If you know music, you may know him. If you’re a movie buff, you might know one of his songs. If you’re from New England, chances are you know everything about him and his music!
Kraig Kann chats with Ken Casey, founder and lead singer of the Dropkick Murphys - Boston born and Boston’s own.
Casey shares the amazing story of how this Celtic punk rock band came to be, and the stories attached to his surprising rise to stardom. His love for the Boston Bruins, relationships with star athletes and his personal work with charity and boxing are just part of this chat where Casey admits he’s sharing things he never has about his personal life and his road to the stage.
Don’t miss it!
Welcome to tracks to success brought to you by presentation partners. This is the podcast that brings you inspiring people and they're inspiring stories. How did they find their way to the top and how can their path help you do the same? Here's your host network, broadcaster, executive and entrepreneur. Craig can
Right now on this edition of tracks to success, you'll hear from the leader of a, one of a kind in your face, Irish American band from the Northeast, that's built quite a following. He's a songwriter, a lead vocalist, and a bass guitarist, but would probably rather have a hockey stick or a baseball bat in his hands, because, well, because he's all about Boston sports and actually Boston sports have also become a little bit about his band. He was born in Massachusetts, raised in Massachusetts and lives in Massachusetts. He's a self proclaimed diehard of the Boston Bruins, the red Sox, the Celtics and the new England Patriots.
2 (1m 22s):
And he's got a bit of a crush on Bobby yore, just so you know, Celtic, punk rock. Isn't his only thing because there's ownership in bars and restaurants, a stake in local boxing and a huge devotion, the charity work. So what's it like to have a cult following so strong that your songs find their way to Fenway major motion pictures? How did all this fame come from? The formation of a small little Boston band? His name is Ken Casey. He's the heart and soul of a band called the Dropkick. Murphys is inspiring story. And this addition of tracks to success starts now.
2 (2m 11s):
Well, can I promise myself when I started this podcast that we would bring listeners the stories of people from
3 (2m 17s):
All walks, all right. All parts of the world. I am really excited to have you. Thank you so much for being my guest.
4 (2m 25s):
Oh, it's a pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.
3 (2m 27s):
We're going to have a lot of fun. Let me start with this. You started a band back in 1996, not punk rock, but Celtic punk. How would you describe that?
4 (2m 41s):
Oh, you know, I guess it was a, you know, in the early days of fairness, it was more punk rock just because we really hadn't learned to play that additional Celtic instrumentation. However, our influences and somewhat of our goals were to mix the two, you know, growing up in Boston and, you know, you know, obviously big Irish descent in Irish music, very prevalent, but also, you know, growing up with, you know, being fans of punk rock music, and a lot of the, the hardcore bands coming out of Boston. And it was just like, it kind of just was like a natural thing bef before we could really implement the two together as a full time successful thing.
4 (3m 28s):
We, on our early recordings, we had some bagpipes and I do think also just the speaking of storytelling, like delivery of the lyrics and stuff was in that heavily influenced by that kind of Irish storytelling thing. And, you know, then it's like, if you build it, they will come. We were a four piece. And, and then suddenly, you know, it goes a lot of the people in our lives that knew how to play those instruments were white cops and fire them. And, you know, the door quitting their jobs, you know, as a fireman to go play bagpipes with a punk band. But after we released that first record, a lot of kids that were fans of the band started to pickup those instruments and teach themselves on a play.
4 (4m 10s):
And suddenly along the way, we went from a four piece to a seven piece. And the Celtic nature of the band grew as we had, you know, now at accordion banjo, you know, and it just offers you as, as, as musicians and as a band, you can, you can still have the same aggression, but then you can layer over all this melody, you know, so it's a good hook to get in. Like I'll, I'll like in the early days, we'd have a lot of kids say like gag, you know, I was fan of Ben, shockingly, my father liked it, you know, because maybe we were doing a traditional Irish song on maybe, you know, just enough of that Celtic melody was a hook for another generation,
3 (4m 48s):
Right? Well, the Dropkick Murphys, okay. You are the original and, and it's kind of changed and grown as you just talked about along the way, what's been the key to success because there are a lot of cities that have kind of their band, right. That they call their own or bands that call the city their own. So what's made yours different and so special that it's had this longevity and the following.
4 (5m 17s):
Well, I think the, one of the main keys to success is a low expectations because then you'll always achieve, you know, it's not hard to reach your goals, but to, to give some background on that, the band started, you know, I, I had always, I had been, there was, there was a venue called the rat, which was short shorts and a rat scaler. And that was like our version of CBG. And it was there forever. You know, my mother was, my mother told me it was a place she first ever had a drink with her fake ID when she was a kid. So that's how the generations it's spanning and, and the, you know, the rat, I would book shows at the rat.
4 (5m 58s):
They were kind of, you know, the owner just cared about like his night show. So in the day, if you were, you know, a lot of the punk shows, we'll all ages matinees because the owner would just say, Hey, give me 20% of the cover at the door. And, you know, you could pay, pay the band with the rest. And I was just doing it to help bands that I liked. And I was always starting to say, I wanted to start a band, but purely kind of as a joke to play covers in a basement, just for fun. And I was bartending at the time and I was going to, I was going to UMass Boston and work in construction then, and, and, and bartending at symphony hall.
