On Saint Patrick’s Day, you can always expect to hear Celtic music in some form—including, most likely, some music by renowned Celtic punk band Flogging Molly.
Flogging Molly is currently on tour and will be stopping by Morongo Casino Resort on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day—Saturday, March 16.
When former Fastway and Katmandu frontman Dave King started Flogging Molly in 1997, he entered uncharted territory by combining punk rock with Celtic music—in America. The first album, Swagger, released in 2000, was well-received by critics, and the second album, Drunken Lullabies, released in 2002, reached Gold status.
During a recent phone interview, guitarist Dennis Casey said starting a Celtic punk band was a unique challenge.
“The hard part for me was being a loud guitar-player,” Casey said. “It’s a bit of a challenge to mash all those instruments together, and less is more when you’re playing with so many people at the same time. I think we were just bringing the passion and the energy to the show. That was pretty infectious to people. In traditional Irish music, if you go back and look at where it came from, it came from people sitting around in living rooms having some drinks, entertaining themselves and dancing. We just amplified that.”
In 2017, Flogging Molly put out its sixth album, Life Is Good, which took six years to make.
“There were a lot of things happening in the band on the business side—the changing of management, agents and all the boring stuff like that,” Casey explained. “It takes time out of your schedule when you’re trying to write and record. Dave’s mom died; my father died; and it was a combination of all those things that delayed us—and also inspired the record.”
The title may be a bit misleading, given the many challenges the band and its members faced while making the album.
“You need context, and you need to hear the record. Most people think ‘Life Is Good’ means caviar, champagne, yachts, excess and all that,” Casey said. “It couldn’t be further from the truth, and there’s a lot of irony in it. Dave’s mother dying inspired a lot of that. … I think it’s sort of tongue-in-cheek sarcasm. The title track is about Dave’s mother dying. It’s way deeper than the first image you might have. It’s hard to hear the sarcasm in it, but it’s there. Dave has always been writing about the horrible things in life but also (shining a) positive light on things as well.”
Flogging Molly has performed often with fellow Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys, which started in Boston around the same time as Flogging Molly.
“(Dropkick Murphys) are wonderful guys, and we’ve toured with them about three times,” Casey said. “We got along great. There’s a lot of comradery. We were jumping onstage playing together, and it was a really special time, and I’m glad we got to do it. I know we share a lot of the same fans, and I think that’s a nice gift.”
In 2015, Flogging Molly started the Salty Dog Cruise, an annual cruise in the Caribbean, which has included bands such as Gogol Bordello, The Specials, NOFX, Less Than Jake and many others.
“I was personally thinking, ‘OK, we’ve really lost our minds.’ I thought that only old people who drink piña coladas and play shuffleboard go on cruises. I had never been on one, and I was stereotyping,” Casey said. “We marched on, and I’ll never forget when I got on the boat for the first one, and I met two people from Belgium. And I was like, ‘Whoa! Belgium?’ It was so exciting, and I rethought the whole thing.
“It formed into this wonderful festival on a boat. There’s a sense of community. So many relationships are made from it, and the vibe is so great. It’s turned out to be one of my favorite things to do all year. It’s funny how that turned around. I tell people, ‘I defy you not to have a great time.’ It’s just about 20 to 30 bands playing punk rock with all the booze you can drink and the food you can eat. People think it’s going to be debauchery and mayhem, but it’s a really communal fun time. It’s a vibe I can’t explain, but it’s there.”
Flogging Molly will perform at 9 p.m., Saturday, March 16, at Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, in Cabazon. Tickets are $45 to $65. For tickets or more information, call 800-252-4499, or visit www.morongocasinoresort.com.