By Tony Ding
Daily Arts Writer
“I’m a legal alien as of last year,” Dave King declares proudly. Being a Dublin-born Irishman, the founder and vocalist of Celtic-punk band Flogging Molly fondly relates his American tale of being a ten year immigrant. King’s lads and lasses, merrily named Flogging Molly, are touring the nation in support of their newest album, Drunken Lullibies, follow-up to FM’s 2000 debut Swagger.
The band’s colorful namesake apparently comes from a small Irish watering hole on Fairfax Boulevard in Los Angeles. “It was Molly Malone’s where we all met each other individually,” explains King. They were a regular on Monday nights and, as King puts it, “it was just a spur of the moment thing, ya know? Like we were always floggin’ Molly’s.”
Tis the luck of the Irish, perhaps, that the Dublin immigrant rallied FM’s troupe of accordions, fiddles, whistles and mandolins into the fierce Celtic-rock embodied in Drunken Lullabies. The music is a beautiful metaphor for the hybrid of L.A.’s tenacious punk-core mania, and the emerald isle’s bygone chantry. “I love living in America,” enthuses King. “I had an opportunity when I came over here ten years ago to either go back to Ireland, or stay in America and so I decided to stay in America. And I’m glad that I made that decision, because it’s been a real enjoyable experience.” King attributes much of his success and the quality of Flogging Molly’s lyrics to his move to the U.S., or as he explains: “To get away from my surroundings, to get way from it, and then to be able to look back on it. If I hadn’t moved to America, there’ll be no way I’d be writing of situations that I write about right now.” He has put himself in an immigrant’s shoes and writes about the experiences. “I wrote about what I’ve left behind, where I’d come from, and been able to look at it from a nostalgic point of view,” adds King. “I’m very proud of where I come from!”
Mentioned often in reference to contemporaries Still Little Fingers and the Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly’s pub-born background has led them recently from sweaty clubs to a consecutive three years on the Vans Warped Tour. “It’s the best thing we’ve done as a band,” claims King, who touts: “You know, you have the bands on there that you don’t generally get to see, which I think is just a great thing. It’s just a lot of fucking fun!”
To the band’s influences, King gives nods to Jake Burns of Stiff Little Fingers, who he praises as a “great song-writer.” For King, SLF “were definitely an influence as a child growing up in Ireland. I love his lyrics, and he writes from a personal level as well, which is something I do.”
FM’s new album relates gut-wrenching tales of struggle and triumph, and some of the most honest personal accounts you’ll hear in punk music today. On the combination of punk with traditional Celtic chimes, the Irish-American thinks that it’s a very natural combination. “I think traditional music is music that was written by people who had nothing in their lives but their instruments,” explains King. “All they had was their music. And I think mixing what we do with that is a very natural thing to do.”
The infusion certainly works well, as Flogging Molly’s live performances have quickly grown to legendary proportions since they’ve been on tour. However, Dave King warns fans not to expect anything. “Just come and see what happens. I’m not really into going in to see anything with an expectation,” offers King. “Just go and have a good time, and be open – be open to everything!
Flogging Molly is on tour with fellow label-mates Avoid One Thing, whose drummer Dave Karcich unexpectedly died of a brain aneurysm two weeks ago. Speaking on this sudden tragedy, King confirmed that Joe Sirois, drummer for the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, will now be playing drums for Avoid One Thing for the rest of the tour. “The reason that they’re doing it is that the family wants them to continue,” King said. Over-coming adversity in the face of challenges and hardship, it’s what Flogging Molly means.