4 (6m 38s):
And one of the kids I worked with went to Berkeley school of music, and he said, Hey, you're always talking about starting a band. My, my band has a show in three weeks. I day it opened for us and we made a $30 bet. And I got together with two friends that CAD pad, some musical experience. And another like me that hadn't, we wrote two originals, learned four covers to make a six song set. And we played the six songs twice. And we packed the place with all our friends that were coming strictly to laugh at us because, you know, it was like, Hey, you want to come see my band?
4 (7m 20s):
And they're like, what are you talking about? Oh, I got to see this, you know, so, and they, you know, it was just a, it was fun. It was good time. And we did that like three or four times, and then we got an offer to open for, for a band that, you know, we grew up listening to that was doing a reunion and yeah. Then the rest is history. Yeah. So we started kind of growing a fan base at that rat. And we would, we would basically, you know, we still all had our jobs and whatnot. So we would, we got to a point where we were, we were able to, you know, sell off the rat, which, you know, back then to us and what the history of that place that was like, you know, that was the height, you know, that you could ever even dream of achieving.
4 (8m 6s):
And I had no desire to do anything beyond that. But what we would do is book an all ages, matinee with a band we'd headline. We we'd bring in seven bands from seven other cities and they'd have a great show. Cause the Boston punk scene in the nineties was just really unbelievable. And they'd all go back to this city Oh. And us to show. And, you know, they, they they'd make sure when we came that they filled the place by hook or by crook because they wanted to take pride in this city's kind of scene and didn't want it to be empty when we had such a good show. So even if people weren't necessarily knowing us that, well, you know, these kids in the other city, we're gonna make sure that people were there for,
5 (8m 48s):
So let's tell your story. Okay. You grew up in Massachusetts, Irish heritage, who was your greatest influence as young child?
4 (8m 56s):
What were you as a young kid? I would, my grip, my father, my father died. He committed suicide when I was seven and my grandfather, my mother's father kind of took that role of a parent. And he was just, you know, it was, you know, the best role model you could have in terms of just hard worker, you know, just taught me everything that made me who I am, I guess, which was a little bit, you know, a little bit of, no, it just taught me to stand up for myself, taught me to speak up for myself, taught me to know like, just got to show up and go after what you want. And, and yeah, he was, he was the biggest definitely, you know, wool model in my life personally.
4 (9m 46s):
And then, you know, obviously if you're talking about like outside of you life as you and I discussed off and we'll be Bobby or obviously, because he was the guy that everybody, you know, but you know, he carries himself and he carries himself in a manner that, you know, it's, it's really, you know, it's funny with all that, that guy does and has done on the ice. If you ask anybody around here about Bobby or they're the first thing they're probably not going to talk about is how great a player he was. The majority of people are going to talk about what a good guy is and how much he does in the community, you know, and you know, you got to spread a lot of good and he doesn't, she doesn't talk about, he doesn't do interviews a body.
4 (10m 29s):
He doesn't ever Pat himself on the back. When he, when he does things and shows up at hospitals is not, you know, camera crews that, but the word is out and all this stuff he does because you know, all these years of doing this stuff, like he said, he's lit, it's a small close knit world there. And then he usually had a direct effect on somebody's family and everybody, you know, around and, you know, so which, which gets back to the story, the connection between those two is, you know, my first words was Bobby lobbying because my grandfather just sat there saying that over and over and cause he wanted that to be my first, my first word. So your first words were Bobby.
4 (11m 12s):
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you know, not obviously at that age, it's not like you comprehend what you're saying. It's just, you know, repeat and what he was beginning to make damn sure that that's what I got to do. And I'm into tie tie that together. I just recently got to narrate the NHL networks documentary on the 50th anniversary of the seven 1970 Stanley cup team and the famous body or goal. And actually in the intro, they wrote the NHL network, right. As wrote in the piece of both, you know me saying, you know, in, in, in my, and it says in, in, in my, my sake from a grandfather to a grandfather who, from a grandfather to a grandson whose first words of Bobby USO, when I saw the script that they included that it was like, man, practically shed a tear, you know,
3 (12m 7s):
That's cool. That's really cool. So on you as a youngster. Okay. Did I, based on what you've already told me, you didn't know you were going to go into music that just kind of fell upon you. So were you the kid young that was all into sports, big athlete in high school? That kind of thing.
4 (12m 25s):
Yeah. I usually don't talk too much about this part of my life, but since the nature of your program is telling your story, I will. But my teenage years, I was, I think after my father died, I went a little haywire and I probably, who was in a little bit of a blur with, you know, alcohol and drugs from probably 11 to 21. And, you know, I did finish high school after five years. I did play a lot of sports, but it was always, you know, you know, getting, not being able to participate in a lot of things because of chronic truancy and, you know, so, and I actually ended up, you know, quitting drugs and alcohol when I was 21, haven't had, haven't had any alcohol or drugs in 29 years now.
4 (13m 15s):
So my life kind of stopped then, you know what I mean? Everything else. Well, that was really just not going anywhere fast. You know? So yeah, that's where the story starts when I kind of, you know, turn my life around in that regard. And you know, it was consequently a little late with everything, you know, going, going to cost that in college when I was 21 at UMass and working and stuff. So it was kind of on a trajectory to be like a five or six year plan. And I was going to be a special ed for a special ed teaching certificate because I was like special ed in school.
4 (13m 55s):
Not that I had a learning disability, but I had to handle lots of other problems. They didn't know what to do with me. So, but those special ed teachers will like, they made a big impact on me, how patient and you know, how good they were with me. So I figured that would be a good spot for me to land. And I was 12 credits away from that when you never know what life throws in the hand, in your lap and started this band on a joke and then was doing it on weekends as a joke and then doing it a weekend as this little hobby. And then we got asked to go on our first tour and we had to make that decision of like, Oh, I'll take a semester off.
