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Celebrating over fifteen years together by hitting the UK’s premier punk rock festival this August, Big Cheese brings you the life and legacy of Celtic Punk rockers FLOGGING MOLLY.
Like most great ideas, Flogging Molly were born in a pub. A former heavy metal vocalist (he actually played in Fastway with Motorhead’s “Fast” Eddie Clarke in the 1980s), Dave King chanced upon guitarist Ted Hutt, bassist Jeff Peters and Fiddle player Bridget Regan came together onstage in Los Angeles watering hole Molly Malone’s in 1993, building up a strong and dedicated fanbase of ex-pats, seduced by their Celtic-tinged rock that combined American muscle to the melodies of The Pogues and The Clash. So what does King remember most about those early days? “Probably the difficult we had getting gigs anywhere, but the extreme loyalty of the small fan base we did have at the time. Luckily, the gigs have gotten better and the fan base has grown – although they still remain as loyal as ever.”
Releasing debut album Swagger in 2000, the likes of ‘Salty Dog’ and ‘Life in a Tenement Square’ swaggered and rolled out of the speakers, with the line-up of King, Regan, Nathen Maxwell (bass), Robert Schmidt (mandolin/banjo), pro skater Matt Hensely (accordion), George Schwindt (drums), John Donovan (guitar) and Gary Schwindt (trumpet) turning up the punk thanks to a Steve Albini mix. So what does Regan remember about the heady days of ‘Swagger’ and how does she think the band have progressed?
“Well, we’ve certainly grown and matured as individuals, therefore inadvertently growing together as a band. Recording ‘Swagger’ was a rough and ready operation. It was done quickly, as we’d no money but we’d certainly done the best we could do it at the time.”
While their band name might have suggested that they’d been quite happy toiling away in between pints of the black stuff, it was clear by now that Flogging Molly were meant for bigger things, heading out on tour and seemingly never stopping other than to record ‘Drunken Lullabies’ (2002), “Within A Mile From Home’ (2004) and their finest moment to date, last year’s ‘Float’. So what does King reckon the Flogging Molly of then would make of ‘Float’?
“I think we’d absolutely love it! It’s our favorite album to date, and listening to it now or ten years ago I think it would still have the same effect.”
So what has been the defining point in Flogging Molly’s history to date for the duo? “Hands down our wedding day, which was a small Shinto ceremony in Tokyo, Japan. Our schedule was so packed last year we had to do it while touring, but it couldn’t have been nicer!’
With a busy schedule planned yet again for this year (“We have European festivals throughout the summer, a couple of weeks on the Warped Tour Stateside, a fall headline tour of the U.S., and a Canadian tour in October…”), Flogging Molly are old hands when it comes to gigging these days, having become veritable road dogs. So, are there any shows that stand out as the best or worst from over the years?
“It’s too difficult to choose a best gig or a worst for that matter. All of our best gigs usually involve a festival of some kind, and any of our worst involve equipment problems or technical difficulties… The Spinal Tap moments, if you will!”
Having racked up over fifteen years together as a band, Flogging Molly have also had their music featured on more than a few adverts and TV shows over their career. Are there any that they’re particularly proud of?
“Well, we couldn’t really say we’re proud of any adverts unless it’s a product we actually use…” pnders King: “So probably the Guinness ads!”