Punk, Celtic-folk mix hardly traditional

By | March 14, 2008 at 2:06 AM

Who said you can never go home again? For Dublin-born singer-guitarist Dave King of Irish-American punk rockers Flogging Molly, all it took was a little help from his eventual wife and bandmate, violinist Bridget Regan. “When I heard Bridget playing the fiddle it brought out a lot of feelings in me,” King said through a bright and friendly Irish brogue during a recent phone interview with “I wanted to take that feeling and go back home – not physically of course. It just seemed to all fall together for me.”

A lilting mix of traditional Celtic sounds – fiddle, banjo, accordion, tin whistle and uillean pipes – floating over punk riffs and backbeats?

You could say there isn’t anything “traditional” about Flogging Molly.

With no help from a major label and relentless touring – King calls the band’s 200 tour dates in 2007 a light year – Flogging Molly’s fourth studio record, “Float,” is set to drop this week after recording sessions in Ireland.

The result is fun and diverse, with plenty of longing for home sprinkled in.

“We’re really happy with it. Recording in Ireland was very direct and very positive, and it definitely focused us on what we were doing.”

Leaving his native land at age 17 in the late 1970’s, King adjusted to his new country without a U.S. Permanent Resident Card – which left him incapable of going home for eight years.

“For whatever reason, I think I blocked out a huge portion of my life in Ireland as a kid and I was just working to find my feet in America,” he said.

He eventually carved out an early niche and found modest success in various hard rock bands.

But something was missing.

“Everything that you’re involved in, no matter what it is, growing up and playing music – hopefully the good bits stick,” King said of his influences. “I think it all happened for a reason.”

Over time, Flogging Molly’s sound took shape. With a seven-piece of multi-instrumentalists – the current lineup also features Dennis Casey, Matt Hensley, Nathan Maxwell, Bob Schmidt and George Schwindt – Flogging Molly honed their chops at famed L.A. pub Molly Malone’s (from which they culled their name).

“When you come to see us you definitely see that playing live is the spirit of Flogging Molly. There is a bit of a celebration in a sense. A band like us, with fiddles and accordion, seeing the reaction on peoples’ faces is really wonderful. Touring has been such a huge part of our lives.”

Touring this year will take the band from the U.S. to Japan, Australia and through Europe.

“We don’t try and rehash anything, taking old Irish songs and bashing them to death. Flogging Molly definitely has its own vibe going on, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with influence. You wouldn’t be doing what you’re doing unless you have them.”

“If the mix is right it’ll sound good and taste good.”

Just like home.

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