For years, Flogging Molly has been a name that has continuously been brought up among groups of friends, discussion forums, and social media; whenever someone asks the question, “what’s the best band you’ve ever seen play live?” So when the pandemic hit, it was especially heartbreaking seeing cancellations from notoriously great live acts like Flogging Molly, when usually, live music was an escape for many people in difficult times.
This year Flogging Molly will be making the best of a difficult situation and bringing us a live stream on St. Patrick’s Day from Dublin, Ireland. I caught up with frontman Dave King to talk a little about the event, what life has been like for them as a band, and their crew during the pandemic.
Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, how have you been doing, and what has the situation been like in Ireland in regards to the pandemic?
Well, we live in a tiny, tiny village, and people need social interaction, especially when things like Christmas come about. It got really bad here in Ireland, But I think we’re at the back end of it now. Hopefully, like everywhere else, we’re all going to be on our way to a better place than what we had been in the last year. It’s weird.
Yeah, I’m in Detroit, and it’s been interesting with it here too. We’ve been gearing up for St Paddy’s day, and it’s been a lot quieter than what it normally is.
Detroit is an amazing city; I love Detroit.
And Detroit loves Flogging Molly! The best shows that I’ve ever shot have been Flogging Molly shows in Detroit. I wanted to ask about the Bushmills live stream on St Paddy’s day, which is a fantastic idea. How did that come to be?
Bushmills was excited about the fact that we were going to do something like this during quarantine, which has been a challenging time for everybody. There is no denying the fact that people in Flogging Molly like their whiskey, and it just seems like a perfect opportunity for people in these times to work together and celebrate what is so hard to do.
Last year, we had rehearsed and did everything we could do to get a tour together which obviously got canceled. The people at Bushmills have been fantastic, and it’s a good thing to get out there, there are still things to celebrate. This pandemic is something that we’re going to get through and hopefully be better at the end of it. Flogging Molly has always been about celebrating life. And Bushmills was there with us, and they got it, and we’re so proud to be with them.
I know a portion of the proceeds also goes to benefit Sweet Relief. Can you tell us a little bit about what they do?
Sweet Relief is a great organization. When bands are on stage, obviously, people are there to see the band. But there’s so much that goes on behind the scenes to put a show. We have without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest crew of all time. We are all on chat lines together, we talk to each other every day, we love each other dearly. And we just want to be part of something that would help a little bit, and relieve some pressure that a lot of crew members are going through right now.
Our crew is everything to us. We couldn’t survive; there’s no way any band could survive without their crew. They are your family, and that’s the way it is. Sweet Relife is such a great organization for helping with that.
People have no idea what goes on for a show. All the different people, all the different jobs. There’s hundreds, sometimes thousands of people behind the show, and I don’t think that the average person understands that.
Yeah, and we all have personal lives. Everybody has a personal life and a family. It’s been hard on everybody. Sometimes you take things for granted in a sense like, oh, this is what we are, and this is what we do. When you think of the crew, it goes way beyond that, and we miss them so much. It’s unreal.
Some say that live streams are the next best solution to enjoy live music. But while this is not ideal, and while we would love to be at a show in person, do you think that there are, or have you experienced any benefits with setting up a live stream show?
Getting back together again with some of our crew, getting back together again with the band. But nothing will ever replace a live show. I read a wonderful interview with Rage Against the Machine a couple of days ago and, they just hit the nail on the head. We also forget sometimes that a crowd at a live show is also just as big as the band.
In the sense that the atmosphere of a live show will never be recreated in digital form or wherever you want to call it. It will never add up to that. I just hope that sooner rather than later, we can all get together and play live music together with the crowd because the crowd makes the show.
It’s one of the most amazing things about Flogging Molly. It’s that with your band’s visceral live shows, the energy is intense. And the connection with the audience is really something special. I remember the first show that I shot of you guys in Detroit. The whole place was shaking, and everyone was happy, and everyone was in a good mood, and friendly, and it was just the most fun atmosphere.
And it was just so great to be able to capture that. I’ve shot hundreds and hundreds of bands, and nothing compares to a Flogging Molly show. It’s just out of this world. Detroit sells out and it is a packed house!
