Flogging Molly, as a band centered in its Irish identity, has no shame in openly imbibing, as band member Matt Hensley puts it, “Irish booze.” Fortunately for attendees of the band’s show on Friday at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion, the venue has Guinness in stock.
“It’s certainly something that the Irish are pretty good at,” Hensley said to The Lantern in reference to the culture’s alcohol.
It takes more than just beer to keep fans coming back for more than a decade however. Flogging Molly has done so by touring almost constantly, and by infusing each performance with the frenetic energy that leads many to embrace it as a punk band.
Aly Brine, a third-year in psychology, says the band’s energy is a selling point.
“Ever been around a mosh pit that involved people doing Irish jigs?” she asked with a laugh. “They’re a band that really tends to engage the crowd and they certainly like to have fun during their shows, as you can tell since they usually come onstage with beers in hand.”
Flogging Molly’s label as a punk band seems odd, considering that it incorporates instruments used in traditional Celtic music, such as the mandolin and the fiddle, into its music. Hensley plays one of the least likely punk instruments: the accordion. Despite being heavily involved in skateboarding and punk “counterculture,” he found himself drawn to the aerophone.
“I was very fond of it. My ears always pricked up,” he said. “I love Celtic, French Canadian music, Cajun music. I haven’t looked back.”
Hensley said that a mutual friend introduced him to Dave King, the guitarist and vocalist for the band, when he was at Molly Malone’s bar in Los Angeles, Calif. The band, not yet signed to a label, played a weekly gig at the bar, leading King to the band’s title because, as King told Kerrang! Magazine, “We felt like we were flogging it (the bar) to death.”
“My friend talked to Dave, and Dave was going around looking for people, looking for an accordion player,” Hensley said. “Whatever the hell an accordion player looks like.”
Hensley may not have resembled an accordion player, but he sounded enough like one to satisfy King. Hensley has been with the band for each of its five studio albums.
The band’s newest album, “Speed of Darkness,” is based on a quote King read in a book on the recent Yugoslav conflicts.
“They teach you the speed of light, but they never teach you the speed of darkness,” Hensley said, reiterating.
Although the band comments on American politics, King doesn’t forget the political situation is his homeland of Ireland. King is the only actual Irishman in the band, however.
“Not a f—— ounce,” Hensley says of his nonexistent Irish heritage. “You don’t end up in an Irish band without understanding the situation though.”
The band also has a strong connection to the Columbus area as well.
Before making it in the mainstream (“Speed of Darkness” peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 chart), Flogging Molly made frequent appearances at the Dublin Irish Festival, last playing there in 2007. Drummer George Schwindt is from Galloway, Ohio, just south of Columbus, and graduated from Ohio State with a degree in music in the ‘80s.
The band seems to stop in Columbus at least once every year, whether it be during its annual “Green 17” tour, a series of dates leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, for the Irish Festival or a “regular” show, such as the one of Friday. It may be less an affinity for Columbus than the band’s hard-touring nature. As Hensley told Transworld SKATEboarding magazine, “Hard-touring bands look at our schedule and go ‘Goddamn, you guys are f—— crazy.”
After Friday’s show, Flogging Molly will head towards Chicago for its second appearance at Lollapalooza, the largest music festival in the Midwest. The band has also played at Coachella twice, but Hensley said that the smaller the show, the better he enjoyed it.
“The stage is f—– huge and removed from the crowd,” he said of major festival gigs. “People attacking my foot and grabbing me is about as happy as I can get on stage.”