THE LUCK OF THE IRISHview image
After more than a decade of hard drinking and hard partying, FLOGGING MOLLY are finally making a dent in the charts. Big Cheese caught up backstage at the Reading festival with frontman Dave King to find out just how they did it.
Contrast is a funny thing. In a few hours from now, Flogging Molly will tear up the Lock-Up stage at Reading with their furious, good-time Irish party punk. People will dance and sing and smile and leading the ceremony will be FM frontman Dave King, all cheeky banter, guitar abuse and charismatic holler. But right now, on an ample tour bus sprinkled with mess, he cuts a very different figure; warm, but quiet and softly spoken, almost subdued. He tells me he’s fighting an eye infection as we take our seats in the back and I switch my Dictaphone on, but he’s happy to talk and is never anything less than engaging company. There’s much to discuss; having formed in Los Angeles and slogged their guts the mid 1990s new album Float landed at #4 in the US Billboard Chart, an impressive feat by anyone’s standards. Here’s what we talked about…
Did Flogging Molly ever have any mission statement?
No, I mean, we all worked day jobs and every Monday night when we started out we would get together and play at Molly Malone’s in Los Angeles. It was fun and we’d get a few drinks out of it. I mean, we knew we had definitely had something together. We knew we had something special, the way we wrote songs together just felt really good. Music’s about life; it’s about having a bad time, it’s about having a good time, and that’s the music we made.
There have been a few bands doing something similar to yourselves, like The Pogues and The Dropkick Murphys. Were you ever worried about doing something that had already been done before?
Not really. I think bands like us are taking this sort of music and bringing it to a new generation. We play America and Europe and people take us for what we are. You look at someone like The Pogues, at someone like Shane McGowan, and that’s one of the greatest songwriters of all time.
You’re on your fourth album. Do you still feel like you have something to say?
Oh, always. As long as you’re alive you feel like you’ve got something to say. Plus lyrically, I draw on a lot of things from the past. Things like my father, family life, looking at society from a poverty background, being in my 40s now and looking back at things. It just gives you a different grain on things. It gives you a certain sense of humor about it as well.
On a happier note, the albums doing quite well.
Yeah, it’s doing okay. I mean, the last album we did went top 20 so we knew there was something going on. We’d been touring a lot but it’s ridiculous, I mean, we’re up there with Janet Jackson. You think Jesus Christ, what’s going on!? I think one of the reasons we’ve done so well is that we’ve just toured loads. We just get up there in front of people and play and, ya’know that’s the main thing. You go up on stage; start playing and you see people in the crowd start to smile, then nod, then dance. It’s an amazing feeling.
What are the essentials for being on tour?
Booze (laughs). I feel sorry for all these bands that don’t drink on tour. Then there’s hot showers and toilets. You make a list of about twenty things when you’re on tour.
Did you have any experience of being a punter at Reading?
No, No I didn’t. I’d always been to festivals but when we got told we had a slot here a few years ago I was dreading it because you’d read reviews of bands and read about things like bands getting shit thrown at them. I thought ‘Oh my god, they’re gonna hate us’, but they haven’t. Reading’s always had this thing about it, that it’s such a hardcore place to play. But it’s a great honour to be there and to play the Lock-Up stage. There’s a great atmosphere. We’ve toured with Gallows and Alkaline Trio on various stages of the Warped Tour.
How do you keep Flogging Molly from going stale?
We separate it all. We never write on the road and because it’s such a separation it stays fresh. We’re looking forward to coming back in November and doing it all over again.