Flogging Molly go their own way

Since forming in 1997, legendary seven-piece Celtic punk ensemble Flogging Molly has blazed an arguably unparalleled trail before them. Fusing punk rock with Celtic instrumentation, the band has somehow managed to defy specific categorization to one genre of music. Not that their fans could really care about how you refer to them; after all, it is all about the music.

Being on stage is where Flogging Molly have had the biggest impact, playing festivals throughout North America, Europe and Japan, drawing audiences in with their powerful, adrenaline-fueled shows. In their highly anticipated return to the Maritimes, Flogging Molly will be performing at Moncton’s Oxygen Nightclub on Tuesday evening.

With their newest record Speed of Darkness, Flogging Molly wanted to be the voice of those impacted by the 2008 global financial crisis. What better location to have written songs for the record than Detroit, a city that was once the quintessential American city that has since been reduced to a shadow of its once powerful self.

Flogging Molly multi-instrumentalist Matt Hensley says that the feelings of despair and hopelessness contained in their newest songs was a somewhat inevitable occurrence given the location of where the tracks were written.

“Having the bulk of the record written in Detroit definitely impacted the direction of the songs,” Hensley begins. “You would have to be blind to not know where you are at when you are in Detroit and that really had an effect on us as a whole. There is such misery and emptiness in that city and it really ended up having an effect on not only the lyrics contained on the album but in the way each of us played on the record as well.”

Now five studio records into their career, Hensley says that with each record, he feels as though the band is evolving in a very organic way. Nowhere is that maturity more evident than in the songs on Speed of Darkness.

“I like to think that we get better with what we do with each record. Every record is different in that it captures where we are in our hearts and souls at that specific time in our career. We are very fortunate that since we tour so much, we have a unique perspective where we get to see changes that happen all over the world. And with Speed of Darkness, we couldn’t help ourselves but to write about what we were seeing unfold around us.”

For the release of Speed of Darkness, Flogging Molly left their longtime record label of SideOne Dummy and opted to start their own label, Borstal Beat. Hensley has nothing but great things to say about the time they spent working with SideOne Dummy but says that the band felt as though the timing was finally right for them to strike out on their own.

“We have worked hard for the past 15 years and realized that we were in a place that we could strike out on our own and make a good go at being our own bosses. It was a decision made for economic reasons as well as simply wanting to have 100 per cent control over the direction of our career. Not to say that SideOne did us wrong or anything like that but having our own label and possibly building that into something that could be bigger than our band helps me to sleep at night.”

Article published in September 23, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript