Flogging Molly has never been one to shy from darker topics.
The Celtic- and punk rock-influenced band's most recent album, "Speed of Darkness" (Borstal Beat Records) reflects the despair and pain of those struggling to cope with the country's lingering recession.
Given the still uncertain state of the economy - and recent developments such as the city of Detroit filing for bankruptcy - audiences should be able to connect with the tracks for the foreseeable future, according to Flogging Molly guitarist-vocalist Dennis Casey.
"I think middle America and lower-income people are still really having a hard time," says Casey, who performs with the band on Thursday, Aug. 1, at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City.
"'Speed of Darkness' will resonate for years to come, as long as this social and economic situation continues the way it is. There are other songs that are pretty timeless that could apply to any generation at any time. Unfortunately, this is not going to end anytime soon."
Founded in 1997, Flogging Molly has always been a band that's hard to peg, given its penchant for writing songs-as-social-commentary, paired with upbeat music that helps transform the band's live shows into instant parties. Flogging Molly's Dublin-born front man and chief songwriter, Dave King, has sought to put a modern spin on the Irish knack for making light out of the toughest circumstances. Casey talks about the challenge of balancing the dark with the need to entertain, and why the band's disparate members continue to click after so many years together.
Q: You're known for your dark material, but there's usually a glimmer of hope, too. Is that a tone you deliberately try to strike?
A: We've done that since Day 1. If you listen to our first album, "Swagger," there are songs on that about losing your father or loved one at such a young age. Dave's father passed away when he was very young.
There's a certain sentiment I find after being in this band and among Irish people, having all these horrible times and troubles. They combine a certain element of optimism or humor, instead of just completely dour, dark brooding. There's a little bit of looking on the bright side of things as well.
Q: But if you just listen to the music, you might not suspect how serious the lyrics can get.
A: Sonically, it sounds chipper and upbeat –– you want to grab a beer and smash into your friends and fall on your face drunk and have fun. I think you can express sentiments of lost love and losing your job and the things that happen in everyday life, but at the end of it, you can't just keep harping on it.
You have to move on. Irish culture has always had that little twinkle of optimism or humor at the end of such a horrible thing.
Q: What's the creative process like, as the band preps for a potential return to the recording studio in 2014?
A: Dave is our principal songwriter. We purposely had a light year, so he can write and focus on a new record. Me, personally, I'm always coming up with song ideas and parts that I record. Whatever sticks –– sticks. Whatever works –– works.
All the other band members do the same. When we get together, we try to fit it all together. Sometimes, you don't use any of the ideas you had for a song, and come up with new things on the spot.
Q: You've done several live albums, but are considering another one. How will this live record be different?
A: We've been recording every show for the last 10 years. We want to go back and find some real gems –– some real magical moments –– and put them out on a record. That will take some time, but that will be a fun project to find some of those magical nights, or songs, or improv. Sometimes we just start playing a Johnny Cash song, and a couple of times it just sounded so great.
Q: How do you explain the chemistry behind the band?
A: We are seven completely different people from all walks of life, different ages, different countries and different backgrounds. We couldn't be more different as people. But the band is what solidifies us, and we've grown together. I call it my second family.
When we take time off, whenever we start playing again, it's Flogging Molly. You can't deny it. It's the chemistry we have together.
The legacy of the band is our chemistry.