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Bad Cop / Bad Cop

Bad Cop Bad Cop has done angry. The band’s 2017 full-length, Warriors, was recorded in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election. The Los Angeles quartet’s new full-length, The Ride (Fat Wreck Chords, June 19th), shows what happens when you come out the other side of that anger.

“It’s not that I am just stoked or blind to suffering,” says singer-guitarist Jennie Cotterill. “I think anger is a legitimate and understandable reaction to injustice and wrongdoing. It’s just that for myself, I am trying to move past ‘reaction’ into productive ‘response.’”

The message BCBC is sending this time around is less about wagging your finger at others, or giving the middle one to the Man, than it is about self-love and acceptance. As Cotterill puts it, “Love is a more powerful truth than anger.” That positivity fuels many of The Ride’s tracks: “Originators,” “Simple Girl,” “Community,” “I Choose,” “Perpetual Motion Machine,” and “The Mirage” exude confidence, gratitude, and compassion. In 2020, such things qualify as contrarian.

“These are political statements—self-love is a huge fucking statement,” affirms singer-guitarist Stacey Dee. “Self-love means putting a fix on the problems at home before trying to fix everything in the world. It’s asking people to find it in themselves to create the life that they really want to have so they’re not in turmoil, so they’re not in a place of stress and sickness.”

Dee speaks from experience. In 2018 she was hospitalized twice for different ailments, then discovered she had stage one breast cancer at the end of the year. Fortunately it was highly treatable, but the experience was life-altering. Dee captures it with brutal frankness on “Breastless,” whose bright melodies belie the struggle described in the lyrics.

“Certain Kind of Monster” and “Pursuit of Liberty”—both written and sung by bassist Linh Le—are blistering repudiations of the current administration’s treatment of immigrants.

The former is an imagined conversation with an ICE agent, and the latter juxtaposes her family’s immigration to the U.S. from Vietnam in 1975 to current events, something she’s never explored musically.

The perspective behind The Ride lends it an undeniable maturity, without losing its power. Recorded throughout much of 2018 and 2019 by Johnny Carey and Fat Mike of production team the D-Composers, the album boasts all of the elements of BCBC’s sound: big guitars, lock-step bass and drums (the latter by powerhouse drummer Myra Gallarza), intricate vocal harmonies, and plenty of attitude.

It’s just that this time, the attitude is encouraging, not raging. Nowhere is that more apparent than lilting album closer “Sing With Me.” Built around acoustic guitar, piano, and Cotterill’s voice, it’s an exhortation to “sing with me / or sing your own song / I don’t mind, just as long as you find / a voice.”

Dee adds, “If people are listening to our songs and they’re going to sing along to them, they’re going to start owning some of those words. And in owning some of those words that gives them some strength and power going forward. That’s really the biggest gift that I could give to anybody.”
“Stronger in every way” aptly describes Bad Cop Bad Cop in 2020. The anger may have taken a back seat on The Ride, but what’s taken its place is even more powerful.

DS Interview: Jesse and Justin Bivona on The Interrupters’ new album, “In The Wild”

The fourth album can be a bit of a curious point on a band’s timeline. The dreaded “sophomore slump” has long been in the rearview, and generally by the time the fourth album roles around, a band is at or around the decade mark in their career. It can be a time of transition; a […]

The fourth album can be a bit of a curious point on a band’s timeline. The dreaded “sophomore slump” has long been in the rearview, and generally by the time the fourth album roles around, a band is at or around the decade mark in their career. It can be a time of transition; a time to build off some old influences and also to incorporate new feelings and directions out of a desire to keep from getting stale or repetitive. Sometimes, the results can be ground-breaking, at least sonically if not always commercially or critically. Ignorance Is Bliss by Face To Face, for example. Darkness On The Edge Of Town. No Code. Sandinista!. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Life Won’t Wait. Question The Answers. ZOSO, or however that translate without the ability to add runes to the text here. So on and so forth. 

And so here we find The Interrupters. The widely beloved LA-based ska punk band are back with In The Wild, due out August 5th on Hellcat Records. Recorded during the forced doldrums that were the shutdown of the last couple of years, the album finds the band (which surpassed the decade mark during said shutdown) building on the high-energy, rock-steady core that they’ve built over the course of three records and hundreds of shows, revealing a work that is their most varied, most introspective, and, subsequently, their best effort to date. 

