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June, 2007 Issue

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Flogging Molly

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Flogging Molly, one of the top bands for consecutive rebookings with Van's Warped Tour, is gearing up for a college tour in the fall. For almost ten years, the band has been blazing new paths in music, combining an organic blend of traditional Irish folk music and punk. This band is without question something you have never heard before. While this strange blend of styles which are worlds apart may seem eclectic at best, the resulting product is music and a sound that audiences of a wide berth will appreciate.

It all began simply enough, at a pub in Los Angeles called Molly Malone's, hence the name of the band. Lead singer, Irishman Dave King was playing at the pub when the initial parts of the group started coming together. "We all gradually came together as a once scattered band of players," says Dennis Casey guitarist with Flogging Molly. "The entire thing kind of fell together with all of us just running into each other almost haphazardly. There was no great search or lengthy auditions. We all ran across each other during the normal course of our lives and it all came together. Everything was centered around that pub, it was the sort of magical link that bound all seven of us."

Seven members of Flogging Molly, a number a bit higher than usual for the average band, but the average band Flogging Molly is not. On July 25, the group released a DVD, which details the points of origin for the band, as well as documenting all of the members' takes on its inception. As for the music, one could speak until blue in the face trying to describe any band's sound. Much the same as relaying the colors and shapes in a painting or the beauty of a sunset, a musician's sound can be touch to describe at best and Flogging Molly is certainly no exception. Dennis however, tries his best to convey the music that appears as an apparent dichotomy. "It is fast, loud, folk, traditional, punk, rock, beautiful and poetic. I think it is all those things. I don't like pigeon holing and I don't like trying to fit us into a bracket. We are Celtic, Funk Folk, Afro... whatever. We are a band of seven different people. We all come from different parts of the world and just ran into each other," Dennis says. As such, he explains, it was also born from a wide array of influences. "Dave is the principle songwriter and is obviously influenced by the music from his home. Then there is Nathan, a kid from Longdale, California who grew up on punk rock playing bass. George, who plays drums, is into pretty much all classic rock."

Dennis tells us also about Bridget, Flogging Molly's fiddle player, who came up playing music traditional to the instrument. Slam all of this together with the force of a thousand tons and from the dust and rubble, seven figures forming a single unified force stand tall among the cross cultural wreckage. They are Flogging Molly. "I would say we are a bit of everything and that is the best we can explain it."

An especially appealing feature of the act for Dennis is the resulting appeal the band gains from having such diverse origins. "The most wonderful thing about this band which I have always liked, even from the day I joined, is the universal appeal it has. This band could play for any fifteen-year-old kid so he can jump around and have a most pit and his father and grandfather can have some whiskey in the background watching, with everyone having a good time. There is something for everybody. If you look at the songs we have written and the lyrics Dave writes, I think they transcend gender, age and race. I think that any human being can relate to what is being said."

Flogging Molly may have started with humble beginnings, but they are now more successful than they had ever thought they would be. They were playing in Molly's every Monday night, eventually scraping together the funds to record their first album on their own. Soon enough, they found a record label that was willing to back them. From there, the band pooled their resources and were able to book a few tours. "We did a little east coast tour," Dennis says. "Sleeping on people's floors, playing every night for twenty or thirty people. We were really just trying to build things up. Eventually we got the opportunity to go on Warped Tour and things really started to take off."

The band's appearance in the now famous Warped Tour helped to propel them along to much bigger and better things. Thanks to the exposure, Flogging Molly was invited to go on tour with the renowned Ska band, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. This followed several more tours with other bands such as Bouncing Souls, all of which helping Flogging Molly's notoriety along the way. "It all snowballed from there, but it was Warped Tour which really kicked us onto a national level." They have been so successful in fact, that if it had not been for interfering engagements, this would be Flogging Molly's sixth season on the tour. "I really wish we could have played on the tour this year, but hopefully we will again next year," Dennis says. "We don't hold the record for Warped Tour's played or anything. Both Bouncing Souls and No FX have been there like eight times. But we are the only band to play the tour four consecutive years in a row I think."

