"Signed and Sealed in Blood" will quickly follow last year's "Going Out in Style."
After the tight thematic focus of 2011's lauded "Going Out in Style," Dropkick Murphys' next album, "Signed and Sealed in Blood," loosens up a bit.
Bassist Ken Casey, the Boston group's sole remaining founding member, tells Billboard.com that "Signed...," which he expects out in early January, is "almost a reaction to its predecessor." Where "Going Out in Style" told the story of a fictional character named Cornelius Larkin -- complete with an obituary written by Michael Patrick MacDonald for the liner notes -- "Signed..." has no such constraints. "This is just the opposite of that," Casey explains, "just us having fun and making the most catchy, singalong kind of songs we can. It's not that the last album wasn't fun. It was. 'Going Out in Style' is one of the records I'm most proud of, of anything we've done. But it gave me a couple migraines along the way, getting through that because everything was so connected. This time we cut loose."
But he does feel that "Signed..." is also "almost a continuation of ('Going Out in Style'), in a musical sense. There's an upbeat, party vibe to it. A lot of these songs, we were having such a good time writing them and just enjoying the writing process. It's the quickest we've released an album, ever, after another."
The Murphys worked again with "Going Out in Style" producer Ted Hutt, who Casey says is "like the eighth Murphy at this point," and recorded "Signed..." during May and July at Q Division Studios outside Boston in Sommerville, Mass. The group has been previewing some of the new songs during its Halfway To St. Patrick's Day U.S. tour, which wraps up Sept. 21 in Boston. Casey describes the final track, "The End of the Night," as "the closing time, kind of loser's anthem, about people who don't want to go home." The album also features a holiday song called "Tis The Season," which Casey promises "is definitely not some cheesy Christmas tune. It's about a dysfunctional family."
"Signed's..." title, meanwhile, comes from a song called "Rose Tattoo," which the Murphys started playing during its June run through Europe. The band has been soliciting fans to tattoo themselves with the new logo from the album's cover and send photos and videos to its web site by Sept. 19. The images will be used in the packaging for the CD and vinyl album, which will once again be released on the Murphys' own Born & Bred Records imprint.
"We like it; it's kind of like put your money where your mouth is, put up or shut up," Casey says of the label. "If the label didn't do the job, there's no one else to blame but ourselves now. We're all kinds of hands-on guys; we started with our own label, Flat Records, and used to put out local 45s and stuff, so we're right back where we started."
Dropkick Murphys plan to hit the road again on Oct. 29 in Grand Rapids, Mich., for a three-week tour. The group will return to Europe in January, starting with two shows in Dublin, Ireland, then tour North America in February and March.