We caught up with the band’s air-tight rhythm section, sensational twin brothers Jesse (drums) and Justin (bass) Bivona to talk about the album’s recording and its personal nature. While much of the process for In The Wild was similar to the band’s previous output, there were a few marked differences that shaped the direction of what was to come. As Jesse explains the fourth album cycle, “one of our little press points about this record and relating it to the previous records is that the first album is kind of like a first date, where you just talk about surface-level things, nothing too crazy. Second album, you start to let them know a little more about you. Third album, you’re kinda getting into the nitty-gritty. Fourth album, all the baggage is out, the drama is revealed, all the secrets are out.”

The secrets are indeed out in more ways than one on In The Wild. It is by far the band’s most personal album to date, and it’s their most sonically diverse album to date, and both of those things are by design. Thinking back to the early days of the band, specifically around the recording of the band’s self-titled 2014 debut record, Jesse describes that the band was “just trying to keep it simple. We weren’t trying to reinvent anything, we were just trying to be a straight-ahead ska-punk band.” The more cohesive the band god, the more layered and textured the sound became, and the more outside influences began to creep in. While still very much an Interrupters record, In The Wild showcases sounds that include traditional reggae and rock steady and 2-tone and 80s punk rock and ‘50s doo-wop. The album closes with “Alien,” which centers around Aimee’s soaring, heartfelt vocals and is, as Jesse points out, “the first Interrupters song with no guitar on it!

The seeds of In The Wild were initially sown in the early days of the pandemic shut down two years ago. The very early days. In fact, quite literally, the first day. The band had taken a few weeks off after wrapping a lengthy touring cycle for their 2017 album Fight The Good Fight – an album that continued the band’s launch into a higher stratosphere based in part on the crossover success of the single “She’s Kerosene” – in February, and was planning to return to Tim Armstrong’s studio in early March to begin work on album four. That plan was foiled just as it was beginning. “Day one of us going into the studio,” explains bass player Justin Bivona, “was that day where the NBA was canceling, and Tom Hanks had Covid…” After a few ‘wait and see’ days, recording plans – and, frankly, most of real life – got put on pause indefinitely, and the band retreated to what they affectionately refer to as The Compound; Justin and Jesse live in one house while the twins’ bandmates and, more importantly, older brother and sister-in-law Kevin and Aimee, live in the house next door. The two houses share a driveway and, more importantly, a garage, the latter of which would come in handy in a pandemic shutdown.

After some time spent doing what the rest of us did – binge-watching TV shows and movies, going for walks, and reflecting on their lives-to-date. As Justin tells it, that process “Aimee got to do a lot of looking back on her past and realized there was a lot of stuff she hadn’t written songs about.” And so even though the band had plenty of material they were going to work on in the studio at the beginning of 2020, writing eventually continued. 

So, too, did recording, though the band didn’t have to go far. “At some point during (quarantine),” explains Justin, “Kevin was like “we need to do this record at our house, in our garage.” It’s a tiny 10×20 room that we would practice in, but it wasn’t treated, there wasn’t any studio equipment. So we spent maybe a month building things. Me and Jesse with power tools building racks to put gear in and tabletops and stuff. Pretty much “tiny housing” the studio to make every part of it work.”

This created the freedom to work together at their own pace. There’s no need to reserve studio time or book an engineer when you can do it all, effectively, in your collective backyard. That moved Kevin, the elder statesman of the Bivona brothers, officially into the producer’s seat. Tim Armstrong, who both oversees Hellcat Records and executive produced the first three Interrupters records, “told (Kevin) to just grab the reins and take off” says Justin, with Jesse quick to point out that their big brother has “always kinda been the shadow producer of everything in a sense.”

And while it may seem daunting to have your bandmate – and older brother, steering the ship, the timeline and the setting and their relationship made for a smooth, collaborative effort. “If we’re working on something and it’s not working,” explains Jesse, “all four of us can be like ‘well, what if we try this, or what if we try this,’…there are no bad ideas until you try (something and realize it’s bad.” “It was just us as a cohesive band, the four of us, working out songs and writing songs, and it really informed the process,” adds Justin. “It was the best thing we’ve ever done.

The more that writing and recording continued, the more that the direction of the album revealed itself. “Aimee realized that the record was pretty much her life story,” says Jesse, adding “so the songs that didn’t fit with that theme we pushed aside and focused on the ones that told her story the way she wanted to tell it.” Because the lyrics bare so much of Aimee’s past, the task of recording vocals involved being in the right headspace to tackle some of the memories that were evoked. “Doing on the property,” reveals Justin, “it allowed Aimee the freedom to record vocals whenever she felt emotionally connected enough to a song” to power through it, a freedom that proved vital as it is apparent on first listen that Aimee dug deep lyrically, reflecting on some of the messier parts other upbringing and past relationships and grief and loss and trauma and mental health struggles that she has worked on over the years.

