Stepping into the House of Blues on Sunset Strip, there was no way of knowing what I was in for. I just knew that everyone who had dragged me there was annoyingly over the moon to see the headlining act. It was March 16, 2005. Now, a mere 17 years later, the thrill and excitement of seeing Flogging Molly live has yet to dim. This band lit up the punk rock fireworks in everyone’s inner rebel, while filling our underdeveloped ears with brilliant instrumentation and song writing. Frontman Dave King led this shredding 7-piece ensemble in authentic, authoritative, and at times, hilarious, Irish flare. The raw joy and energy emitted was equalled by the breathtaking grace and badassery of the only woman on that stage – the mulit-instrumental goddess, Bridget Regan. I was hooked.
Joshua Tree Voice was given the great honor to interview one of the founding band members, Dennis Casey, who offers guitar and vocals alongside King. I may never talk to a more gracious and humble being.
Dave King’s gathering of likeminded musicians, like Casey, began with a simple, “Do you want to be in a band?” Following a few gigs at Molly Malone’s in Los Angeles, they soon became the house band. Casey explains, “We put out our first record, Alive Behind the Green Door, by ourselves to sell it and make money for another record.” This very organic beginning would launch into over 20 years of music, tours that would take them to Japan and beyond, millions of songs sold, and a band that has become family on and off the stage.
They were in San Diego when they were told to go home for what would be a hiatus that lasted longer than anyone imagined. Finally, in 2021, they were on the road again, but according to Casey, their last tour with the Violent Femmes felt a bit strange. “It was great to get back out there with our fans, but there was no one backstage. There was literally no contact with anyone. I’m feeling more hopeful this tour. They’ve lifted the mask mandate here in New York, so maybe things will continue to calm down.”
Regulations and protocols are set by Live Nation and each venue, but the band has to remain diligent. “The thing we have to be careful of,” shared Casey, “is a band member coming in contact with the virus, particularly Dave. If anyone tests positive, whether they’re symptomatic or not, the’ll have to isolate and miss shows. Immediately following our last show in California, we go on a cruise that’s been sold out for a very long time, and testing positive could create a lot of problems. I had Covid at one point, and I’ve played way sicker than I felt when I had Covid. But with this virus, there is no saying, ‘the show must go on.’”
When asked what kind of magic glue keeps a band family together for two decades, Casey answered without hesitation, “The music and then the fans. Flogging Molly is my second family. Some years I spend more time with them than my actual family. We’ve been through everything together – the blood, sweat, and tears, and everything in between. After you go through so much together, it solidifies the bond. You become greater than the sum of your individual parts. You don’t give up on that.”
“We have a fan base that I have always wished for – a loyal bunch of people that are part of this thing that we do, and when we get together, we celebrate being alive,” Casey continued with clear emotion. “It’s a two-way street for us. It’s incredibly moving how many people and lives have been affected by this thing that we do, and we are all grateful for what the fans give us in return.”
Fans can look forward to a new album currently in production. Recorded in 2021, the band went back to their roots, recording with Steve Albini at Electric Audio in Chicago, the same place they recorded Swagger and Drunken Lullaby. “We wanted to go back to the way we did it in the beginning,” Casey explained. “Steve does everything on tape. Waiting for tape to wind or to be cut was interesting to revisit. There’s no ProTools, everything just goes straight to tape. This has to be the most live, all-in-the-sameroom recording we’ve ever done. It would have been out by now, but it wouldn’t make sense to put a record out and not tour behind it. If everything stays rolling, we may be able to release it some time in November.”
Flogging Molly graces the Fantasy Springs Showroom Saint Patrick’s Day Weekend,Saturday, March 19 at 8 p.m. Tickets for theshow start at $39 and are available at the Fantasy Springs Box Office, via phone (800) 827-2946 or online at www.FantasySpringsResort.com.