Flogging Molly didn’t plan to take six years between albums. And the Celtic-American group wasn’t exactly at home resting since the conceptual Speed Of Darkness came out in 2011.
“I don’t know a lot of other bands that can keep on touring like we do,” frontman Dave King — who formed Flogging Molly in 1997 after a tenure in the hard rock band Fastway — tells Billboard. “We can just keep on booking shows and booking shows and they’ll keep coming. We had loads of (song) ideas over the years, obviously. But it’s like we have to consciously make a decision that, ‘We’ve got to stop touring right now and have to concentrate on getting a new album out.’ So we just literally said, ‘OK, here’s six months, let’s do it.'”
That book place during the late summer of 2016, when King and company started to put together the aforementioned ideas and work on new songs — including “The Guns Of Jericho,” premiered below — on both sides of the Atlantic, resulting in Life Is Good, due out June 2. The proceedings were energized by new drummer Mike Alonso and by producers Joe Chiccarelli and Ross Hogarth, and while the set’s first single, “Reptiles (We Woke Up),” has a decidedly topical and political undercurrent, that’s not the intended tenor for the set.
“To me it’s a pretty optimistic album, not as dark as some of our previous ones,” King notes. Life Is Good‘s title track, in fact, came from a deathbed conversation King and his wife and bandmate Bridget Regan had with his mother around Christmas of 2015, just before she passed away. “We were at the hospital with her and she said, ‘C’mere’ and whispered in our ear, ‘Enjoy yourselves, ’cause I surely did,'” King recalls. “Even though it’s really sad, to hear something like that made everything worthwhile. The fact that line is in that song is very special to me.”
“The Guns Of Jericho,” meanwhile, is another King favorite that he stresses is not biblical in any way, despite the title reference. “I’m an old Catholic boy and I was an altar boy for eight years, so the church is always hanging over you and some religious imagery makes it into a song, even if the song’s not religious,” he says. “But I love that song because it’s the first song we ever wrote that wasn’t in a regular tuning. It’s an open D tuning; We’ve never messed with anything like that before. I love the way all the instruments fall into place, where they come in. The song is always adding to itself. I love songs like that.”
The arrival of a new album is certainly something to celebrate, but this year also marks the 20th anniversary of Flogging Molly’s very first release, the concert set Alive Behind The Green Door. “It’s incredible, isn’t it,” King says. “It really is unbelievable to think it’s been 20 years. But I think we all still believe in what we’re doing, songwriting-wise. We have a really good chemistry in the band; Everybody has their own little vibe going on and we give each other all the space we can, and when it comes to the shows it’s all or nothing. We’ve always been that way. It still is at the end of a day a real collaboration, and that’s what keeps it going the way it has — and the way it probably will for a while longer, I’d say.”