Covering the Inland Empire's music scene


Interview with Matt Kelly of Dropkick Murphys in advance of July 1 Fox Theater show

Here is the full e-mail interview in advance of the group’s July 1 show at the Fox Theater in Pomona. Tickets can be found at Thanks so much to Kristine Ashton-Magnuson for the e-mail interview. 

From Matt Kelly (drums) of Dropkick Murphys
June 23, 2011
Q: Has the process of writing songs gotten harder or easier since starting in the mid
1990’s and why? I ask because it took four years to put out “Going Out in Style.”
A: *** Haha… The saying goes, “you have your whole life up ’til then to write your first
album, and a couple years to write each subsequent one.” I guess your early primordial
ideas go into making your first album, and a lot of your early inspiration goes into it.
Subsequent records are a bit more of a challenge, but once you ease into your own style
it becomes more natural. The reasons for the last album taking so long to come out was
mostly family-related stuff and guys wanting to be with their children, a couple of which
were newborns during that 4-year stretch. There were also a couple weddings in the
mix, so as a band that puts family first, we did just that. We toured here and there, but
to write and record an album can be very time-consuming, so there really wasn’t a lot of
time to devote to the 8-10 hour days, 6 days a week, for three months or so that it took
to write and record the album. Eventually, time was in our favor, and *boom*, we were
all set. ***
Q: Who was your favorite guest to work with on the “Going Out In Style” album and
A: *** Lenny Clark. The guy is a class-act, funny bastard. His wife was a sweetheart, too,
and contributed to a couple backing vocals. I mean, having a comedian (and a great
one at that) in the recording studio is hilarious; dude’s a natural funnyman. ***
Q: Did you or other band members worry the title “Going Out In Style” might make
people think the group was retiring? Did the Warner Bros. record label in any way
try to influence the sound or select a possible single for you?
A: *** Haha, we brought it up, but the double entendre made it more mysterious in
hindsight. As far as our label, it’s Born and Bred, under the Independent Label Group;
so as the name implies, for all intents and purposes aside from manufacture, distribution,
and advertizing, we do what we want. The people at I.L.G. are great and supportive, but
aren’t in any way intrusive. We do what we do, and we dictate the terms at every turn.
Q: Is there a favorite song or one that has the most meaning to you (like “Take ‘Em
Down,” etc.) from “Going Out In Style” and why?
A: *** I like “Broken Hymns,” as it’s a little different and a challenge to play live. It’s longer
and more “epic” if you will, and I keep up a constant on the snare, snare rim, and hi-
hat, adding more and more kick drum as the song progresses, keeping the energy
restrained. It’s not the type of song we’ve done before so it’s a little change of gears
that’s quite refreshing. Also, I really dig the Civil War lyrics that Al wrote. ***
Q: Has there ever been a time where you’ve gotten sick of playing “Tessie”
or “Shipping Up To Boston?” And why do you think those songs connect with
people so much?
A: *** Now and then, but very rarely. The only time I get sick of “Shipping” is when you
see these kids who’ve jockeyed to the front of the stage and look like they’re bored to
death, until we play that song, and then they disappear. With “Tessie,” not so much, as
it conjures up a lot of good memories from ’04 and ’07; though when people chant “Let’s
Go Red Sox” at our gigs it gets a little stupid. We’re not a sports team. Other than that,
yeah it’s a fun song to play, it kind of reminds me of the FACES or something. ***
Q: The band has cited its influences as The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Stiff Little
Fingers and The Pogues (please correct me if I’m wrong). Do you hear your sound
influencing other bands and if so, who and do you consider it a form of flattery or
not and why?
A: *** Yeah, those are definitely our biggest influences along with the Ramones, AC/DC,
and maybe Slapshot and Gangreen. Maybe our sound influences other bands, but
I hear a lot of bands taking different influence from the Pogues than directly from us.
Maybe what we do gives them the idea to do a band, but I don’t hear a lot of Dropkicks
clones out there. The few I have heard (not gonna name names) sort of bums me
out, as I always like innovation as opposed to imitation. It’s easy to play a very niche
style and have an instant audience, but if you carve out your own style it’s a hell of a lot
more satisfying and has a lot more integrity. I’m not saying we reinvented the wheel or
anything, but I can say with confidence that we have a pretty recognizable style and it’d
be nice for imitators to try and push the boundaries a bit. ***
Q: Has the bands support of union and working class causes ever chased away fans
that you know of and has that ever been a concern? Why or why not? Why don’t
more bands support the same types of causes? And are you in favor of a union
for musicians and has that ever been something the band has discussed?
A: *** I imagine there must be a few, but if you need a band’s values to directly mirror
yours, maybe your beliefs/values/politics are on shaky ground. I personally listen
to bands and have friends whose politics run the gamut and are often diametrically
opposite of mine, but I have my values and have thought them through. People should
take time to think out their opinions and be sure they’re their OWN and not just recycled
soundbites. We welcome everybody, no matter their opinions. We’re here to have a
good time. We’ve stood for what we have since day one, and never hidden it. “Boys
On The Docks” EP came out in mid-1997, and the song was being played since earlier
that year, so it’s never been a mystery where we stand. It’s up to each individual band to
involve themselves as little or as much as they would like. I hate bands preaching and
soapboxing this or that from stage, but if they’re just saying something quick and then
the lyrics do the explaining, then fine. There’s a difference between “here’s where we
stand” and “here’s what you should do.”
As far as a musician’s union, we’re part of the American Federation of Musicians, Local
9-535, the Boston Musicians’ Association. Have been since about ’98 (if I remember
Thanks so much for the interview! -Matt Kelly, Dropkick Murphys ***