The reason for their not being able to attend Warped Tour is an equally if not more exciting opportunity. Because of its wide appeal and universal sound, Flogging Molly has been able to book an entire European Tour. Dennis tells us about the process of getting on the ticket overseas. "We were already established here in The States," he says. "We always wanted to go over to Europe, but it has taken a long time because Dave's green card and citizenship has been kind of tied up in the immigration system for a while. He had to get that cleared up before we could travel freely from country to country. For some reason when he came here from Ireland, something didn't get cleared through properly and he has been on a temporary visa. It took us a while, but everything is good to go now."

The band is especially excited about these International dates because of a very positive experience they had with The Deconstruction Tour, which Dennis tells us is a sort of miniature Warped Tour. "There are only about ten bands and we all play in only one day. We had a really good time and we have been touring a lot over thee. So far we have been very well received and have decided to focus our attention touring over there instead of playing Warped Tour the last couple years. Don't worry though, we will be back."

Dennis says the experience of the European dates is not that much different than it is here, but the range of music heard is wider. "Every country over there has a two or three day festival where all kinds of music is played. There is no set genre anywhere. We were at one festival where Slayer and Black Sabbath were playing and then the next place there will be Counting Crows and Foo Fighters with some hip hop bands thrown in. There are even traditional bands that are not even standard guitar/drums arrangements. It really varies and that is one difference I have noticed between here and over there." They played several festivals over there last year that really helped their exposure in those scenes and this summer they hope to go and really solidify that following.

Now for the college market, our particular point of interest, Flogging Molly does not yet have a great deal of exposure in our little corner of the entertainment world, but we hope to change that. In the fall they are planning a collegiate tour, backed by their agent at APA, Josh Humiston. "We would really like to play more in that scene. It is a different environment and a cool experience all around. The people there seem more open to all kinds of music and are willing and eager to check out new things. I personally would like to play more college shows and we are really excited about it. Everyone in the band has talked about wanting to do more and more college shows and Josh has really been able to help us with that."

Dennis explains that it is all a part of completing the picture Flogging Molly is painting in the music scene. "You play clubs, you do bigger tours and even put on some of your own shows, but then there is this whole world of college students that could be played to and are not. We want to cover every experience and every scene possible, to spread our music as completely as we can."

Amidst releasing their DVD and non-stop touring, Flogging Molly hopes to release their next record in the coming year. "We will write the next record once we fill out this tour, then hopefully release it and get on next year's Warped Tour. We are on our third release now, called Within A Mile From Home. We have been really pleased with this record and it has done well for us, but we are also really excited about getting started on the next one. We are all writing individually now, but during the winter we will probably get together and start hammering it out."

While many bands have a single dedicated songwriter and composer, Flogging Molly has a much more democratic and collaborative process when it comes to creating their tunes. One crucial factor required for writing new songs is one that people often overlook, Dennis says. "You first have to get everyone to take time off from touring and working, which is much easier said than done. Then we can all get together in a room and get ready. Dave will usually have a verse or a chorus in mind and will sing or play it. From there we all start putting our ideas in and forming some sort of cohesive unit that eventually renders itself into a song. Sometimes it happens magically in a matter of minutes, then again sometimes we will spend a few days on a song. We might leave it for a while and then come back to it sometime later and tweak it. There is no one set pattern or cookie cutter design for the process. Everyone will have different ideas and we will try different ways of doing things. That's pretty much an overview of how things come together. I personally like the ones that come together really fast and naturally. There is just something organically special and magical about those songs, almost as if they were meant to be. No one things about it much and everyone just immediately knows what to play. It is a great feeling when that happens. It is quite a rush.

"When we play those sorts of songs live, I think there is an instant connection to them as well. It is a like an arc of electrical energy that taps itself into the audience. Everything lines up right, thousands of people fall into the groove and we realize each time anew why we do what we do."

Flogging Molly has been on a roller coaster ride of music and success that has no apparent intention of backing off or slowing down. With a big future imminent, now is the time for everyone in the college market to share in the raw, inspired and truly original sound created by the fusion of a myriad of different cultures and backgrounds that comprises this one-of-a-kind act called Flogging Molly.

BOOK IT! For more information on bringing Flogging Molly to your campus, contact Josh Humiston at APA at (310) 888-4267