By Jeremy Essig
By Jason Robinson
By Hans Morgenstern
By Joseph Hess
By Peter Gilstrap
By Julia Burch
By Jeremy Essig
By Nathan Smith
"The style of music we play ... it just kind of happened," Schmidt says. "Half of the songs on the first album came about when we were playing Molly's every week, and the other half were ones Dave had written beforehand, on his own -- but it just sort of happened, from us hanging out. Up until this album [Drunken Lullabies], we never really sat down and thought about song structure or planned it. Lullabies is probably closer to what the band's about because we were able to sit down and actually think about what we were aiming for. It was a more organic process."
It may have all fallen into place somewhat by chance, but the albums certainly don't sound thrown together. A fistful of acoustic instruments backed by a drum kit, a Telecaster and an electric bass could end up being a recipe for a disjointed mess, but here it's almost exactly the opposite. You know the music fits together right when an accordion sounds as if it was meant to play the lead line over a distorted guitar. Flogging Molly's songs sound like century-old traditionals that simply forgot to become part of the public domain. King credits their authentic flavor to his background in the traditional music of his homeland and his desire to write about things that have mattered to him ("This band," he's said, "is my life's story put to music"). His lyrics encompass everything from personal loss -- "The Likes of You Again," from Swagger, is about the loss of his father at age 10 -- to the fist-in-the-air shouted tales of past glory and brotherhood. Perhaps because of this wide-ranging subject matter, Flogging Molly has a diverse following. Its audiences are filled with everyone from the 15-year-old hooligans-in-training combed off Warped to pint-in-the-air, misty-eyed men of 50 and 60 in wool sweaters and flat caps.
"I think," Schmidt concludes, "people are realizing, traditional music, there's a serious amount of heart in it. People are automatically being drawn to it and rockin' out."
Rockin' out. Idyllic little Irish picture, indeed.