Head to El Paso
For the past 20 years, the Dropkick Murphys have recorded every album in their native Boston – close to family and friends. But for 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory, the group’s ninth studio album, they decided to pack up and head down south – way down south. El Paso, TX to be exact; more than 2,300 miles away.
The resulting album, 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory, came out earlier this month on the band’s own label, Born & Bred Records. Barr spoke recently about the new record and the inspiration for some the songs that made it on the album.
It’s been about three or four since the last album, but I know you are constantly touring. Did you get time off in the interim?
Signed and Sealed is just about over three years old now and it feels like we never really stopped. As the tour for Signed and Sealed was winding down we were hitting up on our 20-year anniversary. So, we started a 20-year-anniversay tour and that wasn’t so much as a world tour. We had a kabuki set up and there was a short film we’d show before we came out encompassing the 20 years.
You recorded this one in El Paso. Was this the first time you left Boston to record an album?
It sure is. In my mind, it felt as far away as you can get (from Boston). And that was the point… Our idea was, let’s see what we can accomplish without any of that and I think it scarred us a bit in the sense that we’d never done that before. We all thought, what the hell’s gonna happen when we get out into the desert? What ends up happening is we were able to establish this creative embryo that we were all inside of. I think it really lent itself to the creativity of this record and I don’t think the record would have been the record it is if we had not done it the way we did it. It was all very positive.
This record does seem to cover a lot of heavy topics.
I think this one definitely has a thread going through it and that’s the opioid and heroine epic that’s going on right now throughout New England, especially in Massachusetts and New Hampshire and we’re speaking to that particular subject in one of the songs.
And “4-15-13” talks about the Boston Marathon bombing.
Yes, and that’s another one.
“You’ll Never Walk Alone” was also a pretty powerful addition to the record.
Again, that’s a song we’ve all known for years, but the Jerry and The Pacemakers version is probably the most contemporary version and that’s the one we are all familiar with. It was inspired from hearing it again in a different light at another funeral of another friend who had died of an overdose and in that light and it struck a chord with us and it kind of personified that whole struggle of being in the grip of addiction and fighting through it. That song kind of captures that I think.