Good Vibes In Hard Times: An Intimate Conversation With Flogging Molly

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Flogging Molly: Two words that roll off the tongue and sport potential to represent many a thing. Is Flogging Molly a children’s game? Is it an incredibly alcoholic cocktail? Could it perhaps be a ’70s porno flick? Given up yet?

For those of you who’ve dropped your Irish pride, Flogging Molly are indisputably one of the biggest Celtic punk bands in the word. That’s right. Combining fiery energetic power chords and raspy vocals with traditional Irish melodies and instrumentation, Flogging Molly are making way for their sixth full-length album, “Life Is Good,” which will be released worldwide on June 2nd. In addition, the band are currently embarking on a massive tour, which will swing by Metropolis on May 28th, here in Montreal. I got hold of primary lyricist and vocalist Dave King to discuss cocktails, folk music and why life is so good at the present moment, in his opinion.

KL (Kyle Lapointe): Hey Dave, how are you doing?

DK (Dave King): Great, just great.

KL: So life is good?

DK: Yes, life is good. (laughs).

KL: Let me say that we are really glad to be having you guys again here in Montreal later this month for the millionth time. It seems you guys are always spinning around the world.

DK: Yes, me and my wife Bridget live in Detroit and in a little county called Wexford in Ireland. Matt Hensley lives in California, Nate and Bob live in Colorado. Mike Alonso, our drummer, lives in Detroit, and Dennis Casey lives in Long Island. So we are all over the place.

KL: And you guys are always here too. Any favorite places to grab a pint in Montreal?

DK: I usually try to stay away from the Irish bars no matter where I am, y’know? I get enough of that at home. When you say Montreal, I think food. It’s very rarely on the road we get to eat good food. Whenever we’re in places like Montreal or San Fransisco or New York or Chicago or Toronto, we always try to get at least one good meal.

KL: At the Irish bars here, we have a drink called the Irish Car Bomb. It’s a mix of Guinness and Jameson. What do you think of the name?

DK: I think it’s a huge insult, to be honest with ya. When the phrase came out in Ireland, they were terrifying situations. There was innocent people killed in their cars, y’know? It’s just a real cheap way of selling an Irish drink.

KL: How often do you manage to see Ireland?

DK: Well, we haven’t been there since, I do believe, February. We have a house there but we never really get to spend time there. After this American tour we have a European tour ten days later, so we go to Ireland for those ten days, spend it there. After that European tour, there’s a break where we’ll head back to Ireland, and then another tour of Europe.

KL: Do you find being in Ireland provides inspiration for your music?

DK: Yeah, I mean, y’know, there’s a certain vibe there that’s well, y’know, in my blood. I mean, I was born n’ raised there, y’know? I grew up in a very musical family. There’s always something musically going on there, no matter where you are. You go to a pub, even in a local village. There will always be someone playing a guitar. It’s a wonderful atmosphere.

Oh Jesus, every time we’ve got our instruments and we’re in a pub there, we play music. I mean, to give you a great example, a couple of years ago, we played with The Rolling Stones in Holland. A couple of days before, it was Bridget’s birthday and we were in a little pub in Amsterdam, sittin’ in the corner, just playing traditional Irish music. Then the next day, we played with The Rolling Stones. That’s the kind of band we are.

KL: Do you ever bring back traditional instruments to the United States?

DK: Erm, we used to do earlier on. Our house is full of instruments from all over the place. But, we’re really running out of room these days, so we’re gonna curtail that activity for now.

KL: Do you find your music is accessible to people who grew up with traditional Irish music but aren’t really fans of punk rock?

DK: That’s why we’ve been going for so long. And that’s why it’s taken so long between our last album and this album. We could’ve toured for another four years; you know what I mean? But we had to put the breaks on it though. Punk is about attitude. My favorite punk bands don’t even have bass guitar or drums or electric guitars. My favorite punk bands are bands like The Dubliners, The Pogues, people who had something to say, y’know? Johnny Cash to me was punk rock, y’know?
It’s certainly not just a hairstyle.

KL: Would you say there are bands that have that hairstyle and the noisy guitars but no attitude?

DK: Look, it doesn’t matter what anyone is doing if those guys are really passionate about what they’re doing. It’s like, y’know, if you got three kids in a little van driving around the country playin’ in little toilets, but they are fucking passionate, that’s fucking total punk rock to me. I think it’s what you believe in yourself, y’know? And I think believing in yourself that way, you’re open to so many things, y’know? Different songs and types of music, or whatever. I mean, we listen to a big range of music, y’know?

KL: Do you ever include influence from other styles of folk music in Flogging Molly’s music, or is it all Celtic?

DK: Yeah, I mean, looking back, there’s a song called Another Bag of Bricks, and that was a Middle-Eastern-sounding song. On our most recent album, on one of the songs, we have a full-on Mariachi band. I mean, that’s my point. All traditional music is punk rock music.

Can’t wait to hear you play Mariachi. Very soon “Life Is Good” will be coming out. Can you tell me a bit about your thoughts heading into this album?

DK: Our last album was made in very dire times economically. I mean, a lot of countries suffered major economic crashdowns. Y’know, we were writing the album in Detroit, and you could see firsthand a city that was really struggling and going under. In the six years, the economy has begun to grow and there’s this positivity around. Not just in Detroit, but in Ireland as well. They seem to be clawing their way out of economic misery. But you’re getting out of that and then the election’s comin’ in and Brexit’s comin’ in and you know what I’m talking about. The album’s called “Life Is Good.” We all know life isn’t necessarily good; we’re not all that shallow, y’know? Life is not all that great. But we wanted to call the album “Life Is Good” because we wanted that out there, y’know?

KL: That’s really interesting. Do you find your music reflects the social climate’s ups and downs?

DK: I think it does, y’know? I think it does. And hopefully on this record, we try to offer a little hope, y’know? Don’t get me wrong; we’re living in a world right now that’s absolutely gone insane, y’know? I really don’t know what to make of it. My mother passed away a little over a year and a half ago. Before she passed away, me and my wife were in the hospital with her. She told us, “Y’know, do us a favor? Enjoy life, because I did.” And she had a really hard life, but she enjoyed it the best she could. Though all the adversities she went through, she enjoyed life.

KL: When people listen to “Life Is Good” for the first time, what’s the feeling you’d like to hit them, right off the bat, with the first song?

DK: First of all it’s a shit album.

KL: It is?-

DK: No no, I’m joking (laughs). As I’ve said, we’re singing about the good, the bad and the ugly, y’know? We believe it’s a positive album. Songs like “Life is Good” or the closer, “Until We Meet Again” sound positive. I want people to take away with them, from that final song, that life is harsh, life is good, but don’t take life too seriously.

Flogging Molly is playing at Métropolis on May 28. Show 8 p.m. Tickets $39/43 day of show. Click HERE for tickets.