Tell Me About That Album: Speed of Darkness

Flogging Molly guitarist Dennis Casey on making a record with Jesus.

SW: Speed of Darkness was recorded in an old church. Does this make the album holier than the rest of your releases?

Casey: Absolutely not [laughs]. Our producer, Ryan Hewitt, had recorded the Avett Brothers there, and he recommended the place. When we got there, we thought it would be completely soundproofed like most studios, but they left up all the stained glass, so it did feel a little funny to be recording with Jesus in the background. But the light that would emanate into it created a really nice vibe.

This record seems like your biggest leap, both in terms of production and of songs stretching into new places—Springsteen territory, for example. Was this evolution or intent?

We’ve been doing this since 1997, and you can’t be a band that long and that tours 200 nights a year and not be a different band than 10 years ago. You’re not even the same person. I defy you to find anybody who is not different in 14 years, whether physically or mentally.

I think the same thing happens with a band musically. You get inspired by different things. We essentially try to make a record of the band at that point in time. And by record, I don’t mean a thing that turns on a turntable but a document of that time, like an audio photograph.

Where did the title come from?

The title came from a friend of [frontman Dave King], who’s a Croatian, and when he was growing up he was in the middle of the Balkan wars. He had a quote from a book that goes, “I was taught as a young man in school what the speed of light is, but I want to know what the speed of darkness is.” And that just resonated with Dave.

Folk and punk seem to thrive in tough times. With Dave writing the album in Detroit, a city long plagued by hardship, do you think Flogging Molly could exist in a more prosperous era?

A good song is a good song, and if you look at our music, not all of it is about one thing. There are songs about losing someone, songs about war, losing your home, love. Dave knows how to bring a song from the heart which can touch people in any circumstance.