The Dropkick Murphys' Marc Orrell on Lucky Breaks and One Tough Epiphone (Free MP3 Download!)
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If you don’t think you’ve ever heard the Dropkick Murphys’ music, think again. “When people ask me what I do, I say ‘I’m in a band called the Dropkick Murphys’—and if they still haven’t heard of us, I say we had that song in The Departed and they instantly know what I’m talking about,” explains the band’s guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Marc Orrell. “That movie helped us become a household name—and I think it also helped our album [The Meanest of Times] debut in the Billboard Top 20, which was unreal.”
That star-making song, “I’m Shipping Up To Boston,” features lyrics from legendary protest singer Woody Guthrie and was originally included on the Dropkick Murphys’ 2005 album The Warrior’s Code and passed on to the film’s director Martin Scorsese by the Band’s Robbie Robertson. “Amazingly, I guess Robbie is a fan of ours and knew Martin from The Last Waltz; he heard he was doing a film about Boston, so he passed our song along because it has a really Irish feel,” Orrell explains. “We were in Europe and we saw the trailer on our computer and we were like, ‘Oh my God, it’s even the trailer—this is going to be huge!’”
Impressive as it may be, this is only the latest milestone in the Boston band’s decade-long career which has also included performing at Fenway Park and re-recording the song “Tessie,” recently reserved as the rallying call for the MLB Champions. Gibson has proudly been sitting shotgun throughout the entire crazy ride. “I have to play a Gibson when I play guitar,” Orrell explains, adding that his main axes include a 1972 SG, 1973 Les Paul Custom, and 1974 Les Paul Standard. “I’m very self-conscious about my face and body, so I have to have something that’ll make me look cool.”
In fact, to celebrate a recent concert at Boston’s Avalon (where the Dropkick Murphys perform their legendary St. Patrick’s Day shows) Orrell sacrificed his favorite Epiphone), a task which proved more difficult than he’d initially imagined. “During our last song I asked our guitar tech to give me my Epiphone and he goes, ‘you know we don’t have a backup guitar for tomorrow, right?’” Orrell explains with a laugh. “The problem is that they are so solid that it would not break. I kept going and by the fifteenth slam on the ground it finally fell apart. Apparently I was the only person to ever smash a guitar on that stage—and I figured it made sense because they were tearing down the club, why not tear down the guitar? Next time I won’t try that with an Epiphone, though.”