If football is life, the New England Patriots give breath to every living Bostonian. And Ken Casey, the raspy voice behind the Celtic punk-rock band Dropkick Murphys, is no exception.
"I feel so great about the Pats winning the Super Bowl," Casey brags of the Patriots' victory over the Atlanta Falcons. "I took my son to the Super Bowl before when we beat Seattle, and I thought that was the greatest. I didn't think it could be topped."
Then he witnessed Super Bowl LI.
"We were on tour in Germany and watched it in the middle of the night with German commentators," Casey recalls. "The first thing I did when I got home [to the States], I watched it on my couch on DVR. It almost seemed more incredible than the first time."
Sure, being crowned NFL champs for the fifth time was great and all, but to Casey — and all of Beantown, really — the best part was when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell handed the Vince Lombardi trophy to Tom Brady, especially after the Deflategate scandal and the quarterback's suspension.
"It was so awesome to watch that awkward, overpaid asshole have to deal with it," he laughs. "It made that game sweeter than anything you can ever imagine. Pats fans were more excited about the fact we got to give Goodell the middle finger."
Though the Dropkick Murphys are still high off the Pats' win, music remains at the core of their passion. And the fact that the band has maintained its relevancy for more than two decades says a lot about the bandmates' dedication and work ethic.
"We tour nonstop," Casey says. "We take every album seriously, and the fact that you're only as good as your last album — we put our heart and soul into it."
The band's latest opus, 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory, is a testament to dedication. Unlike their previous records, their ninth studio album was recorded in their new studio in El Paso, Texas.
"We removed ourselves completely from our personal lives," Casey says. "That alone was a big difference. We're also playing bigger venues than we're used to and wanted to write songs that are more for that environment. We're not filling every second of every song with competing instruments and big vocals."
On a lyrical scale, 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory focuses on opiate-addiction awareness, a cause that's dear to the band.
"Unfortunately, it's something just very prevalent in our lives," he laments. "The Boston area has been riddled by it. I've been to 40 wakes and funerals in the last two years of people I grew up with or family or friends of the band. It's just ridiculous."
Though drug abuse is something that hits close to home, a major event the band missed while touring Europe was the inauguration of President Donald Trump. And though Casey is still catching up with the events that ensued during the band's time abroad, one thing is for sure: The country is much more divided.
"I hate the division it's caused between people," he says. "If you're someone who says, 'Keep everybody out,' you better be an American Indian. My biggest concern is seeing the fear in people, in families that are potentially facing deportation from the country, that have been here for decades. To me, it's a bigger problem and worry than people not being able to come into this country. I think it's contrary to American values."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
The one thing that transcends all cultures, races, and ethnicities, though, is music. And that's exactly what Casey hopes to accomplish during the band's upcoming gig at Revolution Live — even with all that Pats talk, especially on a division rival's home turf.
"I think rivalries make the game great," he says. "I root for the Dolphins to have that kind of team again. [The Patriots] have been running over our division. I'd rather the rivals be them over the Jets."
And to all the Pats haters out there: "Come over to the dark side. The water is great."
With the Interrupters and Blood or Whiskey. 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 7, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-449-1025; jointherevolution.net. Tickets cost $28.50 plus fees via ticketmaster.com.