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Aller de l’avant: Une entrevue avec Matt Hensley de Flogging Molly

21 septembre 2011

En mai dernier Flogging Molly a fait paraître Speed of Darkness, son cinquième album studio, et lançait par le fait même sa propre étiquette de disque. Oui, Floggig Molly est rendu assez gros pour que les membres du groupe puissent se lancer dans l’aventure de partir leur propre label et être pas mal certain de ne pas se casser la gueule. Je suis un fan du groupe depuis plusieurs années et leur dernier album ne m’a pas déçu. Très content de trouver en Flogging Molly un groupe qui vieillit bien. J’ai eu la chance d’avoir une conversation intéressante avec Matt Hensley, accordéoniste de la formation et ex-pro skater.

So you released your new record, Speed of Darkness, in May. A lot of people say it’s pretty different that record like Float and Within a Mile of Home. Do you see it this way?

Yeah, I think it’s different. I don’t think it’s that different. It still sound like Flogging Molly to me. I just think we kind of wanted to go somewhere else with this record. Personally, I just don’t want to keep putting out Drunken Lullabies over and over again. I think has musicians and artists we kind of want to grow and go somewhere else with our music without losing our balls and I think we’ve done that with this record. It does sound different but different in a good way to me.

Did you approach the writing and the recording of that record in a different way?

Because we wrote that record in Detroit it definitely changed the vibe of the band. In Detroit the economy was suffering really greatly. More than almost any places in America and it was just evident how empty all the buildings were. You could see the misery on the face o the city of Detroit. Dave wrote about that but we, as players, played to that.

What does the recent fight between Democrats and Republicans about the debt crisis tell you about the state of American politics?

I’ll tell you right now that I’m left to center. I’m a Democrat. I’m more of a Democrat now that I was five years ago. I’m more pissed off at the right, and I’m sure the right is more pissed off at the left, I don’t know how good that is for the country but I think the right wing side of America is getting very extreme. To the point where last night I watched the Republican primary and the different candidates were talking to each other and they started to question the science of pollution and they’re going to question the theory of evolution. I mean…at some point you got to get this shit out of between your fucking ears and go with more reality. It’s just the way it is. I don’t know what’s going to happen there but personally I’m more irritated and more pissed off at the right wing of this country. I’m also disappointed in Barack Obama but I’d rather be wrong on the right side than just trying to protect the rich. I hate that shit.

Do you think that it’s a possibility that Barack Obama loose the next election?

It is a possibility. It saddens me. What I personally hope is that this is a wakeup call to Barack Obama and that he’ll start to do the stuff that he said he was going to do when he was trying to get elected.

What do you think needs to be done to get America back on track?

I don’t really know if I know the answer. But we need to get our priorities straight. I think we need to get out of Iraq. It was Bush’s war and there were no fucking reasons to do it. I am proud of all the Americans soldiers that fought in that war but the reason that we went to war was a fucking lie. It just bothers me. I think we have to figure out a good closing end to the battle in Afghanistan. I’m sick of putting American lives on the ground. Maybe they don’t want to have democracy just like America does but I think that most people that are human want to have so sort of peaceful existence with their neighbors. If you don’t than you become the enemy of human kind regardless of what fucking country you popped out of your mom from.

What motivated you decision to leave SideOne Dummy Records to form you own label, Borstal Beat?

It wasn’t any bad blood that we had against SideOne Dummy. Those guys are my friends. Joe Sibb has been a friend of mine for ten years before we joined his label. It just came to the point where, after being a band for nearly 15 years, we are able to do it on our own. We have a little more control than we would anyway. SideOne Dummy always treated us fairly but we still were not 100% in control of our own destiny. We worked so hard to be in this position that it was time to take the final step and be 100% in command of what we do as a band and of the decisions that we make. It’s more work but the payoff is also greater. Whatever anybody’s record deal is a certain amount of your money is going somewhere else. Now 100% of our money goes to Flogging Molly. Between our own crew and band members I think that we have over ten kids. We have families and we have to prepare for our future. I have a kid that is going to go to college in four years. I love music and I’m a musician and I’ll die by that sword but that doesn’t mean that I necessarily have to be retarded. I also want to think about my future. I want to do the right thing in a positive manner. Going forth. I think that’s what that decision was about.

