DETROIT — Flogging Molly lead singer and lyricist Dave King took the saying “write what you know” to heart on his band’s latest album.
Speed of Darkness was written primarily in Detroit, a city hit harder than most by the economic downturn of the past few years.
All seven members of the group squeezed into the basement of the home King shares with his wife and fellow band member, Bridget Regan. They fine-tuned and rehearsed the songs, which focus on the recession and its harsh impact on the working class.
While not a concept album, Speed was clearly influenced by the band’s surroundings.
“We walk around here with him every day,” King said during a recent interview at the house, pointing to his panting dog, an Irish wolfhound. “And you’ll walk by six, seven, eight, nine houses that are just abandoned.”
One day, driving in the city, King spotted a burned-out factory on which someone had spray-painted the words: “Shut ’em down.” All of this “really started to affect” his songwriting, King said.
Regan said “the city started to become almost a muse for the album,” which is the first put out on Flogging Molly’s own record label, Borstal Beat.
Speed marks the fifth album for the genre-defying band that’s perfectly at home in front of fans of any number of musical types.
Speed of Darkness opened at No. 9; not bad for an oversized band that has never had a major-label record deal and whose members play instruments not typically associated with rock music — tin whistle, accordion, concertina and uilleann pipes.
“We were told by people in the music industry that we were nothing and would never amount to anything more than a bar band,” Regan said.
“We were like, ’Screw that. We’ll show them.”’
King and Regan met in 1997 at a Los Angeles bar called Molly Malone’s. They played the bar so often and for so long — a year and a half — they decided on the name Flogging Molly.