The added time and convenience of the recording process allowed the band to work through multiple versions of songs, in order to make sure that the emotion of the music matched the emotion of the lyrics. “There are a couple songs on this record where they were recorded one way and pretty much done,” explains Justin, “but then it wasn’t just fitting in with the rest of it when we would get back there. I think specifically “Love Never Dies” had a totally different feel, it was more of a rock/reggae Clash-y song. And it was dope, but it wasn’t fitting in with everything.” Jesse elaborates: “(Kevin) said “Jesse, play a one drop” so I played this one drop, and then he said “Justin, play this bass line” (*mimics bassline*). And then he said “okay, watch” and he just started skanking, and then he started singing this melody the way that it is now, and we played that for like four bars and just stopped. We were like “yeah, that’s it! Now we’re on to something!

The result is one of the more straight-forward reggae songs in the Interrupters’ catalog to date. It also features a guest appearance from The Skints, the UK reggae punk band who recently wrapped a successful run opening a bunch of US shows for The Interrupters and Flogging Molly. The Skints are just one of an impressive handful of guest starts that found their collective way onto In The Wild; Tim Armstrong lends his vocal talents to a track, as per usual, but so too do Rhoda from The Bodysnatchers and Alex and Greg from third-wave ska legends Hepcat. The latter recording session occurred at Armstrong’s studio once the initial Covid waves had subsided and society started to open up again. As Jesse tells it, “it was a magical session to be a part of.” Justin explains “Greg and Alex came in and…we wanted them on the song (“Burdens”), but we didn’t really have the part. We went in with them and showed them the song and within a minute the two of them are sitting there writing the parts and figuring it out together. It was so cool to see because they’re literally our favorite ska band.”

It was yet another moment in a decade-long journey that has found the foursome feeling eternally grateful for the opportunities they’ve been presented; playing with longtime idols like Rancid and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Joan Jett and Green Day, playing legendary venues, getting introduced by RuPaul on the Jimmy Kimmel show (as was the case the night before we spoke). Case-in-point: the three Bivona brothers served as the backing band for The Specials during a fundraiser event in Los Angeles back in February, a mind-blowing moment that got overshadowed by the fact that a mini Operation Ivy reunion brokeout pre-set as Jesse Michaels and Tim Armstrong joined for a cover of the Op Ivy classic “Sound System,” an event that damn near broke the punk rock internet. The gravity of those situations is not lost on the band, by any stretch. “The moment that starts getting old is the moment that you’ve gotta start packing it in and figuring out what 9-to-5 (job) you want,” says Jesse. 

Keep scrolling to read our full Q&A with the Bivona twins, Jesse and Justin. Pre-orders for In The Wild are still available here. And check out the full list of upcoming Interrupters tour dates, including their European run and leg 2 of the US dates with Flogging Molly, right here.

(*Editor’s note: The text below has been slightly edited and condensed for content and clarity.*)

JS: First and foremost, congratulations on another successful appearance on Kimmel!

Justin: Thank you!

JS: So this is probably then the second coolest thing you’ve done this week…

(*all laugh*)

Justin: For real though, it is good to see your face!

JS: Is that the third time now on Kimmel?

Jesse: Nope, two! Four years ago we did “She’s Kerosene.”

Justin: Almost four years ago to the day. It was like July 26th.

JS: Man, how time has flown. The Kimmel show seems like it’s a cool one to do because the audience is right there, versus some of the other late-night shows where they’re sitting back and you’re kinda playing to the cameras as much as anything. That seems like a cool one.

Jesse: Yeah, they make it seem like it’s an indoor club show, 

Justin: Which is really cool.

Jesse: It’s really cool. And the whole staff and crew there is excellent. They’re very nice. We had a GOOD time yesterday.

JS: And you got to hang with RuPaul, that’s pretty cool!

Justin: He’s super nice too!

Jesse: So nice!

Justin: An old punk rocker and a big ska fan too!

JS: I had no idea!

Jesse: Yeah, he played in a punk band in like the early 80s.

Justin: He loved The Selecter and The Specials.

JS: So then he’s totally going to dig your music, especially the new album!

Justin: He gave us the best soundbite! He just said “It’s time for some ska music, bitches!”

