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Dropkick Murphys tackle addiction on latest release, tour

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The Boston based band Dropkick Murphys. Credit: Courtesy of “Courtesy of Gregory Nolan

When the Dropkick Murphys went into the studio to record their new album, lead singer Ken Casey was attending funerals left and right for friends who had overdosed on prescription opioids.

Tim Brennan, lead guitarist , said this experience heavily influenced the band’s ninth studio album, “11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory”, and their subsequent tour, which continues on Wednesday night at EXPRESS LIVE! indoors.

“You don’t hear about (addiction) the way you hear about shootings,” Brennan told The Lantern.  “But it’s becoming just as big of a problem.”

While Brennan emphasized how widespread the drug epidemic was in the Boston area, where the band is from, addiction is an issue for the state of Ohio as well.  According to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heroin use in Ohio increased by 21.5 percent from 2014 to 2015.  

In another study conducted by the Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services released in January 2016, the Columbus area was listed as having a “high availability” of prescription opioids when compared to other major metropolitan areas of Ohio.

Brennan said it is important to support people struggling with addiction.

“’Rebels with a Cause’ is specifically about not writing these people off,” Brennan said of the song on “11 Short Stories.”

While a great deal of the album is dedicated to drug abuse, their song “4-15-13” was written by Casey to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.

“Lyrically, I think it’s the best thing Ken has ever written,” Brennan said. He added that the goal of the song is to highlight everyone’s collective journey through life, no matter his or her differences.

With eight records behind them, Brennan said Dropkick Murphys manages to keep things fresh during the writing process.

“We can’t ever stray too far from what a Dropkicks album sounds like,” said Brennan, referring to their specific niche of celtic rock. However, he added that while writing, they play with all sorts of different song ideas before assembling an album.

Despite the record’s heavy subject matter, Brennan said concert-goers can expect a feel-good, energetic show on Wednesday night.

“We try to keep it as lighthearted as possible,” Brennan said.

The band will play to a sold out crowd of roughly 2,200 people, said Megan Doster, marketing director for PromoWest Productions. Support will come from fellow Celtic rockers Blood or Whiskey from 7:30 to 8 p.m. followed by The Interrupters from 8:15 to 9 p.m. The Dropkick Murphys will perform from 9:30 to 11 p.m.

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