FLOGGING MOLLY'S DENNIS CASEY, MATT HENSLEY, AND BOB SCHMIDT
Interview by Vinnie Baggadonuts and Debbie
Illustration by Vinnie Baggadonuts

THERE WAS ONE REASON, AND ONE REASON ALONE, WHY I WENT TO WARPED TOUR THIS YEAR: FLOGGING MOLLY. SURE, THERE WERE TONS OF GREAT BANDS, BUT NONE CAN GUARANTEE ME AS GOOD A TIME AS THOSE BASTARD SONS (AND DAUGHTER) OF IRISH PUNK. THEY'VE NEVER DISAPPOINTED, ON STAGE, OR IN AN INTERVIEW. DEBBIE AND I GOT TO SIT DOWN WITH THREE OF 'EM: GUITARIST DENNIS CASEY, ACCORDION PLAYER MATT HENSLEY, AND MANDOLIN/BANJO PLAYER BOB SCHMIDT. READ ON TO FIND OUT ALL THE IMPORTANT FACTUAL INFO I FORGOT TO ASK SINGER DAVE KING LAST TIME I TALKED WITH THEM.

Vinnie Baggadonuts: Okay. First, if you could go around and say your names and what you play, thatíd be great. Itíll make this a lot easier to transcribe.

All: (laugh)

Matt Hensley: Iím Matt Hensley. Iím the accordion player.

Dennis Casey: Iím Dennis. I play guitar.

Bob Schmidt: And Iím Bob. I play the mandolin.

VB: Right on. Listen, the first question I have for you guys is kinda retarded, but, do you guys get to do laundry on Warped Tour?

All: (laugh)

DC: Yes, we do.

VB: Do they do it for you?

BS: Nah. On our days off we go find a laundromat.

MH: They will do it for you if you drop it off in the morning. You just take your bag and give it to the laundry people, and theyíll bring it back to you at the end of the day. But Iíve lost so many socks and t-shirts that way.

All: (laugh)

VB: Do you get much time off between shows? Or does traveling consume most of those days off?

DC: It seems like traveling has been taking up those days off.

VB: Do you get a chance to rehearse at all between shows?

MH: Weíre on the road so much, playing the songs, that we donít really need to. Weíre on tour seven months out of a year, most of the time.

BS: Yeah. If you havenít got the songs down by now, youíre never gonna get them.

All: (laugh)

VB: When is the new album coming out?

DC: September 14.

VB: Are there any big stylistic differences between Drunken Lullabies and this new record?

BS: There are some departures-- small ones.

DC: Yeah.

MH: I think itíll be our best record, easily.

DC: Thereís a different producer, too.

MH: Youíre definitely going to hear the Irish melodies throughout the record, but we veer off a few different directions, stop a few different places.

VB: And you guys will be pushing it on your Punk Voter tour this Fall?

DC: Yeah.

VB: Itís kind of a Sideonedummy showcase, too, isnít it?

BS: Absolutely. Weíll be traveling along with a couple of Sideonedummy bands.

VB: How did you guys get hooked up with the Punk Voter aspect of it?

MH: I think we got hooked up directly through Fat Mike [owner of Fat Wreck Chords]. He got in touch with us about putting a few songs on the compilations, and that was that. Itís dealing with a pretty important issue, so weíre glad to be a part of it.

VB: So, are you all pretty politically active?

DC: No.

MH: Speaking for myself, I donít think we are. We donít try to be a very political band. But this situation is so fucking retarded that we have to be a part of it. Weíre happy to be a part of getting Bush the fuck out of office.

VB: Do you guys have any family members over in Iraq?

BS: I have friends over there.

DC: Yeah, friends.

VB: Are you able to keep in touch with them to hear what itís like over there?

BS: Yeah. We get emails from them, sometimes.

MH: We get emails all the time from people in some of these other countries--

BS: The band gets a ton of them.

MH: --people telling us they love hearing our music because it gives them faith and keeps them sane.

VB: Obviously, you guys havenít played in Iraq. But when you play in these other countries, have you noticed your audiences getting bigger and bigger? Iíve seen you in America a bunch of times, and each time the crowd seems bigger.

DC: I think itís happening in Europe now, because weíve spent a lot of time there.

MH: Itís definitely starting to grow, you know?

VB: Is it different playing there than here?

MH: You know, when I get up on stage and play, I actually donít feel that big a difference. But when you just get off some airplane in another country and youíre some American guy, I feel a different vibe in that respect just because the way the world is now. I feel like I almost have to apologize every time I go to a different country.

DC: Yeah.

All: (laugh)

DC: One of the things I notice about playing in other countries is they seem to be more relaxed about younger people drinking. I mean, in some places weíd stop on tour, thereíd be 15-year-old kids drinking. That was different.

All: (laugh)

VB: You do have a lot of young fans. Do you try and play mostly all-ages shows?

BS: We try and do it as much as we can. Some venues wonít let you have alcohol in them if itís an all-ages show.

VB: But theyíll let you guys have beer, right?

BS: No! Some venues wonít let it on the premises. We can drink on our bus, but we canít have it with us when we go in to play.