(*all laugh*)

Jesse: We were on stage and just looked at each other like “WHOA!” (*all laugh*)

JS: Does that stuff ever get old? And I know I probably know the answer to that question, and actually I think I’ve asked Kevin and Aimee that sort of stuff before, but playing in massive crowds, playing in places like Fenway Park, playing for RuPaul on the Kimmel show…does that stuff ever get old?

Jesse: Never.

Justin: No.

JS: I feel like I knew that was the answer…

Jesse: The moment that starts getting old is the moment that you’ve gotta start packing it in and figuring out what 9-to-5 you want.

JS: When I started doing this Zoom interview thing during the early days of Covid, it was really to sort of check in with people. I was used to doing more phone interviews and then I’d type them up and write a story, but A) the website crashed so there was no publish things anymore for a while, but I liked the idea of actually chatting with people when they were in quarantine and we were in quarantine and you could see each other and stay connected. We’ve been in this weird situation for so long now that music that came out of quarantine is coming out commercially. That’s sort of the long way of getting into In The Wild, which is a really, really, really great album and I know I say that about each one that you guys put out, but the bar just keeps getting raised. So let’s talk about that process. When during lockdown did you realize “well, we’re not going to be out on the road for a while, and we’re not going to be able to go into a studio for a while, so fuck it, let’s do it ourselves”?

Jesse: Well…

Justin: Here’s the thing. We finished the Fight The Good Fight album cycle tour in February of 2020. We ended in the UK with two amazing shows in London. The plan was to finish that and go home. Kev and Aimee were going to start writing for a couple weeks, and then we were going to go into the studio in March. Day, like, one of us going into the studio to record, was that day where like the NBA is canceling and Tom Hanks has Covid.

JS: Right! That’s when we really knew the world was ending!

Justin: Yeah! So we were going to go back in the next day, but everything started getting canceled, so we put the weekend on hold and then the next week on hold, and then the month, and everything just got shelved. So we were sitting at home, and couldn’t really do what our plan was. But it was nice at the same time, because we had just kept rolling for ⅞ years. There was no break. So we finally got to sit back and wait a little bit. We did the live record to give something to the fans during the break, and with that we did the documentary, This Is My Family, and put it all together as like a cohesive concert film. Kinda while we were doing that, we got to reflect on our past and Aimee got to do a lot of looking back on her past and realized there was a lot of stuff she hadn’t written songs about. At some point in the middle of that, Kevin was like “we need to do this record at our house, in our garage.” It’s a tiny 10×20 room that we would practice in, but it wasn’t treated, there wasn’t any studio equipment. So we spent maybe a month building things. Me and Jesse with power tools building racks to put gear in and tabletops and stuff. Pretty much “tiny housing” the studio to make every part of it work. And then they had some songs and we would just get in there the four of us with Kevin producing and work out these songs. It was a fun process because there were no outside distractions, there was no one else we had to worry about, it was just us as a cohesive band, the four of us, working out songs, writing songs, and it kind of really informed the process. It was the best thing we’ve ever done. 

JS: So there was stuff written to be recorded back in March of 2020 when you first got off the road?

Jesse: Actually the one day that we did spend at the studio, we were working on the instrumental for “As We Live.” That was the only thing we recorded at Tim’s studio before everything got shut down. 

Justin: I think they had “Alien” kind of on the docket, and “The Hard Way” was in there also.

Jesse: Yeah, they had done a few weeks of writing so there was a batch of songs. A lot of those songs got shelved because they didn’t fit the whole record idea. Once Kevin and Aimee started writing a lot, Aimee realized that the record was pretty much her life story. So the songs that didn’t fit with that theme we pushed aside and focused on the ones that told her story the way she wanted to tell it. We’re stoked on how the whole thing came out.

JS: How far into that writing process did the real direction of the album start to take shape, or at least when did she tell you that that was the direction that the album was going to go? And did that involve sit-down conversations…like, I know you’ve been family for a long time but that maybe there’s some shit she was going to sing about that’s a little…

Jesse: No, I think it happened kind of naturally, and it wasn’t until we had like 

Both: Eighteen songs

Jesse: …that we were working on that it was like, okay, this batch is all very cohesive. I feel like we’re saying that word a lot? (*all laugh*) 

Justin: It was a theme, you know?

Jesse: Yeah, and these other ones, they’re good, but they distract from the message we’re trying to send here and the themes we’re trying to talk about. 

Justin: Yeah, once it was like, there’s all these songs (*gestures*) it was easy to look at the board and say, “well, these fourteen (go together).” 

