Acclaimed Los Angeles punk rock band The Bronx will release their long awaited fourth album, The Bronx (IV), on February 5, 2013 via White Drugs/ATO Records. In anticipation the band has released a new song, “Ribcage,” which is streaming now at and available for download on iTunes and Amazon as well as on limited edition 7” vinyl, along with a previously unreleased b-side “Into The Black”.
For the better part of a decade, The Bronx have played provocateurs. From their beginnings as an attack-mode hardcore band to their hardscrabble lives as road warriors to the twist of fate that led to their alter ego Mariachi El Bronx — an episode that itself was an act of defiance — the Los Angeles quintet has embraced a fierce independence. As they prepare for the February 2013 release of their fourth rock album, one thing’s for certain: The Bronxhave grown up, but they haven’t gone soft.
“This represents the highest evolution of the band, which is exactly how it should be be,” vocalist Matt Caughthran says of the album fans inevitably will come to know as The Bronx (IV). “We’re the same guys, but we would never make the same record twice. And because of everything that’s happened with El Bronx, we’ve grown as musicians. And that’s why on this record you’ll hear that the songs are driving everything.”
The Bronxburst on the scene in 2002 with music that recalled the heyday of L.A. punk — artillery-fire guitars and percussion punctuating anguished missives about the perils of street life and the frayed edges of society. Now the band (Caughthran, guitarists Joby J. Ford and Ken Horne, bassist Brad Magers and drummer Jorma Vik) frames its aggression in different and, yes, more sophisticated ways.
“We made an effort to trim the fat and focus the ideas a lot more,” Ford explains. “It helped that we’re working in our own studio, with our friend (producer/engineer) Beau Burchell, and that we know what we want to do and how to get there very quickly.”
The Bronx (IV) also reflects a certain musicality that the band acknowledges is a carryover from its work over two albums as a mariachi outfit. Mariachi El Bronxstarted as an act of rebellion in 2006 when the punk band took offense to being asked to do an acoustic performance and showed up in sombreros with a mariachi arrangement of the song “Dirty Leaves. Now El Bronx has taken on a life of its own, with its reverent, enthusiastic take on the genre winning fans worldwide.
“I think that after doing the mariachi records, it gave us a whole new outlook and a more structured way of writing music. We figured out what works best,” Vik says. “Everything is less spazzy. Matt doesn’t scream as much, but he’s got that thing in his voice where he can scream in pitch — mariachi has helped his confidence as a singer and ours as songwriters.”
Indeed, Caughthran admits, “I found that a lot of melodies crept in subliminally and I didn’t even realize it until later.” “Will both bands eventually encapsulate each other and become this horrible mariachi rock monster?” Ford says, laughing. “I wonder.”
Produced by Beau Burchell, The Bronx (IV) shows no overt sign of that. It does, however, seethe with band’s characteristic rage, even if that rebellion is not quite as youthful as it once was. The single “Youth Wasted”is Caughthran’s fearless look back “at a lot of the bad decisions I made,” he says. “I’d like to think that as a human being I have the best intentions and I’m a good person. Sometimes it doesn’t always work out that way.”
Call it another chapter of Bronx lore. For a band that survived two near-death experiences involving their tour van in their first 18 months, that weathered label problems that undermined albums No. 2 and 3 and that even made it through a mid-career summer on the Warped Tour, it’s all part of destiny that only occasionally feels in the Bronx’s hands.
“We made this record on our terms,” Ford says. “We don’t have to rent a studio for a zillion dollars or pay some mega-producer to help us, because we’ve become self-reliant. It’s been a long road and we’re proud of it.”
Road warriors as they are, The Bronx recently wrapped up a headline tour of the UK and Europe, and will head back out for select dates in the U.S., to be announced soon, before returning to the UK in February in support of the new album The Bronx (IV).
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