|June 2004 -- Guitar Center caught up with Dave King, Flogging Molly's singer/songwriter, shortly before their Warped Tour departure. Taking cues from The Pogues and The Clash, Flogging Molly speak loudly to a generation of youth gone wild. Every live show is so energetic, you might think it was their last, so be sure to catch them this year at the Warped Tour.
GC: Let's chat about the technical side of the band. Tell me about your guitars, what you use, what you like about them and why.
Dave: Funny enough, the guitar that I use to record with is a Guild that I bought at Guitar Center.
GC: That's good. Thank you.
Dave: I bought it there about twelve years ago.
GC: What model is it? Do you remember?
Dave: It's a Big Jumbo J 12, one of the J's 12 strings, but I string it as a 6 string.
GC: Why do you use that in the studio?
Dave: Well, it's got such a huge sound on it. It's beautiful, it's like Spinal Tap, you play a note on it and you can go out and have some lunch and come back and the note will still be ringing. It has a lovely sustain on it, it's just a beautiful, full-bodied sounding acoustic guitar. We have mandolins and fiddles so it's always good to keep a good, big acoustic sound going.
GC: Do you use any pedals or effects with it?
Dave: I don't. I'm a very straightforward type of a guy. We all are actually pretty straightforward. No effects, like the band.
GC: So when you guys play live, do you just go direct input or do you use an amp?
Dave: Nah, I just go direct. The mandolin, banjo, accordion and fiddle, they all use amps. They use Crate amps. I don't. I don't know why, I'm thinking about doing it because sometimes I do miss the sound on stage when I go near the drum kit I tend to lose all the acoustics.
GC: So when you play live, do you use the Guild?
Dave: No I don't, I use Alvarez live for a lot of different reasons. The Guild, I want to save the Guild. I love the guitar. But, the Alvarez has really good pickups in them and there is a tuner built into the guitar so I can see during the show if I'm going out of tune or not.
GC: What are the latest pieces of equipment that the band has bought that you are really excited about? (In the studio and outside.)
Dave: We all sort of take care of our own business you know what I mean? But my garage is our rehearsal studio, so we rehearse there. The one that's technical in our band, believe it or not, is our mandolin player. He used to work for Roland. He used to fix stuff, so he's pretty technical. Anything that goes wrong, first question is, "Where's Bob?"
GC: Rad, you got your tech guy the mandolin player.
Dave: He's unbelievable. Even when we're on the road trying to sort out what's going on, he can just walk over and fiddle with anything and get it going.
GC: You guys have a cultish type following, with credit to that sound being pretty original and newer to a generation who hasn't listened to bands like The Pogues. Tell me a bit about how the songwriting process works.
Dave: We practice five to six days a week when we're writing. We're writing right now for the next album, we're actually rehearsing right now. What usually happens is I'll have a collection of songs that I will introduce to the band, then we take them and we do them. We just start playing them all sorts of different ways, which we feel is the best way to do them. Even though I might write the lyrics, it takes on a whole new feeling when we get together. The sounds create something new. I remember one time, the first time we ever rehearsed together, we didn't really know what we were going to play. But I had this song and when we all just started playing it, there was something in the room, it was like what the f**k is this? It just felt different, unlike any other band I'd ever been in. It was very special.
GC: Taking that special feeling and realizing that the band connects, what kind of advice would you give to a young musician?
Dave: The best thing, for me personally, is to get out there and play live. Playing live is a must do. I love songwriting and I'm up until 4 and 5 every morning writing songs. I'll have a bottle of whiskey and sit there and play lots of different bands that I love. For example, last night I listened to The Band. I listened to a couple of their earlier albums, and it was phenomenal. Playing live, you learn so much. For instance, sitting in a rehearsal room and rehearsing a song many, many times. You play that song live and you've learned 15 rehearsals.
GC: So for you, the live show is quite possibly the best way to put your band on the map.
GC: After seeing you live, it makes the record that much more connectable.