Jesse: And there was even a time where we weren’t completely…where we didn’t have like the last three figured out, and we dug up an old one, and once Aimee looked at it, it was like “actually, if I just rewrite these verses, this could fit.” That was “Worst For Me,” which was a sleeper favorite of mine. That song rips.

JS: That song is great, yeah!

Jesse: But it was on the back burner for months! It was just like, we recorded it and then we just forgot about it.

Justin: That was the other great thing about the process. We had so much time just sitting at home that they would finish a song and live with it for six months, then come back to it and say “oh, this song needs a bridge.” Then they would just write a bridge and it would bring the whole thing together. We’ve never really had the opportunity to sit and live with something and then come back to it and fix it. Usually in the studio, it’s like record it, it’s done…

Jesse: Go on tour, it’ll come out when you’re on tour. The most time we’ve ever had off in this band was maybe two months, right before Fight The Good Fight came out. And that wasn’t really time off, that was us preparing for the album cycle and the release and all that. So to be forced to sit on our hands during the pandemic, it helped a lot.

JS: What did you do otherwise to keep creative, musically or otherwise, to keep from getting into those doldrums when it seemed like the world was never going to open up and that sort of thing?

Jesse: You know, that’s a good question. We did what everybody did…binge-watched a lot of TV…

Justin: We did get to a point after the first few months where it was like, “okay, we’ve gotta go outside.” 

JS: Touch grass.

Both: Yeah!

Justin: Going to the beach, or going on hikes.

Jesse: Going on bike rides.

Justin: And we had a small quarantine bubble of friends that we trusted to come over, or we’d go over there. But other than that, it was a lot of TV

Jesse: A lot of movies.

JS: Were you still playing music, even if it wasn’t Interrupters stuff, or did you just like put it away?

Jesse: It was always there. Our back room is always set up so we could always go back there and jam, but there was definitely a time…

Justin: There was definitely a three-month period where I didn’t touch a bass. (*all laugh*)

Jesse: Yeah, I was the same with drums.

JS: Is that the longest you’ve ever gone, since you started playing?

Both: Yeah!

Justin: For sure.

Jesse: Definitely.

JS: Was it interesting working with…I know you’ve worked with Tim (Armstrong) executive producing before but this is the first one where it was listed that Kevin was the producer of (the album). Does that change the dynamic when not only one of the four of you is producing it, but he’s also your brother and your band member? Does that impact the dynamic in the studio or have you been doing it with each other for so long now that you just know how it works?

Justin: Yeah, exactly. We’ve been doing this our whole life. We’ve always looked to Kevin for answers when we have questions about what we’re doing.

Jesse: He’s always kinda been the kind of shadow producer of everything, in a sense. 

Justin: Yeah, so Tim gave him full rein…told him to just grab the reins and take off with it. 

Jesse: The other thing about the way we work is we try everyone’s ideas, so we could be in the studio and it wouldn’t be like him saying “no, this is how it’s going to be, we have to do it this way.” If we’re working on something and it’s not working, all four of us can be like “well, what if we try this, or what if we try this.” And he’ll say “okay, let’s try it.” There’s no bad ideas until you try it and realize it’s bad, you know? It was very good. And we have such a great relationship and we’re very good at communicating, so there wasn’t any headbutting. It was very fun and very easy.

Justin: And again, doing it on the property, it allowed Aimee the freedom to record vocals whenever she felt emotionally connected enough to a song to sing the vocals. 

JS: Especially on an album like this, that’s crucial.

Justin: Yeah! When you have studio time, you know you’ve got to be in there at 5pm and be there til 11pm.

Jesse: We’ve gotta bang out all these songs

Justin: And you’ve got to record these (specific things). That’s almost like a 9 to 5. This way, it was like, if we went back there and she was like “ah I don’t want to sing that right now, let me sing this one.” And also, if she got her second wind at 2am, she could just hop back there and record. 

JS: Do you guys live close enough where it’s like “hey, it’s 2am but we’ve got an idea…”

Both: Yeah!

Justin: We call it The Compound. In California technical terms, it’s a multi-family housing property, there’s one driveway, there’s two houses and a garage that we share, and a backyard. They live in the front house and we live here, so we’re right next to each other. 

JS: It’s like being on tour while you’re at home!

Justin: I know, but with that being said, when we come home from tour sometimes, we don’t see each other for a whole week. (*all laugh*)

JS: Obviously it’s still early because this album’s not even out yet, but does that inspire you to kinda work that way going forward, now that you know that you can make an album like that in your little garage studio?

Jesse: Yeah I think so.

