As you may have noticed, Flogging Molly have had quite a year, starting with the release of their studio debut, “Swagger,” playing the whole Warped Tour, doing a national tour with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and to cap it off, a performance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. This is a band to watch out for, as their live set is easily one of the most entertaining around. I recently got to speak with the band – most of these questions are answered by Gary Schwindt, who does some of the instrumental work on “Swagger” (including the awesome trumpet playing) and serves as their manager, but some of the other band members rang in on this interview as well….
Kevin: I guess I should start like I do with every band – could I get a brief history of the band and its members? I understand you’ve changed a number of members since you recorded the live record.
FM: Although all of the band reside in Southern California, their roots are much more colored. Dave King hails from Dublin, Ireland, having originally left home as the lead singer for 80’s rockers Fastway, eventually to retire in Los Angeles where he made a new home for himself at a pub called Molly Malone’s in Hollywood (hence the band’s name). The rest of the band at one time or another met Dave while enjoying his Molly Malone’s performances over a pint of Guinness. Bridget Regan hails from Detroit, MI; George Schwindt from Columbus, OH; Dennis Casey from Rochester, NY; Matt Hensley (pro skater turned accordion player) from Carlsbad, CA; and both Nathen Maxwell and Robert Schmidt from Los Angeles. To answer your question regarding lineup changes, the live album was a creative project that got the band’s proverbial feet wet while allowing Dave the time to put together the perfect cast of players. The team was finalized with the addition of Dennis on guitar prior to the release of “Swagger” and we think the chemistry works.
Kevin: One thing I really admire about you guys is the fact that you always look like you’re having a great time while you’re playing – can you ever really recall a show where you honestly didn’t enjoy yourselves? Is the band just basically a way for you guys to get together, play music, and have fun?
FM: The band feels a tremendous connection with not only each other but with the audience as well while they perform. They couldn’t keep straight faces if they tried during their show for that very reason – it’s too much fun for them. The only time things get tense is when the Guinness supply on stage gets too thin.
Kevin: I watched the performance on Conan – you guys sounded great. What was it like to play on TV? Have you noticed an increase in CD sales or anything since then? Was the crowd into your music?
FM: Once again, and having seen the on air performance you would agree, they had a hell of a lot of fun doing Conan. We did get a nice spike in CD sales after the show – up about 75% over our weekly average. As far as the crowd was concerned, they were better than expected, as we later found out that we had fans who flew in from as far away as Seattle to attend the live taping of the show.
Kevin: Is Conan O’Brien really that tall? Because on TV he looks amazingly large…
FM: Super human – or maybe sub human – either way he is a really big guy.
Kevin: How did you land the gig on Conan?
FM: Our label Side One Dummy went to bat for us, as we let them know that it was in our eyes a good fit for Flogging Molly to wrap up the year on The Conan O’Brien Show considering the success of our debut CD. They delivered. Thanks again boys.
Kevin: I was able to catch the final date of the Bosstones tour in Charlottesville (review) – I had a lot of fun. How did the tour go, in general? The crowd was totally into you guys – do you think you stole all of the Bosstones’ fans?
FM: The tour was more fun than work (a common theme by now but the truth). We wore out the Bosstones a little with our excessive consumption of Guinness. The MMB are first class guys and professionals in every respect. We made a lot of friends on that tour. The crowd response in Charlottesville was typical of the every date on the tour. Let’s just say we earned the respect of the Bosstones fans – they are very loyal to the MMB and rightfully so. We definitely made a statement out there.
Kevin: Speaking of tours – what was it like to do the whole Warped Tour this year? I know some bands prefer to play clubs as opposed to festival crowds, etc. Did you have any objections to having to play so early in the day (like, 1:00 pm.. that’s pretty early for me)?
FM: The early slots were tough for a band that’s fueled on Guinness and stumbling-drunk fans typically, but we got our share of later slots and we think overall won over the kids throughout. It was definitely new music to their ears, as we aren’t your typical straight up punk operation.
Kevin: Ryan from the Suicide Machines was talking about the beer olympics and other various activities with the warped bands – did you guys get involved with that at all? It seems like you guys would be a good match for those kids…
FM: Our lead guitarist anchored the winning team for the beer olympics.
Kevin: How are the traveling arrangements on tour with all the people in the band? Do you just take multiple vehicles? What’s the atmosphere like while traveling on tour?
FM: Nine people. One van. Cramped. Enough said.
Kevin: How did you hook up with Side One Dummy? You seem like an interesting complement to Custom Made Scare and their “cowpunk” sounds or Royal Crown Revue’s swing style… I guess they’ve just got an ear for the unique… Are you going to continue working with Side One?
