Few know the ins and outs of Flogging Molly quite like the band’s bassist, Nathen Maxwell. Before he joined in 1996, he was just another fan of the band’s raucous Irish punk. “When I was 17, I used to sneak in the back door of the L.A. bar where they played,” Maxwell told New Times. “It was thrilling when they asked me to join. I saw how these players could play. I knew I better step it up.”
Flogging Molly began in 1993, when heavy-metal singer Dave King was told he couldn’t bring traditional Irish instruments into the recording studio. King wanted sounds from the old country that only fiddles, accordions, tin whistles, and mandolins could provide. He wanted to blend those nostalgic melodies with his loud raspy voice and strong songwriting. Needless to say, the seven-piece stood in sharp contrast to most versions of “Oh Danny Boy.” Which left Maxwell a little lost on where he fit in when he joined. “There’s not a lot of bass in traditional Irish music. But the only Irish band I listened to as a punk-rock kid was the Pogues. I remember sitting in my car and listening to them and seeing how they approached the bass.”
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Over the years, Flogging Molly’s popularity has slowly trickled upward. Just months ago, it hosted its first “Salty Dog Cruise” and is already planning a second one for the fans for next St. Patrick’s Day. The cruise will embark from Miami and sail into the Caribbean, and Maxwell couldn’t be happier. “It was one of the best times of our lives,” he remembers. “It was a surreal punk-rock cruise that was a 24-hour party. Next year’s going to be even better, since it comes with free booze and Rancid and Frank Turner will be playing.”
But in the meantime, the band plans to lay low so Flogging Molly can focus on recording its first album since 2011’s Speed of Darkness. “We’ve done some preproduction and had some sessions in Detroit,” Maxwell says. They played one of the new songs on the “Salty Dog Cruise.” Maxwell thinks there’s a good chance fans will hear that track — as well as other yet-to-be-recorded tunes — when Flogging Molly comes to Revolution on May 4. And even though St. Patrick’s Day is many months away, there will be plenty of drunken rock ’n’ roll anarchy.