Every show’s a celebration for Flogging Molly
It doesn’t need to be St. Patrick’s Day for Irish/punk band to have a good time
Friday, March 9, 2012
If you go
What: Flogging Molly, in concert.
When: 7:30 p.m. March 11.
Where: Roseland Theater, 8 N.W. Sixth Ave., Portland.
Cost: Sold out.
Information: Flogging Molly.
In recent years, Flogging Molly has become famous for playing 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 to have that most Irish holiday looming to get in the spirit of things on the road.
“We pretty much consider every day in Flogging Molly St. Patrick’s Day,” bassist Nathan Maxwell said in a recent phone interview. “The truth is that every single night, every single performance, is a celebration. And we give it all we’ve got every night. I mean, it could be March 17. It could be Nov. 17, and we’re going to put all of our heart and soul out there.”
But one thing will be different as Flogging Molly follows up this year’s “Green 17” tour with a summer run of shows.
The band will have a different group of songs to play from a new studio CD, “Speed Of Darkness,” which arrives on May 31.
“This will be the fourth Green 17 tour after ‘Float,’” Maxwell said, mentioning the group’s last studio CD, which was released in 2008. “It’s definitely time for new material.”
“Speed Of Darkness” was written in Detroit, where husband and wife Dave King (the group’s frontman and chief songwriter) and fiddle player 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 joined the couple for three months of writing there last fall.
Maxwell said the setting had a big impact on the new music.
“The very nature of what Detroit is as a city and what it has gone through and what it represents to me and the band and to, I think, the country, is pretty profound for us,” he said. “So we felt a really strong connection and a sense of inspiration from that.”
Not surprisingly, Maxwell said, some of the new songs deal with the recession and hard times people have faced over the past couple of years. But the new CD isn’t depressing
“It’s really about the economy, and also when you’re there and you meet the people, 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 (expletive) everything is,” he said.
After the Detroit writing sessions, Flogging Molly went to Asheville, N.C., for two and a half weeks of recording.
The band approached recording in a similar way to its 2008 CD, “Float,” dedicating each day to finishing a single 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 noted that this was a nice luxury compared to early Flogging Molly albums, which because of budget restrictions, had to be recorded in their entirety in a matter of days. 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. One by one, the other future members of Flogging Molly discovered these gigs and joined the group.
Flogging Molly’s first CD, “Swagger,” arrived in 2000 and was followed two years later by “Drunken Lullabies.” Next came “Within a Mile of Home” in 2004. That CD was a sprawling 15-track album that saw Flogging Molly deliver its most well-rounded set of songs and branch out to embrace a wider variety of tempos, instrumental settings and musical styles.
“Float” retained some of the variety of that album, but was a more compact work that leaned toward the rowdy, rocking side of the group’s sound.
“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 such as the title track (which steams along at breakneck pace), “Revolution” and “Don’t Shut ‘Em Down” are some of the most accomplished and tuneful the band 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.”