Spring Gathering panel story

Note: This is the original story sent mid Saturday focusing on the panel. A review of the event is upcoming

By Wes Woods II
Staff Writer

SAN BERNARDINO – Marijuana activists encouraged their followers to get out and work.

The message came at Saturday’s Spring Gathering, a music festival and medical marijuana expo with artists like Snoop Dogg and Cypress Hill, which featured a panel discussion on the modern cannabis movement.

“Everything you can do,” said Drug Policy Alliance’s California state director Stephen Gutwillig, including supporting  cannabis movement organizations, sympathetic elected officials, giving money and “coming out.”

Lanny Swerdlow, registered nurse who is the manager for the The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation medical clinic in Riverside, spoke about the lack of involvement from people who use cannabis, including Saturday’s concert goers.

“There’s 20,000 people out there partying who don’t do anything. They don’t make phone calls,” Swerdlow said.

Dale Gieringer state coordinator for the California division of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), added people need to push for marijuana legalization in the upcoming election year.

“Put on the pressure and speak up in elections,” Gieringer said, adding some politicians have campaigned on reform but did not live up to their promises.

Swerdlow said in 2012 there would be a new ballot initiative to legalize marijuana which he urged people to vote in support of.

Chris Conrad, publisher of the quarterly publication West Coast Leaf, said the movement needs to do a better job of recruiting mothers groups, safety groups, public safety groups and unions into the fold besides showing up to city council and county supervising meetings.

“For people to splinter and say we do not do enough … we need to fight this. Let’s not screw this up.”

Proposition 19 would have have granted Californians age 21 or over to grow marijuana and allow local jurisdictions to tax and regulate weed sales but in November California voters defeated it.

In 1996, state voters passed Proposition 215 where medical marijuana was legalized and collectives can take donations and give medical marijuana to their members.

But some cities have banned medical marijuana dispensaries despite the proposition because of various reasons including marijuana being designated as a controlled substance by the federal Controlled Substances Act.

Still, the need for medical marijuana collectives has continued to be discussed. 

In May, police served seven dispensaries with eight warrants for violating the city’s municipal code in San Bernardino.

The city banned dispensaries last year by prohibiting their permits but officials say the operators continue to be open and some residents have made complaints.

Gieringer added to fight the attempts at stopping Proposition 215, supporters need to change federal law.

“We’ve got to address it,” Gieringer said.

