Born in LA, but of strictly Irish stock, Flogging Molly are named for the local Irish bar where their career started: by their own admission, Dubliner frontman Dave King and his band played Molly Malone’s a slightly daft amount of times.
Since then, the folk-punks, who combine heavy Irish trad influences with politics and punch, have soared to international acclaim and a heady touring schedule that means Dave and his wife Bridget, also in the band, live a large part of their marriage on the road. In fact, these days, that lifestyle is a relief: early in Covid times, King and the band feared they’d played their last show.
“People are starting to get out a bit more and the atmosphere at shows is unbelievable,” King says. “This hit everybody in a shockwave. We were packed up in trucks and had driven to the first show of an American tour in California, and the tour was cancelled on the day of the first show at the start of a major US tour,” he says of Flogging Molly’s harsh Covid experience.
“Bridget and I got a flight to Dublin and drove to our house in Wexford. We thought it might be two months, six months… then we felt we might never work again. We shrugged that off and went to New York and locked ourselves in a basement and wrote an album in 14 days. We just went for it, there was a real sense of urgency.”
“We just wanted to get together as a band and it felt almost like the last hurrah, but also like going back to the beginning, all the shackles off, like the early days. The album [which will be titled ‘Anthem’ and is due in September] has that about it. One song is completely live, the rest of them are just three or four takes and a few things patched up here and there.”
“The thing for me is that the music is very rock and very raw. The lyrics are simply about hope. No matter what the subject is, I think as a songwriter there needs to be hope in the lyrics. There are a couple of songs about the pandemic, because that’s what was going on when we were writing. I can’t ignore things when I’m sitting down writing.”
“There’s one song, “We All Stand Alone Together’, which I wrote in my house in Wexford sitting alone, looking down the lane, and thinking about the beauty of people caring for their older neighbours,” he says. “‘Song Of Liberty’ has a video by two of our friends from Ukraine, a very powerful animated video. That also gives hope. It’s their piece of art, telling their story through our song.”
The new and the old, though, combine in modern day Flogging Molly. “We might actually be going back to playing Molly Malones, around the time the album’s out,” King laughs. “We might even film it and get it out there. These last few shows have been really positive, especially Europe. There’s a wonderful atmosphere at gigs and festivals.”
“The guestlist in Dublin is always pretty big,” he continues. “The last show we did in Dublin was the last gig and the best gig of the tour. It was electric. I still get really nervous and have to do everything in a routine before I go on stage. It takes a couple of songs, before that I’m useless.”
“We’ve been very lucky to be doing what we’re doing,” he concludes. “We’ve had some great results, like two top ten albums in the US charts. Our gigs are great. We’re lucky and honoured to be doing it. It’s great to be back.”