After trying for a couple days to catch him on the phone, Tim Brennan of Dropkick Murphys finally called me back to arrange an interview a couple hours later, as he was taking a tour of a Budwieser plant. In the time waiting for him, I held off flyering for my Book Release Party to go swimming in the lake, only to wind up finding parts from a sunken ship. Finally, we were able to connect on the phoneMarisa: How did Tim Armstrong get DKM signed to Hellcat?
Tim: I don’t know. I’m only two years old in the eyes of the band, so I wasn’t around when that whole thing happened. They were constantly touring and playing out, doing things on their own. I think he saw that and wanted to put out the band’s stuff. It’s been like that ever since.
Marisa: Last album featured Woody Guthrie’s “Gunna Be a Blackout Tonight,” and this album features his “I’m Shipping Up to Boston.” Are there any plans for a third cover?
Tim: I’m not sure. “Shipping up to Boston” was done at the same time as “Gunna Be a Blackout.” It originally was going to be recorded on same album, but they left it off because it didn’t sound right. I’m not sure if there’s gunna be a third one
Marisa: “The Auld Triangle” was written by Brendan Behan, and “The Green Fields of France” was written by Eric Bogle, both bordering the ugly side of politics, as do many other songs on the album. What made the band decide on these two specific songs for the album? How were they stumbled across?
Tim: “The Green Fields of France” was another one the band attempted when doing Blackout, but it wasn’t there yet. We did it and waited, because we needed more time to figure out how to do it. Mark taught himself how to play piano within three months. Choosing the song touches on today’s political commentary, but it was musically fun to try to do. As far as “The Auld Triangle,” we probably heard it from different versions down the line. It’s a traditional song, and we wanted to put our own spin on it.
Marisa: How did the band decide on their bagpipe player Scruffy after losing the former player to a girl?
Tim: I don’t know. He came down from Canada to audition, and he had been in the Army in Canada, playing forever, actually professionally. He worked well, knew what was doing, how to read music and worked the best out of anyone who showed up to play.
Marisa: How many instruments do you play exactly?
Tim: Around a dozen or so. Mark and I are similar in being self-taught. We can pick up any instrument and figure it out by ear. I’m looking to learn more though.
Marisa: How did you get your start in music? Did you come from a musical family?
Tim: I do not come from any music. Nobody’s quite sure where it came from. I’m a drummer, since 14 or 15, played at home. I played a bunch of different bands, nothing crazy like touring, but I got experience starting from a young age
Marisa: Tell me a horror story about starting out in music professionally.
Tim: Luckily, I don’t have my hands in the business that much. I concentrate on the music. We have a dynamite business team. No horror as far as business. I concentrate on writing and playing. We are notorious for breaking pretty much anything we touch, be it a tour bus, instruments or whatever. We’ve had cases where the stage invasion – at the end of our set, everyone comes up on stage – we have had amps and everything go down. In Dublin, people stole a bunch of my stuff and tried to steal Matt’s things while he was playing drums.
Marisa: I have a few psychological questions that I ask everyone, simply because I can. They’re also a test of spontaneous creativity. First, if you were a unicorn, and you could be any color but white, what color would you be and why?
Tim: Blue, because I like blue.
Marisa: Second, if you were a yogurt, would you be mixed fruit, fruit on the bottom, what flavor and why?
Tim: Fruit on the bottom, strawberry, because it’s delicious.
Marisa: Third, what flavor potato chip best describes your personality and why?
Tim: Hmm…I have no idea. Um, I find it’s difficult to equate personality to potato chip. That’s a tough one. Baked Sour Cream and Onion Lays. No reason, it’s just the only potato chip I eat.
Marisa: Any advice for musicians starting out?
Tim: It’s just keep working at it. Everyone says it, but it’s true. If you’re starting out, make sure everything is tight, play as much as possible and where ever you possibly can
Marisa: Anything else you want to add that we did not talk about?
Tim: All set.
Marisa Williams is a freelance writer, photographer and author, www.lulu.com/thorisaz