorite.
“We’d taken it out of the set,” Casey says. “Then people stared saying, ‘What the hell are you doing not playing that song?’ So, we started putting it back in. It was the first song we ever wrote, even before we started the band. It’s one of those songs that’s always been a staple. You play a song every time for 17 years, they’re either going to love it or hate it.”