Guitar Talk with Dropkick Murphys’ James Lynch
Celtic punk-rock band Dropkick Murphys released their debut full-length 15 years ago, and they’re not slowing down at all. The Quincy, Mass.-based guys unleashed their eighth studio album, Signed and Sealed in Blood, in January, and the album debuted at a sky-high #9 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Musically, the set stays true to the band’s unwavering punk rock energy and catchy mix of Irish folk and American rock ‘n’ roll.
With St. Patrick’s Day just around the bend, we here at Gibson.com thought it would be the perfect time to catch up with guitarist James Lynch to chat about – what else? – guitars! Check out the conversation below, where we discuss everything from his choice Gibsons to why he feels like he’s fulfilling the dream of generations of Lynches.
Congrats on the success of Signed and Sealed in Blood and its #9 debut on the Billboard 200 chart! This was Dropkick Murphys’ eighth studio album. How would you say this release differs from previous releases?
I don’t think it does, and that’s the best part! We're big proponents of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy. The biggest thing for us these days is finding a way to keep things interesting. The biggest difference, I guess, if there was one, had more to do with the writing process than anything. This album was sort of born on the road. We played a lot of the material live before it was ever recorded.
St. Patrick's Day is on the way. Do you have any special plans for the band this year?
We’re very busy. We’re on the second leg of a world tour, which is taking us everywhere and back for the next few months. St. Patrick’s Day will be a big one this year. We'll be playing the Garden in Boston, which for a band who never meant to leave the rat, is pretty huge.
Let's talk guitars! When did you first pick up the guitar, and at what moment did you know you wanted to make a living making music?
My father and the better part of my family are musicians. They were all in incredible rock ‘n’ roll and punk bands throughout my life. I never really considered anything else. It’s almost like I was groomed for this. I went on my first tour fresh out of high school and never looked back. I feel like I'm fulfilling a dream for multiple generations of Lynches.
What are the go-to Gibson guitars in your collection?
My “work” guitars are identical ‘81 Les Paul Standards. But at home, my go-tos are a ‘76 bicentennial Firebird and a white ‘86 es-175. In the studio, I’ve been using my 1953 TV Yellow Les Paul Jr. Buying that one recently fulfilled a lifelong dream of mine! And a ‘56 J-45 for the acoustic stuff.
Why do you gravitate towards Gibson guitars over other guitar makes?
Everything about the brand is iconic, and watching my father buy his first Les Paul when I was a teenager is something that stuck with me. It was something to work towards, earn...dig?
Do you have any tips for up-and-coming guitar players?
I’ll leave you with the words my father told me: “It doesn’t matter if you know what you’re doing, as long as it looks like you know what you’re doing.” Truer words were never spoken. I’ve made a career out of it! Heart goes a long way in this game.