Flogging Molly's speed of sound

Irish-American Celtic punk band Flogging Molly are returning to Australia to do what they do best – a furious live fusion of traditional Irish folk and British punk. They are on the bill for the giant Soundwave festival tour of 2013. Vocalist and songwriter DAVE KING chats to NICK MILLIGAN about touring the world and fan injuries.

You’re returning to Australia - do the crowds here get as rowdy as in other countries?

Oh yeah – what’s great is doing the Soundwaves, because we’ve never really done festivals. We’ve done most of the ground work ourselves. In Europe, for example, we did most of the festivals before we did club shows and I think that really helps a lot. A large amount of people listen to what you’re doing.

Australia has a convict history - do you find that countries with a similar colonial, working-class history respond to what you do the most?

It’s really interesting, because we just came back from Brazil. We wondered what the scene would be like there, but it turned out to be absolutely amazing. Some of the loudest crowds we’ve ever had. Then you go to Japan and it’s the same deal. With crowds there are always subtle differences, but we’ve been lucky to have the crowds we’ve played in front of because they’re salts of the earth. [Touring the world] has taught us that what we do can transcend to anybody in any culture. That’s why you get into music in the first place, it knocks down all barriers.

Your lyrics have a social conscience – do you find yourself drawn to political or social subject matter over personal conflicts?

I do touch on a little bit of my personal life but, believe it or not, I’m quite a happy man in myself. So I tend to write about things that I see other people going through, or situations other people are going through. They’re observations, they might not be true or false, but they’re my take on it. I’ve always listened to bands that wanted to say something, like The Clash. But I’ve always been attracted to the brighter side of David Bowie, or T-Rex, so I like that too.

You recorded your album Float in Ireland and your most recent album, Speed of Darkness, in North Carolina. Does the location in which you make the album have a big influence on the sound?

It does and it doesn’t, because the writing’s usually pretty much finished before we go into the studio to record. But from the writing aspect, you’re absolutely right. We started to write Speed of Darkness around the time of the economic collapse. Living around Detroit, writing [the album], I used to walk my dog and there were houses just left – abandoned. That affected me a lot. Detroit seemed to be the epicentre of all things bad in the ­economy. The catalyst is always the same – you look outside your window and that’s what you write about.

The crowds can be very frenetic at your gigs – has there been many injuries to fans?

I don’t see many injuries, but I’ve heard some horror stories. We were on the Warped Tour and myself and Bridget [Regan, King’s wife and Flogging Molly’s violinist] were ­walking towards our bus. This girl came up to us and she had a brace around her midsection. I said to her, ‘What happened to you?’ and she said, ‘I broke my back at one of your shows.’ And she was still in the brace and still in our shows. You meet people and they’ll tell you – one person broke their foot. I do worry sometimes that people will be standing there [at the show] and all of a sudden they’ll get slammed into someone who isn’t aware of what they’re doing... we’re all there for a good time.

Flogging Molly play Soundwave Festival on Sunday at Sydney Showgrounds, alongside Metallica, Blink 182, The Offspring, Garbage and many more.

Speed of Darkness is out now.

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