Dennis Casey of Flogging Molly
Guitar, bass and drums..sure, sounds like the recipe for a great band. Add mandolin, accordian, tin whistle and fiddle and you’ve got yourself a party, a party that calls themselves Flogging Molly. With their uniquely delicious blend of pop-punk and traditional Irish sounds, for Flogging Molly it’s just second nature. The seven piece band (Dave King on vocals and acoustic guitar, Bridget Regan on fiddle and tin whistle, Dennis Casey on electric guitar, Matt Hensley on accordion, Nathen Maxwell on bass, Bob Schmidt on mandolin, banjo, and George Schwindt on drums) is the brainchild of Dave King, who came to the US with a previous band, and searched to find his niche in the music industry.
“The first time we came together to play, there was an energy in the room that I’d never experienced in any other band I’d been in and it wasn’t due to any single ingredient, instrument, or musician” states King. It was about the symbiotic nature that the instruments and musicians bring together as a whole, a sound best played live. Indicative of this strength is the fact that the inspiration for their name was the club called Molly Malone’s in L.A. where King and fiddle player Regan first came together.
Flogging Molly spent the summer on Warped tour playing to tens of thousands of fans new and old, and are currently working on their new album due to be released in early 2008. During their Warped stint, guitarist Dennis Casey sat down with TWRY staffer Lexi to discuss touring, tats, beer and of course all things Flogging Molly.
Interviewed by: Lexi Shapiro| November 2007
I heard that most of your song-writing is actually done on an old typewriter?
Yeah. Dave has a typewriter from 1916, the year of the Irish uprising against the British. And, Dave being from Ireland, it means he’s got a lot of history with that, and he’s drawn to that particular situation, and I think it inspires him to write on that typewriter.
So, how true is the story in “Black Friday Rule”? Is that actually the tale of Flogging Molly?
It’s Dave’s story. He was in L.A. That’s the true story. All of Dave’s lyrics are generally about his life or his life experience, not everyone’s.
What’s with all the references in your songs to pirates? What inspired everything about the pirates?
I think it’s the life we live: Being on a bus, it’s kind of like a ship. You’re in close quarters. There’s drinking involved. There’s people going crazy, and you’re in a different city every day. I guess we’re….
No, because we don’t rape, pillage, and plunder. We play music. Well, pirates played music, too, but… I guess, just that whole aspect of it.
You mention drinking Guinness a great deal. Obviously, that’s your beer of choice, but do you guys consider yourselves to be “beer snobs’?
Oh, no, certainly not. I know what you mean…there’s people that are really proud of their beer, especially countries, like in Europe, because every country has their own special brewery. And, those people are REALLY passionate about the beer that’s brewed in their country. Yeah, I’m not a beer snob. I’m kind of fickle in a way, where one day I’ll just be drinking vodka – I’m out on a vodka kick right now – so, I’ll drink vodka. And then, sometimes, I’ll be into drinking wine, and I’ll go just drink red wine. And then, beers…I personally like to drink the beer that’s brewed in the area that I’m in. I like to do that, because you get a sense of what the people there are experiencing.
Dennis Live – Photo by Lexi
One of your lyrics states, “I kick around what I feel inside because it gets me where I’m going,” and that’s a pretty un-pretentious statement about music. Is music at least in part about financial aspect for you guys, or is it more about the artistic aspect?
I think music and commerce is like a dichotomy, but having said that, if you want to be a professional musician, and you want to sell records, and you want to tour, and play for people, it costs money. So, you’ve got to make money doing it. You can’t…I guess you COULD do it for free if you just put your guitar on your back and went somewhere and did it, but you have to eat, and you have to live somewhere. So, you have to turn it into somewhat of a business, because you have to make a living, just like anybody else.
Or, I should say, we would like to. And, we’re a working-class band. We’re not looking to become multi-millionaires or whatever. We just want to be able to make a living and play our music.
Have you ever been fed up with the music industry and considered walking away from it all?
No, not at all.
With all the comparisons, what do you feel separates Flogging Molly from Dropkick Murphys?
The separation is… Dave is from Ireland. He was born and raised in Ireland. So, we’ve got one Irish guy in our band. We started on the West Coast and they started on the East Coast. It’s funny, because we’ve played some shows with them, and both bands were like, wow, we both get a lot of comparisons, but it’s not the same thing. It’s OF the same… it’s like comparing Rancid and The Clash, y’know? They’re both great bands and you can find the similarities, but they’re different. And, I think our sound has more traditional aspects to it; like, where they started as a four-piece punk band, and where we started with, you know, we have fiddle, accordion, mandolin, and guitar, bass, and drums.
So, what are your plans for after Warped Tour?
We’re going to take a week off, and then we’re going to go fly to Ireland, start pre-production on our next CD, and then we’re going to record it over there with Ryan Hewitt, and it should be released in February. And, then we’ll just be touring our butts off for probably two or three years after that.
Do you prefer living in and/or visiting Ireland or America?
I prefer living in America, I like visiting Ireland. I just actually got back from vacation there. Well, we were writing our record, there, and then I went on vacation there and drove all over the country. It’s beautiful.
Can you explain your tattoo to me?
This one here? *points to arm*
This one here is my father’s union symbol. He’s a union carpenter. Local 85 is his number. And, he’s Irish, and his initials are above it. It’s my way of honoring…my whole family was in Local 85, even my uncles. Three generations of my family have been in it, and it has sort of supported our families throughout the years. I have a strong belief in unions, and the power they have, and what they do for workers.
The working class…
Tell me about a crazy experience that you have had on tour.
One time in Europe, it was the first day of the tour, we loaded everything on the bus. We played one show and we were on our way to the next show, and the bus driver for some reason didn’t get along with one of us or something, and threw us ALL off the bus. We unloaded the bus AND the trailer on the side of the expressway in England. Then he took off, and it started to rain. So, here we are with boxes of t-shirts, guitar amps, suitcases. We were stranded there for like, twenty hours, and we were playing cards, having drinks on the side of the highway *laughs*. If you could see us! I wish somebody had taken pictures. One of us has a photo of it, where some of us are playing cards, some of us are playing our instruments, and cars are going, like, ninety miles an hour past us. It was surreal.
So, what was your eventual savior?
Well, THEN, after that…this is where, yeah, it doesn’t end here. We get another bus and pile all that stuff on that bus. An hour into the drive, the transmission on that bus goes. So, we’re driving, right, and by this time, now, we had nothing to do on the side of the road, so we’re all pretty buzzed. We’re sitting in the back, and you keep hearing cars go whizzing by…and it’s not really affecting us, until after about a half hour, someone says, “I keep hearing cars whiz by us.” And, one of us opens the shade, and we’re going, like, ten miles an hour. The transmission had gone, and we were literally just creeping along the highway. So, now we’re on our second bus, and that one’s broken down. Dave says, “I just want to go home.” Another bus comes to pick us up, and people are fed up, and don’t want to go on. We had to drag Dave onto that bus. That was a crazy experience.
But, THAT bus worked?
Yeah, the THIRD bus worked. *laughs*
That’s all that matters.
Yeah, that was the happy ending. We finally got on a bus that worked.
And they all lived happily ever after…