Punch Drunk Grinning Soul | Flogging Molly’s Dave King

Blending punk rock ferocity with traditional Irish instruments, the seven-piece Flogging Molly returns with another edition of their annual Green 17 tour and with a new album, recorded in singer Dave King’s native Ireland. "It was probably the best experience we’ve had ever recording an album," says King. "We all ate together and, obviously, recorded together…it was a good experience."

 

In what’s quickly becoming an annual tradition, St. Louis music fans will have to once again traipse across the river this February 6th, take Rte. 3 past the billowing factories of Sauget, Illinois, and pull off on the ironically-titled Yellow Brick Road. No, not for the strip clubs, or the all-night liquor sales, but for one of the greatest rock n’ roll shows going: Flogging Molly is coming to town.

Blending punk rock ferocity with traditional Irish instruments like mandolin, fiddle, accordion, and tin whistle, the seven-piece band–headed by Dublin-born singer Dave King—has become a cult favorite, selling over a million copies of their first three albums (available on indie label SideOneDummy) based solely on their kinetic live performances. This year marks the 4th annual Green 17 Tour, zipping through the US every winter for 34 shows between February 1st and the tour’s blow-out final stop on, naturally, St. Patrick’s Day. (See below for a full tour itinerary.)

Expect the crowd to be even more energetic than usual this year, with an entire album’s worth of new songs to entertain the band’s already enthusiastic fans. Flogging Molly’s fourth studio album, Float, hits stores March 4th. With the help of producer Ryan Hewitt (Red Hot Chili Peppers, John Frusciante, Alkaline Trio), the album sees a focusing of Flogging Molly’s already formidable attack, from the stomping album opener "Requiem For a Dying Song" or the mournful title track to the blistering "You Won’t Make a Fool Out of Me," a song sure to be a crowd singalong favorite for years to come.

We caught up with singer Dave King at home in Ireland, shortly before packing his bags to head stateside for the first Green 17 tour dates.

 

PLAYBACK:stl: The new album Float was recorded in Ireland. What was it like recording for the first time in the home country?

Dave King: It was probably the best experience we’ve had ever recording an album. We all lived in a studio in the country in the middle of Ireland and it was a lot of fun. It was a good way to work, waking up and going straight to the studio, working till 4 or 5 in the morning, and having a couple of drinks in the bar—there was a little pub in the studio. And there was a good atmosphere: we all ate together and, obviously, recorded together…it was a good experience.

Now I know you’re from Ireland, but what about the rest of the band? Was it anyone’s first time in the country and what were their reactions to it?

Everybody has been here before. Me and Bridget [Regan, who plays fiddle and tin whistle] live here in Wexford, and the rest of the lads…we’ve played a few gigs here—not a lot. But it was the first time in the country, though, which is a lovely experience because the Irish countryside…it’s truly wonderful, you know.

What was working with Ryan Hewitt like as a producer? How did his recording style differ from, say, working with Steve Albini on the first two albums?

He really was different, in a way. It was really good, because Steve is really—and he’d be the first person to say this—Steve’s an engineer, that’s what he loves doing. Ryan was a little bit more creative in his suggestions with songs, and the way he records is good as well because you do a song a day. In other words, you do the live tracks and you finish that song by the evening, which is really, really good [because] you can concentrate solely on that and other people can go off and listen to what we are going to be doing the next day. It’s a very productive way of doing things, I thought.

I know Matt Hensley, your accordion player, came back right before you started recording the album. What was it like having him back in the fold after he was gone for about a year?

For him and for us, it definitely felt like that’s the way it had to be, if you know what I mean. As soon as Matt came back it, it was…different, you know? We’ve been in this band now for ten years and it just felt right, it really did. Its great to have him back.

Now speaking of having been around ten years, one of the songs on the new album, "Between a Man And a Woman," dates back to your 1997 live album Alive Behind the Green Door. Why did you choose to re-record that song now?

Well, we never recorded it in a studio, first of all, and second of all, I really felt like I wanted to sing a song that would have the spirit of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, because to me they were, musically and personally, phenomenal inspirations. I just wanted to put that there because I want people to know that.

