Sweat, Not Luck O' The Irish, Brings Flogging Molly A Hit LP

Pub band debuts at #20 with its third album, Within a Mile of Home.

Flogging Molly frontman Dave King had a hard time getting out of bed Thursday morning ... or Thursday afternoon, for that matter. Seems he and his bandmates were up a bit late on Wednesday night.

"I'm a bit hung over today, to be honest with you," King said in his thick Irish brogue. "I was drinking whiskey, the devil's brew, and 'The Passion of the Christ' was on TV, so I watched that, too, just to be a total contradiction. Drinking whiskey and watching 'The Passion of the Christ.' Here's to you, Jesus!"

He was celebrating Flogging Molly's #20 debut on the Billboard albums chart — selling more than 37,000 copies of their third album, Within a Mile of Home — and for King and the rest of the band, it's an accomplishment that's been a long time coming.

"Being a band that started off in 1997 at Molly Malone's bar in Los Angeles, being #20 on the Billboard chart is a bit of a shock to us, but we've worked our arses off," King said. "We've been touring and touring and touring for a long time now. It's been going from the road to the studio and back on the road. It's been nonstop."

That time on the road includes four stints on the Warped Tour, where Flogging Molly played their mix of traditional Irish folk music — tin whistles, fiddles and mandolins — and jumpy, punch-drunk punk to crowds of sweaty teenagers. It seems like a bit of a style clash, a mismatch that becomes even more pronounced when you consider that King was born in 1961, putting him in the same age bracket as most of his fans' dads.

"You have a band like Flogging Molly, and then you have a band like Taking Back Sunday on the same stage, and you've got a reggae band or something, and being an old fart, it gives me hope," King said. "I sing a lot about my father, who died when I was a kid — he pumped gas for a living — and now I have 12-year-old kids in the sunshine singing my father's name. And that to me is pretty phenomenal."

All the more phenomenal when you consider where King came from. Born in Dublin, Ireland, he came to America on the promise of a record deal with Epic. He settled in Los Angeles and started writing and recording. But Epic was unimpressed with his material, and the label dropped him. Before he knew it, he was drinking in Molly Malone's, playing a few acoustic songs to make some spare cash.

"I was down and out; I was finished years and years ago. I said to myself, 'This is never going to work,' " he said. "But I picked up my guitar and I looked in the mirror and said, 'You know what? Deal with it. You're ugly, deal with it.' You don't get anywhere without hard work, and that's been true for me. It's an attitude I have to attribute to my parents."

And Within a Mile of Home is packed with King's blue-collar anthems — songs of wanderlust, hope and determination. "Whistles the Wind" is a toast to fallen friends and a better life. The first single, "Seven Deadly Sins," tells tales of temptation on the road. And "Factory Girls," featuring winsome vocals by country chanteuse Lucinda Williams, was a song King wrote for his aging mother.

"My mother is very old now, and she's not very mobile, and I felt very sad. I wondered what her life was like when she was younger," King said. "The song is about her and her friends working and going out drinking. And when I think of her life, and then I look at my life, I don't feel old. Because if I can do it at this age, anyone can do it. Anyone can do anything they want to do in life."