Evie Kissack chats to Flogging Molly frontman, Dave King, ahead of the band’s 20th anniversary tour. 

 

 

Quintessential Irish-American folk punk heroes Flogging Molly will be heading out to tour their new album ‘Life is Good’ throughout the UK and Ireland this December. 

Lead vocalist, acoustic guitar/electric guitar/bodhran player, Dave King, chatted to me ahead of the band’s Birmingham date, discussing the personal meaning behind the album’s title, and considering the unifying power of music across the world.

The latest Flogging Molly tour, ‘Life Is Good’, heads across Ireland and the UK this December – I’m sure these will be very special shows for the band as they mark Flogging Molly’s 20th anniversary?

We always have to check ourselves because it’s been so long since we’ve all been together – it all goes so fast! It’s crazy how fast it goes. We are very grateful. A band like us – you know, we just met in a pub in LA and started playing together and it went on from there, and we are still going. [Laughs] This year was our most successful year in 10 years! So, it’s been…just wow. 

 

Congratulations! The shows support the new album, which was released last year via Spinefarm Records. Firstly, how was working on the album after the six year break from creating new music? You didn’t take a break from touring, certainly! 

Yes, that’s the great thing about Flogging Molly; we could literally tour 24/7. For some reason, there always seems to be a market for us. When you’re in a band like we are, to make an album is a huge thing. We never set out to make an album, we just kind of fell into what we’re doing. It was six years of just touring none stop. You eventually have to go, “We have to take time off here and make a new album!” 

We are so familiar with each other, that when we do get together to write, we sit around in a circle, and basically start playing. Things happen very quickly. We are very aware of each other - our individual personalities and how it all works together. The last album was so much fun – we have fun making all of our albums. It is a part of what we do. 

To me, it’s always been a jigsaw. Part is the live shows, part is making albums – it’s a whole bunch of interconnected things. We are already talking about doing a new album! Years ago, this wouldn’t have happened, but we have tons of ideas to work on. Trying to balance both performing and writing can be quite tricky, especially when you have so many people in the band, because everyone has their own lives and you have to keep the payroll going… You have to be careful how you do it and make sure it’s interesting for everybody involved. 

 

You definitely don’t shy away from anything on this album. It deals with politics (‘Reptiles’), immigration (‘John L. Sullivan’) as well as death. The title of the album comes from a very personal place too, is that right? I wanted to ask about the thoughts behind making a record that addressed these heavy topics?

Yes, that’s right. We’ve always been a band that has played around with lots of different topics. This one was a very personal. My mother passed away just before we started writing the album, and she sent me and my wife Bridget (Regan, vocals) down on her bed, and she said, “Do me one favour and enjoy life. Life is good.” 

And, life was not good for my mother. It was really hard. She lost two husbands, she worked two jobs for most of her life to keep me going, and her life was hard but she did it with a huge attitude. She had a great time; she never shied away from anything. I remember as a kid, a lot of neighbours were wowed. She just went for it, even if times were hard. She instilled that into me as a child. I think, being that one of the last things she said to me was to enjoy life, it really stuck with me. 

We didn’t have a great relationship, my mother and me. I was travelling all the time. I went through a period when I didn’t see my mother for eight years, because of my situation. As a mother and child scenario goes, we didn’t have the ‘regular’ lifestyle that you’d expect. We loved each other – there was no need to say. My mother and me never had conversations about serious things, really. For her to say that to my wife and me before she passed away was a big deal. That’s what it was about – her giving the middle finger, saying, “f*** you’ and having a good time. [Laughs]

 

Despite dealing with emotional topics, the album remains optimistic. Was this a conscious decision?

Definitely. 

 

When I first looked at the album and saw the cover after listening to the songs, at first I didn’t make the connection between the personal story behind the title and the artwork – 

- Well that’s actually my nephew on the cover! It’s my sister’s son. She took that picture of him in the car. She was actually flipping off my wife, Bridget, and she turned around and he was copying her. It just seemed to work perfectly, you know. [Laughs]

[Laughs] Amazing story. I wanted to ask you about the single ‘Going Home’, which also features on the album. Many of my relatives are Irish, and will always see Ireland as home despite having lived in England for 25 years. Where is home for you?

