Flogging Molly is known for melding pop-punk with the sounds of Irish music, thanks to Irish frontman Dave King. Over 25 years, the band’s unique, hard-hitting tunes with catchy choruses, including hits like “Drunken Lullabies” and “Devil’s Dance Floor,” have kept the band in the public eye.
The band toured almost constantly over those 25 years—until, of course, the pandemic arrived. Flogging Molly is now back on the road, and is slated to play at the Grand Sierra Resort on Sunday, March 20.
During a recent interview, King discussed the band’s return to touring last year—and made an understatement when he said it “was really different.”
“We did everything in our power to go with the protocols and rules and stuff put into place—but during the first week, two of our members caught COVID, so we were down to an acoustic set,” King said. “These are people who, even before the pandemic, were washing hands all the time, and were very hygienic. Also, the whole thing of having no people backstage … is a very, very strange thing, especially when you’re a band that started their career, really, on the Warped Tour, where everything was a community.
“But the audiences were amazing—I mean, that’s the whole point of it. The whole object of any band touring, no matter when it is, is getting out there and playing in front of a live audience, and the audiences were amazing.”
A short-handed Flogging Molly meant the band had to shake up its usual show.
“Usually, albums for Flogging Molly have almost been like roadmaps for live shows,” said King. “You hear the album, and then when you go to see the live show, that’s what you get. When Matt (Hensley, accordion and concertina) and Dennis (Casey, guitar and vocals) got COVID, we had to leave them behind and just continue on without them. We didn’t want to cancel; (the rest of us) were still showing up negative, so we essentially had to do acoustic shows. … The crowds knew what we were going through. We were like, ‘How’s this gonna work? Two of our guys are gone; are people going to want to pay to see this?’ Their enthusiasm, without a shadow of a doubt, is what got us through. That little ordeal that we went through on the last tour—hopefully, this time, none of that is going to be a factor.”
The band’s annual St. Patrick’s Day show was forced online in 2021, and while it will take place in front of an audience at the Hollywood Palladium this year, the band is still planning to live-stream the performance.
“The stream that we’d done on St. Patrick’s Day last year from Dublin was such an undertaking,” King said. “It was me and Bridget (Regan, violin and vocals) in Ireland, and then the rest of the band and our tour manager came over from America. Luckily, a childhood friend of mine, Richie Smyth, is a well-known director in Ireland, and he was like, ‘Let’s do this.’ We went to a little club in Dublin called Whelan’s, and we did it from there. We were thinking, with the opportunity that we have now, maybe we try to do both this year—let’s try a live show with the full crowd, but let’s send it around the world. After over two years of not being able to do it, I think, in some ways, anything goes.”
Although live streams are “unnatural for bands like Flogging Molly,” according to King, the band is intent on broadening the audience for the St. Patrick’s Day celebration from here on out.
“To play a song at full tilt—and at the end of it, you can hear a mouse fart, it’s pretty weird, man,” King said. “Without a crowd, the differences are there, and that doesn’t go for just music. It just doesn’t feel right. We always like doing (St. Patrick’s Day) in L.A., because that’s where we all met, and it’s kind of like going back home to where we started as a band—but to be able to send that around the world is very special.
“I think it’s a celebration, at the end of the day—it’s a celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, in the sense that America taught the world how to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. That’s for sure, and I think Ireland has finally caught up with that. The first time we ever played in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day was last year, and it went around the rest of the world, and now we’re trying to make it part of what we’re about.”
Also in the cards for Flogging Molly is the return of the Salty Dog Cruise, a cruise from March 28 to April 1. Sailing from Miami to Nassau, Bahamas, and Grand Bahama Island, the cruise will feature performances by the band, as well as Q&A sessions, skating, tattoos and shows by other bands.
“It’s one of those things where we went into it really not knowing what we were getting into,” King said. “… I like to walk around the ship—dressed up as a captain, of course—and see people really, really genuinely enjoying themselves and having a great time. For four or five days, people are forgetting about all their problems, because from the cruise, there’s nothing they can do about them, anyway. … The state the world is in right now is beyond words, but we have to do it, and the cruise has been sold out since August of last year. Hopefully people have a great time, and thankfully, so far, nobody’s fallen overboard.”
The band is also set to release new music—including single “These Times Have Got Me Drinking,” slated for a Friday, March 10, release; it’s Flogging Molly’s first new song in five years. King detailed how the band’s trajectory during the start of the pandemic led them to writing new music.
“We did two days of rehearsals, and our bus and our trucks came to pick us up, and the first gig was in Nevada,” he said. “We drove to Nevada; the crew set the stage up; everything was all set up—and then at 12 o’clock in the afternoon, we got the word that the tour was canceled. We were lucky enough to get out, and our tour manager Casey got us a direct flight from L.A. … We got on a plane and went back to Ireland, thinking that, no longer than two months, and we’d be back out again. I was optimistic about everything, so I decided, ‘I’m going to get on my recorder and see what I have here.’
“So I started working on some new material—but then after the second month, I was like, ‘Oh, Jesus, what the hell’s going on here?’ It wasn’t going anywhere; we were all suffering together, and I didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I started to get a little bit down, so the writing went out the backdoor. But then … things started to open up a bit, and I said, ‘Well, if we’re not able to tour, I still have a load of ideas.’ We decided we’d come back to our house in Detroit, and in 14 days, we thrashed out 14 songs.”
Flogging Molly is happy to be back with fans.
“We’ve all gone through this together, and we want to come back on the road again, doing what we’ve always done—making people forget about things for an hour and a half every night, and having a bit of a laugh and dance,” said King. “We have to try to move on. That’s our template. That’s what we do, and to share that with other people is always what we wanted to do. The fact that we were able to do it for all these years is incredible.”
Flogging Molly is scheduled to perform at 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 20, at the Grand Theatre at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino, 2500 E. Second St. Tickets are $29.50 to $159.95. For tickets or more information, call 775-789-2000, or visit www.grandsierraresort.com.