Flogging Molly


Immigrant Song: Flogging Molly Fly the Flag…

“This is my natural home,” Dave King of Flogging Molly tells us as he sits in his Wexford living room telling us tales of international Irish punk over the phone. “I wish you could see where I’m sitting. It’s beautifully, so quiet, so soulfully Irish.”

King’s tale is a familiar one to our shores. He left his native Dublin as a late teenager, in search of something bigger, and a chance of success. He was drawn to LA, and found himself a regular in a bar called Molly Malones. There, he performed, met his wife Bridget, and eventually encountered the rest of his future bandmates. Nearly a quarter of a century ago, King – at the time a rock vocalist with a band called Fastway – became the frontman of cult Celtic punk band Flogging Molly.

Flogging Molly’s music is a distinct fusion of Irish trad and embittered punk, as well as of the political and personal. One of the band’s biggest hits ‘What’s Left of the Flag’, for example, superficially seems to be about raising the tattered relic of a country high and proud, but is actually a tribute to King’s late father.

Latest album ‘Life Is Good’ – at first glance a deeply sarcastic reference to the bitterness within – is actually a tribute to his mother. After what King describes as “a hard life,” she turned to him on her deathbed and asked him to live his to his full, as she had. He’d always seen her as struggling, but she felt differently.

“I lived in LA for 16 years and it’ll always be the band’s home,” King explains. “Things are different today. I’ve been back in Wexford for 13 or 14 years with Bridget, though we live some of the year in Detroit, too.”

“We spend a lot of our lives on the road. You have to, that’s our bread and butter as a band. We’re just back from South America, and we were in the same airport three times in 30 hours. It gets a bit mad after a while, but we still have loads of ideas. I was on my phone yesterday, looking at notes from last year. When I’m touring, I write them down and then shut them off. I just add sayings to my phone and leave it at that.”

Review: Flogging Molly @ Olympia Theatre, Dublin

DAVE KING doesn’t care what you think, and it might just be the best thing about him.

His band, well-travelled Celtic punks Flogging Molly, sit halfway between a session and a riot; a chaotic, unapologetic, ramshackle fusion of Irish trad and punk rock angst.

Based out of California (and largely made up of Americans) – but led by King, who was raised in long-fallen Dublin 4 tenement Beggar’s Bush – Flogging Molly have made a career out of morphing trad stylings into songs about drink and national pride, love and hopelessness. Dublin is a spiritual home, a loose party at the end of a summer-long European tour.

King’s trademark is a husky, snarling yet somehow warm voice, a quick turn of phrase and cutting lyrics. Fuelled by on-stage cans of Guinness, he wiggles with his guitar, gurning between vocals and throwing playful but pointed jabs, like the dedication of ‘Selfish Man’ to his brother, and a quip about so many of his mates coming down that nobody’s actually paid to be in a packed Olympia.

The highs are in the raucous choruses; ‘What’s Left of the Flag’ is a glorious embittered ode to Irish identity, flowing into a manic ‘Rebels of the Sacred Heart’ and melodic slowed-down celebration of the booze, ‘Drunken Lullabies’.