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Flogging Molly’s ‘Whiskey’ goes down smooth

Sean Sweany | Wednesday, April 25, 2007

World renowned Irish punk band Flogging Molly didn’t always command the attention and top billing they do now. In fact, their humble beginnings in a Los Angeles bar led music industry executives to believe that their style of music would never work.

Critics be damned, Flogging Molly – led by vocalist David King – ignored naysayers and quickly became one of the most recognizable Irish bands in the world. “Whiskey on a Sunday” is the band’s newest DVD release, chronicling their emotional, often difficult journey from their bar-band beginnings to unparalleled fame.

“Whiskey on a Sunday” follows the band through two years of touring and studio recording, giving viewers insight into the formation of the band and thoughts from the band members on Flogging Molly’s sensational success.

The documentary starts with and focuses on King and his role in forming the band. Born in Dublin in 1961, King lived in a poor neighborhood with his widowed mother. Musically inclined from an early age, King often used his lyrics to talk about his troubled childhood.

After moving to Los Angeles in 1989, King befriended fiddle player Bridget Regan and the two entertained notions of forming a punk band with Irish roots. They quickly found five other band members and in 1997 began playing out of a local bar named Molly Malone’s. Their unique blend of punk, folk and Irish music was an instant hit and made Molly Malone’s one of the most popular bars in southern California.

The DVD goes on to show how the band faced initial difficulties in touring throughout California because of reluctance from record companies. Various band members express how their belief in the music of Flogging Molly drove them to pursue their goals no matter how many people stood against them.

The watershed moment for the band was when their first studio album, “Swagger,” sold more than 50,000 copies – five times the expected total – to put Flogging Molly on the map. King describes the moment as one of realizing he was no longer just someone who loved music, but was now a “rock star” – something which he had never envisioned.

As “Whiskey on a Sunday” continues, the various interviews show how humble Flogging Molly is in spite of their immense popularity. Each band member displays their passion for music and comes across as honest in the documentary, not necessarily a given in such a DVD.

This honest, raw feel is what makes “Whiskey on a Sunday” such a successful and refreshing DVD. There is no feeling that it is glossy press material meant to make money. It makes the viewer feel like he is another band member – swearing, drinking and touring with Flogging Molly.

While the film is brief, it features numerous live video recordings of many of Flogging Molly’s best songs, including “Drunken Lullabies,” “Swagger” and “Black Friday Rule.” The inclusion of these driving, catchy songs lends the whole DVD a lively tone and the video shows how much fun a Flogging Molly concert can be.

The final scene of the documentary shows Flogging Molly playing a concert in the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles. This homecoming – in a locale slightly bigger than their original home at Molly Malone’s – allows the band to reminisce on their first 10 years as a band and how Flogging Molly will be viewed in the future.

King, in a way only an Irishman can, perhaps sums it up best: “As humble of a band as we are, in the sense of our heritage and where we’ve come from … I would not be sitting here if I didn’t think we were the greatest rock and roll band in the world.”