FM: It looks like we’re going to do a second album with Side One and if all goes as planned release it prior to this year’s Warped Tour. They’ve been great to us. Matt Hensley actually made the original introduction between the label and the band. They’re straight up guys that live up to their word. That’s what we were looking for in a label.
Kevin: Would you say the inspiration for your lyrics basically comes from your life experiences? “Black Friday Rule” almost seems to be like the story behind you starting Flogging Molly…
FM: Dave’s life experiences are the basic fabric for the songs. The lyrics speak for themselves, as you’ve obviously discovered with Black Friday.
Kevin: Is there a message in your lyrics? Or a lesson or something to be learned by people who hear your songs?
FM: I’m pretty open with my life which the songs reflect. I guess the lessons learned are my own. If someone else can take something away from my experiences then so be it – have a drink on me (Dave).
Kevin: A lot of people seem to compare you to the Pogues – would you consider them an influence? What other bands do you listen to? And what kind of bands inspire your music?
FM: We’re all fans of the Pogues. Influences are pretty varied depending upon who you’re talking to. Everything from the Rolling Stones, David Bowie and The Who to Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy, and Bob Marley. Too many to mention really.
Kevin: For Dave – I’m told you used to sing for the hair metal band Fastway – What prompted the career change?
FM: Yes. When Dave’s “product” endorsement ran out he had to get a haircut. They kicked him out due to a glamour deficiency.
Kevin: How do you describe your music? Would you call your music “pub rock” or “drinking songs” or anything like that?
FM: Irish-folk-punk is how we’re described a lot, sometimes Celtic-thrash-punk. The label applied to the music doesn’t really matter. It has a punk groove at its core and it moves people – we’re sure of that. Our audience can be pretty diverse depending upon the type of show. The old timers seem to get into the songs as much as the punk kids sometimes. The drinkers always feel our collective pain.
Kevin: Do you have some endorsement from Guinness? You seem to drop that name quite a lot both in your CD’s liner notes, and when you play at shows… Do you drink anything other than that?
FM: We love Guinness but it stops there for now. No endorsements or anything like that. A post show Bushmills is always well received by the band if your buying. Black Bush if you are feeling extra kind.
Kevin: What do you think of the whole straightedge thing? Obviously you guys aren’t walking around with X’s on your hands, I thought I’d just get your take on it…
FM: To quote Nathen, “one love” is all that matters. To each his own. We respect an individual’s decision to make decisions for themselves.
Kevin: Since obviously you guys enjoy to hit the pub as much as anyone, what do you think of all the eighteen year olds and college kids that go out and get drunk with cheap beer just for the sake of getting drunk? Do you have sympathy for the kids like that?
FM: We’ve all done it so we’re not going to pass judgment. Believe it or not we are pretty responsible with our alcohol decisions – we just make the decision to drink a whole lot of Guinness. Stay the hell off of the road and don’t fuck with anybody just because the booze gives you the balls to do it. Too many of these kids, and adults too for that mater, use alcohol as a crutch for deficiencies in a lot of other areas.
Kevin: You just did the Warped tour and the Bosstones tour.. any plans on some touring outside of the US? Any other US tours in the works?
FM: We expect to test international waters at the end of the year. We wanted to give the album a good run in the states first as “Swagger” is our first studio release. Beginning Feb 17th in SoCal we are doing a month long US tour with support from The Blue Meanies. Most of the cities/venues are posted on Pollstar already.
Kevin: Have you gone back to Ireland with the band to play any shows yet?
FM: Not yet, but soon.
Kevin: Do you have a favorite place to play shows? A favorite band to play shows with?
FM: Not really – everything seems great at this stage of the game. If the people are ready to have a little fun, then we’re down for the crime. As far as bands go, it’s a rare event when we don’t connect with whomever is on the bill with us. We like bands that enjoy what they do as much as we do.
Kevin: I know Swagger didn’t come out too long ago, but is it too early to start talking about future recording projects? Have you written any new songs?
FM: As we mentioned before, album number two is in the works. We have a couple of great songs already sorted out and a couple more that are close to.
Kevin: What else do you believe the future holds for Flogging Molly? Do you have any unaccomplished goals for the band? Do you hope to do this for the rest of your life?
FM: We don’t put any limits on what this band can do, and as far as we’re concerned, we’re just getting started. We’ll all be playing music until we die – that’s a safe bet.
Kevin: Final question – what should people expect from a Flogging Molly show?
FM: A no-excuses opportunity to kick back, throw down a pint, and have some fun with your friends. That’s why we show up at least.
Thanks to Eddie as Side One Dummy for hooking us up with Flogging Molly.
Interview by : Kevin of the amazing Punkrocks.net