VB: Whoa!

BS: Weíve done a couple of shows like that.

MH: Weíre just drinking "Cokes" on stage at those shows.

All: (laugh)

BS: Itís pretty easy to bypass, but sometimes it can be a pain in the ass. And that can mean having to just avoid playing an all-ages show if itís going to be a lot of trouble. We donít like doing that.

VB: Are you guys involved at all with booking your own shows?

DC: We have a booking agent.

MH: If thereís some sorry-ass club that we hate, though, we make sure to tell the person in charge that we wonít play it again.

All: (laugh)

BS: Yeah. If we went through a venue and saw six kids get choked by some jackass bouncer, we try and avoid that venue.

VB: Last time I chatted with you guys you had yet to play in Ireland. But since then, you have. How was that?

MH: It was a lot of fun. It was also the most nervous Iíve ever been.

VB: Why?

MH: Because Iím an American dude playing their music.

VB: Yeah. Youíll get these hardcore Irish traditionalists standing there with their arms folded, listening to you carefully.

MH: Or just any Irish kid. Itís like, "Okay, letís see what these Americans are going to do."

All: (laugh)

BS: The music is so common over there, but all of a sudden you have some kids from another country feeding your stuff back to you. I could see it going strange, but it didnít.

VB: How long have you guys been together?

DC, MH, BS: (in unison) Since '97.

All: (laugh)

VB: I donít know how it was in the beginning as far as getting people interested in what youíre doing, but now you have three studio albums, youíre touring--

BS: We had to pay a lot of dues by ourselves, as a band.

MH: When we first booked shows people would be like, "What kind of band are you?" And weíd say, "Well, weíre kind of this, kind of that, we have a couple of weird instruments." It was hard to get in the door. People were kinda like, "That sounds like shit. No oneís gonna back it up." Weíd play for less money than we should have, and, correct me if Iím wrong, Bob, but we knocked 'em dead! Theyíd have us back, and slowly weíd try and get more and more work.

BS: I donít think it was our goal to ever be a big band or anything, so we were never really put off by that stuff. I mean, when you looked at it on paper, it looked pretty ridiculous.

MH: (to Bob and Dennis) Remember when we went to Vegas? It was right in the beginning. We went to a music convention, and someone told us, "You guys, youíll never go anywhere."

DC: A bar band. They called us a bar band.

All: (laugh)

VB: When you hear stuff like that, from executives and people, and then hear the total opposite reaction out of the kids youíre playing for--

MH: --then you know youíve done something right.

VB: Did that fuel you along?

MH: Absolutely.

VB: And now itís so big. Are you able to interact with fans?

BS: Weíre not that big.

All: (laugh)

VB: In my head, you guys are, man. With every band I really like, I tell myself theyíre huge! I figure if I like 'em, everyone must.

All: (laugh)

MH: Speaking for all of us, this band is not about getting out of touch. We try and keep it real. The second we stop keeping it real is the second it stops being a cool thing to our fans.

BS: And because our fans came up with us along the way, I donít think weíre perceived as guys who are unapproachable or inaccessible. Thereís not really a difference between us and them, anyway.

VB: Yeah. I didnít mean it in a personal sense. I just wondered if, because the crowds are bigger and there are so many more kids at the shows, if you had enough time to talk to them all.

DC: Weíre not that big.

All: (laugh)

BS: I should hope it doesnít get to that point.

MH: Maybe in 50 years... maybe.

All: (laugh)

BS: I mean, weíre talking 2,000 kids, tops. Itís not like you canít shake hands with 2,000 kids. Half of those kids donít give a fuck about shaking your hand, anyway.

All: (laugh)

BS: Theyíre just like, "That was great! Thanks, dude. Iím gone!"

VB: Do you ever see yourselves stopping? Or will you just go until itís not fun anymore?

DC: Iíd like to go until I canít.

BS: Yeah. I canít imagine it not being fun anymore, so itíd have to be something that physically debilitates me for me to not do it. Like age, which is not that far off.

Debbie: Aw, hell. Thereís so many medicines out there.

VB: So, this is a general question for you, but Iím curious if you prefer playing a club gig, or if being here with other bands you like is more fun.

MH: Itís so different, I really couldnít choose. There are good things and bad things about both. For us as musicians, it sucks that you only get to play for a half-hour. I start to feel good just as they tell us itís time to stop.

DC: Yeah.

All: (laugh)

MH: Itís just really quick. They make us sweat, and then weíre done. But every day you can see 50 bands if you want to. Itís pretty cool. Like a big summer camp, but with music.

D: Iíve seen you guys play a few times, and when you do smaller venues youíre able to interact with the crowd more, and get them riled up. At a venue like this, is it harder to do? Like you said, you only get so much time.

MH: Yeah. We hear that a lot from kids, about them really getting into it, and then the setís over. But I still feel the vibe from the crowd.

VB: Well, you got the last slot on your stage tonight. Couldnít you just maybe carry over for an extra 15 until youíre good to go?

