St. Patrick's Day isn't just a one-day event for the Dropkick Murphys. The entire month surrounding the holiday, including a show on Saturday, March 9, at the House of Blues in Atlantic City, is party-time for the Irish-American punk-inspired band.
"It's a good way to go out and celebrate St. Patrick's Day for a month every year," lead vocalist and bassist Ken Casey says of the Dropkick Murphys' late winter North American tour.
The band has much to celebrate career-wise, as it continues to play behind "Going Out in Style" (Born & Bred Records), its highest-charting record to date.
The concept album represented a departure for the Boston-based outfit in that the songs tell the story of one Cornelius Larkin, a fictional Irish immigrant. Larkin's story is loosely based on the immigrant experiences from band members' families and "All Souls" author Michael Patrick MacDonald, who wrote the liner notes.
On March 13, the band is releasing an expanded version of the record with a CD and video of a concert at Boston's Fenway Park with expanded liner notes from MacDonald. On St. Patrick's Day, the website also will be updated with additional material relating to the album.
"He can't put the pen down - it will be a book before he's done," Casey says of MacDonald.
Although the album offers a complete story of Larkin, it fits in musically with the group's six other recordings.
"We didn't want something that was out of place with the rest of the portfolio," Casey says. "But we wanted to motivate ourselves lyrically and do something with a little more depth."
The idea of commissioning special liner notes was meant to lend more heft to the music.
"The story is really what ties it together, and the website is when Michael goes into a narrative of how the songs tie into each character. I think the fans are pretty intrigued by it."
With the band touring behind the record for the past year, the current setlist isn't completely focused on the new material, however.
Dropkick Murphys' best-known song is its platinum single, "I'm Shipping Up to Boston," which was part of the soundtrack for Martin Scorsese's Oscar-winning film, "The Departed." The group also wrote the theme for the Boston Red Sox's first World Series victory in 86 years.
"We're really mixing it up, especially at this point in the touring cycle," Casey says. "We've been fortunate to play New Jersey and Philadelphia a lot, so that area and Boston get the most diverse setlist. We put a lot of work into making sure we play different sets from the last time we played."
Following the Dropkick Murphys' latest batch of shows, the band will start prepping for a return to the studio to make its eighth album.
The release date and subsequent tour will be either this fall or early next year, depending in part on family considerations - Casey is the father of three children and several other members have kids, too.
"We tour a lot, but we never have to answer to a label or management company or radio stations telling us what to do," Casey says of the band, which records on its own label. "We get to march to our own drummer. "It's good to be able to make some birthdays and Christmas. One time, we got home on Christmas Eve - that was about as close as I'd ever like to cut it."
Does Casey think any of the kids will follow in the band's footsteps?
"They're all fans of the band. My daughter comes with her Irish step-dancing troupe when we come to Boston. I'm just holding out long enough, so we can turn it into an Irish Menudo."
Recording with The Boss
When Bruce Springsteen, left, asks you to return a "favor," you find a way to do it, says Dropkick Murphys' lead singer and bassist Ken Casey.
The band first met Springsteen, who sings a track on their album, "Going Out in Style," when he came to one of its shows in New York five years ago.
Later, at one of Springsteen's concerts, he brought the band up on stage to perform, and asked to do something in return.
"I wasn't going to let that drop, when it was really a favor to us," Casey says.
Unfortunately, the band was in Australia when Springsteen recorded his track, "Peg 'o My Heart," so they didn't get to work together in the same studio.
"I got an email back in a few days, and I was like a kid on Christmas morning," Casey says. "He said, 'I gave it my best, and if you don't like, I'll understand.'"