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It was the Holiday season, a cherished time to spend with family. Nathen Maxwell, bassist for Flogging Molly, the premier Irish American Punk band from L.A, was enjoying a precious lull from a demanding work schedule of touring and record making. Just days before Christmas, he arrived home in Denver from North Carolina where he and the band were recording their next studio album. Now, for the past week, he had been decompressing with his wife and 3 kids (baby, 4 & 8 yoa) and enjoying the festive time of year through the eyes of his children. “We”re in the heart of the magic right now,” he told the Celtic Connection (CC) by telephone, “All three, even the baby are firing on all magical cylinders ” it”s been a big year for Santa.” he added with a chuckle. Today was the first measurable snowfall of the winter in Denver and Nathan decided to take his family to the Museum of Nature and Science. Having moved to Denver in a December 2006 snow storm, the Southern California native had long since acclimated to Colorado”s extreme weather and driving conditions. “We arrived in Denver right in the middle of a record blizzard– through that experience I had my training wheels removed pretty quickly for driving in snow.” Now, back home from the museum, he was spinning some old “Rocksteady” vinyl, relaxing to the Jamaican sounds of the late 1960″s that were a precursor to reggae. “It”s a music that always connected to my heartbeat,” he reflected as he took time to chat with the CC about Flogging Molly, family, music, and his new Denver based band the “Original Bunny Gang” Nathan moved from California to Denver as a matter of practicality. “My wife is from Denver and she has a large family. I travel for a living and spend a lot of time on the road, leaving my wife alone at home with the kids – so it is important that she has the support group she needs while I”m out there doing my thing” Being away from his family for lengths of time can take a toll on Nathan, but he wards of negative thoughts with a positive perspective. “When I”m gone for a couple of months at a time, I will think about the troops (overseas) ” think about what they and their families go through and it provides quite a bit of inspiration to me, especially right before I go on stage and I”m tired or sick or whatever.” Nathan”s described his sense of family and time in fatherhood as “life changing” and it was, “like having something bigger than yourself to live for.” With equal measure of humor and sincerity he added, “I wouldn”t be alive right now if I didn”t have kids…Children change you and reveal a certain part of the mystery of life to you and it make you see things in a different way.” In 2011 Nathan will turn 33 and celebrate his 15th years with Flogging Molly. He seemed almost surprised as he recalled, “It”s the longest that I have ever done anything! He was 17 when he first started hanging out with Flogging Molly, or what became known as Flogging Molly, while the band was doing a residency in Molly Malones pub (ergo the band name) in L.A. “I was a musician at a young age, and that”s all that I wanted to do, and I had a father who helped point me in the right direction and he introduced me to several of the people who became the band Flogging Molly — and I just went from there.” Candidly, he did not claim to be a young prodigy, but he did hold another intangible often associated with success. “I”ve always had a sincere passion for the music that I believe in, like Flogging Molly and the Original Bunny Gang. According to Dave (King, band leader) that”s what made the difference from my lack of practice, he said that a lack of passion is unforgivable ” if you make a mistake you can recover, but if you don”t have the passion forget it. I think that”s what secured my position in Flogging Molly.” The passion also carried the young musician through initial insecurities. “Sometimes I would think, I can”t do this or I can”t do that, but I love it so much that I just do it. I was so into hardcore punk rock and roots reggae that I feel like, stylistically I had that in my blood and in my bones, I felt like I had it down in a way.” On his long list of admired bass players, the first three Nathan mentioned were Aston “Family man” Barrett who played with Bob Marley & the Wailers, Sid Vicious ( born John Simon Ritchie) of the Sex Pistols, and Paul Simonon of The Clash. The self-taught musician admires them all for different reasons, but he does not try to emulate anyone stylistically. Open to improving on his own technique, he took his first base lesson last month while in North Carolina