4 (14m 37s):
And I'll put my, my boss and my boss. And the job was like, especially for a teacher because symphony hall in Boston, in the summers that symphony goes out West or tangled the Western mass to Tanglewood. So almost everyone that worked there were teachers because you'd, you know, you'd work the two jobs in the air and then you'd have the summer off from both. And I mean, you got a pension out of that place, black tendon and everything. And so no one left that job, you know? And, and so, you know, I kept saying, can I take one more, you know, a season off of all my job for me, cause I a hundred percent thought I was going back and you know, be careful what you ask for 24 years later.
4 (15m 22s):
I still haven't gone back.
3 (15m 23s):
It's awesome. It's awesome. So tell me how Dropkick Murphys became the name of the band. I don't think a lot of people know that now people in Boston might know that, but how did it start?
4 (15m 37s):
So of course, when we were looking to, to, to, you know, do a show with the bet, we only had three weeks to come up with, come up with the name. And we were, we were torn between, I don't think I've ever told this publicly Dropkick, Murphys or wait for the snots, which I can tell you right now, no matter what we went on to do musically, if we had chosen the snots, I would have been long back at that bartending job and teaching many years ago, which is fine.
4 (16m 18s):
You know what I mean? But so Dropkick Murphys was, we used to hear it all the time. Obviously in my non-drinking circles, I would hear old guys said, and I, and when my grandfather would say it and my father in law, I talked about it. It was this kind of famous place, a guy by the name of John Dropkick Murphy. And he had, he would, he had a TA, he was a, he was a doctor, but he was also a wrestle of back. Like when wrestling was a little bit more, not, that was a real, but you know, you know, we would fill the Boston garden with, you know, local guys every weekend, he trained, he trained boxes and stuff. And he had this kind of camp where he trained people, but he became more known for, you know, a lot of these guys would come and they'd be, they'd have the shakes and stuff from being on a bender before they got to camp.
4 (17m 10s):
So he started to experiment with kind of primitive week detoxifying people with this taper down method of using like horse tranquilizers and paraldehyde and cracky, I don't even know. And, and, and so he kind of became more known for that. So not that it was like this recovery place, but it was way you needed to where you went to tape it down from a, from a binge. And so we always, you know, obviously it wasn't around by the time I was of age, but I, I you'd always hear the name. He was, they put him in dropkicks I, it was in dropkicks and we always just thought, that'd be a cool name for the band.
4 (17m 51s):
And ironically, when we first started making shirts in the early days, like we play a show and sell the shirts and then inevitably the next show kids would be like, what the hell? I get old guys stopping me on the street everywhere saying like, Oh, that was in there in 1950 something. And eventually obviously the band, you know, popularity be kind of, you know, took over a bit of it, but we always gave the nod to the place. And matter of fact, dropkicks son, you know, it comes to the show. Sometimes it gets a kick out of it, you know, and just kept, kept in his name and legacy alive to a degree.
5 (18m 28s):
It's fascinating. Fascinating. Now I've talked to some people who know you, okay. In a little bit of research, I've talked to some people who I didn't think would, would know you or the name of the band. And then they say to me, Oh yeah, the Dropkick Murphys. Oh yeah, yeah. They're in this movie or they're tied to this sports team in Boston and I was blown away, which made me all the more excited to talk to you. So I'm going to rip through, through some things here with you and for the sake of time, we'll go a little quicker on some of these things, but I want to get to movies and songs, but let's talk sports real quick. Cause I know you're, you're jacked up about that and you already dropped Bobby or on man got way ahead of me, but the Bruins, are they your top love?
4 (19m 8s):
I'd say so. Yeah. I mean I, yeah, yeah. The groans of my team. Yeah. Sports teams that I have tattooed on me put it that way.
5 (19m 16s):
Okay. All right. Ray bore cam Neely or all Bobby or
4 (19m 22s):
No, you know, Bobby all was, I was born in 69. So honestly a lot of those memories of, of, or in the cup. So like home movies and, you know, the way that they were revered by, you know, my grandfather and uncles and everything. So, you know, the, the Ray book, I mean, Terry O'Reilly at that late seventies O'Reilly and Cashman and all that was probably my, my first real teams, you know? And then obviously that the Neo era was, yeah, it was a huge, huge one. I know I don't want to get stuck on time, but I got to tell this quick story about pork.
4 (20m 3s):
I was playing in a charity game at the garden after a groans flyers matinee, and it was sold out nobody left. Cause it was book's first time coming back to skate on the God and nice since he left to win the cup with the avalanche. And I happened to have been given a high number. I think it was like 44. So I was second to last being introduced before book. And everyone's all jacked up to cheer for Ray. And as they're announcing my name and this is back in like, I don't know, early two thousands or something. And so we weren't exactly as, you know, we were popular, but not like today, maybe not as thick as announcing my name from a local rock band, Murphys, race steps too close to me on the jumbotron.
4 (20m 51s):
So you can see his head over my shoulder. So as they're saying, my name 15, 16, 18,000 people stand up in unison for this standing ovation only because they saw book space, but they started, they started the ovation saying my name. So it was pretty Epic.
