Flogging Molly is twenty years old this year. They burst onto the punk scene in ’97 with their now signature mix of traditional Celtic music and punk rock speed and aggression. Along with a select few other notable bands, Flogging Molly was the logical extension of what started with The Pogues back in the 80’s, and continues today in a thriving underground paddy punk scene the world over.
Molly has a number of classic albums under their belt, but they haven’t actually released anything since 2011’s Speed of Darkness. Which had, at least to my ears, a decidedly more rock influence a la The Who, than the punk influenced by early Clash or Sex Pistols records.
Life Is Good continues on in that Who by way of The Dubliners vein, while still making time for barnstorming tracks like ‘The Hand of John O. Sullivan’, and ‘Crushed (Hostile Nations)’.
I spoke with guitarist Dennis Casey about the new album, the love of the life, and the band’s impressive longevity.
With six years between albums, it could seem to some like you guys had taken time off, but that wasn’t the case was it? You’ve been touring pretty much constantly since Speed of Darkness came out.
Dennis: That’s correct; we never went on a break. We had a few internal changes. We changed our business team so to speak, that kind of boring stuff. So that delayed the making and the release of the record.
So the break between records wasn’t planned?
Dennis: No it wasn’t planned at all. It was just life. Life circumstances happened. And on a more somber note, my father passed away while we were writing the record and Dave’s mother passed away while we were writing the record.
I’m sorry to hear that. The new record is optimistic at times and cynical at times in about equal measure. However, the record is called Life Is Good, and the cover art is a young lad flipping us all the bird. So with that, and the losses you’ve faced within the band, is the title of the record meant to be literal or sarcastic?
Dennis: Sarcastic. But it’s open for interpretation. But there’s definitely some sarcasm involved in it.
This may be rhetorical, but what encouraged you guys to record another record in Ireland as opposed to the U.S. or somewhere else?
Dennis: Well we made our record Float in Ireland. And we had such a great experience; we wanted to do it again. And it was in the same studio, same everything. It’s really secluded and you can really focus on what you’re doing. Beautiful surroundings. It’s really good for the vibe of making a record. Massive studio.
What part of Ireland is that in?
Dennis: The way I like to explain it is if you took a map of Ireland and put an ‘X’ on it, right in the middle of the ‘X’ is where the studio is. Right in the middle of the country.
And what does actually being in Ireland and soaking up the culture there give to the band that it might not get in America?
Dennis: Well finding a studio is not that easy. We could have worked in a bigger city (in America) I guess, but there’s a lot of distractions with that. And we were already familiar with the place. And being a seven-piece band, we like to record live when we’re making a record. And that’s not easy to do in a lot of studios because they don’t have the space. Whereas this studio was really quite large and we could all set up and record live and not have anything bleeding into microphones. So I think it was a combination of all that, not necessarily that Dave is Irish and the green hills of Ireland inspired us more or anything like that (laughs).
It’s interesting that you mention recording live, because the record sounds like a live record. Like one of your show, without the screaming people in the background. How much of the album was recorded live?
Dennis: I would say ninety percent of it. But we had to finish in L.A. because we ran out of time there because of technical issues. If I can paint a picture for you: you’re in the middle of Ireland. If you forget a screwdriver, you have to drive two hours to Dublin to get one. There’s nothing there. You’re surrounded by farms. You can get a quart of milk easier than you can get a screwdriver. I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s remote. So that held us up, some of the wiring in the studio wasn’t right and we lost a few days. So we finished it in L.A. Particularly a lot of Dave’s vocals.
You guys are celebrating twenty years together this year. There aren’t a lot of bands out there right now that have reached that milestone. What do you attribute to your longevity?
Dennis: Well, there are a few things. I mean I’ll never forget when we made it to ten years. I thought ‘geeze, we made it’. If a band can stay together and continue to do what they do and love what they do after ten years, that sounded great. Now, it’s twenty! I mean it’s incredible. I think it’s the relationship thing, like you said. It’s the love of the music, the love of what we do. And we’ve become like a family. It’s basically our second family.
Do you guys have anything special planned for your twentieth anniversary?
Dennis: Yeah we’re going to tour our asses off (laughs).
Flogging Molly’s long awaited new album, LIFE IS GOOD, is out on June 2nd via Vanguard Records. (ORDER NOW) plus catch them live! Tour Dates below
Upcoming Tour Dates
June 1st – Grand Rapids, MI – 20 Monroe Live
June 2nd – Chicago, IL – Aragon Ballroom
June 3rd – Detroit, MI – The Fillmore
June 4th – Cincinnati, OH – Bunbury Music Festival
June 16th – Stockholm, Sweden – Grona Lund
June 17th – Copenhagen, Denmark – Komos Festival
June 23rd – Scheessel, Germany – Hurricane Festival
June 25th – Neuhausen ob Eck – Germany Southside Festival