BS: We may sneak an extra tune or two in. The last bands get a little more leeway. Of course, half the kids have passed out by then.

All: (laugh)

DC: And the crew wants to start breaking down.

VB: So, did you ever imagine itíd be like this? Playing for the places and people youíve played, seeing the things youíve seen?

BS: No.

DC: I was 35 when I joined the band, and I was painting houses up until then, so--

VB: Man, I wouldnít have thought you were 35 now.

All: (laugh)

DC: For me, Iíd waited a long time. But it finally happened.

BS: I didnít think it would translate into this kind of scale. I mean, back in the beginning, when we were just sitting around playing at Molly Maloneís, if someone would have said, "In five years, youíre going to be playing for this many thousands of people," weíd have been like, "Come on, dude. Itís great music, but people arenít going to get it."

All: (laugh)

DC: Iíll never forget the time he (points to Bob) and I were driving to a rehearsal for one of our bigger U.S. tours. He had to quit his job, and he had one of the better jobs of anyone in the band. We were talking about how hard itís going to be.

MH: And how you have to take that first step.

DC: Yeah.

MH: I mean, that first tour, we didnít make any money. Honest to God, four or five tours, and we hadnít made any money. To get to one of the shows in New York, I remember having to pitch in gas just to get to the gig.

All: (laugh)

MH: Iíd call my wife and sheíd ask, "Howís it going?" So Iíd just say, "Itís going great, honey. Weíre kicking ass!"

All: (laugh)

VB: But now you can be more truthful, and say, "You know what, honey? We actually did kick ass tonight."

MH: Oh, yeah. Now, itís easy to tell those stories and laugh about it. But back then, Iíd have never told those stories.

All: (laugh)

VB: And is it easier to slide on some beer tabs now, instead of having to pay them yourselves?

BS: Well, now itís just part of the deal. You get so much beer when you roll into town. Itís like a contracted deal. Of course, we go out to pubs, too, and pay for our own.

MH: We also have two or three people who work for us, and they all look out for us, you know? We basically have beer 24/7.

BS: Our manager hooked us up with a deal for this go-round, because most of the venues donít carry Guinness.

MH: How many cases is it all together?

BS: We got 50 cases when we left L.A., and when it runs out, weíll just get another 50 more.

MH: Seriously, itís ridiculous.

D: Do you guys have room on the bus?

All: (laugh)

D: Seriously, I can carry boxes, heavy things.

VB: Heíll do all your laundry.

MH: Well, we travel light. We have our own traveling posse, so there isnít much room.

D: I can sleep under things.

All: (laugh)

VB: Well, Iím done. Is there anything else you want people to know, about the record or anything? I havenít heard it yet, so--

DC: We havenít either.

VB: Really?

DC: Weíre mixing it now.

BS: This was a different way to make an album for us. Weíve typically just gone in, played it live, and fixed a couple mistakes. This one, we took more sweetening, and thought about the sounds and parts and textures a lot. Just in that way alone, this albumís very different from what weíve done before.

DC: Thereís a song on the new Warped Tour compilation.

VB: Yeah! I heard that.

DC: The same guy produced that. So, the albumís gonna be a little like that.

VB: Did it take a lot to get you off the road to record it?

BS: Yeah. They pretty much had to drag us off the road.

DC: Yeah.

All: (laugh)

BS: Thatís how we make our living, though, so when weíre not on the road, the checks stop rolling in. Weíre not selling two million albums, you know?

MH: Youíll never see one of us on an episode of Cribs.

All: (laugh)

D: Just get Jay-Z to guest on a couple tracks or something.

All: (laugh)

DC: You think?

BS: We got Lucinda Williams to guest star on a track.

VB: Oh, really?

BS: We were really jazzed about that.

VB: Awesome. Well, thanks again, guys.

D: Are you gonna ask them about the dogs?

VB: You wanna ask them? I asked the laundry thing.

D: Okay, guys. Thisíll be your last question. We ask everybody this: do dogs have lips?

BS: Definitely. Because I generally donít eat animals that have lips, like cows and pigs. And I would never eat a dog.

VB: Damn! That was fast.

DC: I donít know. (to Matt) Do dogs have lips?

MH: Heck yeah, man. Angus has some big-ass lips.

VB: (dismayed) But donít lips pucker?

MH: I have a French bulldog, and I have a picture of him back on the bus. That motherfucker has huge-ass lips.

All: (laugh)

DC: I donít know, man. I never thought about that.

BS: Well, what would you call them if they donít have "lips"?

VB: Flaps!

BS: But have you ever seen a dog drink? I mean, when theyíre real thirsty and tired?

MH: Or when they smile?

BS: Yeah! Dogs smile!

VB: Thatís one of those grey areas.

All: (laugh)

VB: I went to art school. I donít understand medicine.

All: (laugh)

MH: (laughs) Didnít you take anatomy class?

VB: I never drew lips on people!

All: (laugh)

BS: Thatís the hardest part of the face to draw.

VB: (laughs) Well, I never drew them.

BS: I think youíre letting us in on some deep, dark secrets there.

DC: I think youíve been outvoted.

All: (laugh)