The best of times

By MIKE MILIARD  |  September 7, 2007

Which is cool, but not as cool as getting a shout-out from Marty himself on stage at the Academy Awards. “Another thing to add to the list of things to be grateful for,” says Casey. “I dunno how I’m gonna get that off TiVo and on to CD, Martin Scorsese thanking us at the Oscars. I almost choked on my soda.”

Then there are the other triumphs, like, say, the Red Sox’ World Series victory in 2004, an improbable curse reversal that some have ascribed in part to the band’s amped-up re-recording of the century-old Red Sox fight song “Tessie.”

Casey is flattered and grateful for all this success, which seems to be growing exponentially in recent years — Clint Eastwood was this close to using another Dropkicks song, “The Dirty Glass,” in 2003’s Mystic River — but he’s also realistic, and healthily self-confident. After all, what better band than theirs?

“The Red Sox wanted a local flavor for one of their songs,” he says wryly. “They come to us. Great. But at the same time, who else should have been doing it? You’re doing an Irish gangster movie in Boston. Who else should be doing it?”

Punk purists may scoff. (And many do.) But Dropkick Murphys are what they are. Unapologetically. They’re a beloved institution at home here in Boston, playing between periods of Bruins games, among the red-faced and green-tied pols at the Saint Patrick’s Day Breakfast, and the outfield grass at Fenway. They’re giants on the national and international punk circuit via the Vans Warped Tour, and their own tireless gigging. They’re also, not for nothing, seven of the nicest and most humble guys I’ve ever met.

“In terms of other mainstream acts, we’re still not big,” says Casey. “We sell a couple hundred thousand records; it’s great for what we are and what we do. Anything bigger than that might not be good for the band. But it has become what I thought it could become when we were playing to just these punk rockers and skinheads at the Rat.”

Yes, it’s true. The Dropkicks have a bigger and more diverse fan base than ever. From teenage skate rats to middle-age soccer moms to, well, Martin Scorsese. That more and more people are listening is a testament to the band’s talents but also to their unflagging work ethic.

“You can’t rest on your laurels in this business, or it’ll be over,” Casey says. “You gotta take every song you write and every album you put out with total earnestness, or you’ll fall on your face. The fans will see that and know you’re mailing it in. I never want to see this band go out that way.”

On their own
The release of The Meanest of Times represents what may be another huge step in Dropkick Murphys’ evolution. For the first time in almost 10 years, the band are no longer with Los Angeles indie label Epitaph/Hellcat. Instead, they’re putting the record out on their own label, Born & Bred Records, which they established through Warner Music’s independent-label group.

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