Clockwise from bottom left: Nathan Maxwell, Bob Schmidt, Dennis Casey, Dave King, Bridget Regan, George Schmidt and Matt Hensley.

Musical influences
spur Irish band

Feelings of nostalgia can wash over you at the strangest of moments. While waiting for Dave King, frontman for the Los Angeles-based Irish folk-punk band Flogging Molly, to pick up his Tokyo hotel room phone, a gentle, electronic "Home on the Range" tones away.

Flogging Molly

With Go Jimmy Go

Where: Pipeline Cafe, 805 Pohukaina St.

When: 7 p.m. today

Tickets: $16

Call: 589-1999

That American chestnut evokes warm, fuzzy feelings, real or not, of a comforting home. For King, it was growing up in hardscrabble Dublin, in a household poor in money and material goods, but rich in family and music.

"My music basically comes from my parents," he says when he finally picks up the phone, still recovering from a late night after the band's gig. "We had what we call 'hoolies' every weekend. My mother and father would bring back people to the flat, and there'd be tin whistles and guitars, and even though the house basically had only one room, there was a piano in it. Those memories are ingrained in my heart -- the atmosphere then was incredible."

Ever since King tried to make a go of it as a solo artist in L.A., the music of his homeland has infused his work. But it all came into focus when he found kindred spirits at a neighborhood Irish pub called Molly Malone's, where Flogging Molly was born.

"We all met in the bar and would play every Monday night," King remembers. "First off, it was me and a couple of guys, including Ted Hutt, who's since become our producer. Then we met Bridget (Regan, who plays fiddle, tin whistle and uillean pipes), and we got a little more traditional-sounding. Then we met George (Schwindt, drummer), but after that, the original guys I was with split from us.

"But luckily, the rest of the guys that's become part of the Flogging Molly band has seen us perform in the pub, and wanted to help out." (The "rest of the guys" being electric guitarist Dennis Casey, Matt Hensley on accordion, Bob Schmidt on mandolin and banjo, and bassist Nathen Maxwell.)

"The coming together of this band was never forced," King says. "It's all felt really natural -- and all of us have so many musical influences. When we're together, Bridget, say, could have us listen to an album of traditional Irish music from the '20s and '30s, and then I'll play a Clash album. And Nathan's a big Bob Marley fan, but then he also likes the Dead Kennedys. All our influences do come out in our music -- Flogging Molly will never be accused of being not afraid."

The band is the logical successor to what Shane MacGowan and The Pogues did years earlier, and King doesn't shy away from acknowledging their big influence on Flogging Molly's sound.

"In fact, Spider Stacey, who's since taken over the frontman role in The Pogues, told me that what we're doing is what they did with The Dubliners -- that is, taking from their era. So it's a natural thing for us to take from The Pogues."

LISTENING TO Flogging Molly's two previous studio albums (recorded and engineered by the always-in-demand Steve Albini), "Swagger" and "Drunken Lullabies," it's immediately evident how well the traditional folk and the punk energy meld together, particularly in such notable songs as "The Likes of You Again," "Black Friday Rule," "Devil's Dance Floor," "The Kilburn High Road" and "Another Bag of Bricks."

The one lone cover the band recorded was an Irish favorite from 1977, "The Rare Ould Times."

"It's a real Dublin song," King says. "Bridget once had a dream about it and said we should do it. The song rang about what I felt about Dublin and all the changes I've seen over the years I've visited there. The song has taken a whole new meaning. The song speaks to me, both the good and the bad.

"Irish music, in its purest, is really like punk rock music, what with all its energy and passion. At one time, the only thing the Irish people had was their music, people gathering together for the common good. So it seemed only natural to mix it with electric guitar, drums and bass.

"I've never been one for pinpointing my musical tastes," he continues. "Whether it's hard rock, punk rock, or traditional, music is the experience of life. My own career has taken a lot of turns, but when I hear that traditional Irish music --especially when I play it with Bridget -- those haunting sounds come back, and lyrically, as an Irish writer, it's important to write from your heart. I remember one writer said that sometimes you need to move away in order to write from what makes your heart tick.

"I was back home last Christmas, and it gave me some time to stay with my mom for awhile. I love Ireland, and I always want to go back, but I have to fulfill what I'm doing here. I especially miss the west coast of Ireland, which feels like still a wild part of the world. It's the smells wafting around the grassy fields in the spring and summertime especially," he says.

And even in such faraway places as Tokyo and Osaka, Flogging Molly successfully brings a bit o' the spirit of the green to any age audience.

"At a show we did in Anaheim, for one instance, a young girl was there along with her mother and grandmother," he says. "That's what music's all about, not playing to any particular demographic. It's the sustenance of everyday life."

Do It Electric
Click for online
calendars and events.


E-mail to Features Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Calendars]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2004 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --