With Dennis Casey
Flogging Molly Guitarist Dennis Casey Reminisces About Tempe, Tours Past And His Favorite Places To Eat And Drink Around The Phoenix Metro
By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine
March 14, 2013 — They say there are only two constants in life, death and taxes.
If you live in the Phoenix Metro, though, there are three: death, taxes, and Flogging Molly at Tempe Beach Park on Saint Patrick's Day. For the better part of a decade, the energetic Irish rockers have been lighting it up on the Shore's of Tempe Town Lake for Shamrock day, and this year is so big, even the bands can't keep up with all of it. With the show just days away, Flogging Molly guitarist Dennis Casey reminisces about Tempe, tours past and his favorite places to eat and drink around the Phoenix Metro.
MTM: How was Bonnaroo last year?
Dennis Casey: Bonnaroo was awesome it was our first year doing it, played on the same stage as Danzig, Maynard and his side project from tool and man it was just a great thing.
MTM: What's new with this year’s Green 17 tour?
Dennis Casey: This year- ninth year in a row-we're doing a lot of old songs we haven't played in a long time and a lot of new songs that we have never played live.
MTM: Why Tempe for St. Patty's?
Dennis Casey: That is the No. 1 question this time of year. The reason is there are many different reasons I'll give you some of them. When Flogging Molly started out Phoenix, Tempe there was a radio station there called The Edge and it was a commercial radio station not a college station. And they played Flogging Molly regularly right along side the Foo Fighters and the Chili Peppers and so we did very well, you know. We got a lot of love there and we built a good fan base and that's one reason. Another reason is you look at the country and certain bands, like Dropkick Murphy's, have the east coast. They're from there. Tossers have Chicago, and New York has Black 47 and The Pogues and then you know we are a West Coast band. We started in L.A. So why not the West Coast, and another thing is, sometimes bands that play on the East Coast got to play five or six nights in a row because you can't play outside, we can play outside in Tempe it's a big beach park and so you don't have to worry about doing it over many nights. You can just have this mass party and if you ask me, it's becoming a tradition now, so it makes sense to do it there.
MTM: Who have been your favorite opening acts in Tempe over the years?
Dennis Casey: I would have to say one of the most memorable was a band called the Cherry Cokes. They're a Japanese band we played with there. They play traditional Irish music and they play it better than us. They don't speak a word of English, either. We brought them over and they just killed it and they're the nicest kids and you close your eyes and you listen to it and you're like, ‘my God, it sounds so good,’ and then you open your eyes and you look it just looks kind of comical all these young Japanese kids playing traditional Irish music really, really well.
MTM: Who are your favorite local openers?
Dennis Casey: Authority Zero is a good one. They're probably my favorite I'd say.
MTM: What is a day on tour like when you are not playing music?
Dennis Casey: Usually we just hit the city, go find something good to eat, or go find a good pub or a great hang out wherever all the action is and go out for the night, explore the city during the day maybe go to a museum. Maybe just run around and check it all out and we've been doing this for so long now we usually just call up some friends and get together with them.
MTM: What are your favorite places to play in?
Dennis Casey: Our favorite places are the places we haven't played before. It's always fun to start in a new place. But if I had to pick one out, I always like to play my hometown in Rochester, New York. Its always good to get home and play a hometown show. I like playing in Tokyo — that's always a fun time — and I would say in Croatia.
MTM: What bands are you dying to share a stage with?
Dennis Casey: Oh I'd love to tour with AC/DC or The Rolling Stones or The Dropkick Murphy's, well we've done shows with The Dropkick Murphy's, but never a tour though.
MTM: What was your best tour to date?
Dennis Casey: Our first one on the East Coast, we played New York every Sunday and Thursday, D.C. every Wednesday, New Jersey every Tuesday and that's just how it went for 2 months. We would play the same place on each of those days. Most of those places it was free to see us because no one knew who we were and those were some of my most cherished memories on tour.
MTM: Was their anything particularly special about last year’s Tempe performance?
