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The Dropkick Murphys Manager Jeff Castelaz: Working With 'the Real Deal'

Theo Wargo
Getty Images Entertainment
Al Barr of Dropkick Murphys performs during the 2013 Orion Music + More Festival at Belle Isle Park on June 8, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan.

On Wednesday evening, the BMO Harris Pavilion on the Summerfest grounds will be home to the Celtic punk stylings of the Dropkick Murphys. For the past couple of decades, the Boston-based band has gained a worldwide following particularly for their live shows - which draw large and enthusiastic crowds. The band stops here on their Boston to Berkeley tour and will feature tunes from their new album, 11 Stories of Pain & Glory.

The Dropkicks are managed by one of Milwaukee’s own - Jeff Castelaz. Castelaz was the president of Elektra Records from 2012 to 2015, but gave it up to return to managing bands - specifically the Dropkick Murphys.

"I'm a guy that likes to be on the side of the artist in the audience. And running a record company, you're 'The Man' - there's no other way to put it," he explains. "You're the person whose on the other side of the artist when you run a label and I just had to go where my heart really is, and frankly, where my real interest is - which is representing artists in a direct sense and connecting them with their audiences."

Managing both his management company and running a label at the same time also took away from what drew Castelaz into music as a kid in the first place: connecting with the purpose behind what people were doing lyrically.

He notes that working with the Dropkick Murphys is a great combination of being a manager and a fan at the same time.

Credit The Dropkick Murphys
The Dropkick Murphys

"I've never seen a band think about and talk about their fans as much as the Dropkick Murphys," says Castelaz. "They are not concerned with lots of other things that a lot of other bands are concerned with. They're concerned with what are our fans going to feel when they hear this album, how's it going to be when we play these songs live for our fans around the world? And it really does come through on the albums and it certainly comes through the show."

A crucial component to the Dropkicks is their live performances, which Castelaz describes as seeing "a vicious hockey game (compared) your average pop singer." For both band and manager, connecting with a live audience is a quintessential part of music.

"You feel the energy when these bands are on stage and it's more than just buying a ticket and watching somebody dance around on stage - this is the real deal stuff."

Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.