Flogging Molly rocks out all year
Accomplished new album finds optimism in recession
Friday, May 27, 2011
If you go
• What: Flogging Molly, in concert.
• When: 7:30 p.m. May 31.
• Where: Roseland Theater, 8 N.W. Sixth Ave., Portland.
• Cost: $30, through TicketsWest, 800-992-8499 or http://ticketswest.com.
• Information: http://roselandpdx.com.
Flogging Molly might be famous for its Green 17 tour, a winter/spring road trip that leads up to St. Patrick’s Day.
But the Irish-and-punk-rooted band doesn’t need a looming holiday to get in the spirit of things on the road.
“We pretty much consider every day in Flogging Molly (to be) St. Patrick’s Day,” bassist Nathan Maxwell said. “The truth is that every single night, every single performance is a celebration. And we give it all we’ve got.”
It’s been about three years since the band has released any new material, but the audience at this summer’s Green 17 tour will see an end to that drought.
Flogging Molly’s new CD, “Speed of Darkness,” will be released May 31 and offers several new songs.
“This will be the fourth Green 17 tour after ‘Float,’” Maxwell said, mentioning the group’s most recent studio CD, released in 2008. “It’s definitely time for new material.”
The new album was written in Detroit, where Dave King (the group’s frontman and chief songwriter) and his wife, fiddler Bridget Regan, live.
The rest of the band — accordion player Matt Hensley, guitarist Dennis Casey, mandolin/banjo player Bob Schmidt, drummer George Schwindt and Maxwell — went to the Motor City last fall to write songs for the CD with the couple.
Maxwell said the setting had a big impact on the music.
“The very nature of what Detroit is as a city and what it has gone through … is pretty profound for us,” he said. “We felt a really strong connection and a sense of inspiration from that.”
Songs on the new release deal with the recession and hard times people have faced over the past few years, but the new CD isn’t meant to be depressing, Maxwell said.
“When you’re there and you meet the people (of Detroit), the sense of perseverance and the sense of hope through the tribulation, you can feel it,” Maxwell said. “I think the album is more about solutions and inspiration rather than about pointing out a narrative on wow, look how (messed up) everything is.”
After the Detroit writing sessions, Flogging Molly went to Asheville, North Carolina for two and a half weeks of recording.
The band approached the new album in a similar way to its 2008 CD, “Float,” dedicating each day to finishing one song.
“Every song really gets its own life, its own breath, its own vibe,” Maxwell said. “It’s really nice to spend a whole day focusing on one vibe and then switching the next day (to another song).”
Maxwell said it was a luxury compared with early Flogging Molly albums, which had to be recorded in their entirety in a matter of days to save money.
Still, that approach seemed to fit the group’s humble beginnings.
King, who in the 1980s had been lead singer of the bluesy melodic metal band Fastway, started Flogging Molly in the mid-1990s by playing regular gigs at a Los Angeles pub called Molly Malone’s (hence the band name).
A native of Dublin, Ireland, he had decided to return to his Irish roots by writing songs that mixed punkish rock and traditional Irish folk.
Flogging Molly’s first CD, “Swagger,” was released in 2000 and was followed two years later by “Drunken Lullabies.”
Next came “Within a Mile of Home” in 2004, a sprawling 15-track album that saw Flogging Molly branch out to embrace a wider variety of tempos, instrumental settings and musical styles.
“Float” retained some of the variety of the 2004 release, but was a more compact work that leaned more toward the group’s rowdy, rocking background.
“Speed of Darkness” picks up where “Float” left off, but it might be Flogging Molly’s best CD yet.
The group’s synthesis of rock and Irish influences is more seamless than ever, and songs like the title track (which steams along at breakneck pace), “Revolution” and “Don’t Shut ’Em Down” are some of the most accomplished and tuneful songs Flogging Molly has recorded.
Maxwell pointed to one particular factor that helps bring continuity between “Float” and “Speed of Darkness.”
“I would say this album is probably closer to the feeling of ‘Float,’ just by the very nature that (producer) Ryan Hewitt was also part of (the project),” Maxwell said. “He wasn’t there while we were writing, but he came in at the end and definitely put a twist on things and put his inspiration out there.”