You’re too kind!
Out of all of your songs, is there one that you guys particularly feel gets the crowd going? What is your favorite song to play on the road?
Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that before in all these years. It’s funny because a song like Float, has different reactions all over the world. For some reason, in mainland Europe, when we play Float, people sit down, and like with festivals with a hundred thousand people, everybody sits down and starts to row a boat. People have different perceptions of songs, and; it’s an incredible thing.
Honestly, Brooke, I think any song I sang live on stage with Bridget. It means a lot to me cause it’s just like being at home again—just the two of us sitting in our room and playing music. I grew up in a household that only had one room, and we were very poor, but there was a lot of music in the room.
We had a piano, my mother and father would go out and bring the pub back to the room. And I’ve always wanted that atmosphere in my life, of that room where the energy was just like, it didn’t matter where you’re from, who you were, everybody got to sing. That’s always been the thing. And I think no matter what crowd we played to, a hundred people, a thousand people, or ten thousand people, I think that room is still there. I think that’s what’s most important to me, I think is it’s just bringing joy, as much as you can to people.
It’s probably been very nice to be able to spend this quiet time in Ireland. Has it made you more inclined not to travel as much and to spend more quiet time at home? Or are you feeling the itch to get back out there?
When something is pulled out from under your feet, like what’s happened to everybody, it’s tough to handle. I’m very fortunate. We’re very fortunate. I’m in our room right now in a little village where I’m not in contact with anybody, and in these times, that might be a good thing, but generally, it’s not a good thing.
People are meant to be together. I truly miss all that. I went through a phase where I felt like this pandemic was probably going to be three or four months in the making. I didn’t realize that we’d still going on a year later. You go through ups and downs, like everybody. I think Flogging Molly has always been about celebrating life, the ups and the downs of life, and not being able to do that is heartbreaking.
Yeah. There’s something special about both folk and punk music that exemplifies this attitude to perfection. The core mission statement of your stream is that there’s always room for celebration, even in the darkest of times. I think you’re right that people need to be together. They miss being able to celebrate, and we definitely feel like we can celebrate at your shows. I’ve been to Ireland once it was a birthday present to myself and because I was going to school…
Where did you go?
I went all over. From Dublin, Galway, and Cork and Kilkenny. My favorite thing was that everywhere we went, in every pub, there were people of all different ages and nationalities, all celebrating together, everywhere. Young people and old people, and everyone was having a good time.
That’s the way it should be. A Flogging Molly show is a great example of that. I mean, in the crowd I see grandfather’s, parents, children. It’s something that you can manufacture. It’s something that is just an amazing experience.
And I think life, the good and the bad, is an incredible experience for all us. Folk and punk, to me, is the same thing. I mean, folk music is punk, rock music and punk rock music is folk. It’s just an attitude. It’s not a hairstyle; it’s passion.
Do you think that you guys are going to be doing any more events along these lines?
Yeah, being a live band and playing live is what you’re all about. I think there is a separation of that as well in regards to writing songs, it is a completely different attitude. Like St Patrick’s day, the fact that we’re actually doing it from Ireland is a huge undertaking.
We’re trying to just take off some of the shackles that we are all involved in right now and to do the best that we can in the circumstance. That’s all that we all can do.
You’re fresh off the re-issue of Swagger, and looking back on the album, how have those songs evolved in your consciousness as a band and how has the connection changed, if at all?
It hasn’t changed at all, the songs mean as much to all of us in the band as when they were written. To go to Chicago and record with Steve Albini was a dream and we had a great time.
And the memories that we have from that are just very innocent. We had no idea, we all had day jobs, and doing the best that we could to survive and to get to do an album was a huge deal to us. I look back at it, and I’m proud of everything form that album.
That’s awesome. Ok well, thanks for taking the time to speak with me today. Is there anything else that you guys would like to say to the fans?
It will be good to be back in a room together with everybody. Well, it’s a virtual room, I suppose, and I just hope we have a great time and everybody enjoys it and let your hair down a little bit.