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Short, sharp and shocked

One decade on, Flogging Molly keeps heart and soul intact


Flogging Molly, moments before firing the dog.
  • Flogging Molly, moments before firing the dog.

There's no mistaking Float as anything other than work of Dave King's spirited, Irish-accented rock band. Even so, Flogging Molly's latest CD does offer some notable contrasts from its 2004 predecessor, Within a Mile of Home.

While the previous album was relatively epic, with 15 songs and the most musical variety of any Flogging Molly album, Float is a more compact musical statement.

"Because that [previous] album was such a sprawling album, I wanted Float to be a very solid, direct piece of work," says singer/guitarist King. "I felt this would have to be a short, sharp, shocked type of [album]."

That's exactly what Float became. But while it may be concise compared to Within a Mile of Home, it is not one-dimensional.

Weighted toward the rowdier, rocking side of Flogging Molly's music, songs like "Requiem for a Dying Song," "On the Back of a Broken Dream" and "Paddy's Lament" provide fine examples of the band's seamless fusion of traditional Irish sounds and energetic, punk-tinged rock 'n roll. But there's also a good deal of musical variety, thanks to tunes like "Punch Drunk Grinning Soul" and "The Story So Far," which pull back on the energy level.

To make the album, King and the rest of the band fiddle player Bridget Regan, accordionist Matt Hensley, guitarist Dennis Casey, bassist Nathen Maxwell, mandolin/banjo player Bob Schmidt and drummer George Schwindt returned to their roots in a literal sense, writing and recording in the Irish countryside and going for a spontaneous and organic sound.

"We did a song a day," King explains. "That meant that each song had its own specific time. I think it captured the song because we were fully focused on the song. So it definitely lent itself to keeping the song very live-sounding."

Flogging Molly is now wrapping up its first decade. The band got its start when King, who in the 1980s was lead singer of the bluesy metal band Fastway, began doing gigs at a Los Angeles pub called Molly Malone's. This is where Flogging Molly not only got its name, but gradually came together as a group.

Its first CD, the rambunctious Swagger, came in 2000, followed two years later by Drunken Lullabies. Within a Mile of Home was next, followed by Whiskey on a Sunday, a documentary-style DVD released in 2006.

Despite limited radio play, Flogging Molly has enjoyed impressive album sales, with Drunken Lullabies nearing 500,000 copies sold and Within a Mile of Home having so far topped 300,000.

King says that on this tour, Flogging Molly figures to play several new songs, as well as a few older tunes that haven't been performed for a while.

"Obviously, we're going to have a lot more new songs to play," he says.

"We try to kick it around a lot, as much as we can without losing the heart and soul of the set."

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