Well, honestly, home is where my wife is. 

 

Aw!

I mean I would live in the Antarctic if that were where she wanted to live. I wouldn’t be living in Ireland if it weren’t for my wife. She was living here as well, before I was living here, and she was going back and forth before we were a couple. She really wanted to live in the country in Ireland, and we’ve been here for 13 years now. The thing is – I love it. I absolutely adore living here, but if I hadn’t have done it when I did, I don’t know if I ever would have.

Being home to me is where you’re happy. Wherever my wife is, is where I’m happy. We are on the road together all the time, which makes it way more palatable. It’s not for everybody Evie - you know what I mean? But we work best like that. This is our home. What’s great about it as well is that we’ve just done a tour of South America, Columbia…Mexico…and they were singing every word of every song. I think that goes beyond borders. I think people at heart are traditional, no matter where they are from. It’s soul music, almost. We all have something to share with each other, which is why it’s so sad about the world right now – you know with Trump, and all that, trying to separate cultures…

Home is where the heart is. I know it’s very clichéd, but it’s true. I wouldn’t be happy if I wasn’t with my wife in Ireland. 

How lovely. 

I’m a very lucky man, Evie. [Laughs]

 

It must be incredible to play to countries where English isn’t the first language, but to still have crowds sing the words back to you. Having toured all over the world, do you have a particular moment of Flogging Molly that stands out for you? 

There’s always something that will make us all look at each other on stage and just go, “Jesus.” That’s what the most important thing is. We’ve had some incredible experiences – playing with The Rolling Stones was incredible…

I think it’s that thing you were saying before – I never imagined myself being in a band like Flogging Molly. I want to celebrate that freedom that I feel, the belt of music, all over the world. It’s almost revolutionary to me – that feeling between the crowd and the band on a good night. Everybody lets their guard down, and has a good time celebrates the bulls*** - the good times and hard times all together. That’s the one thing that I will always carry with me, you know. Remembering playing on stage in front of 10,000 Brazilians, Japanese, Europeans - it doesn’t matter where you are from. It’s that energy – what music is about. I think what it was meant to be. 

Life is hard, and there are only a couple of things that put a smile on our faces, but hopefully music still does that. 

 

I think that’s what makes Flogging Molly such a brilliant band to see live - that the crowds will always leave smiling. 

Yeah, I really hope so. You get on the bus together after a show, and you’re all sitting round enjoying a drink together, and saying, “Did you see that person at the front doing da da da…” it just makes everything work. Having been on the road for all of these years, it could get quite monotonous. It really could. But it doesn’t. We are playing to different nationalities, and we are all the same.  

 

Music certainly does unify everybody and I think that’s a beautiful message. Before you go, I just wanted to ask about the Salty Dog Cruise that’s now in its fifth year…

It’s a whole bunch of ridiculous to be honest with you. It’s like, what the f*** are we doing? But it is so much fun, Evie. I dress up as the captain and walk around the ship with my glass of wine, or whatever, and it’s an absolute blast. It’s another extension of what we were talking about – I can guarantee those three or four days that people are on the cruise they forget about everything else. They forget about the bulls*** and have a f****** blast. [Laughs]

 

[Laughs] 

It’s about having fun. People really appreciate that. We have almost sold out already! We could be anywhere in Europe or America and see posters for it. It’s a wonderful commeraderie of people having a blast and not having to worry about what we all have to worry about. The bands that play with us, like Rancid, or Frank Turner, they love it. 

It was never meant to be anything but a good time. Your liver is the only thing that will have a bad time. [Laughs]

 

Catch Flogging Molly at Birmingham’s O2 Academy on 12 December 2018. 

Tickets available at www.floggingmolly.com/tour. 

 

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