This is the first single from the Irish American punk band Flogging Molly's fifth album, Speed of Darkness. The majority of the record was written in Detroit, the city where frontman Dave King and his wife, Flogging Molly fiddler Bridget Regan, reside. It was recorded at Echo Mountain, an old church building turned recording studio in Asheville, North Carolina.
The song has been described as a rebel rousing commentary on the economic downturn, and frontman Dave King told Rock AAA it was a situation he felt he had to write about. He explained: "The single is all about the state of the economy all over the world but especially in Ireland and Detroit. You can't get away from it and as a writer it angers me and gives me something to grab my megaphone and go shouting about it.
The problems in Detroit are terrible and the population has fallen to less than 700,000 and people are leaving by the bucket load. Ireland is in dire straits which is so sad to see and a lot of bands don't want to go there with their music but we have. There is so much bulls--t in music and don't get me wrong I don't have the solutions to the problems but we want to let people know we are there with them and it is about solidarity and getting things off their chest. Ireland is in dire straits which is so sad to see and a lot of bands don't want to go there with their music but we have."
The initial idea for the song came to Dave King when he was behind the wheel. He explained to AOL: "I was inspired to write 'Don't Shut 'Em Down' by driving down the freeway to Detroit City. On the side of the freeway was a closed-down and boarded-up building with "Don't Shut 'Em Down" written in huge graffiti writing. All I could think to myself was, 'no, don't shut 'em down.' The economic situation is the same in Ireland right now. People are leaving the country because of it. We've been on tour constantly for the past few years and we've seen many of the cities that we've grown familiar with and come to love, just disappear. People have been forced out their jobs and their homes. It's really saddening and the least I can do as a songwriter is give a social commentary on what I see."