THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “With the 11 tracks on Turn Up That Dial, Dropkick Murphys celebrate the simple pleasure of music, the relief and release from worry that comes when you “turn up that dial” and blast your troubles away. “On this record, the overall theme is the importance of music, and the bands that made us who we are,” explains founder and co-lead vocalist Ken Casey. “We just hope [the album] takes people’s minds off their troubles. We’re so fortunate and grateful to be in the position to share a little happiness in our own way. Our gratitude levels are off the chart. 25 years ago, somebody bet me 30 bucks I couldn’t form a band with three weeks’ notice to open for his band. As kids, we’d never been out of New England and here we are — we’ve made ten records and have been all over the globe. If there’s a message to this album, it’s ‘put your fist up and play it loud.’ ”
Over the last two years, following a surgery, bassist/co-lead vocalist Casey stopped playing, passing bass duties to longtime friend and crew member Kevin Rheault. With Casey off his leash and free to roam the front of the stage with co-lead vocalist Al Barr, a new, powerful dynamic has ignited between the two. After a couple os hundred shows of the untethered duo shredding stages all over the world, their long-standing vocal trade-off explodes out of the speakers better than ever on Turn Up That Dial.
Volume cranked, heads held high, smiles wide, eyes on the prize, Dropkick Murphys charge forward with the same spirit that brought them here in the first place — yet with a new determination and exuberance that brings both the live show and this album to the next level. Hunkered down at home during the pandemic, Dropkick Murphys staved off depression by leaning on the music and leaning on each other. As they have since 1996, they began throwing down rousing tracks that span the gap from punk rock ragers to melodic, Irish-inspired tunes.
Working out of Q Division Studios in Somerville, MA with longtime producer Ted Hutt, they recorded Turn Up That Dial in shifts of two members at a time. For the final weeks of recording, Hutt ran the sessions via video conference from his studio in L.A. For background vocals, the guys set up separate mics in five different rooms so they could all simultaneously sing safely. “We were all looking at each other out the window, at least,” recalls Casey.
Dropkick Murphys steamrolled their way through the album with a string of anthems, starting with the title track. Turn Up That Dial lays bare the whole point of the collection in the first verse: “You’re my inspiration, you got something to say / Now turn up that dial ‘til it takes me away.” It’s easy to imagine the band members thinking back to their teenage selves: blasting The Clash on a Walkman, feeling their favorite bands were sticking up for them more than anyone else in the world. This album is fueled by those bands that captured the energy of the streets, distilled life’s complexities to raging choruses, and were constant companions. On the single Middle Finger, Al Barr spits out the verses with an evil, tongue-in-cheek grin, as the track explodes into the chorus, “I could never keep that middle finger down.” Not one to shirk responsibility, Casey offers this reflection: “Thinking of my younger days, I made things a lot harder for myself than they needed to be — and still pay for some of those mistakes now.”
The band closes the album with a tribute to Al’s late father Woody Barr on the moving tribute I Wish You Were Here. Turn Up That Dial waves goodbye with accordion, bagpipes, and a drum march. “Al’s dad was just an incredible man,” Casey explains. “He and Al had a very special bond. To watch Al grieve his death was heartbreaking. He persevered through it, even when we had to go back on the road, away from family. He kept his head held high. We’ve never ended an album with a slow song, but we had to end it with a tip of the cap to pay our respects to Woody and so many others. It’s a moment to stop, count our blessings, and remember those who we’ve lost, including the 400,000-plus people to this virus.”
In good times and bad times, we turn to music. Our record collections and playlists carry us through any hardships, adversities, and trouble the world throws our way. When you press play, the pain just goes away. It’s why we listen in the first place. And that’s what Dropkick Murphys set out to do — and definitely accomplished — on the new album Turn Up That Dial. They boot in the front door of 2021 with a record that punches you square in the face and says, in the words of Ken Casey, “Get up, get out of those sweatpants you’ve been wearing for the last year … better times are ahead — LET’S F-in’ GO!! We’ve all done plenty of lamenting, so the main goal was to keep this fun. The darker the times got, the harder we fought to uplift with this music. Whatever we’re potentially giving to fans, trust me, they’re giving it to us tenfold. Now, turn up that f*cking dial.”