5 (21m 10s):
That's awesome. That's awesome. And I know for our listeners of this podcast, you all need to know that, that some of these athletes from these teams that I'm dropping here, no pun intended with dropping, they're tied, they know your band, they know you, they're all in. We're going to get the charity, you know, the work that you do in charity and just a little bit, but what about the red Sox? Oh, for the amazing comeback, right against the Yankees to get to the world series and then sweeping the Cardinals and all of that sort of stuff. How big are you with the red Sox?
4 (21m 41s):
Oh, he, I mean, huge and always was, it was just a different animal. So red socks were always that kind of summertime watch it with your family. You know, as the Bruins are a little more for me, but I mean, my grandfather used that same grandfather was friends with Johnny pesky. My grandfather was a big union guy in town. He knew everyone and he was friends with Johnny pesky. And when he'd take me to games as a kid, we'd wait for everyone to leave and ask you to let me on the field. And I'd dive on center field thinking. I was Fred when I'm talking about when I was, you know, seven, six, seven, eight years old. So they always had a huge spot in my heart. And yeah, in 2004, the red Sox came to us and said, Hey, we dug up this old good luck song that the fans used to sing.
4 (22m 24s):
They will call it the Royal routers. They were all Irish immigrants back in the, I, you know, I don't know, 1909 era two through 1918. And they would, they would sing this particular song. It was guys like John L. Sullivan, honey Fitz, who was a JFK. His grandfather was this all group of super fans. And that's what I hear. That's where the term fanatic came from from the Royal is. And they used to sing this song called Tessy
6 (23m 1s):
Tessy is the Royal root is rallying cry. Tessie is the two they always saw <inaudible> <inaudible>
4 (23m 24s):
I knew who was like a Broadway song at the time, but they would change all the lyrics to kind of rank on the opposing teams picture and whatnot. And, and when Ruth got traded, they stopped singing the song and they, you know, and 80, 86 year drought. So the red Sox said, well, maybe this is the reason we have a one and 86 years. So we redid the song on July 23rd. I went in the Boston Herald and proclaimed that this song would break the curse. I have that on my wall, that article. And then we debuted the song, July 24th on the field against the Yankees and they were getting killed.
4 (24m 8s):
And we were like, well, so much for that didn't work so well, but that was the famous game that they, a rod and Varitek got in the fight. And they had the big comeback when bill Miller hit a walk off home run, and suddenly, you know, we were playing all these games before the games in the, in the playoffs and you know, wild ride. And we got to, but to be on the field with them in st. Louis, I called my other grandfather who my grandfather that raised me, John Kelly was already ceased, but my, my other grandfather, Tom Casey, who was, you know, a great grandfather, awesome grandfather as well. He, I, he was 86 years old at the time.
4 (24m 50s):
And I called him from the field in st. Louis. And he was in tears. I was in tears. It was unbelievable.
3 (24m 56s):
That's awesome. Now the Patriots, obviously I've had a few good years. They won the super bowl that year. And so at that time, you know, most people probably know, they felt like they own the place. They own the sports landscape. You got the super bowl, champ Patriots, you got the red Sox winning the world series. The only thing that didn't happen was the Celtics didn't win the championship that year. How big are you with the Patriots and the Celtics you've been playing your songs at any of those games?
4 (25m 23s):
The Celtics, I mean, you know, bird was my guy in the eighties growing up, but you know, basketball, I've not stayed as a, I just feel, I just felt like, you know, I lost it when it was just kind of, not as much passing and finesse and it was just slowed down a lot. I did enjoy, you know, I still watch the Celtics. I'm just, just not as rabid about them, but they use, they use shipping up to Boston a lot and you know, they're very good to the dropkicks if we ever need anything, the Patriots really never, when they, one of the championships they won, we've won so many.
4 (26m 4s):
I can't remember which one it was by the way, you know, it's fun to now, but when someone talks trash and Brady, now, it's just like, eh, it doesn't stain as much, you know, but they, they never really reached out to us to do as much. We did play when they unfurled the banner. After winning one of the championships we played prior to the game when we've sung the Anthem, they once, but they never really reached out.
3 (26m 30s):
The Ella check is not a punk rock guy, Brady doesn't like the punk rock. I could see Gronkowski back in the day.
4 (26m 38s):
Brady's been great to us. I've got to meet Brady. I become close with his family and golf with his father, Tom scene there. And, and they're, they're just that Brady family is, I mean, with all that success, they are still such a like pure, like close knit, awesome family, awesome people gives you like real hope that people can, you know, not lose their marbles when they get that famous because they, they had just solid people. So when I think of the Patriots, honestly, I think of the Brady family and how, how cool they'd been to just, just as a family, you know,
3 (27m 17s):
So specific songs you, you brought up Tessie, right. That came to fame and in Oh three with the red Sox, and then some of the other big time songs that you've had again for our audience here, they, they probably don't realize shipping up to Boston is a part of the Academy award winning movie departed. Okay. And that was a platinum single for you guys. Then you got bar room hero, you got state of Massachusetts. What am I missing? What are the, what are the big ones that people would definitely know?
4 (27m 45s):
Well, I don't know that people would definitely know them, but, you know, wrote the song. Rose tattoo is technically our second biggest song in terms of like streaming <inaudible>, You know, it's funny. We have like the two worlds. It's like, we have the world where people are shipping up to Boston through sports and they're a casual fan.
