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Gang Green

Flogging Molly does more than get drunk on St. Paddy's Day. We ask about it anyway.

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Flogging Molly frontman Dave King wants to celebrate - life with you.
  • Flogging Molly frontman Dave King wants to celebrate life with you.

It's easy to consider Flogging Molly nothing more than the modern equivalent to traditional pint-hoisting Irish pub bands. Just listen to the high-kicking jigs, boisterous punk, and Guinness-soaked folk songs on last year's Within a Mile of Home -- or the album's liberal use of customary Irish instruments like the tin whistle, fiddle, and bodhran. The group's 2002 disc was called Drunken Lullabies, and vocalist Dave King grew up in Dublin -- it all pretty much adds up to Pogues v2.0. Which would make Flogging Molly the ideal band to comment on the hedonistic antics centered around St. Patrick's Day.

But while King is cheerfully honest about his love of liquor (see sidebar), he wants to make it clear that his band is about far more than mere sudsy exploits and ancestral heritage.

"The thing is, we don't really consider ourselves an Irish band," he says, calling from his adopted hometown of Los Angeles. "We just consider ourselves a band. Obviously, we have the Irish influences; of course we do. It's all there. But we take those influences and try to make our own. So therefore, St. Patrick's Day is great and all that, but we gig all year 'round."

To that end, King downplays the shamrockin' shenanigans intrinsic to Flogging Molly's reputation. He speaks enthusiastically about "Factory Girls," the duet the band did with Lucinda Williams on Within a Mile of Home -- although, oddly enough, King and Williams never met, since he was on the Warped Tour and she added her vocals separately.

More movingly, he recalls the day a Dutch television crew stopped at his mother's house in Dublin to film a documentary on the band, which helped King realize the real emotional weight of Flogging Molly's music.

"My mother really doesn't know what I do," he explains in his lilting Irish brogue. "She has no idea. She's very old and took a stroke a while ago. She's not really too up on what I do. It was really weird; my mother heard the songs for the first time, [I] was just playing them on acoustic guitar. It was really great in one respect and really sad in the other. I turned around when I was singing one song, and she was, like, crying.

"I was walking down the street a few weeks later in Amsterdam, and people were coming up to me and going, 'You're the guy with your mother on TV,' and 'You're singing to your mom. It was really moving.' I can't watch it. We got a copy of it on the bus, and I put it on and I had to walk out of the room. Because when you write on such a personal level, you forget that other people are listening to it. When it goes out to public domain, it's one thing. But when you see it again on such a personal level, it's like 'Oh shit' -- it's just very uncomfortable."

King's lyrics routinely provoke an emotional response, as his vivid storytelling and knack for historical laments are buoyed by a welcome honesty. As a result, Flogging Molly gigs tend to be moving affairs, with lots of beer and even more smiles.

"A Flogging Molly show, to me, is a bunch of people -- including the band -- who are not afraid to go out and have a good time," King says. "It's a celebration of life, you know? That's all I can do. Celebrate this life we have."

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