Justin: I think so, I mean…

Jesse: We haven’t really started thinking about the next one yet, but it is easy to just naturally fall into that. If we have to do a song for something, we can just hop back there and do it. So when we have something (to work on), it’s like “when do you want to work on that?” “I don’t know, tomorrow?” So we just hop back there and do it. 

JS: How did the writing process work? Were there times when all four of you were writing together, or do Kevin and Aimee come up with the stem of the song and then you guys work on your rhythm parts? And does that ever change the direction of a song? Like if they start writing and a song has a certain feel, do they give you the freedom to say “hey, we think there’s a different feel that might go better with this song?” Because there are a lot of different feels on this album, and we’ll talk about that in a few minutes, but…

Justin: They would definitely have…it could be anything from the core idea of the song to an entirely fledged out song already, knowing how it should feel and what it should sound like. But, there are a couple songs on this record where they were recorded one way and pretty much done, but then it wasn’t just fitting in with the rest of it when we would get back there. I think specifically “Love Never Dies” had a totally different feel, it was more of a rock/reggae Clash-y song. And it was dope, but it wasn’t fitting in with everything. 

Jesse: It didn’t age well.

Justin: It didn’t age well. So when we got back there with the four of us, we said “What do we do with this?” And Kevin said “what if did it more like a roots thing?”

Jesse: Yeah, he said “Jesse, play a one drop” so I played this one drop, and then he said “Justin, play this bass line” (*mimics bassline*). And then he said “okay, watch” and he just started skanking, and then he started singing this melody the way that it is now, and we played that for like four bars and just stopped. We were like “yeah, that’s it! Now we’re on to something!”

Justin: And then we finished it and we were like “dude, we gotta get The Skints on this one.” 

Jesse: We built up this track, sent it to The Skints, and they sent us back a whole bunch of stuff that we kept. They’re fantastic.

JS: I was going to ask if all the guests got recorded in studio with you too. Obviously they didn’t if The Skints recorded their own stuff. People haven’t heard the album yet but obviously, Tim’s on a song because Tim’s gonna be on a song. Rhoda from Bodysnatchers, Alex and Greg from Hepcat, obviously Billy Kottage, the fifth Interrupter. Shoutout to Billy Kottage, the pride of Dover, New Hampshire.

(*Justin adjusts camera, revealing Billy Kottage sitting on the couch in the corner!)

Both: He’s right there!

JS: That’s awesome! I don’t think we’ve ever met in person, but Billy and I are both from the State of New Hampshire, so I always think that’s awesome. 

Justin: When he comes out here, he pretty much lives with us. 

JS: That’s great. There aren’t many of us in New Hampshire, the scene wasn’t very big, so when someone from the Granite State is cool and does cool things, I love it. So shoutout to Billy Kottage. So yeah, did they all record with you?

Jesse: It was all different. The Skints did it on their own in England, Rhoda recorded her vocals on her own at her place back in England. 

Justin: (For) Hepcat, we actually went into Tim’s studio for a day. 

Jesse: Which was great!

Justin: Greg and Alex came in and it was just one of the most fun days. That’s the thing, we went in to have them record on the song not knowing…Kevin didn’t really know what to have them do. We wanted them on the song, but he didn’t really have the part or anything. But we went in with them and showed them the song, and within like a minute, the two of them are sitting there going…

Both: “ooooh oooh” (*harmonizing*)

Justin: Like writing the parts, figuring it out together, it was so cool to see because they’re literally our favorite ska band. 

Jesse: It was a magical session to be a part of. They were sitting there laughing…

Justin: ..having a good time…

Jesse: …singing all the right notes. It was awesome. We did that at Tim’s studio. Tim also did his vocals at his studio. That was later in the process, where things were a little more comfortable, where we could actually travel to a studio and not worry about everything. And then also, we had a guest vocalist on “Alien.” It’s this guy named Arnold, who is a friend of Tim’s and a friend of Brett Gurewitz’s. When we were working on that song, I think it was Tim’s idea, he was like “Arnold’s voice would sound great on this,” and we were like “let’s give it a shot!” So we had Arnold come in and he sang all those background vocals, and he’s got this emotionally delicate approach to his vocals that just lifted that song to another level.

JS: That song is something else…

Both: Yeah!

Jesse: First Interrupters song with no guitar. 