4 (28m 31s):
And then, you know, Rose tattoo is as, you know, the amount of like plays it's had and streaming spins is like getting up there, close to shipping up to Boston, but it's never had any commercial place. So that's more like the fan base that knows that song. You know what I mean? So, so, you know, it's good to see that, like you can go outside and use the music world, like via sports and TV to help, you know, project your band. But you can also just like have a song that music, people like to, you know what I mean? Some way, even without commercials successful or without,
3 (29m 11s):
But think about this for a second. I mean, you've had to pinch yourself, having your music be in an Academy award winning movie.
4 (29m 20s):
Yeah. I, you know, I'm usually a pet, you know, kind of a pessimist about the band or not a pessimist, but like try to when good things happen, I try to not be like, you know what I mean? I try to take it. Oh, that's cool. You know, not get like overly excited about it, but I will admit this when I went to the Boston premier of the deposit and I'll keep in mind, we had no idea how the song was being used in the movie. We just, you know, we just knew it was in there. And when it came on in the opening credits, so it was like, wow, but it was also the volume. That was, that was really loud way. We had a song one time in the Soprano's right. And I was all excited and I'm watching the Sopranos and I'm watching and I'm watching it, I'm watching it.
4 (30m 2s):
And then my phone rings and it's a friend. He goes, well, that was kind of cool. And I go, what? And he says, Oh, you didn't hear it. It was so low in the background that I didn't even hear the song. So, you know, you got to give credit to like, not only with where it's placed in a movie, but like, honestly in that pot, it's really prominent in a loud, in that spot. And I think that, you know, the spot and the volume had a lot in, and obviously the nature of what the movie was about, had a lot to do with how it resonated, you know, to people watching the movie.
5 (30m 35s):
No question, Ken Casey is our guest on this edition of tracks to success, tracks to success is brought to you by presentation partners, visual storytellers, passionate about connecting presenters with their audience. By the way, I can't not ask you about the onstage fight because if you Google Ken Casey, it just comes up. All right. So I'm sorry to do this to you, but I gotta ask you, you're not even a drinker anymore. Yet you got yourself bloodied in a concert. Can you just tell that story?
4 (31m 8s):
Which one is two, both got me on TMZ. So you gotta be careful these days. Everything is a camera everywhere, boys and girls be careful, but I, you know, listen, we're very protective about our audience and everything. And you know, the security can't always see what's happening going in the crowd because we're, we're at a different perspective standing up like that. My first TMZ episode was, you know, a white power Nazi type guy got up and started Zig heiling on stage. And it's, it was at a point in the show where we, at the end, we let all the fans on stage just as kind of a comradery kind of, you know, unity thing to say, we're not, you know, we're not afraid to mix with you guys.
4 (31m 59s):
And, and so he was in and amongst the people inside to see. And so I just felt like I, you know, we can't, we can't tolerate that on our stage or anywhere really. So I got into it with him, which was interesting. Cause some people will like good job and other people like, you know, there's no excuse for violence and all that, but you know, whatever Mike, you know, getting back to my grandfather taught me like, you know, and it might not be a, it might not be politically correct nowadays, but you know, I would have been taught you that you, you better hit that guy first or I'll hit you harder when you get home. So, but the second time was a couple of years ago and I just, I had seen a guy elbow, a girl in the face.
4 (32m 46s):
So I went in to try to stop it. And I actually just grabbed him and I wasn't trying to fight with them. I was trying to control the situation. Cause the security guards didn't really notice it was going on. Cause he was, it was one or two people back from the barricade and his friend happened to be a couple of steps behind him. And he, he was a real marksman and he had done before, bear off my head and it hit me just right. And it split my sweat, my head open. Pretty good. And yeah, but both of them ended up on TMZ, unfortunately.
3 (33m 19s):
Yeah. I mean, look, you gotta be known for something you're known for a lot of things. So we might as well throw that in there. And at least you're not the guy, you know, drink and throwing beer bottles at other people. You just took one
4 (33m 29s):
When it comes down and up on TMZ, you know, there's probably a lot worse ways you get an up on there. So I'll take, I'll take,
3 (33m 36s):
There you go. I would agree with that. Now you got in your way into the restaurant business and your stamp is all over the city. And, and what I find interesting is the music that you play and yet you got a Mexican place and some other places. And tell us about that and how you got into it. And, and how big has that been for kind of building the culture around the band itself?
4 (34m 0s):
Well, on the restaurant side, only the first restaurant we did was called McGreevy's and it was actually has the tag of America's for a sports bar. And that is the original McGreevy's opened in the late 18 hundreds and closed at prohibition. And it was the hangout of the Royal routers. So after the 2004 and it never reopened. So after the 2004 world series, you should, man, there's so much history with all these Royal routers and all that we should open, you know, so we should open reopen McGreevy. So we opened a replica and that kind of that's downtown, it's near Fenway.
4 (34m 41s):
That kind of became the kind of almost like hang out of Dropkick, Murphys fans to a degree. And, and it's a real lot of baseball history and you know, old, black and white stuff from the turn of the century. And I'm really proud of that. And I really like, I'm really just into like designing and coming up with the concepts and, you know, finding the deal and you know, my I'm, luckily I grew up in front, I grew up with Brian O'Donnell is a great restaurant operator. So we have a great partnership. He says, it's awesome. You know, you shake hands, kiss babies, maybe do a little work, you know, for the first six months of opening.
4 (35m 21s):
And, and then I do the rest for two, for 20 years, I do the hard work for the next 20 years of the lease. I said, Hey, we all gotta do our strengths there. You know? So we opened McGreevy's and then that just led to some different opportunities. We've done a couple of taco and it's fun. It's a lot of fun. I don't necessarily think a brand other than McGreevy's, it's more a separate entity and not necessarily branded with the band per se, but you know,
5 (35m 51s):
But the athletes come, right. I mean, like I saw Wakefield's name tied to you and some, some other, you know, stars in sports in Boston.
