In the early nineties, guitar player Dennis Casey moved from his hometown Rochester, NY to Los Angeles. Inspired by classic punk rock bands like The Clash, Dead Kennedys and Sex Pistols, and impressed with newcomers like Nirvana and Red Hot Chili Peppers, Casey searched for bands and gigs to make a professional career playing guitar. What he could not guess then is that 15 years later he would get involved with Irish music and tour the world with the most successful Irish punk band of the moment: Flogging Molly. To celebrate the release of the band’s latest album, Float, FREE! Magazine called Dennis Casey while on tour in Florida.
How is the tour going so far?
Great! Every show has been sold out so far. We have some new songs and the audience is getting to know these songs. The album is also getting some radio airplay already. So far so good!
Dubliner Dave King formed Flogging Molly in Los Angeles in 1997, when he gathered a bunch of musicians and start playing every week at the Molly Malone’s pub. The seven-piece band evolve a characteristic sound that blends sharp punk guitars with accordions, fiddles, mandolins and banjos. It’s The Dubliners meet Johnny Cash. The live shows of Flogging Molly are intense and festive. Every member of the audience cannot help dancing to the band’s “drunken lullabies”. The Finnish audience knows it well. Flogging Molly have played in Finland very often in the last couple of years. In May the band is playing at Tavastia in Helsinki twice. The tickets for the first show were sold in just a few hours and a new date was added. A couple of months later, Flogging Molly will return to play at the Ruisrock festival in Turku.
Some reviews speak of Float, like it is a mature album for the band. Are you getting softer and old?
No, not at all. The album is as hard as the others. It’s been four years since our previous studio album and the band grew, but Float rocks as the others.
How different is Float from the previous albums?
The main difference is that it was completely recorded in Ireland. We stayed there around one year in three different periods of time. We got together, close to each other. We lived in the same house, then went to the studio and the pub to have some pints. Four years since Within a Mile from Home seems like a long time. Why did the new album take so long?
We wanted to have some time to release the live album / dvd Whiskey on a Sunday. Besides that, we kept on touring. We were busy.
In Within a Mile from Home, you recorded a great duet with Lucinda Williams (Factory Girls). How did this collaboration happen?
Dave wrote that song and it is very biographical, about his mother. He thought that it would be great to have a female singer on it. He believed it would relate very well to the theme of the song. We dropped some names and Lucinda Williams came up. We got in contact with her, but we had no hopes that she would accept. But surprisingly she liked the idea and the song. We did it and it was great.
Who was your first guitar hero and how did you decide to start playing guitar?
My parents were always playing Elvis stuff and Sun records artists. Then I got a guitar and that became my only hobby. I just wanted to play guitar and that’s the only thing I wanted to do.
When you arrived in LA, did you get into the sleazy hard rock scene?
Not really. I first liked all the classic punk rock bands, but when I arrived in LA , I listened to the Chili Peppers and Nirvana and I thought “wow, this is the shit”. But I tried to play whenever I could, whatever I could.
I bet you didn’t imagine that you would play in a band like Flogging Molly.
No way! I would never have said that I would play Irish music. That comes from Dave, he’s originally from Dublin. I have never thought I would play something like this or get this popular. This is no other band doing this.
Flogging Molly is really popular in Finland. What memories do you have of the country?
Finns are the craziest people I’ve seen. Very energetic people. I remember the first night we were there, we went out to some pubs and everybody was crazy. People were drunk all around. And there were many pretty girls too. Great memories.
What can we expect of the upcoming shows?
We have a new set of songs and we’ll be just as hard and as energetic as usual. We’ll give it all on stage. We are playing two nights there, so we’ll play some different songs.