For their first new album in four years, Boston's Dropkick Murphys took a new approach -- with "renewed enthusiasm," says singer/bassist Ken Casey -- to the band's seventh album, March 1's "Going Out in Style," which will be released on the band's own Born & Bred Records.
"I really look at ["Going Out in Style"] as more of a whole album than anything we've done before," Casey tells Billboard.com. "That's somewhat cemented by the storyline of Cornelius Larkin."
So, who, exactly, is Cornelius Larkin? An Irish immigrant to America, fictional character Larkin recently passed away and is looking down on his own wake. The album is a first-person account through the eyes of Larkin, who details his life from beginning to close. Casey says he came up with the idea for the album while visiting a funeral home and walking in on a wake.
"It made me think to connect the tale of this guy's wake and all the stories leading up to it," Casey explains. "We saw some similarities and connections in songs and the story, and we decided to frame it into the fictional story of one person's life that happened to be based on a lot of stories and relatives of ours, and things that have happened in our families."
"Going Out in Style" features a slew of guests, including NOFX's Fat Mike, The Living End's Chris Cheney and "Rescue Me" actor Lenny Clarke. None, however, have received as much attention as the band's guest on the Irish standard "Peg O' My Heart" -- Bruce Springsteen.
According to Casey, the Springsteen/Dropkick connection began when the Boss attended a Dropkick show in New York. From there, the band performed with Springsteen at one of the "Born in the U.S.A." singer's Boston shows, then felt that "Peg O' My Heart" was their chance to collaborate in the studio.
"Mainly [the song] struck us sound-wise as something you could hear the E Street Band doing when they pull something out of their hat, so that was part of the inspiration," Casey says. "I still can't believe he actually sang on our record -- it's pretty great. But that's just how he is; he's down to earth. For every minute you want to pinch yourself because he's on your record, the next part of you that knows him says, 'Well, why wouldn't he?' because he's just a regular guy."
Between a Springsteen appearance and a lyrical breakthrough at a funeral home, "Going Out In Style" has the potential to come off -- on paper at least -- as deeply earnest. However, Casey says that, musically, the album has "more of an uplifting party vibe, even though some of the lyrical content might be serious at times. Sound-wise, it has a happier sound. Even though some of the songs are aggressive and sad, they just have more of a party, danceable vibe."
"Going Out in Style" also marks the first time that the band has worked with a producer, rather than self-producing their record. For the task, the seven-piece enlisted the help of Ted Hutt, who has worked previously with The Gaslight Anthem, The Bouncing Souls and Lucero.
The band will embark on a U.S. tour on Feb. 23, six days prior to the new album's release, followed by a European tour in April. Florida punk act Against Me! will support on the U.S. dates.