4 (36m 0s):
Yeah. That's a small world here, you know what I mean? And you know, I've been lucky enough to, to become friendly with some of these guys. I mean, there's some great athletes that have come through here and played Aaron stayed in it. But on the other hand, I'm also not the type of guy that wants to hang out with an athlete because they're an athlete, you know, it's like, I mean the charity foundation we have is where I've really met and become friendly with most of that fleets and Tom that a solid people, because, you know, I think we have a good tradition here. Like a lot of other cities in there and their teams, athletes and retired athletes, but especially here, I think in a lot of that tone was set by guys like, or, and the guys on that team that really, that really kinda, you know, you know, walk the talk and, and, and show that you show up and you do stuff in your community, you know?
5 (36m 50s):
Well, this, this interview doesn't come complete unless we do talk about the charity because of all the things that's tied to you, that might be the one that, that maybe means the most. How did that all start? And what is the mission, if you will, for all the work that you've done to give back.
4 (37m 11s):
Yeah. So we, we were always, you know, we always had a social consciousness of both of us with the band and I think it was because we always, none of us were really no. Like there's some people that they have born to be a musician. You know, their goal in life is to play music and they know they're going to do it from a young age. And none of us were really like that for the most part. And almost had this like guilty feeling of being like, you know, music musicians are like selfish, you know, bombs. So like we wouldn't even, we would rehearse at seven in the morning, we used to rehearse in this music complex with all those other bands and the guy that, that ran that the building would say, I've been doing this for 40 years and I've never seen a rock band rehearsal at seven in the morning.
4 (38m 3s):
What the hell is this all about? You people get into music so they don't have to do this. And we used to say, it feels like we have a real job, you know, and given back the whole charity aspect just made us, always made us feel like it was an offset to the good fortune that we would have. And, you know, and, and, but we were always involved with a million other causes and I was having a lunch with Bobby or, and in a, in a gentleman by the name of Bob Howe, another gentlemen named Kennedy, they are both a friends of, and, you know, older guys and successful guys. And they were kind of mentors to me and they said, you know, why are you, you need to do something under the banner of the Dropkick Murphys to capture all your, your fans attention and get them behind it.
4 (38m 50s):
Because, you know, it's hard to say, Hey, all the fans, what this cost. So we do it under one banner. Then we can take those funds and support other causes. So under their advice, we started that. And, you know, the mission statement is kind of the three areas that are important to us, which is, you know, substance abuse and alcoholism treatment children's related causes and then veterans and the VA, unfortunately, after the, you know, the war and the Wars that have been going on for years, the, the substance abuse veteran thing is kind of melded was a lot of guys coming back.
4 (39m 30s):
And self-medicating, so that's a, that's a, that's been a large port pod. And then of course the tragic opiate epidemic that's hit everywhere, but Massachusetts particularly hard. So we stayed busy with raising funds to help a lot of local nonprofits that we, you know, we like to help underfunded people that are doing a good job and that aren't, you know, want to have some, you know, direct and making, you know, a six figure salary, you know, so we kind of try to keep it, keep it, keep it real and keep it to the people that get the hand, getting their hands dirty, you know?
4 (40m 10s):
And so we're mostly event driven and, you know, that's where a lot of relationships with the athletes have developed. And obviously having Bobby in my corner is Benny's made it easy to, you know, get a lot of the athletes and, and whatnot involved too
5 (40m 27s):
Well. In 2016, UN Dropkick Murphys received the Robert F. Kennedy children's action Corps, embracing the legacy award for all your years of charity work with various organizations, including work with children and also the veterans. And it ended up at the Kennedy library. I mean, these things are, these things are very impressive. Like when you're talking about legacy, Ken, I'm sure that if they were writing up your stone right now, Dropkick, Murphys would obviously be on their, but, but some of these other things are at least if not more meaningful.
4 (41m 5s):
Absolutely. I, the, you know, the, the Kennedy, the Robert Kennedy award is, you know, you don't get much more respected than Robert Kennedy around these pots. And that's one of the ones that I'm like allowed to put it on my shelf. I'm always told I get, but we'll get, yeah, you can, we'll get you a man cave someday. You can hang all your stuff, but I never got the man cave and everything's in boxes. Don't we've awards that we've got, but the F Kennedy one is actually allowed on the shelf somewhere in this house. I don't know.
3 (41m 38s):
Yeah. Got all the restaurants. So you can put all your stuff in the restaurants do, do whatever you want, you got pubs and all that stuff. I want to ask you about the fight game boxing. Okay. Now, something also tells me that if I don't throw Conor McGregor in there talking to an Irish guy that I'm making a big mistake. You ever, you ever met him?
4 (41m 58s):
I have, yeah. Yeah. He used to spend a lot of his early days in Boston, you know, one of his close friends and trainers at the time Tom Regan was working at a friend's friend's gym hair. And I, yeah, I got to read him and spend some time with them. And then, you know, he used shipping up to Boston for his ring walk for awhile. Then he changed it to Sinead O'Connor, which is ironically, it's actually the chieftains with Sinead. O'Connor singing the foggy Dew. He changed it to them, which ironically has been the band's intro song since I think night.
