David King has always known he was lucky, and it has fueled him throughout Flogging Molly’s 20-year career, a span of time in which they’ve continued their success as one of the most well-respected names in rock and roll. The Irish punk septet is now celebrating with the release of its sixth studio album, “Life is Good”—a release that has brought them out on the road this fall, closing out their travels with a show at the Worcester Palladium on Nov. 5.
It’s easy to see that life for the band is going well, but the Dublin native admits that a fair amount of irony went into the “life is good” motif during the recording of the album. The irony stemmed from what his mother, who passed away late last year, taught him while raising him and his brother in poverty.
“If you work at what you do, and you believe in what you do, it doesn’t always mean you’re gonna be happy, because life generally sucks, but life is what you make of it,” said King. “My mother, who was an absolutely extraordinary woman, taught me that.”
When Flogging Molly was just starting out as a group in Los Angeles in the mid-‘90s, King drove trucks cross country. It wasn’t his ideal setup, but he knew it was what needed to be done for him to live. His struggles took such bad dives at times that a string of months came along where he had to pawn his car, work to buy it back and continue that cycle until he got on his feet.
“I knew what I wanted, and what I wanted to achieve, but I didn’t know how I was going to get there,” said King. “But it dawned on me early on that if I didn’t take care of my everyday life, I wouldn’t get there,” he continued. “Now I’m doing what I love, still after all these years, so I have to stop and remember to have a good time and celebrate life.”
With this hard work and determination, King found himself in the spot he occupies today, now synonymous with other great Irish musicians, thanks in part to Flogging Molly’s music, which has been rich with folklore and has touched on moments of history since the band’s inception. But while King has made it a point to use Flogging Molly’s music, for which he is the chief lyricist, as a way to lift people up and energize them, he is fully aware that it’s sometimes necessary to be politically or socially engaged.
“To me, personally, our music is meant for uplifting, which to me means to write something lyrically in the sense of ‘we’re having a great time here, but hang on a minute,’ and I think it’s an Irish thing,” said King. “Irish people have always been very [thoughtful] people, and just like with other great Irish bands like the Dubliners and the Pogues, Irish music has always been sort of a history lesson, in a way, because you should never forget where you come from,” he continued. “Whether it’s political or historical, that’s for [listeners] to think about.”
King is proud to be Irish—but not in a traditional sense, in which nationalism takes the place of conscience and understanding. His reasons for being proud to be an Irishman run much deeper than a green, white and gold surface.
“When I say that I’m proud to be Irish, it makes me sound like a nationalist. Now, I don’t really think that being nationalistic is a bad thing if you live your life with your arms open,” King admits. “Unfortunately, with what has been going on in the world, [America] is not doing that,” he continued. “If you put Ireland under a microscope, and compare the Ireland I grew up in and the Ireland I live in now, it’s such a different place, and I wish the rest of this fucking world could be that.”
King’s optimism about acceptance and inclusion comes with a bit of a history lesson, as he has seen just how one country can go from one thought process to another, and how it can help to make the world a better place to live.
“Until 1993, it was illegal to be gay in Ireland. [In 2015] we became the first country to fully legalize gay marriage. Our prime minister is the gay son of an Indian immigrant. We have so many different influences from so many different cultures here now, and what that did was make it a better fucking place,” said King. “When you go to Dublin now, you see so much multicultural integration. It’s beautiful. It’s unbelievable to me, and that’s what the world should be about.”
While King remains optimistic, it doesn’t mean he isn’t completely disgusted with the lack of humanity displayed by those in power, mainly within the Trump administration, and the thought process this administration has nurtured in Americans all across the country.
“Mother of God, they’re talking about building walls. Ninety-nine point nine percent of people who want to come to America want to come here to work hard and take care of their family; that’s all they want,” said King. “The saddest thing about what’s going on in America right now, and what it comes down to, is that it’s going against everything it was fundamentally built on.”
He predicts the madness will come to an end soon, fortunately.
“You have these white nationalists running around without a fucking clue of what they’re talking about, but it will not last,” King continued. “This is just a giant orange blip on the radar, and that’ll burst soon enough. We can’t fall asleep, we have to stay aware, because just like with everything in life, there will come a time where we find that there was a reason for all of this, and hopefully this leads to [America] becoming a better place.”