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Dropkick Murphys’ Guitarist Tim Brennan Talks New Album, Acoustic Tour and Top Boston Spots

Photo Credit: Dave Stauble

Dropkick Murphys’ new album This Machine Still Kills Fascists will be released on September 30, 2022. The album is unlike anything the band has done to date because it is written and inspired by songs that bring Woody Guthrie’s words to life.

The band worked with Nora Guthrie to choose lyrics and prose written by her father to transform into Dropkick Murphys song’s new release. The band was so inspired and had so many song ideas that there will even be a volume two released in 2023.

The album was recorded in Guthrie’s home state of Oklahoma at The Church Studio in Tulsa. The historic studio was founded by Leon Russell and was the original location of legendary Shelter Records

Woody Guthrie famously played a guitar that was emblazed with the words “This Machine Kills Fascists” so the band is keeping that tradition alive for this very special compilation of songs and forthcoming tour.

The band will launch their first-ever reserved seating theater tour–This Machine…Theater Tour on October 20, 2022 in support of this very special and powerful acoustic album. 

We caught up with Guitarist Tim Brennan to discuss the new record, the acoustic tour and favorite spots in his hometown of Boston.

What process did the band use to choose the Woody Guthrie lyrics or notes that could be turned into songs that best suited for Dropkick Murphys?

It was a combination of two things. Ken [Casey] would go and physically read the lyrics and see what jumped out at him. Nora, Woody’s daughter, would also be sifting through lyrics and if she found something that she thought was screaming Dropkick Murphys, then she would send it our way. We compiled a bunch of possibilities that way, and then went through them and figured which would be the best for us to use.

How did the collaboration with the Woody Guthrie estate come about?

Back in the early 2000s, Nora had reached out to the band. I hadn’t joined the band yet at this point, I joined right after. The band did a Woody Guthrie song on an album before in 2003 on an album called Blackout. There’s a song called “Gonna Be a Blackout Tonight” and that’s a Woody Guthrie lyric.

So before making that album, Nora had gotten in touch with the band because her son Cole was a fan. I think we came to her attention that way.  She ended up reaching out about the possibility of putting music to some unused lyrics. And out of that came two songs “Gonna Be a Blackout Tonight” and “Shipping Up to Boston.” And so that’s how it all started.

Did you learn anything about Woody Guthrie that you didn’t know or surprised you during the process of making the album?

We learned a lot of things that we didn’t know. It’d be tough to pinpoint just one. We took a day and drove up to his hometown Okemah, Oklahoma, which is about 90 miles outside of Tulsa. It was very interesting to see the town where he grew up that inspired many of his songs.

What was it like to record at The Church Studio?

That was incredible. I mean, you know, obviously it’s got its own history with Leon Russell owning it at one point and the people that have recorded there. It was also just refurbished when we went in there.

It was quite an experience. The studio itself is beautiful. The room always plays a big role when you’re recording, especially with this acoustic stuff where we’re mic-ing these acoustic guitars and playing together and everything, the room was very important.

Obviously, it’s not a misnomer. It used to be an old church, so the main room has this giant vaulted ceiling. And it was perfect for what we were trying to capture. The studio itself was wonderful and the people were great. Like I said, you can sort of feel the history in there and we had a wonderful time.

Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

Did they let you touch or play any of Woody’s guitars?

We didn’t. We went up the street to the Woody Guthrie Museum, and they were closed because they were preparing to launch the Springsteen exhibit. But luckily, they let us in to look around. We went in and were able to see both Woody Guthrie items and the Bruce Springsteen exhibit and that was super cool. We didn’t get to put our hands on anything physically, unfortunately, but we were close to it.

The band has a tour coming up with the new album. Will this be different since the new album has such a different feel to it?

Yes, it will be different. We’re playing theaters across the country for the first time ever. So that’s out of the ordinary for us. We’re all very much looking forward to it. We are all very excited about these songs. It’ll be nice to sort of strip everything down and play these songs as we’ve presented them on the record.

How do you think the album will resonate with the fans? It’s a pretty politically charged time.

I’m hoping that people that people will love it. Between the messages and just the sound of everything. It’s a very different sounding record for us.  I can only go by what I felt when I heard it all completed for the first time when it was all mixed and everything. We’ve put out a lot of albums and I’m really excited about this one.

Are there particular songs you like to play on the record, some that resonate with you?

There’s only a couple of songs that we’ve played so far, but the first single that came out “Two 6’s Upside Down” I was very excited about it. It sounds so different for us and the lyrics were so cool. I was excited for everyone to hear that. We’ve been playing that song live. And then there’s a number of songs on the record that that I can’t wait to play.

There’s one toward the end of the record, that’s a slower, sort of piano-driven one called “Waters Are A’ Risen.” I’m can’t wait to play that live. The song lyrics are about Guthrie being on a ship in the middle of wartime and having a torpedo slam into the side of it in Europe.

I’ve been traveling to Boston a lot this year for work. I want to know where to go, what to do, and what to eat from an expert.

I spent a year living in the north end of Boston, which is the Italian neighborhood. And that that was pretty intense. I was there for the summer and they have a lot of those Italian summer festivals throughout the summer months.

A few of those North End Italian restaurants are some of the best I’ve ever been to. The Seaport District is also nice. I’m a sucker for the water, so anytime I can be near the ocean like that is great. There’s like a classic, lobster roll shack, Yankee Lobster that people seem to really enjoy. The Freedom Trail is also in the North End for a walk.

There is also a big cannoli debate in Boston. I have tried Mike’s Pastry but what is your favorite?

Mike’s is definitely the more famous one. But there’s another bakery on Salem Street, there’s a bakery called Bova’s that is just unbelievable.

I lived right up the street from there. And unfortunately, they’re open 24 hours so I would walk down there at like two in the morning and get a bag of cookies. There’s some really great stuff there.

Anything fun outside of Boston that you would recommend?

I would highly recommend Cape Cod and Nantucket. I feel like I never have to go far on vacation ever again when I am there.  To get to Nantucket you have to take a ferry but it’s only like 45 minutes from Hyannis, which is right down there on the Cape, just a beautiful place.

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