4 (42m 38s):
And then he plays shipping up to Boston after if he wins. So, and Dana, White's a friend, so I've had a lot of occasions to meet Connor and yeah, I mean, he's a good guy. I'm not, I'm not too into the persona as a way, you know what I mean? But I think he's trying to dial that back, but I'm not, you know, like I'm, I'm a more of a boxing guy anyway. So,
3 (43m 1s):
So how did that start? How did you get into the, to the fight game and boxing and, and all of that within the city and T tell us about that.
4 (43m 10s):
So I, I, you know, think that same grandfather, you know, get me into boxing the way he did hockey and everything else. And so always been a huge fight fan, always just been around friends if, you know, boxed. And, but I had a friend named Danny O'Connor, who was a Olympic alternate in Beijing and 2008, he unbelievable amateur career. He won, he was one of the only guys to win, I think Hurns and landed two others in that weight division that won both the, the national amateur championship and the national golden gloves in the same year.
4 (43m 57s):
And so as a pro, he came out and he was 14 and Oh, and he had his first loss on Showtime. And, you know, I was just watching with friends and he would help with the charity. And I'm watching that his, this kid with this decorated amateur career, Olympic golf in it, but he's, you know, not getting good opportunities. He's not getting treated well by his promoter. He's got a newborn baby. He's got to go down to Texas and train yet, still be expected to sell tickets to his fights. You know, just seeing that kind of rotten undecided to what, what, what is asked of someone in boxing, even when they're viewed as an elite boxer at times.
4 (44m 39s):
And I said to myself, man, I think I can help him. And my plan was, you know, as an Irish American Boston kid, I figured I'm just going to get involved and like introduce him to the dropkicks fans via social media that saying, well, man, could you like manage me? So you could, you know, help me with these shocks in the water around us. Yeah. I'm there to do. And then his promoters not doing anything. So, so why don't I just promote you? I know how to like fill the buildings. I mean, it's not rocket science yet to promote someone and yet, you know, so I started promoting and I, and I got a kick out of that. I think it really did reinvigorate my entrepreneurial spirit of the early days of the band of, you know, cause I'll tell you boxing, isn't what it used to be.
4 (45m 23s):
So you're pushing a rock up the Hill, but it is a fight town here and we've been doing it nine years and you know, we've had a world champion, we have multiple people ranked in the top 10 in the world. Murphy's boxing is the company. And you know, obviously the bands fan base got behind it. So, you know, and, and, and the bands fans. Awesome. Whereas if like, if we introduce them and say, this is I guy, then they're that guy, you know, and they came and supported them, even if they weren't big fight fans. And yeah, it's, it's, it's a labor of love. I love the game. And you're so in helping Danny and then of course other the local fighters.
4 (46m 3s):
So how can you help me? And the next thing, you know, we've got a roster of, you know, 20 fighters and I probably spend more time working on that then anything else in my life, which is scary. I don't know how that happened, but you know, so it's, but I like a challenge and, you know, but the boxing game and a business perspective is not set up for the independent promoter. You know what I mean? You got, you got your top rank, you got yet good golden boy, Eddie Hearn and match room. And, and I worked well with all those people. I've, you know, they know that they know that if they want to come to Boston, they've gotta go through me just because of my relationships with the boxing commission and everything here to just be easy and to work with me, then come and do it on your own.
4 (46m 50s):
So I've got to partner with mom, but at the same time, you know that in boxing, if you're a small, independent promoter, but you know, it's, it's rigged for the, obviously for the, the promoter that's got the TV deal and all that. And yeah, Dana, White's started doing boxing on the UFC streaming platform called UFC fight pass. And that's been great for us because he's helped us with that. But well, Murphy's boxing ever have a deal with Showtime or whatever. No, probably not. So, you know, I don't think I'll ever, I don't think I'll ever unseat Bob Arum that's for sure. No. Do I want
0 (47m 29s):
1 (47m 35s):
In addition to hosting this podcast, Craig leads the cannon advisory group focused on elevating communication for companies and individuals, company consulting and powering team and individual workshops, mind altering webinars. And Greg's inspiring keynotes for your conference or company meeting. They're all on the menu of services. Can advisory helps companies clarify their message, helps professionals build and showcase their brand and helps everyone present their best selves. So if you're the leader of a team or company looking to give your employees a game changing one day experience, or an individual who wants to become a speaker and presenter that gets other people talking visit Ken advisory.com.
1 (48m 25s):
And when you do connect, make sure to mention the tracks to success podcast, to receive a special discount on any of the can advisory services. That's can advisory.com. Now back to the interview,
3 (48m 43s):
We're talking with Ken Casey from the Dropkick Murphys, Ken, in our remaining time, I want to, I want to throw something out there. You were involved in a motorcycle accident in 2018, some pretty serious stuff included in that you lost the feeling in your hands. You couldn't play the guitar, right? You were out of your job. If you will, to the degree that you are on stage leading the way, playing the instrument and all that. Did you think it was over at that point? And if so, did it make you reflect on all you'd accomplished all you'd done. It fell all of a sudden, you know, I can't do this anymore.
4 (49m 18s):
No, I never, I never thought it was old. First of all, just for clarity, it kind of got misrepresented via social media. It was actually an old accident and I, and, and I had just, I had always battled the pain of it. And then I just finally lost all feeling in my arm. So it wasn't, it wasn't a current accident, but when I had the operation, Yeah, I didn't, I didn't know how long it would be till I could play again, but I never thought it was over. I just thought that I would just kind of assume a different role. So I temporarily anyway was, you know, cause I sing and play, but Al Bob just sings and we trade off on a lot of songs.
