Cutting Edge: Within A Mile of Homeview image
Within A Mile of Home
Side One Dummy Records
For Dave King the post-grunge six-piece Flogging Molly is the answer to twenty years of rock ‘n roll nursing. “It’s the best thing I’ve done,” says the singer over the phone after a string of sold out dates in Japan. “Molly is my home – it’s something I do for me and hopefully take a few people along for the ride.” The ride includes a unique mixture of early punk, hard rock and country seasoned with traditional Irish folk. “It’s the stuff I grew up with – in the pubs back home and around the house- just played a little faster.”
Landing his big break at 18 with ‘80s hard rock giants Fastway, King remembers where it all began. “It was big news that Pete Way (UFO) and Fast Eddie Clarke (Motörhead) were looking for a singer, but they didn’t want a known singer. I was living in Dublin at the time and with my mother’s help was able to get to London for the audition.” In a matter of days, King was in and soon on a plane to Casper, Wyoming to start his first US tour in support of Saxon and Iron Maiden. “A lot of people don’t know that I wrote all the lyrics and some of the arrangements on those first few Fastway records,” says King. “In the early days there was a great vibe in the band. Eddie had a good direction, and then it was taken from him when management and the label got too involved. That’s when it lost its heart and soul.”
King left the band after recording Trick Or Treat, a B-horror film soundtrack that ironically faired so well that it remains the band’s bestseller to date. “To me rock and roll wasn’t about recording movie soundtracks,” continues King. “I decided that was the last thing I would do with Fastway. I wanted to make music that would stand up – something I would be proud of.” Yet in order to make music on his own terms he would have to pay the devil his due. With wisdom in his voice King states, “I went from playing Madison Square Garden to cleaning the toilets in LA clubs.”
Known for his Irish-tinged wail, the singer eventually teamed with A&R guru John Kalodner for an ill-fated project entitled Katmandu. “It was just like Fastway,” says King. “It was experimental to begin with. People tried to make it formulized and eventually it fell through the cracks and died.”
King had had it and left the biz as the musical landscape changed from metal to grunge to alternative. He paid the bills painting houses, driving trucks and cleaning clubs and eventually came to the conclusion that if he were to return to music, it would be on his own terms and not to satisfy the corporate machine.
As the ‘90s drew to a close, King set in with a six-piece to hash about their Irish roots and throw back a pint or two. “The minute we started playing together it was a feeling I’d never had before – in any band I’d played in,” says the singer.”It was a way for me to go back home to Ireland – revisiting all my musical influences. But in the end, we consider ourselves a rock and roll band with traditional elements of Irish music.’ Much of that tradition is heard in the fiddle playing of Bridget Regan. Along with accordion player Matt Hensley and mandolinist Robert Schmidt, the Gaelic texture fuses folklore with authenticity and charm.
The other half of the band brings in the muscle. Guitarist Dennis Casey, bassist Nathen Maxwell and drummer George Schwindt add good ’ol West coast punk with a frenzied array of mosh pit hysteria. Thus we have a bonafide crowd pleaser. “We don’t know what to call it,” says King. “When we gel together we’re one of the greatest live bands in the world – on a bad night we could be the worst, but it has that dangerous magic to it.”
Much like their predecessors including The Pogues, Black 47 and Stiff Little Fingers, Molly are ahybrid of smells, tastes and color. They are one part Dubliners and one part Johnny Cash with the rhythm train of American punk straight from the soul. Their debut Swagger (2000) gathered the attention of fans and critics alike moving the band through a number of Warp tours. 2002 Drunken Lullabies continued the frenzy and established more firmly the band’s sound.
Currently on tour in support of newly released Within A Mile Of Home, Molly mature with deeper introspective in “Don’t Let Me Die Still Wondering,’ the a cappella “The Wrong Company” and the foreign policy stain of “Screaming At The Wailing Wall.” But it’s the rush of “Seven Deadly Sins”, “To Youth” and “Queen Anne’s Revenge” that feverishly link past and present.