Concert preview: Flogging Molly eager to share the power of positivity in Salt Lake City

First Published      Last Updated May 15 2017 09:39 am

Concert preview » Despite the challenges that came with making its first album in six years, the band came away with something “hopeful and optimistic.”

Flogging Molly's path to their new record, "Life Is Good," was particularly long and troublesome.

In part because writing and recording sessions wound up delayed about a year and a half while vocalist Dave King tended to his mother, who eventually died of complications from a stroke.

And in part because once they were able to record, they went all the way to Ireland to do it.

And finally in part because, once at that remote studio, they encountered countless technical problems, given that none of the equipment had seen much use since the last time they were there eight years ago, which ultimately necessitated finishing up in Los Angeles.

Despite the series of unfortunate events, the Celtic-rock band's album ultimately has a more positive tone than you might expect, given the lead-up to it.

"There's a couple of left turns on it thematically, there's a couple of outliers, but overall … it's a much more hopeful and optimistic feeling," Bob Schmidt, the group's mandolin and banjo player and backing vocalist said in a phone interview. "I feel [the song] 'Reptiles (We Woke Up)' definitely embodies that spirit. And I think, if ever there was a time to feel hopeful, these days are those times. It's just really been trying on a lot of fronts for people, regardless of what your political beliefs are or what end of the spectrum you're coming from. It's a challenge right now to make sense of it all. We're just trying to inject as much hopefulness into this thing as we can."

Flogging Molly will bring that hopeful spirit to The Complex in Salt Lake City on Friday.

Schmidt said the band is well aware that the listening public has ascribed a certain present-day political application to "Reptiles," but did note that the writing took place before the election did.

That said, he understands the logic.

"Yeah, either we were really preminiscient on the way things came together with the writing or it's just one of those beautiful synchronicities in life where the coincidences are kind of obvious," he said. "We weren't really thinking about that. The 'Reptiles' song, when it came together, wasn't really about anything in particular pertaining to the election or politics, it was more that movement of just being aware of the world around you and your connection to your fellow man, and all that other stuff. It was more like a rallying cry for humanity than it was a political statement. And then when the election happened, and all the stuff that's going on nowadays, it definitely seems like a much more political thing, and people have definitely put that kind of cape on its back."

With "Life Is Good" set for a June 2 release, Flogging Molly have been trying to strike a balance between not giving too much away during live shows while also rewarding fans for their patience after putting out exactly one new song in the past six years.

That tune, "The Hand of John L. Sullivan," which came out in a slightly different iteration a year ago, is on the album and in the shows, as is "Guns of Jericho."

"It's been a long time since we put music out, so we also feel kind of obliged to our fans to give them a little bit something new to chew on for a while," Schmidt said.

When reminded that 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of Flogging Molly's first release, the live album "Alive Behind the Green Door," and asked what, if anything, that meant, Schmidt quickly joked, "It means we've been doing this for a long time!"

Then, growing more serious, he said that even if the milestone doesn't generate any special occasion, it does speak to a sense of accomplishment.

"The significance is not lost on me, but in the day-to-day thing, it's just another factoid," he added. "We've really gone the distance much further than we ever imagined we would have been going when we started this thing up. There aren't that many bands out there that have lasted this long, especially with the same — literally unchanged or virtually unchanged — lineup. I feel pretty lucky, all in all."

All in all, Flogging Molly are feeling some good vibes.

Now they're just hoping their new album helps the feeling catch on.

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Flogging Molly

With The White Buffalo, Dylan Walshe

When » Friday, doors at 7 p.m., show at 8

Where » The Complex, 536 W. 100 South, Salt Lake City

Tickets » $33 advance, 35 day of; Ticketfly