Now, I know typically on your albums, the entire band shares song writing credits.  What is the typical songwriting process like in a seven-person band?

Well, whoever has an idea–it’s like, if I have an idea, I’ll bring it to rehearsal, I’ll play the song for the band and have a verse and a chorus, and we work around certain things, and then we take it from there. Having so many people, the only way to do it is to have a definite idea to work on. You really, really do [have to do it that way], because it takes a lot of sitting around, [saying] "Well, what do we do here? What do we do there? Well let’s try this, let’s try that." I think there has to be a focus, there has to be a bit of a game plan, because when we do sit down with an idea we can take that idea and run to Hell with it.

Has it ever difficult to find a role for all seven people in a song?

No, no, absolutely not. No, that never has been an issue. It never will be an issue because this is the way it happens, and this is the way it was meant to be for this band. Everybody always has something to do, always.

You’re about to hit the road for the fourth Green 17 tour. How has your impression of these tours changed since the first one?

The atmosphere in America, I always find to be electric at shows. [On] the Green 17 tour, I recognize people in the crowd that I’ve seen so many times, and it’s a really nice thing. Everybody’s away from home, and its nice to see familiar faces in the crowd, and hopefully we’ll all have a rare old time, you know?

Since being Irish is such an important part of the music and the atmosphere you try to have with these Green 17 tours, what impression do you hope your fans have of what it means to be Irish?

Well…that’s a different question in the sense that I’ve never known anything else. [laughs] I mean, that’s just who I am and where I come from. It has given me a sense of…you know, I left Ireland in 1989 and moved back here two years ago, and it’s a completely different Ireland than the Ireland I left. It’s obviously a lot better, in a lot of ways. If a place like Ireland can really talk and sit down around a table and actually achieve peace in this country, [then] anywhere in the world that can happen. That gives me hope: the fact that Ireland is a country that is not at war with itself anymore, and that’s great…that’s something that should happen all around the world, you know? | Jason Green

The Flogging Molly Green 17 Tour

2/1/08              Stubb’s Bar-B-Q          Austin, TX

2/2/08              Cain’s Ballroom          Tulsa, OK

2/3/08              House of Blues            Dallas, TX

2/5/08              The Beaumont Club     Kansas City, MO

2/6/08              Pop’s                           Sauget, IL

2/8/08              Lifestyles Community Pavilion           Columbus, OH

2/9/08              The Fillmore Detroit   Detroit, MI

2/10/08            The Vogue                   Indianapolis, IN

2/12/08            House of Blues            Cleveland, OH

2/13/08            House of Blues            Cleveland, OH

2/14/08            Madison Theature       Covington, KY

2/15/08            House of Blues            Chicago, IL

2/16/08            House of Blues            Chicago, IL

2/18/08            Kool Haus                   Toronto, ON

2/19/08            Metropolis                  Montreal, PQ

2/20/08            The Palladium             Worcester, MA

2/21/08            The Chance                 Poughkeepsie, NY

2/22/08            Town Ballroom           Buffalo, NY

2/23/08            Water Street Music Hall         Rochester, NY

2/27/08            The Fillmore at Irving Plaza   New York, NY

2/28/08            The Fillmore at Irving Plaza   New York, NY

2/29/08            House of Blues            Atlantic City, NJ

3/1/08              Ram’s head Live          Baltimore, MD

3/2/08              The National               Richmond, VA

3/3/08              The Norva                   Norfolk, VA

3/5/08              Tremont Music Hall    Charlotte, NC

3/6/08              Tabernacle                  Atlanta, GA

3/7/08              House of Blues            Orlando, FL

3/8/08              Jannus Landing            St. Petersburg, FL

3/9/08              House of Blues            New Orleans, LA

3/11/08            Warehouse Live          Houstin, TX

3/14/08            House of Blues            Las Vegas, NV

3/15/08            House of Blues            Las Vegas, NV

3/17/08            Mesa Amphitheatre     Mesa, AZ

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