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Flogging Molly Comes to ND

Tae Andrews | Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Every day is St. Patrick’s Day if you pop some Flogging Molly into your headphones. With a sound alternating from frenetic, pumping anthems to slow brogue ballads, Flogging Molly creates its distinct Irish music by making an unlikely couple out of the folksy feel of the old country and modern up-tempo bumping drums and strumming guitars. In other words, it’s ethnic punk rock – simultaneously a celebration of traditional Irish heritage and distinctly American let-it-rip rock ‘n’ roll. This back-then in the here-and-now amalgamation feels very genuine – it’s first-generation Irish authenticity paired with a third-generation rock sensibility.

On the Web site floggingmolly.com, Dave King wrote about his inspiration in creating such a unique musical project.

“My family would go to the pub and gather up people to come back to the house to play tin whistle, mandolin, fiddle and spoons, with my mom on piano and my uncle on accordion,” he said. “But I wanted to run away from that. As you get older, you want to pick up electric guitars and play loud. You rebel against those traditional elements.”

To this end, Flogging Molly is a creative lot, mixing and matching from a variety of instruments in order to build their eclectic musical medleys. At one time or another, Flogging Molly has grabbed all manner of instruments of mayhem from its musical bag of tricks, which includes – among other things – flutes, fiddles, accordions, harmonicas, banjos, tin whistles, mandolins, bodhrans, uilleann pipes and, yes, even spoons.

That number of instruments requires a lot of nimble fingers and strong lungs. For that, the band has six additional members in addition to creator Dave King. With King on lead vocals, acoustic guitar, banjo and spoons, Bridget Regan bows away on the fiddle (in addition to blowing away on the tin whistle and the uilleann pipes), while Dennis Casey rocks out on the electric guitar and Matt Hensley plays the accordion. Nathen Haxwell is the band’s bass player, and Robert Schmidt is a jack of all trades, plying his skills with the mandolin, banjo, bouzouki and mandola. Behind it all, drummer George Schwindt bangs out the beat. Also, Regan, Casey, Maxwell and Schmidt chime in on backup vocals.

With so many bells and whistles to their music, combining everything in its proper time and place is a complicated effort – but one with a huge payoff.

“We’ve developed a really unique sound,” King said of his band. “The first time we all got together to play, there was an energy in the room that I’d never experienced in any other band I’d ever been in and it wasn’t due to any single ingredient, instrument or individual. We started playing in a bar and just played and played and played. We’re a live band. We’ll always have that.

“If it didn’t have mandolin, accordion, fiddle and whistle, it would be punk-rock, and if it didn’t have guitar, bass and drums, it would be traditional Irish music. Flogging Molly has both.”

If Flogging Molly’s boisterous ballads sound as if a ruddy-faced, freshly imported Irishman somehow got his hands on a couple of guitar amplifiers and found a garage in which to let all hell break loose, that’s not too far from the truth. Born and raised in Dublin, Dave King came to Los Angeles from London in 1989 before creating Flogging Molly.

Singing songs about youthful rebellion, drinking and being merry, Flogging Molly’s toe-tapping music may even inspire you to cut a jig or two. Riddled with fiddle strings and the spirit of Ireland, the drinking band with a rock problem remains as Irish as corned beef and cabbage. Just like St. Paddy’s day itself, everyone’s a little bit Irish when Flogging Molly comes to campus.