Besides the panel discussion taking place, a medical marijuana expo took place nearby with colorful glass pipes, a wide variety of dispensaries and collectives and vendors selling colorful marijuana related T-shirts or trying to promote products with names like Chronic
Ice and Ganja Juice.

Outside the marijuana movement was the music, which included acts like Long Beach based superstar Snoop Dogg, fellow hip-hop act Tha Dogg Pound performing a tribute to deceased Pomona resident Nate Dogg and one of the festival organizers, Cypress Hill.

“I’m having a good time,” said Michelle Garcia, 34, of Highland.

“There’s lots of interesting booths and the music is awesome.”

Josh Dulaney contributed to this report

Robert Plant still has it but venue iffy

Robert Plant and his Band of Joy were musically on fire Thursday night at the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino but the venue was lacking. 

From beginning to end Plant, whose timeless voice has matured but retained its bite, and his group energetically tore though its and others material. 
Unfortunately, and this happens when any act with electric guitars comes to the Highland casino, the venue isn’t made for heavier or more complex rock acts like Plant’s. 
This problem came up when I watched alternative rock’s Stone Temple Pilots previously but not hip-hop artist Drake or even R & B’s Usher. 
The combination of an enclosed, generic room with speakers that don’t separate an artist’s vocals from the music being performed and the odd bingo styled chairs not built for a concert performance make for a challenging experience. 
But seeing strong performances that included Led Zeppelin songs like “Black Dog,” to a cover of Richard and Linda Thompson’s “House of Cards” and Buddy Miller’s “Somewhere Trouble Don’t Go” and a stand-out performance from Patty Griffin make reviewing the show accurately tough.
Plant’s performance overall made up for the venue’s deficiencies but with ticket prices ranging from more than $100 to $80 for the show and a nearly sell-out crowd you’d wish the casino’s owners would reinvest some of the money in the performance venue outside of two large screens on both sides of the stage.
After Plant started with a terrific bluegrass reinterpretation of Zeppelin’s “Black Dog,” the group went into a good variety of songs like “Down to the Sea,” “Angel Dance,” “House of Cards,” “How Many Times Have You Heard Someone Say” with Darrell Scott, “Silver Rider,” “Black Country Woman,” “In The Mood” and “Please Read the Letter” and others. 

Robert Plant brings `Joy’ to San Manuel on Thursday night

Robert Plant brings `Joy’ to San Manuel

Former Led Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant brings his Band of Joy to San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino for a performance Thursday night.

Plant’s latest album, titled “Band of Joy,” combines folk, rock, country and Americana sounds. It debuted last September at No. 5 on the Billboard charts.
With Led Zeppelin, Plant sold more than 300 million albums. He was frontman on the band’s many timeless classics such as “Immigrant Song” and “Stairway to Heaven.”
With Alison Krauss, Plant won a Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 2009 for their collaboration titled “Raising Sand.”
In 2006, metal magazine Hit Parader named Plant No. 1 on its list of greatest metal vocalists of all time.
In an interview last August, Plant was asked about his new sound and performing in smaller venues.
“You can create an intimacy that this music demands and it’s not getting lost in some crazy cube (venue) which is going to be holding a car show the following week,” Plant said.
He also was asked if he would some day get back together with his Led Zeppelin mates and he answered, “I don’t think so. You’ve got to have a lot in common with the people you’re working with at this time in your life. Everything has to move on and forward.”


Where:San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino, 777 San Manuel Blvd., Highland,

When:Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; performance at 7:30 p.m. Thursday

Cost:$101.50 or $91.50 plus fees

Information:www.ticketmaster.comor 800-745-3000

Round Mountain to perform June 18 at Folk Music Center in Claremont

roundmountain.jpgThe folk, roots and world music duo Round Mountain will perform June 18 at the Folk Music Center, 220 N. Yale Ave. 
The doors open at 7 p.m. and the all-ages show starts at 7:30 p.m. 
According to a news release, brothers Char and Robby Rothschild will perform using a blend of Bulgarian zydeco, West African rhythms, trumpet, bagpipes, accordion, banjo, dobro and acoustic songs.
Tickets are $10. For more information, call 909-624-2928 or