Dave King and his Celtic punk ensemble Flogging Molly are so popular on the concert circuit, they can tour year-round on the strength of their five-album catalog. Yet the schedule meant that the group kept tabling plans for the new, six-years-in-the-making album “Life Is Good” (with the 2016 singles “The Guns of Jericho” and “The Hand of John L. Sullivan”). “At the end of our last tour, I said, ‘We have to stop and go our own separate ways, write what you want to write, and then get back together and record a new album, because if we don’t make that decision, we’re never going to do it,’” King says.
Who’s the wee lad flipping the bird in the “Life” album cover photo?
That is Connor, me and (wife/band fiddler) Bridget’s nephew. He was in the car in the back seat while his mom was sending a message to Bridget, and she was giving Bridget the finger. And she turned around and there was Connor with his little finger sticking out, copying his mother. So she took a photo of it, thinking nothing. But when we were looking at album covers, we wanted the album to be called “Life is Good,” but life is not good, and we needed something that humorously pointed that out.
This album taps into the reeling euphoria of your definitive second 2002 disc, “Drunken Lullabies.”
Yeah, it does have that atmosphere. But that was just the way that it happened. Living between Detroit and Ireland — which lyrically is where I take sabbaticals and work — things were getting better in both places after the (Celtic Tiger economy) crash. So there was a little bit more optimism about the surroundings I was in. And things stick to you, atmospheres stick to you. And recorded the album in Ireland, as well, so that had something to do with it.
And John L. Sullivan is the story of a hugely successful 1890s immigrant — the antithesis to Trump’s proposed travel ban?
That was the whole idea of the song. My dad was a huge boxing fan, and when I was a kid, the boxing matches would be on at 2 or 3 in the morning. But my dad would get me out of bed, even though it was a school day, to watch the match. I always remember him saying, “I want to be the man who shakes the hand of John L. Sullivan,” because that’s what Irish Bostonians used to say. Because he was not only the biggest sports star in the world, he was also regarded as the first celebrity.
IF YOU GO
Where: Fox Theater, 1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland
When: 8 p.m. May 4
Contact: (510) 302-2250, www.ticketmaster.com