Posts Tagged ‘Epitaph Records’

Growing up and growing old with The Menzingers

Since forming as teenagers in 2006, The Menzingers have shown their strength as rough-and-tumble storytellers,turning out songs equally rooted in frenetic energy and lifelike detail. On their new album Hello Exile, the Philadelphia-based punk band take their lyrical narrative to a whole new level and share their reflections on moments from the past and present:high-school hellraising, troubled relationships, aging and alcohol and political ennui. And while their songs often reveal certain painful truths,Hello Exile ultimately maintains the irrepressible spirit that’s always defined the band.

The Menzingers’ Greg Barnett turned 31 this year, but his fans don’t need to be told that. On just about every record the Philadelphia band has released over the last 12 years, the singer and guitarist has alluded to how old he is and how he feels about it.

The band’s first four albums saw the four-piece navigating youth with reckless abandon: driving drunk, living in rodent-infested apartments, stomaching romantic failures, getting high on shift breaks at shitty jobs, partying way too much, and struggling to pay rent. But the band’s most recent album, 2017’s After the Party, opened with “Tellin’ Lies,” a song that had Barnett staring down the big 3-0, sobering up, and pondering, “Where are we gonna go now that our twenties are over?”

“My dad made fun of me when he first heard that song,” says Barnett. “He was like, ‘What are you talking about, man? Your thirties are the best decade of your entire life! In your twenties, you have no idea what’s going on. You and all your friends are broke, you’re constantly trying to figure things out, it’s a train wreck. But in your thirties, you start to understand yourself and understand others. You find your career path and things start to make sense.’ And I was like, you know what? You’re right. Why did I put it in my head that it’s all doom and gloom? It really shifted my mindset.”

Then again, Barnett’s father never played in a punk band. Time moves faster in music than in the real world. One day you’re the new kids on the scene and the next you feel aged out of it. When Barnett started The Menzingers as a quasi-ska project with three high school friends Tom May, Eric Keen, and Joe Godino in Scranton, he was a baby-faced teenager who got teased by older, more established bands.

“When we first started touring, all of us were always the young ones. We played a couple shows with NOFX and they just made fun of how little we were. And touring with Against Me!, too, we were always that young band,” says Barnett. “I always think about how we got to play The Lawrence Arms’ ten-year anniversary show in 2008. That was a really big show for us at the time — a sold-out show at The Metro, a historic club. I think I was 19 or 20, and I remember Brendan [Kelly] and Neil [Hennessy] and Chris [McCaughan], they were like my age now, and they had to constantly remind me of what a little baby I was. I was like, ‘What are you talking about? I’m an adult here!’”

But after over a decade of heavy touring and grinding it out, sharing stages with Philadelphia’s next crop of young bands like Modern Baseball, Barnett woke up one day to realize that The Menzingers aren’t punk’s little babies anymore. Now, five albums into their career, they’re on the verge of easing into a new role as the genre’s elder statesmen. Their new record, Hello Exile out October 4th via Epitaph Records embraces that, and kicks off with them already looking ahead at what comes next with the lyric: “How do I steer my early thirties, before I shipwreck, before I’m 40?”

“That line was me thinking I wanted to write a political song but asking: What else am I going to do about that?” says Barnett. “You need to do things besides just saying it. I want to make sure I start off a new decade by making sure I’m fighting the right fight and I’m on the right team and I’m helping the causes I believe in. How do I make sure I don’t let an entire decade go by without helping any type of social change that I believe in?”

It’s a thought Barnett wouldn’t have had the foresight to consider on the band’s early records, which were largely marked by the mistakes of adolescence. But now he’s contemplating how to mature gracefully and, as he’s been discovering, so are his fans.

“Our fanbase has grown with us this entire time. When we first started out, everybody was 17, 18, 19. The fans we get now, it tends to be people who are relatively close to our age group,” he says. “A lot of fans come up and say that it’s special to have a band that they’ve been able to follow as they’ve grown up — a lot of similar life challenges and similar questions and things they’re facing.”

Most fans hopped on the Menzingers train around their breakout album, 2012’s On The Impossible Past, a masterpiece of mid-twenties misadventures. The album is a young person’s idea of what it means to feel old. It’s when Barnett started noticing more Menzingers tattoos and when fans started telling him that his music has helped them transition into adulthood. He’s heard from more than a few people that the album’s love ballad “Gates” has been used as a wedding song.

“We make jokes sometimes that we just need to become a wedding band because the amount of emails we get about playing people’s weddings is insane,” Barnett laughs. “It’s so flattering, the idea that this is the biggest moment in a couple’s life, and they want us to be a part of it. That’s really incredible. A lot of people have connected with these songs in ways we had never even dreamed of.”

Hello Exile, The Menzingers’ greatest statement on adulthood to date, ends with a reflection on how far they’ve come since their scrappy Scranton beginnings. Its closing track, “Farewell Youth,” is, as the title suggests, something of a eulogy for the carefree nights of their impossible past. “Farewell, youth, I’m afraid I hardly got to know you / I was always hanging out with the older kids,” Barnett sings.

“I was a person who grew up really fast,” Barnett says of the track. “I was 13, hanging out with the seniors, going to shows, and they were giving me records. I remember being an 18-year-old on tour, having to wait outside the club because I was under 21. I had to wait until I had to play, and then be kicked out of the club again. We toured a lot like that, and it did feel like youth went very fast in that way. I always rushing to be older, always rushing to change.”

