Flogging Molly plays March 10 at the Southside Ballroom for our St. Patrick's Day Concert.
“Enjoy life,” Dave King says once. Then again. And again. He repeats the words at least three times during a 20-minute interview.
Whether he’s talking about his mother (who died more than a year ago) or his former bandmate “Fast” Eddie Clarke (who died earlier this year), the Flogging Molly frontman has plenty of reasons to urge his listener to enjoy life. It’s why he does what he does.
The seven-piece band released it sixth album, Life Is Good, last year. King and his future wife, Bridget Regan, co-founded the band in 1994, but its debut studio LP, Swagger, did not come out until 2000. Its breakthrough, Drunken Lullabies, came out two years later and cemented the band with its take on punk rock and Irish folk tunes. It's been very busy ever since.
“We’ve been together for so many years that it’s a school,” King says during a tour stop in Detroit. “We’re in class together, and we’re learning as we go along.”
The band even has a cruise vacation, the Salty Dog Cruise, which is in its fourth year. The 2018 edition features Flogging Molly, the Offspring, Lagwagon, the Buzzcocks, the Vandals and many others. It takes fans from Miami to the Bahamas.
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All this activity is grounded in a focus on the joys of life even when things are awful. King has been aware of the downsides since an early age. He recalls visiting Dallas when he was a child, only a few years after John F. Kennedy was assassinated on Elm Street in 1963.
“That was the first time where I realized shit happens,” King says. “That was the first time I realized what life’s all about.”
The attitude is not some sort of posturing. King lives it, as did his mother.
Before she died at the age of 94, she told him to make the most of life. She had a tough life, and King took that to heart. She was a determined woman — she even tried to crawl out of her bed in the hospital the day before she died. With King's songs about everyday life, acknowledging the rough patches and heartbreak, Flogging Molly has always wanted to make the most of things.
King got his professional start in music fronting Fastway, a balls-to-the-wall hard rock band founded by Clarke, the former Motörhead guitarist, and UFO bassist Pete Way. Although King took a much different path musically, he speaks highly of his time with Clarke.
“Me and Eddie used to have some of the most ridiculous arguments on the planet,” King says. “He was out there in the sense that he did what he wanted to do, and I admired that.”
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After a few albums with Fastway, King decided to leave the band after it cut the soundtrack to Trick or Treat, a campy horror flick starring Marc Price (best known as Skippy on Family Ties) as a metalhead. It features cameos by Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne.
King’s heart wasn’t into songs like “After Midnight” or “Get Tough,” and he decided to leave the band after it was done recording. When members of U2 said hello to the band in the studio, King realized something deep.
“When I heard what they were doing, I knew I made the right decision because I realized you need to write for yourself. You can’t write for a movie or a soundtrack,” he says.
This led him to Flogging Molly, which has come far and has no signs of stopping. All from the attitude of “enjoy life.”