Of all the national touring acts coming through Oklahoma in the coming months, few can relate to the tragedy the state just experienced than the Dropkick Murphys, themselves barely more than a month removed from a disaster.
“It’s clichéd, but Boston is a tough town and always has been,” drummer Matt Kelly said of April 15’s Boston Marathon bombings and the solidarity that followed. “A lot of people do crappy things, but it’s nice to see that when something this tragic happens, they band together and look out for their neighbor. It’s a testament to the strength of this city and its people.”
Kelly and his bandmates were faced with a similar situation as many Oklahomans were last week, brainstorming ways in which they could help. The first was a special “For Boston” T-shirt that the band sold through its website; sales have totaled more than $100,000.
“It was literally that evening, us putting ideas together. People were incredibly supportive,” Kelly said. “Thousands and thousands of people around the globe have helped. We had the means to do it, but it’s the fans that really made it such a good thing. It’s been a three-prong attack trying to help these people.”
A sold-out benefit at the House of Blues in Boston followed before The Boss himself reached out. Bruce Springsteen called Dropkick Murphys and asked what he could do, subsequently providing guest vocals for a three-song iTunes release, Rose Tattoo: For Boston Charity EP.
“To have a living legend have you be a blip on his radar, that’s quite an honor right there,” Kelly said. “He’s not some caricature. He is the person that his mystique makes him look like. He’s just a normal guy who happens to be in a great position and able to write great songs. That will have opened this song to a lot more people that might not have otherwise grabbed it.”
The title track originally was found on Dropkick Murphys’ latest album, Signed and Sealed in Blood, which hit shelves in January. Whereas the seven previous studio albums explored different facets of the group’s Celtic punk sound, the eighth effort finds the band — playing Saturday at Diamond Ballroom — putting them together into a whole.
“We have never had one exact style of sound. With each record, we center it on a different side of ourselves,” Kelly said. “We’ve been able to merge all the sounds into something strong. Without tooting our own horns, we went to the best of what we have and put it in each song.”
The album since has become a rallying cry for Beantown and its supporters, who have found a healing power in Dropkick Murphys’ music.
“People were literally singing along to songs that weren’t even on a record yet,” Kelly said. “It felt like an accomplishment to turn around so quick from the last record and make something that fans cared about immediately. We’re just glad it’s not a stinking pile of crap.”