Any plans on releasing records from other bands on Borstal Beat?

Yes, we just signed a band called The Drowning Men. I don’t have all the details because they officially signed like 4 days ago but I’m looking forward to it. I really like being in a position where…I’ve known the music industry forever and it’s a tuff thing. Lots of time it’s corporate and crazy. We’re not trying to be some giant record deal. I don’t want to do that. We just want to be some mom and pop label and do things little by little, do it cool.

Recently you released a deluxe edition CD of Speed of Darkness that includes a 5 inches vinyl. Are you a fan of vinyl?

I am. A couple of us in the band are huge vinyl fan. I’ve been collecting vinyl for my whole life and I still do. When our first record came out I pushed really hard to have it released on vinyl. We did it and it did all right. And now it seems that in the last five years there’s been a small resurgence in people liking vinyl again so I love it. I love CDs when I go on tour because it’s really easy to listen to it but when I’m home and I can actually buy a record and take it home and touch it and feel it and play it, even if it’s not 100% perfect, I love all the imperfections. It’s like trading cards.

How many records do you own?

I probably own about 350 vinyl records and 300 7 inches. Most of my stuff is actually old reggae. Like ‘60s and ‘70s reggae. About 15 years ago I went to London, before you could buy everything on the internet, and I probably spent 2000$ on records and had to pay extra to bring all the stuff back home. I’m actually looking for a Texas Tornado record. They have an accordion player that I’m a big fan of. It’s hard to fucking find. But most of the time I’m looking for old soul, old reggae, old punk rock if I’m really looking for a certain thing. But I mostly collect old reggae. That’s my game.  

What would you say is the hardest Flogging Molly song to play for you as an accordion player?

Most of the songs that have really fast riffs can be hard because depending on where we are when we play it sometimes we have a few too many drinks or the crowd is really going for it and forces songs to speed up and I just can tell you that there’s some nights on tour…I’m the accordion player so I don’t make the beat. I just follow whatever happens. Sometime the band is going to start a song and play it at the speed of light and I know I can play it right but it’s difficult.  I’m looking at my hands but can barely even see my fingers because I have to do these runs very rapidly.

What’s the first punk rock show you saw?

It was The Ramones and the Screamin’ Sirens. It was in Hollywood and it was probably in 1985 or ’84.

What would you say is the most dangerous show you ever saw?

I think there were a lot of shows in those days that were kind of dangerous. It really just depended of where you were in the world. Like in Los Angeles or in Hollywood there were a lot of competitive scenes. There were different punk rock gangs and fucking skinheads crews. There was people getting stabbed and people getting beat up. I remember getting out of the way of 20 people when they charged a bunch of other people at that Ramones show and someone got stabbed. It was just a fucking disaster. I’ve seen a lot of crazy shit but it all blurs. When I was living in Chicago I used to build skate board ramps for a club that got GG Allin to play and that was crazy. First of all he didn’t have his own equipment so he borrowed all these people equipment in Chicago and by the second song he lit the whole fucking stage on fire. All these poor people equipment got burned down. They got irritated to watch their high end equipment getting burned to shit. Then a lot of yuppies from the suburbs showed up. They looked at GG Allin like he was a show, like if he wasn’t real, just meant to entertain you. But they had no idea that he was the real deal. They were all like putting their arms on the stage like if nothing was going to happen. GG Allin saw it and kicked this guy in the fucking face and just knocked him clean fucking out. The ambulance showed up, fire department showed up, they shut the fucking place down. He almost killed some people. It was pretty dangerous.


Flogging Molly sera en spectale le 30 septembre à l’Agora du Port de Québec à 20h00 dans le cadre du festival Envol & Macadam.

Le groupe sera aussi en show au CEPSUM à Montréal le samedi 1er octobre avec Rise Against et The Black Pacific. Une présentation de Greenland.


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