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“For so long, people have told us that we were just a novelty,” says Matt Hensley, accordion player with Flogging Molly. “They didn’t give us any credit. They told our manager that what we did [Irish rock] was completely not viable.”

After ten years, Flogging Molly earned some validation last week: the band’s sixth album, Float, debuted at number 4 on Billboard’s top 200 album chart, selling 48,000 copies in its first week of release. In San Diego, 1000 discs were sold (only Jack Johnson’s new release was in higher demand).

The sales success is notable because the Side One Dummy label released Float; independent-label artists (excepting bands such as Radiohead, the Shins, Interpol) don’t usually chart well.

When Hensley opened his 275-capacity bar/music venue called Hensley’s Flying Elephant last year, he announced that he would no longer go on tour; he said he wanted to stay near his wife, young son, and new bar.

“But it just didn’t feel right,” says Hensley, who rejoined the band on the U.S. tour that just ended. When he’s in town, he appears at his bar with other Irish musicians every Thursday from 8 to 10 p.m.

“I was thinking about having a couple guys from the band sit in with me, but I think I’d be afraid to have the whole band play in my club; there might be a problem with too many people.”

Hensley appears tonight and March 27 at the Flying Elephant. The band resumes a tour of Japan, Australia, and Europe next month.

– Ken Leighton

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