The first time I saw Flogging Molly live was at the 2002 Warped Tour. As to be expected, it had been quite an experience up to that point. The night before, there was a shooting on the campgrounds in George, Washington, so everyone was a little stirred up. My group and I had partied pretty hard that night, but in the true fashion of the festival we got up super early and began our daylong punk-rock adventure. Much of the escapade is a blur to me now, but one moment stands out among the cacophony. It was mid-day; the sun was shining its brilliance down on the small patch of grass we occupied. The main stage was split into two playing areas so that the very moment one band ended their set, the next band could be all set up and ready to begin their own. Before I could say, “pass me another Guinness, lad” the beat began and I instantly recognized the sound of one of my favorite Flogging Molly songs “Salty Dog,” which is track one on their debut album, Swagger. Just then, after a quick glance around our circle, everyone got up and ran to the stage where we enjoyed quite frankly the best show of the entire night.
Flogging Molly has no qualms about their popularity as a live act. Dave King, lead vocals and guitar, commented, “The first time we all got together to play, there was an energy in the room that I’d never experienced in any other band I’d ever been in…We’re a live band. We’ll always have that.” It makes sense considering the band met in a bar, Molly Malone’s to be exact; they got the name from playing in the bar so much it became like beating an old horse, hence: Flogging Molly.
For the last five years or so the band has been mesmerizing audiences of all ages and has received quite a following. They’ve been compared to such Irish-punk legends as The Pogues and The Dropkick Murphys, and yet they maintain a unique and identifiable sound all their own.
The eclectic sound of Flogging Molly comes from the fusion of customary Irish folk music and flat out badass punk rock. Front man Dave King is the only “real” Irish lad of the bunch, and having grown up in a musical household, has been jamming for quite some time. Before re-locating to Los Angeles, King lived in a one-room apartment with his family in Dublin where he learned the fine craft and custom of Irish music. In his early twenties he came to the states to join a metal band called Fastway. King and his band mates played in many other groups before finally joining together to make one mega-super-ultra band. King commented on the bands imaginative union of genres, “If it didn’t have mandolin, accordion, fiddle and whistle, it would be punk-rock, and if it didn’t have guitar, bass and drums, it would be traditional Irish music. Flogging Molly has both.”
It’s always frightening when a truly good punk band puts out a new album. It’s especially scary in the present MTV age of punk rock bands (and I use the term lightly) that were given some black hair dye, a leopard print guitar strap and told “Well boys, you’re from Southern California, so that means you’re a punk band! Now get out there and say some cuss words!” When a good band puts out a new album, I shy away from buying it right away for fear that I’ll no longer be able to justify listening to any of their old work. This was exactly the case with Flogging Molly’s latest album, Within A Mile Of Home. Now, I brush my right pointer finger over my left and say, “Shame on you Alex, how dare you question your sweet sweet Flogging Molly?!”
With their loud lyrical declarations and references to Irish history the band pours a drop out for their dead homies, correction, they shake up the bottle, and spray the Irish whisky all over the electrical equipment causing a fire that burns down the government building which causes a great political stir that leads to a riot in the streets…for their dead homies. Within a Mile Of Home is traditional Flogging Molly, but King makes some really important and bold statements with this album. The first track, for example, entitled “Screaming at the Wailing Wall,” is a shrill critique of Bush’s war in the name of God. On the more historical side of things the song called “Tobacco Island” is an account of the 17th century British leader Oliver Cromwell who sent the Irish to Barbados to work as slaves on sugar plantations. Continuing on this sober lyrical journey the band gives some well deserved propers to such musical legends as Joe Strummer and the man in black himself Mr. Johnny Cash. Never fear my fellow Molly fans, the band still sings about getting drunk, being drunk and what it’s like after a night of being too drunk! If you own every other Flogging Molly album, great…now don’t be afraid, they are still a great band, I promise, so go out and get this one! If you do not own ANY Flogging Molly Albums, SHAME ON YOU HOW DARE YOU CALL YOURSELF A PUNK-ROCKER! NOW DASH OUT THERE AND GET YOUR IRISH ON!
The Pogues- Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash
Green Day- American Idiot
Dropkick Murphys- Do or Die