With the bands latest album ‘Life is Good‘ seeing the band continue their wonderful journey through multiple clubs, arenas and stadiums, across the globe, vocalist/guitarist Dave King reflects on the bands current status and talks casually about the background behind the new album and his love and passion for his band, his wife and his family.
OD – ‘Life is Good’ has to be one of the most optimistic album titles I’ve heard in a long time. Is life good right now and can you tell me about the reason behind the title?
DAVE – The thing is, life is shit! It’s really all down to my Mother who died last year in Dublin’s St. Vincent’s hospital. She sent for myself and Bridgit (Dave’s wife and also violinist for Flogging Molly) and when we were there, she said to us both “Just make sure you enjoy your life because I did. Life is good“. It then just kind of hit me that my Mother had a really hard life and she still enjoyed it. All the bullshit that she had to endure in life each day and especially back then when we lived in Beggars Bush in Dublin, which in itself, was hard. All of this just got me thinking about my childhood and began to reflect how truly special it was.
I remember my Mother and Father going off to the pub on a Saturday night and after putting on the pig’s feet and the ribs to boil on the stove, they would instruct me to make sure that they are cooked properly and they would have their Saturday night out together. I remember them giving me enough money to put in the TV (it was like an electric meter) and I’de sit back and watch Match of the Day (laughing).
They would literally bring the capacity of the pub back to the house and my Mother would play the piano. Everbody would be sitting everywhere they could and on the floor and the whole house would be just singing and enjoying each others company. We didn’t have a pot to piss in back in those days but you know what? Life was good!
As of lately, since the death of my Mother, I’ve really been thinking about the feeling of those nights in our house with the music and craic and I came to realise that I just want to be back in that room. Life is not good at the best of times and when my Mother said that to me, especially when considering the life that she had growing up, it was the most optimistic statement and it just really connected with me.
OD – Considering the usual melancholy album titles, “Life is Good” is a refreshing change. Did you get any feedback from the title when the album was released?
DAVE – I actually did get a load of shit from people over the title! They were saying things to me like “why are you being so optimistic when the world is in total shit right now?” and the thing is, the title track’s lyrics are “life is good, life is fine, life is everything you loathe, it’s so unkind“.
We end our show’s with Monty Python’s ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ and it’s something that we all have to try and do. We have to try and take the best from life and make something out of it. That’s the only way that we can actually make life better to some degree. I consider myself an optimistic person and try to make the best of every situation as best I can, but I also realise at the same time that I’m going to give it a go anyway (laughing).
OD – There are not many artists that can migrate over from one genre to another like you did, especially back in the day when there was no internet to self-promote and keep fans updated. Did you have any fears of that change and now when you look back would there be anything you would change about the way it all happened?
DAVE – Absolutely not! (laughing) When I was in Fastway, I was listening to a vast array of bands like Depeche Mode, The Sex Pistols, Iron Maiden and The Clash to name but a few. I was basically a music nerd. I just loved good music that came from the soul.
The whole reason of how I got the Fastway gig is because of my Mother. She borrowed the money from a woman she used to work for as a house cleaner, just so she could pay for the airline ticket to go to London where I did the audition and got the job as vocalist for the band.
My Mother has been a huge part of my life and has helped shape not only me but also my path in music. She was a huge music fan herself and on any given day she could be listening to Led Zeppelin, Clannad, Planxty or whatever was happening during that time. Hearing all of that music opened my up to many different genres and developed my eclectic tastes for music.
OD – What memories do you have from those Fastway/Katmandu days?
DAVE – I remember when I was in Fastway and I was in a bar in Hamberg with Angus (Young, AC/DC) and there was Malcolm (Young, AC/DC) and all the rest of the guys from both bands with crew etc. I remember at that time, Angus and I were not drinking for some reason and we were just sitting at the bar shooting the shit and he said something to me that made one of the biggest differences to me in my musical career to date!
He turned to me and said “Do you know what? I don’t give a fuck if The Beatles or The Rolling Stones went on before AC/DC because we will always be AC/DC!” I didn’t quite understand at the time what he meant but I remember one of the first times Flogging Molly got into a rehearsal room in Santa Monica and I had played a song to my wife and the rest of the band for the first time and we played it together, it suddenly hit me what he meant.
Angus was not saying that he was in the best band in the world, what he was saying to me was I don’t ever give a fuck who is going on before you or after you because you’re always going to be who you are and in this case, we are Flogging Molly and there’s only one Flogging Molly!
OD – You have lived through a lot of changes in the music industry and have managed to survive. How do you think that is?
DAVE – I remember when things really started changes after Fastway. Thankfully, things were changing with bands like Soundgarden, Nirvana etc. I remember all of my friends were saying “what the fuck is going on?” as it was just really outside their comfort zones and they didn’t know what to make of it. I personally really embraced it and couldn’t’ get enough of it!
When the whole Fastway thing ended for me, I literally had to start over again and remember going into a small pub in L.A with my guitar and playing in the corner. This is after I’ve experienced playing the L.A Forum and Madison Square Garden in New York with AC/DC and Iron Maiden. At that time, I was painting houses, driving trucks and playing my acoustic guitar at night in a small local bar, just to get by! I knew that if I didn’t reinvent myself, I was gone! Finished!