JS: Right! That’s actually a thing I wanted to ask about. There’s so many different directions! Obviously you’ve always played on a lot of different influences, but I feel like with this album, you go deeper into the reggae thing, into the 2-Tone thing, and then “Alien” which is unlike anything else in the Interrupters catalog. What made you take the freedom to just kinda go with that. Is that stuff that’s always kinda been in the arsenal but maybe you didn’t want to go too deep on the first few records, but now that everyone’s along for the ride it’s like, “well, let’s push that.”

Jesse: Maybe a little bit of that, but also, it is more that the songs were telling us how we should play them, so to speak. So the way that that song was written, there was never really another way to approach it. That song went through a lot of different versions – not crazy different versions but it was layered up with heavy guitars at one point…

Justin: It was kind of like The Beatles’ “Oh Darling” at one point, where it was like rocking

Jesse: There were heavier drums on it at one point. It went through a bunch of stages.

Justin: But the emotion wasn’t there. Aimee fought really hard to bring it back to what it should be. 

Jesse: What served the song better. 

Justin: And that involved one day just pulling it up and being like “take the guitar off, take that off, take that off”…it got down to literally just the drum beat and the string arrangement. 

Jesse: Even cutting a whole outro and just being like “no, the song should end right there.” 

Justin: And then also with “My Heart,” which is also kind of a different…

Jesse: That “doo-woppy” 50s feel.

Justin: She had already had the melody and was singing it and I was like “well, it’s gonna be in 3, and it’s gonna have this rock feel.” Even if we tried to make it in 4 as a ska song or a reggae song, it just wasn’t working. So the way those songs were written informed the styles. And at this point, we’ve kind of realized that no matter what style it is, if it’s me and Jesse and Kevin playing and Aimee singing, it’s going to sound like The Interrupters. Us just believing in ourselves and pushing it forward that way really helped the process.  

JS: When there’s an album I’m really excited about, I try to ignore a lot of the singles and just listen to the album all the way through because, I don’t know, I’m in my 40s and that’s the way we did it when we were kids, right? So I listened to it all the way through and I took notes and next to “My Heart” I wrote “whoa, an Interrupters doo-wop song.” It’s very much an Interrupters song still, but it’s got that sort of 50s diner, doo-wop vibe to it. Which I think is awesome, and it’s cool to see elements like feature in the mix but still be an Interrupters track.

Justin: Thank you!

Jesse: Yeah, initially that was one where we were like “let’s just play like The Ramones would play in 3.” So it was real heavy, but it didn’t serve the song well.

Justin: So dial back a little bit. 

JS: I think people are going to dig that song.

Jesse: I think that’s my favorite song on the album.

Justin: Specifically behind the scenes with that song, Aimee had a service dog named Daisy for 13 years, who passed away in 2018. It was like her little girl, and it was devastating when she passed away. She wrote that song about her, and not even just the first time but the first few times I heard it, I couldn’t keep it together. I’d cry every time.

Jesse: Yeah, because when we worked it out in the studio, we just had the choruses, singing “my heart keeps beating, my heart keeps beating…” so that pretty much informed the drum beat just being a heartbeat. And then a couple weeks later when they updated the Dropbox with the verses and said “listen to this,” me and Justin were both sitting right here in our living room with our earbuds on and we’re both just like crying. Like, oh my god this is so emotional, because we all lived with Daisy, she was fantastic. She was a German shepherd/wolf, and we all still miss her a lot. That was a heavy one.

JS: Have you been able to play a lot of this stuff live yet, or are you waiting until the album is out?

Jesse: On the Flogging Molly tour we just did, we were only doing “Anything Was Better” and “In The Mirror,” and then when we dropped “Jailbird” we started doing that. The plan is to play as much of it as possible.

Justin: We tried a few of them at soundcheck on occasion.

Jesse: Yeah, we’d always screw around at soundcheck and be like “do you guys know ‘Kiss The Ground,’ let’s try that”

Justin: Or “Raised By Wolves”

Jesse: But we’re in rehearsals next week for a few days to work on stuff for the European tour, because that’s when we’ve gotta do longer sets, but the plan is to try to learn the whole record.

JS: I think people are going to dig a lot of it. I was just curious about if you’d throw a curveball song like that at people before they’ve heard the album to see what the response is. Because I feel like “In The Mirror” is one of those songs that the first time you hear it, you go “yup, that one’s a classic. That’s going to get the crowd whipped up.” Do you know when you’re writing a song like that that it’s going to be “the one.” Like “She’s Kerosene” was like that. The very first verse when I first heard it, I remember going “well, that’s gonna be a big hit.” 