with Flogging Molly, and seemed to have enjoyed the experience. “I”ve always just gone off on pure feeling ” does it feels right, does it move me, and for the most part that”s how I still react to music. But, it is liberating in a way, to become aware of things that you don”t know and slowly start finding those little pieces of information that can benefit you and study them. I”m definitely learning ” I have a lot to learn.” Jason admitted that his lack of structured schooling in his craft has on occasion left him on the peripheral of some conversations on music. “When it comes to other forms of music– in just being a more well-rounded musician, someone who can speak in musical terms ” I”ve never been that guy. That”s always been a struggle for me when I”m around very, very talented musicians and multi-instrumentalists that can read and speak music, I”ve always felt a little bit intimidated.” He does not enter the debate on what”s good music or bad music ” However he does know what he likes. “I”m kind of like a musical agnostic, I don”t really have a deep opinion of music other than what I love and what moves me and that crosses all genres and categories of music. I”ve heard my self say many times that I love all genres of music, but I think about 95% of them are shit. But, I do think every genre exists for a reason, and that they are an outlet for someone playing a style of music that”s authentic and comes from the soul.” Nathan has created his own outlet in forming the Original Bunny Gang (OBG). OBG is not “Flogging Molly Light” ” It has a roots based sound that sometimes leans toward reggae. He explained, “I grew up in southern CA and reggae was just a part of my upbringing along with the whole Ska and surf culture. I”m sure a lot of people here in the mountains grew up with reggae as well. It was something that was always on in the house along with classic 70″s music.” OBG gives Nathan a vehicle to create and deliver his own music. “It”s just a really great opportunity to express in a way that isn”t Flogging Molly” He continued to explain, “I write songs, I don”t know exactly why I do it, but it is a big part of my life and I love to do it — kind of like healing in a way — so, I don”t want to premeditate what I”m writing or how I”m writing it ” it gives me an outlet to release my original music without worrying if it fits in the direction of Flogging Molly, which I”m just a member of the collective following the direction of Dave King the captain of the ship.” So, is there a possibility that OBG would open a show for Flogging Molly? “Oh, I personally don”t think I would be to interested in that,” Nathen pondered the question, leaving the door open to the idea. “I don”t know, it would have to be the right occasion. If it was presented right, I wouldn”t be 100% against it.” On further thought he hedged, “I just take both gigs so seriously that I need to focus ” When I”ve got my Flogging Molly hat on I just like to focus on that ” it”s a pretty powerful thing. Likewise going out there with the Bunny Gang it is a totally different ball of wax as far as singing and playing guitar and not bass. It”s a stamina thing too, by the end of the show I feel like I”ve given my all ” so to do that back to back, I don”t know if I want to sign-up for that.” Focusing on 2011, Nathen has scheduled some January OBG shows in Colorado. We want to do as many local shows as we can to let people know that we exist and that we”re out here as a local Denver band. We also will spend time together working on music and recording a new album.” But everything hinges on Flogging Molly”s schedule. “Come February we”ll start a pretty massive Flogging Molly tour.” During the past 15 years Nathan has performed on impressive stages around the world with Flogging Molly ” When asked which was has favorite gig, his answer was not surprisingly in his own back yard. “We got a chance to play Red Rocks in 2009, headlining with a L.A. reggae band called Hebcat, one of my favorite bands. My family was there, and just to be on that stage with its giant beautiful monoliths and its history ” Bob Marley, The Beatles, and all the great bands that have played there — it was one of the greatest moments in my life without a doubt.” (January 2011 Celtic Connection, Pat McCullough) The Original Bunny Gang ” January Colorado concert dates: 1/13 Ghost Ranch Saloon, Steamboat Springs; 1/14 Gothic Theatre, Englewood; 1/15 Sandbar, Vail; 1/20 Goat Soup & Whiskey Tavern, Keystone; 1/21 Triple Nickel Tavern, Colorado Springs For Updates check www.NathenMaxwell.com and www.FloggingMolly.com

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