I remember one night I was playing in Molly Malone’s bar and met Bridget (Dave’s wife) and we just clicked. When I asked her about my performance, she just tilted her hand from side to side at half-mast, accompanied by a slight groan. (laughing) I was like “what the fuck are you talking about?” and she told me that she played the fiddle, so the very next day we got together at her apartment and started playing music together and what this said to me was this was my way back to that room in my family home with my Mother and Father and all the punters from the local bar and that’s where I belong.
OD – Would you say that you had come to a kind of spiritual realisation that you found that room again in your childhood home where your Mother and Father had created so many memories for you?
DAVE – Yes, totally! I never considered myself a long-haired metal head ever and still to this day, I don’t really know what I consider myself as, but one thing I know for sure is that I want to go back to that room in the family home where there was a real sense of ease, love and fantastic music and fantastic characters. I think that’ one of the feelings I get when Flogging Molly is on stage doing what we do best.
OD – How are the live shows going with Volbeat, as it’s really a dramatically different style of music to what Flogging Molly do?
DAVE – Last night we played in front of 40,000 punters in Germany and nobody knew who we were. We were doing the show with Volbeat and it’s a metal crowd, so for us, we just didn’t really know how it was all going to go down. By our second song, the place is going mental!!
There is something that is just instant with our sound, it’s soaked in traditional Irish music history and when we tap into that, it just really connects with people. A great example is when we were in Amsterdam recently and it was Bridget’s birthday so we decided to head out to a bar and we just started playing our instruments in the corner of this little bar. After a while, there was a huge line outside the door of people trying to get in. We had no connecting with this place, had never been there before and nobody knew who we were and the people just couldn’t get enough of it. That was a great night!
The very next day, we were doing a show with The Rolling Stones. From a small bar in Amsterdam to the same stage as The Stones! It’s crazy to think of the things that happen to this band.
OD – When Flogging Molly’s name is mentioned there seems to be a universal acceptance towards what you do as it’ just met with a smile and a nod. The music appeals to such a dramatic cross-section of people and I know that you have played shows with The Chieftains and then Motorhead in almost the same breath. This truly is a wonderful place to be for you I’m sure?
DAVE – I think we’re just really lucky. It’s always been like this for us. We get to play with so many different types of musicians from all kinds of genres. It’s just a wonderful place to be and I’m over the moon that I can do this for a living. What’s really great about what we do is that you have artists like Frank Turner, Volbeat, The Broilers, there are so many bands that we can play with.
We gave Frank Turner and The Broilers their first break as we had them on an American tour with us and things just took off for them. Frank Turner is huge in England and from time to time, we’ll get a call from Frank and he’ll invite us over for some shows and likewise, we invite Frank back to play with us on some American dates. That’s the way we do things. We help each other and look out for each other also.
I love playing in front of people who don’t know who the fuck we are because you can see the change in the atmosphere from when we walk out on stage to a few songs in and I just know that we’re doing a good job and winning them over. It’s a great feeling!
I remember years back watching TV when Clinton was President and there was a special concert happening to welcome the different cultures into America. It was taking place in Washington DC and it was a display of live music to represent all the different cultures that are in America. I’ll never forget it. I was renting out a bedsit and was watching out a black and white TV and Yo-Yo Ma (American/Chineses cellist) was playing and the audience just lost it.
The power of music is just incredible sometimes. For instance, when you look at traditional Irish music, to me that’s soul music. It comes from the soul and just instantly connects with people. It’s amazing. There is something very sensitive and uplifting about Irish music that really connects with people. It’s a very special part of who we are and I’m honoured to be a part of it in some capacity.
OD – You have created an opportunity to take some of your childhood memories and some of the Irish culture around the world, which is a great thing indeed.
DAVE – I’m very proud to be Irish and although I love it here, I feel that I need to be taking my music to other parts of the world to show them what it was like being in that packed living room in my family home with all the music, or to bring a session from a local rural Irish bar to an arena stage on the other side of the globe.
OD – Do you ever consider the importance of Flogging Molly in the context of a “gateway” or a “‘crossover” band that has helped introduce many people to the world of punk/rock/metal and vice versa with traditional music fans being introduced to rock/metal?
DAVE – I just love doing what I do and when things like this happen it’s just another reason why I’m so proud of Flogging Molly.
OD – With the mainstream media always looking to ‘box things in‘ do you find that you’re kind of exist in a sort of music purgatory as they (mainstream media) just don’t know how to identify with you?
DAVE – About six months ago I was driving in Ireland and listening to the radio. Dave Fanning (Irish music/radio personality) was on and they were talking about Irish music history and they played a track from The Dubliners (see image below)and halfway through the track they just cut off the song and Dave Fanning was like “I just can’t deal with this stuff. I can’t handle it“. I was so incensed when I heard him say this. There would be no punk rock music if it wasn’t for bands like The Dubliners and countless more who carved that style of arrangements and tempo within music.
OD – Flogging Molly will be taking to the stage in Dublin’s iconic Olympia Theatre on September 10th. Its’ always a pleasure to see you back in the city you grew up in, I’m sure we’ll be in store for a great show?
DAVE – You better believe it! It’s going to be fucking insane! We are planning to lift the roof off the Olympia and can’t wait to get on that stage in front of all of our friends, family and the people that make this band who we are today! See you there!
Flogging Molly will be performing at Dublin’s Olympia on Sunday, September 10th with special guests Blood or Whiskey. Tickets are on sale now, priced €27.50 via Ticketmaster.ie. Please visit MCD Promotions for up to date information.
‘Life is Good‘ is out now via this link.
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