Dennis Casey: I think what I remember most was the long guitar solo and man I sort of used it as a surfboard at the end of it and it still worked. It's hard to explain how awesome it is to play in front of 10,000 people on St. Patrick's day. The energy is unmatchable. Its just always, always such a great, great time.
MTM: How would you be spending St. Patrick's Day if you weren't a member of Flogging Molly?
Dennis Casey: Oh that's a great question. I would probably be at an Irish pub. I'd be at an Irish pub getting loaded.
MTM: What's the hardest thing about being a band for 15 years?
Dennis Casey: Just that, that is exactly it. It is exhaustingly hard and that's the challenge to stay together. We've achieved a lot and it's like a second family. And well you know what you said you were a sports guy you were on a sports team, it becomes like a sports team or more like a family, but you know how you get close to everybody imagine being on the same sports team for 15 years you get really close to each other and you have your problems like a family but you work them out cause at the end of the day the show, the music or the game, or the family is the most important thing and that's our key to staying together.
MTM: Do you have a favorite Flogging Molly album?
Dennis Casey: Yeah, I got to do the cliche thing. It's our latest album, The Speed of Darkness. It's a cliche thing for a musician to say that their latest album is their favorite, but it is.
MTM: What are Flogging Molly's summer plans?
Dennis Casey: Over in Europe we are doing a bunch of festivals in August, always a great time.
MTM: Are you guys excited to play with Anti-Flag and Pepper on St. Patrick's Day?
Dennis Casey: We're not going to be playing with Anti-Flag. I don't know when we are going to be playing with them again, but I see them in our travels all the time
MTM: They're opening for you, dude.
Dennis Casey: Oh?
MTM: Yeah, did you not know that?
Dennis Casey: No they must have just added that
MTM: It was pretty recent, but Pepper is right before you and Anti-Flag is right before them.
Dennis Casey: Oh yeah they just changed that. They changed that on me oh goddamn that's great.
MTM: What are your thoughts about Anti-Flag's political positions?
Dennis Casey: We're in America you can have whatever thoughts you want. You can have whatever politics you want.
MTM: Has Flogging Molly ever encountered any hecklers over the years?
Dennis Casey: No. Well you know the worst hecklers are like ‘play this song, play this song,’ over and over and over again. And one guy asked his girlfriend to marry him and he kept screaming it out. You know fan things like that, but we've never been heckled, not that I can remember. I'm a guitar player too; I'm half deaf so if somebody heckled I probably wouldn't hear them anyway.
MTM: Tell me about a really disastrous show either for you personally, or the whole band.
Dennis Casey: Oh it was in San Diego, where I am right now. We were playing the Street Scene and probably I don't know 8,000 to 10,000 people and we had a brand new guitar setup and my guitar cord went out and we couldn't find one so the band just kept playing and then he brought another one over and it didn't work and the band just kept playing, and he brought another one over and it didn't work and the band just kept playing he brought another over and it goes on for the whole fucking show until the last song he brings out a two foot guitar cord that works and I just had to stand there without moving until we played the last song, that was probably one of the worst shows for me.
MTM: Do you have any fond memories of the Phoenix metro besides the shows?
Dennis Casey: Oh yeah, I'll tell you one the best things, there is this great pizzeria in New York called Grimaldi's and they opened up in the Tempe area, I could believe it it's like my favorite pizzeria and I didn't know they were extending so that I have to do it every time I come to town. All my friends when I get them on the guest list give me gift certificates to Grimaldi's; it's one of the things I really like about Tempe.
MTM: Anything else you really dig about Tempe?
Dennis Casey: Yeah, beautiful girls. No, There's so many things l like I mean I'm from the North East, and it's different than the North East. The weather is nice and it's party time there isn't it? Casey Moore's too I always end up in that pub, by the end of the night. I always go there after the show. Yeah last year I was so drunk by the time we left the show that I didn't go to Casey Moore's, but Casey Moore's is usually where I end up. I've been there many times. I like that place.
MTM: What goes into writing a Flogging Molly song?
Dennis Casey: Dave our singer is our principal songwriter and he'll have some new ideas and we will just sit in a circle and hammer it out, knock it out.
Jeff Moses is a senior contributor to Modern Times Magazine.
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