Dave King, left, Bob Schmidt, Bridget Regan, George Schwindt, Dennis Casey, Matt Hensley and Nathan Maxwell are Flogging Molly, named after the bar they used to hang out in.
Home is where Molly plays
Flogging Molly, in addition to being a title of orotund lushness, is one of those mysterious band names suspected of having hidden meaning, and, as the band's fan base grows, you'd expect it to acquire accretions of meaningfulness, the way brass blooms with patina.
Fronted by Go Jimmy Go:
Place: Pipeline Cafe
In concert: 6 p.m. Friday
Ah, too much thinking. Uncork the whiskey, top off the Guinness. The band's name comes from flogging music at Los Angeles' own Irish free state -- Molly Malone's, a club where expatriates meet other expatriates.
And so it was, a decade ago, when aging metalhead Dave King bumped into Bridget Regan, a teenage fiddle and tin whistle player. King, who had run away from Ireland as front man for Fastway, was scuffling in Los Angeles, trying to pin down the sounds within his head. Regan, with her classical playing and rock-solid demeanor, reminded King of home and hearth, and it came together. He'd go home musically.
Here's the bit in the story where the labeling starts, and it's damned unfair, as Flogging Molly resists labeling mightily. The band, seven strong, uses classic Irish folk instruments coupled with explosive, punky rock propulsion, riding behind King's reedy voice and rather personal lyricism. It's been called Irish Punk, been compared to the Pogues and Dropkick Murphys, been described as Potato Mosh. Suffice to say that Flogging Molly is best experienced live, with a sound that is cathartic and fills one with the joy of living.
This all comes home pretty clearly in the band's DVD, "Whiskey on Sunday," to be released with an album of the same name in a month or so. Unlike most rock 'n' roll documentaries, where band members either misbehave or pretend to suffer for their art, the members of Flogging Molly are clearly thrilled and proud to be where they are, and have earned their bones. They feel more like a family than a band, and indeed, the concept of home and family keeps arising in the context of the film.
Guitarist Dennis Casey shreds through traditional Irish melodies while drummer George Schwindt keeps the beat.
In addition to flamboyant, nerdy King and earth-motherly Regan, the other members have startling charisma -- piratical guitarist Dennis Casey, skateboarding accordionist Matt Hensley, boyish bassist Nathen Maxwell, steam-engine drummer George Schwindt and gearhead mandolinist Bob Schmidt.
Schmidt -- caught just getting out of bed in Australia before the band heads here -- recalled playing Pipeline a little over a year ago. "We were slotted for one show," Schmidt said, "but there was enough kids for two shows, so we added another, and had a good time doing it."
The band's usual schedule, said Schmidt, is five or six nights onstage in a row and one night off. No wonder they're all skinny. The documentary depicts Schmidt as a jack-of-all-instruments, playing whatever's needed and relentlessly fixing things. "Ha! Yeah," says Schmidt. "Can't help it. I used to run a repair shop. ... When we travel though, I usually only take the mandolin and banjo."
Travel opens new doors for the band. For King, it's generally an antique bookstore; for Schmidt, Europe is chockablock with "music stores filled with interesting crap. We tool around all the time looking at stuff. Matt will go nuts when he finds an antique concertina. Because of the folk leanings of the band, the instrumental costs we can incur are substantial. An antique concertina can cost five or six grand. We do all right as a band, but not THAT good. We have to put it down and walk away."
A band where all the members genuinely like each other and mesh seamlessly. Where's the drama? Seems they save that for the music.
"We all met as friends and the band evolved from hanging out with each other and playing at Molly Malone's," said Schmidt.
"When we're not playing, we get to hang out with our friends and homemade family, who happen to be other band members. We get to play with each other every day! Not a bad way to go through life."