According to Bureau of Labor statistics released in October, Detroit is suffering from a 27 percent rate of employment, over double that of the national average.
It’s a situation that served as the inspiration for Flogging Molly’s latest album, The Speed of Darkness, a dozen songs penned by frontman Dave King, who calls Detroit home.
Hard times are readily evident according to guitarist Dennis Casey, who along with his bandmates, saw the devastation firsthand when they stayed in town for a few weeks working on the record.
“I never spent that much time in Detroit. We’ve played there a bunch of times and most times, we’d hung around the area of the venue,” Casey explained. “But then you get in a car and start driving around and it looks like a surreal warzone. Buildings that are burnt down and razed houses where there are weeds growing out of everything. Then there are these huge factories and train stations that are completely abandoned, crumbling and tagged with graffiti all over them. Everything is gutted and you’re looking at this and thinking that we’re living in the richest country in the world. I’ve never seen a city like that and we’ve traveled a lot all over the U.S. for the past 15 years and there is no other place like that.”
Fusing anthemic rock with the adornments of traditional Irish instrumentation like Uillean pipes and tin whistles, FM exists in the same stylistic neighborhood as The Pogues and Dropkick Murphys.
It’s a sound that’s used to great effect whether it’s in “Revolution,” with lyrics about a canned 27-year factory worker with mouths to feed that signed up for the American dream are wrapped around a breakneck tempo, choppy riffs and wailing fiddle. Or how the protagonist of “The Power’s Out” proudly declares his Detroit roots, not wanting pity but merely a job as a button accordion adds an almost lively air to these otherwise couplets of despair.
But for as dour as thing come across on most of Darkness, Casey was quick to point out that King did wind up leaving some room for hope by way of the closing song “Rise Up.”
“[‘Rise Up’] is the last song and it kind of paints a bit of hope because the rest of the album is pretty bleak,” explained the Rochester native. “Dave is from Ireland and he has that way [the Irish] have of taking a horrible situation and putting a twist on it with a bit of hope. I think that comes from [living in] a country that’s been war-torn for however many hundreds of years.”
And while the surroundings of Michigan’s largest city are quite grim, Casey has nothing but great things to say about his adopted home of Long Island.
Married to a Farmingdale native, the father of three, (with one on the way), has been settled in Northport for the past year and a half after living in California and upstate New York for the past decade plus. During his brief time as a resident, he’s made a habit of riding his bike around to explore and making plenty of pleasant discoveries.
“I’ve been coming to Long Island with my wife for about seven years now but to live here has been really great,” he admitted. “The North Shore is really nice and I’ve discovered some really beautiful towns. The thing I’m finding out about Long Island is that it seems very family-oriented and very friendly. I’m either lucky or maybe it’s where I’ve been going or where I live.”
Flogging Molly will be appearing at The Paramount on Thursday, June 14. For more information, please visit call 800-745-3000 or visit www.paramountny.com