Dave: Albums are like maps for people to come in and see us live. It's a totally different ball game, the live thing. It's a celebration to us to be playing live.
GC: Your live show is definitely a musical celebration. How do you see the next record coming across to your audience?
Dave: When we get together to rehearse and write, we obviously only do it for ourselves. We don't do it for the big picture or write for other people. That's ridiculous. You have to write for yourself. The new record is just another leg of our octopus, perhaps a little spicier this time around. There is some Cajun influence on there.
||GC: What records or styles have influenced the writing on this album?
Dave: I've been listening to a lot of Nick Drake and Leonard Cohen, obviously acoustic people. Then again, I also listened to The Clash and Sex Pistols last night, and Beethoven. We are all like that. Every one of us is like that.
GC: Eccentricity across the board is always a good thing. Tell me why is the Warped Tour so important to you as a band?
Dave: First of all, it gets us out in the sun. The first time we did the Warped Tour, it was the first time we were ever introduced to anything like that. We were just playing in Molly Malones and we did a few shows around California, a couple upstate and up in Portland and Seattle. Then booked on the Warped Tour and we were on one of the side stages. Even though some days there would be only 25 people looking at you, you knew that those 25 people were actually enjoying what they were seeing. We were getting off on that, it was great. We were in Boston, traveling around; meeting loads of people in other bands and it was just camaraderie, great fun. The next thing you know, we're on the main stage and we're playing the bigger crowds and everybody's having a great time. It was just an extension of what we believed we could really do. Like when we were in that room and played that first song together, the feeling that I got, I knew there was something electric there. There was something there that you couldn't put your finger on.
GC: That's what everyone says after they see you live. They can't explain it - the energy is unexplainable.
Dave: We've been working on a couple of songs where there are no drums in them. But, because of the lyrical content and the mood of it, it's just as powerful. That's one thing I'm learning about the band is that there is depth there. There is depth without everything going on at once, everything doesn't have to be moving to get you going. We even have Bridgette, our fiddle player, singing on our new album.
GC: Ah, a woman's voice. That may surprise the Warp Tour crowd.
Dave: Yeah, I wrote this song a long, long time ago and it's about two people breaking up. So, it just seemed natural that we would sing to each other. All of it is exciting, it's fun, we've got a lot songs right now that we have a producer in with us. Actually, he was the original guitar player and he went on to start producing. When we went to start looking for a producer, I said if anybody knows what we're about, it's Ted. Everyone was like, yeah, let's get him. So, we've been working everyday with him in the garage and it's really great. We work on a song one day, then we'll work on a song that we haven't played in weeks and you play it and like, "Wow!" That's fun. We play a couple of songs where our accordion player starts playing Cajun tunes and it just lights up the room. We work great together like that. I'm not into playing in bands where people don't get along. We really get along.
GC: That camaraderie definitely comes across to your audience. That's probably why you are now on the main stage at Warp Tour.
Dave: We're not out there to impress anybody. We are glad to be there. We started off in Molly Malones in front of five people and it was as much fun then as it is now. We are just doing it because we love what we do.
GC: You said you Shop at Guitar Center, you live pretty close to Sherman Oaks, right?
Dave: Yeah. Sherman Oaks, that's the one I go to.
GC: How often do you go and how's the service there? Do you like it?
Dave: Oh, God yeah. The service is always fantastic there.
GC: What do you like most about walking to a Guitar Center?
Dave: What I like, I know it must be a pain in the ass for the people that work there, but to see young kids sitting down in chairs and banging away on the guitar. I don't remember too much of that for me when I was growing up. There wasn't that opportunity around. The last thing I could afford when I was a kid was a guitar. We were very, very poor. My mother and father, when they were alive, would go out every Friday and Saturday night and bring back a load of people to the flat, just a one room flat. I remember that they would all sit around against the walls, and they would all take turns singing, and music has always been like that to me. I think it's great, when I walk in and see young kids playing guitars, young people being involved in music in general is a positive thing.