4 (50m 3s):
And so here we are now we had a kid that worked for us playing, playing for me, and then I'm up there just singing without, and ironically at the time Al's had just lost his dad and he was struggling bad with that. And he just, you know, he wasn't able to like put on the face, you know what I mean? To, to, to be up front all alone. And you know, there's the big, man's got a plan because, you know, we will kind of just lean on each other. And then we started to have so much fun with that dynamic that when I healed and we, we love Kevin who was filling in for me, we basically said, Kevin, you can stay and we're going to keep it this way. And it actually works for us too, because when we're playing a lot of the largest stages, like say in Europe where we have more popularity, you know, and I was on one side, I'm on the other and you know, it, they feel like it can like engage everyone a lot more, same time.
4 (50m 59s):
So yeah, we feel like it kind of at, at 20 something is into the band, kind of gave us a new, new twist and a new energy or whatever. Right. Well, everything happens for a reason. Yeah. You can, you know, you might think something's a, you know, you know, I guess it's all as the glass half full. And if you could either look at it as you're, you're coming to an end or you come into a new beginning,
5 (51m 23s):
Ken, a couple of things before we go, do you speak to groups? And if so, what's your message. What would you tell people who maybe want to create a unique path like you have? What would you tell them?
4 (51m 37s):
I, I mean, my message is simple in the sense that you, you, you gotta take the bull by the horns and do it yourself and I'll give you the example is at the time, you know, in the time in the mid nineties, if you wanted to make it in music, you started with getting your glossy band photos and doing your bio and making a demo. We never did that. We just pressed our own records and we pulled and we played shows, you know? So I, I, my attitude, whether it's boxing restaurants, it's just like, just do it, figure it out. Don't wait for someone else to give you the break because that brakemen never may come. And, you know, I guess it's that true entrepreneurial spirit and that true spirit of like believing in yourself and just going for it.
4 (52m 24s):
And, and I know, and obviously in every business and stuff that might not apply, but it's applied for me in multiple different facets of my life because, you know, I, I definitely came from a background where, you know, no one was waiting to hand me a silver spoon, so you better go out and find your own way. And so far so good. I'm still not back by 10 and yet, you know what I mean? But I think they'll take me back. Cause I had it. I had a good reputation there. So I think if I go back after 25 years, maybe I'll still have a job.
5 (52m 56s):
Well with the name you've built in Boston and the recognition and all that, you have truly built a brand and you've developed a following for everybody within the band and for your own name as well. This podcast is called tracks to success. My question, final question. Is this a dream? Is it still a dream or is it a job that keeps you up at night thinking about how I can do better? What I'm going to do next? Or as much as you've talked about, just kind of rolling it. Is that how you live?
4 (53m 29s):
Oh yeah, it seems well, it's just how I live. I mean, to have that act of kind of mind that that works at night anyway. So I think no matter what I did, I'd probably be up to thinking about how I could do a better, am I doing enough or overthinking my life. But to a degree at this point is just roll with it. You can't never let it be a job, you know? And that, and I think that's where some of that other stuff is served the point with the boxing and the restaurants. Whereas when maybe the band was becoming a little bit of a job, because it was so focused that I needed to widen the view and kind of recharge my mind again. But I think it's just rolling with it because you know, a lot of times if you're, so if you gotta be driven, but if you get so narrowly focused on something, you know, the off ramp that you might've been supposed to take, the greatest success you might miss.
4 (54m 22s):
So I think it's just a matter of, you know, always, always working high, but always having that kind of peripheral vision. Where, where, where is this going to take me? Cause it might not be the path that I exactly thought. Yeah.
5 (54m 35s):
Well the Bruins are one of the original six, and there's no question that you are an original, your band is an original. I congratulate you on all your success, not just on stage and the fans that you're with, but also all the people you've been able to impact and the give back and the pay it.
2 (54m 53s):
It's impressive. Can I can't thank you enough for being on track to success in our conversation. Ken shared stories about his band taking off and the network he's built for himself and the following that's come from all the hard work, which leads me to my one last thing. If you want to be an influencer, don't focus your attention on chasing a following, focus on the product, deliver what the audience wants, do it better and better each time, most importantly, be your own brand and your own style and do it your own way. Without fear of not blending in just like everybody else.
2 (55m 36s):
Ken's music has found his way into movies and it's found its way into stadiums and arenas. Not because the music is better than everyone else's, but because it's catchy and it has a stickiness factor that's magnetic and obviously memorable. I've said this countless times in my workshops, when you stand up, find a way to stand out. Don't wait for people to pay attention, become one with your audience, make people pay attention by delivering something so special that they'll be emotionally connected in charge to go share this story with others, the Dropkick Murphys have a following and you can to figure out what makes you unique and special and then go deliver it with that energy.
2 (56m 20s):
Just like Ken has each and every day. Do your tracks to success become a whole lot easier. And if you have a guest, you think belongs on tracks to success. Email [email protected] I can't wait to hear from you until next time I'm Craig can. Thanks for listening.
1 (56m 42s):
You've been listening to tracks to success, brought to you by presentation partners, visual storytellers, passionate about connecting presenters with their audience. Don't forget to subscribe to the show for more great interviews and thoughts on reaching your highest personal and professional summit. You can follow Craig on Twitter and Instagram using the handle at Craig can and for exclusive tracks to success, content and news about our upcoming guests, you can find tracks to success on Twitter. It's at tracks to success.