Looking at the road ahead, it’s hard to know whose footsteps The Menzingers should follow. All of the bands they’ve looked up to and cite as influences have faced problems of their own. Their Turnpike brethren in The Gaslight Anthem went on indefinite hiatus after their fifth album. Against Me! still endure, but have gone through their share of member changes over the years. The Menzingers have maintained the same lineup since the band’s inception, and have never gone more than three years without releasing a new album.

The Menzingers Are:
Eric Keen – Bass
Greg Barnett – Vocals, Guitar
Joe Godino – Drums, Percussion
Tom May – Vocals, Guitar

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It’s probably too late now to assign a Song of the Summer 2019, but “Bummer” makes for the perfect anthem to a long-anticipated crack-up in the waning days of August. Weezer-y guitars quickly make way for a desperate, shouted chorus, screeching guitars, and a breakdown I have literally considered writing home about if my parents had any idea what in Henry Rollins’ name slam dancing is.

“Bummer” by Save Face from the Save Face / Graduating Life Split, available 12th September.

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There is a true weariness in “Repine,” which ostensibly serves as the centrepiece of the script-flipping Keep You record. It’s the clearest in the pained, aching vocals, but it weaves its way through the bristling guitar patterns and the emphatic thud of the verses’ half-speed drum flams. A beacon of light peers through in the song’s refrain, in a manner befitting a crack in the roofing allowing for a ray of sunlight to emerge from the darkness. “Your wick won’t burn away,” it chants. It’s a hope against hope, and one prays that it resonates with the truth. Somehow. Someway.

Band Members
Kyle Durfey, Chad McDonald, Michael York, David Haik, Zac Sewell

“Repine” by Pianos Become The Teeth from the album ‘Keep You,’ available now!

Culture Abuse / Nothing cover - New Noise Magazine Issue 41

The Culture Abuse / Nothing flexi features an exclusive track from both bands (listen below), and is included with the flexi version of New Noise Magazine Issue #41.

Culture Abuse will be releasing their new album Bay Dream tomorrow, June 15th, through Epitaph Records. Don’t think the lead singer of Culture Abuse is wasted. In fact he has cerebral palsy. “They think I’m fucked up no matter what,” says David Kelling, “so I’ll just act like I’m partying to make people more comfortable.” Kelling explains that cerebral palsy, a condition that reduces muscle strength and motor skills, “affects everything” in his life. People stare at him on the street, he learned to play the guitar with his fingers because he can’t hold a pick.  Kelling’s disability affects his movement on the right side of his body – he walks with a limp and often finds it hard to get on and off stage. The band supported Green Day at Hyde Park, last year and have now planned an extensive UK tour later this year. Kelling writes all the band’s music, which he has previously described as “the Clash and the Ramones mixed with some Nirvana”,

“Each of the 4,500 frames was printed out and 400+ hours went into folding, drawing, spray painting, tearing, taping and manipulating each page, and then it was all scanned back in and edited together. This is an incredible piece of work that we’re all so stoked to share with you guys!! Make art with your friends, it’s a lot of fun!” – Culture Abuse

Culture Abuse from the album ‘Bay Dream,’ available now

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Culture Abuse release their sophomore album Bay Dream. Featuring new single Calm E, Bay Dream is the San Francisco Bay Area-bred band’s first full-length release for Epitaph Records. Produced, engineered, and mixed by Carlos de la Garza (Paramore, Jimmy Eat World, M83), Bay Dream follows Culture Abuse’s 2016 debut Peach. The album elevates their melody-heavy garage punk to a new level, drawing inspiration from artists as eclectic as Sly and the Family Stone, Paul Simon, and reggae legend Billy Boyo.

“Dip” by Culture Abuse from the album ‘Bay Dream,’ available now

Teenage Wrist (Photo by Dan Monick)

“The world is bigger, brighter and more terrifying than you ever imagined,” Teenage Wrist singer-guitarist Marshall Gallagher says. That was as true in the ’90s when the L.A. trio’s sound was all the rage as it is now, when the band is making rolling waves of distorted guitars, feedback and angsty wonder sound like it is, well, currently all the rage. The trio — Gallagher, with bassist-singer Kamtin Mohager and drummer Anthony Salazar — announced back in November that they had signed to Epitaph Records, and today’s bulletin is that their debut album “Chrome Neon Jesus” will be out March 9. “Dweeb” is the latest neck-snapper of a single, a song about which Gallagher says: “That song and the record in general in my mind is about growing up and realizing that the world around you isn’t necessarily the one that you thought it would be.” No kidding.

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On new single “Charisma,” Pianos Become the Teeth move even further from their screamo roots than they did on 2014’s great “Keep You”, and the cleaner approach continues to work wonders for them. Keep You was a devastating album that revolved around the death of singer Kyle Durfey’s father, but “Charisma” sounds just a bit happier. It’s brighter and a bit more tender sounding, but not at the expense of how powerful Pianos Become the Teeth have always been. Kyle’s voice still soars, drummer David Haik is still out of this world, and the guitars still shine with the beauty of a post-rock band and the ferocity of a hardcore band. If the rest of the album is on this level,

Band Members:
Kyle Durfey, Chad McDonald, Michael York, David Haik, Zac Sewell