Flogging Molly Guitarist Dennis Casey Talks Up Long Island Roots

Dennis Casey of Flogging Molly has local ties.
Dennis Casey of Flogging Molly has local ties.

L.A.-born Celtic punk band Flogging Molly has been blending traditional Irish sounds with politically conscious punk rock since 1997. They’ll be bringing their notoriously frenetic live act to the Paramount in Huntington on February 26 in support of their new album, Life is Good. Guitarist Dennis Casey took a moment out of the European leg of their world tour to talk about life on Long Island, the birth of the new album, and the state of modern music.

So you’ve spent some time as a Long Islander? Yeah I lived in Greenlawn. I married a Long Island girl so that’s what brought me out there.

Any interesting observations about the Island? It’s a beautiful place with the beaches and then out east and being close to the city, although Greenlawn was just far enough that it wasn’t so easy to get in. There’s a lot there. I had the same complaint I think everybody does: property taxes. That was the only bum out.

Do you have any favorite places out here? My favorite place is Long Beach. I spent a lot of time there and that’s a really beautiful beach. Reminds me of California.

You guys have played the Paramount a few times before. How do you like it? I’m not just saying this because I lived there but it’s one of the better venues. They really take good care of us. The backstage is so cool and set up great and there’s a pool table and lots of room. What’s the brewery that brought us a whole keg of beer? I think it’s called Long Ireland. And you know, the promoter and the people who own the venue, they take really good care of you, and then you’ve got the Founder’s Room downstairs, that’s a cool hangout.

Are there any little underrated spots that you love to visit on tour? There’s a city called Rothenburg in Germany that was spared being bombed [in World War II]. One of the top general’s grandmother was from there, I guess. He instructed not to bomb the city. It’s absolutely gorgeous; surrounded by a medieval wall and the architecture is almost a thousand years old. It’s so beautiful, it’s like a little fairy tale place. We played a festival there a couple years ago and that’s how I found it.

Can you tell me a bit about the newest album, Life is Good? It sounds a bit more rock ‘n’ roll than the others. Yeah, it’s funny. It’s interesting how people perceive our music because I think since the day we started this it’s been “this one sounds more punk rock than the other one” or “this one sounds more Irish than the other one.” It’s hard for me to tell, you know, we don’t sit down and intend to do anything like that, it’s just kind of what happens. This record is kind of a document of a band that’s been together 20 years, touring all over the world. The way I would describe it is more mature perhaps, tighter, and more. I don’t know, I always like to say a record is like a document of the band at this point in our career. I think the music we make and the experiences we have are just reflected on it. Like [singer Dave Best’s] mom died during it, my father passed away while we were writing it, so that’s all reflected in it.

You started out a Zeppelin and AC/DC guy, right? Yeah when I first started out of course guitar music is what turned me on. I don’t come from a musical family so I discovered stuff on my own. When I discovered Dead Kennedy’s I was like “oh my…” and that changed my whole trajectory.

Dead Kennedy’s have a lot of politics in their music. You guys do too, maybe not as aggressively, but it’s all in there, right? Yeah, Dave always seems to address that. I think coming from [Ireland], a country that was occupied for many years, I think he’s really more sensitive than some, or most, others on that.

Are there any big influences that may not be directly reflected by the sound of the record? I don’t think there was anything new, but there are seven of us and we’re from all over the place. We weren’t like The Ramones who grew up in Forest Hills together. We’re from all over and we’re different ages and I think there’s a lot of different influences that are always peeking in and out.

Life is Good came out in June 2017 but you’ve since released a few new songs (“Going Home” and “There’s Nothing Left, pt. 2”). Is that in keeping with the modern music landscape? Yeah, the music business has been changing rapidly for what now, 10 years? 15 years? You have to kind of go with it. Having said that I think we will always make full length records. I think that’s just something us and our fanbase is into. I think, as well, we did that this time because there was a six year gap between records so there was a lot of extra material. Instead of putting 19 songs on a record you can, with Spotify, sort of put out 12 and then release some other stuff.

How do you find the musical landscape today as opposed to 20-something years ago when Flogging Molly began? Have internet and social media and streaming services made it worse or better or something in between? I mean we’re obviously selling less records but we’re also selling more tickets than ever so I would say it’s helping. The old days are not coming back so I don’t think someone should really wish or try to make that happen at this point in their careers. Putting out a great live show is very important.

What can we expect from the show with Lucero on February 26th? Yeah that’s a great lineup. You can expect a party-your-ass-off-have-a-great-time Flogging Molly show. Lucero is also a great band so I think it’s going to be a great night of music.

Flogging Molly with special guest Lucero will be at the Paramount, 370 New York Ave, Huntington, paramountny.com $37.50-$79.50, 8 p.m. Feb. 26