Experience is Key | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Experience is Key

Flogging Molly evolves with the music industry, bringing their high-energy Celtic rock to Bend

Experience is Key
Photo Cred: Richie Smyth

We tend to have a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants culture in the music scene in Bend—which means few shows sell out months in advance. You can usually head down to the door and pay to get in at will. A few shows, on the other hand, demand a pre-sale code and tickets purchased as soon as they go on sale. The Irish punk band Flogging Molly falls into the latter, their Bend show having sold out months ago.

Flogging Molly has earned a reputation over the past 20 years for energetic live shows, hence the instant sell-out. When I chatted with Flogging Molly's guitarist Dennis Casey, I had to ask if he had any pre-show rituals to get pumped up.

"Mine would be several cups of coffee," Casey says. "People think I'm crazy. I start drinking coffee at 9 o'clock at night, take several shots of whiskey, dress up maybe a little bit. We're blessed with an audience that really shows you the energy—it's hard not to be energetic back."

Flogging Molly plays Celtic-inspired punk rock with a positive bent, that despite taking on sometimes heavy, political topics, still draws people to the dance floor. Rather than writing about a specific political event, Flogging Molly's lyricist and lead singer, Dave King, likes to tell the stories of a specific person, making the song more universal and relatable.

"It's touching somebody and moving them to either jump around—or people have cried, people have laughed," Casey says. "That's the joy of performing. I think a great song could be taken and used for the listener, interpreted in their own life and their own experiences."

"I think the music industry is changing and people have to come up with creative ways to feed their families. It's hard to be a musician with VH1 showing the excess of rock and roll." —Dennis Casey

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In 2017, Flogging Molly released their first studio album in six years. "Life is Good" came after a change of management, the passing of parents for two band members and the addition of a new drummer. In 2018, we've heard new music from the band, which Casey attributes to the change we've experienced in the music industry.

"We just recorded too many, or more than enough, songs than we needed, so we're releasing songs now," Casey says. "You put 12 songs on a record and that's that. Now, the world is going towards streaming and we thought we'll release a couple tracks as time goes on. I think the record doesn't seem to be a popular format anymore. The whole concept of putting out a single as a B-side or something like that, you can just release music now, it seems and it'll go out on all of the services. We're adapting and trying new things as we go along as well. Fifteen years ago we'd probably have saved these songs for another record."

For the last four years, Flogging Molly has hosted a punk rock cruise called the Salty Dog Cruise. Casey recalls on past cruises seeing Frank Turner playing in people's rooms. Casey himself jams with attendees. The bands perform on a private island that the boat company owns.

"I think the music industry is changing and people have to come up with creative ways to feed their families. It's hard to be a musician with VH1 showing the excess of rock and roll. A lot of people have families and want to support them, which has changed with people not buying records. Not that it's all about the money. The experience is the key part."

Casey, who knew he wanted to be a career guitarist from age 13, took 25 years of struggling to get where he is today with Flogging Molly. He lives every day with gratitude.

"To be in a band that plays all over the world, that writes great songs, I feel very blessed," Casey says. "It's something I always, always wanted to do and it's really great."

Flogging Molly

Sat, Mar 24. 8pm

Midtown Ballroom

51 NW Greenwood Ave., Bend.


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