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Flogging Molly bassist finding his own way

Randy Wyrickrwyrick@vaildaily.comVail, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily/Chris Donez
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AVON, Colorado – Nathen Maxwell doesn’t have a backup plan, and that makes him a very entertaining and energetic fellow.Maxwell spent the last decade playing bass for the Celtic rock/punk band Flogging Molly, which is still his No. 1 job, he says. But there’s this other thing that wouldn’t leave him alone.When Flogging Molly went into the studio to record Float, Maxwell brought some songs along. He played them for the guys in the group, who then told him they were great and he should record them.So he did and his album White Rabbit was born.The road opened before him and it brings him and the band, Nathen Maxwell and the Original Bunny Gang, to Agave Thursday.”All I’ve got is music. I’ve got no plan B, no wealthy family members and no savings,” Maxwell said. “But I have these songs and this music I’ve been wanting to do for a decade. Now just seemed like the right time to do it.”Flogging Molly relaxed its grueling touring schedule in 2009, down from more than 200 dates per year. Maxwel now has the time, the songs and the desire.Maxwell migrated to the Denver area from Los Angeles, and he and the Original Bunny Gang are becoming more prominent in the Colorado music scene.White Rabbit has something of a reggae feel in spots. If you like Bob Marley, you’ll like this. But Maxwell does not limit himself. Jack Johnson fans will want to come along for the ride, as will Manu Chao fans.It’s a tall order and a constant challenge – living up to Flogging Molly’s considerable body of work, but not rehashing it.Seconds into the opening cut, it becomes obvious that Maxwell has mastered the challenge. The kid can write music. He replaces Flogging Molly’s Celtic theme with more of a reggae feel. Most of it’s by design; some of it’s just doing the best with what he has.”My guitar playing is very limited to rhythm and my rhythms are really limited to certain strumming patterns and a reggae skank, but aside from that it was really about whatever came naturally,” Maxwell said. “I was a little anxious and stressed out when we went into the studio because it was my first time doing something like this, but in the end it was just an amazing experience.”And Maxwell is a dandy songwriter. His lyrics actually say good stuff.”I come from a pretty hardcore punk background. I found that when I put on a hardcore punk record, people didn’t want to hear it unless they were already into it,” he said. “But if you put on a reggae record, people seem to be more open to the music because the approach is a little softer.”Maxwell says playing bass for Flogging Molly still gets top priority, a gig he considers “the best job in the world.”But opportunity doesn’t knock all that often in life, and if you don’t open the door and let it in it strolls down the street to someone else’s door.”I really see this project as limitless,” Maxwell said. “I have this music inside me that is not Flogging Molly music and it was just time get it out into the universe and see what it does. Because I’m up for anything.”


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