Jesse: When we’re working on it in the studio, I think we’re so lost in the process that we don’t give songs that sort of focus, like “that’s going to be the single, this is going to be the hit.” But there was a point when we were doing “She’s Kerosene” that we had Mr. Brett come in and he was listening to stuff and he when he heard “Kerosene,” he had his little notepad and he was just like “hit.” And we all just looked at each other like “Whoa! Really?” 

Justin: We thought there was so much more work to be done with that song and when he gave it that check of approval, we were like “alright, we don’t have to do much more to it.” That was cool. But then also for this record, when there was like 18 or 20 songs, “In The Mirror” was a standout, at least for me. I was like “I think that one is really good.” Then as it dwindled down, it was like “In The Mirror” and “Raised By Wolves” as the top two. They’re different enough, one’s ska, one’s sort of heavy rock, and you’re just like these two are the shining examples of the record and what we’re trying to sound like. 

Jesse: And “In The Mirror,” Kevin and Aimee wrote that song ten years ago. That was one that wasn’t written specifically for this record. But when they were doing the inventory for the record, Aimee was like “we should dig this one up, this is a great one.” I remember when we were trying to work that one out in the room as a four-piece, I feel like it was a more difficult one to get away from the demo version, because I’ve been listening to that song for ten years. There is a demo recording of it – it’s not even a demo, it’s a full fledged-out different version of it. And having that ingrained in your brain and trying to get away from it and being like “alright, how would The Interrupters do this,” that was an interesting process. There was definitely a day where I was like “that song’s not going to make the record, we have so many other songs.” (*all laugh*) Obviously, I was wrong, that song rips. 

Justin: But it’s wild too, because they wrote it ten years ago. From that time, that’s when they wrote “Easy On You,” “Gave You Everything,” and then “In The Mirror” was in that batch.

Jesse: “Love Never Dies” was in that batch.

Justin: Yup, “Love Never Dies.” I think now if we’re recording, it’s like “hey what else was from that time period? What else did you write then? Anything else we can dig up?” There was some gold.

JS: It’s interesting to hear that it’s from that time period. As I was driving around this morning for work, I listened to the first album and this one back-to-back, because they come out on the same day; the new one comes out on the 8th anniversary of the first one, so I thought it would be cool to listen to them back-to-back. And, I loved the first album when it came out, but it is startling how far you guys have progressed as a band in eight years.

Both: Yeah!

JS: And so to listen to them back-to-back, obviously you can kinda see how ended up here, but at the same time, you’ve progressed so far. So it’s really interesting that that song, in particular, is from that batch.

Jesse: So, one of our little press points about this record and relating it to the previous records is that the first album is kind of like a first date, where you just talk about surface-level things, nothing too crazy. Second album, you start to let them know a little more about you. Third album, you’re kinda getting into the nitty-gritty. Fourth album, all the baggage is out, the drama is revealed, all the secrets are out. That is kind of where we are with this. And talking about the recording of the first record, we were just trying to keep it simple. We weren’t trying to reinvent anything, we were just trying to be a straight-ahead ska-punk band. 

Justin: We did like twenty-four instrumentals in three days. Some of them didn’t have any lyrics or anything, we just got the music done. The ones that didn’t have any lyrics done, they just wrote to the instrumentals. There was no going back to redo parts, it was just like “this is it, we’re done.” 

Jesse: And keep it simple. Like, for me on drums, it was like “don’t do any crazy fills, just keep it straight, keep it steady.” 

Justin: Which is wild, because some of my basslines, I play so many notes! Why did they let me do that?!? (*all laugh*)

JS: Yeah, but they work, and as somebody who wanted to be a bass player when he grew up, I like that they let you play all the notes!  …. Thanks for doing this. This was fun. I talked to Kevin and Aimee for I think the first three records, so it’s nice to talk to you guys. It’s been a while!

Jesse: Yeah we’re being let off the leash a little bit. (*all laugh*)

JS: Well and that’s good, you should be. It’s fun that you guys have your own language with each other, and I know that that’s talked about in other places, like the documentary. So it’s perfect that you guys ended up as a rhythm section, and you end up doing this. Is that why you ended up as a rhythm section?

Jesse: Yeah, kinda. It kinda happened naturally. I don’t remember if we talked about it in the movie, but Kevin started out as a drummer. We had a drum set in the house because our dad was a producer and worked with his friends. So there was a drum set always in the house and Kevin gravitated toward that at an early age. But then, one day our dad came home with a guitar and a bass. So Kevin grabbed the guitar, and I was already dicking around on the drums, so then the only thing left over was the bass. So then naturally it was like “well, this is your instrument, this is your instrument…” And then we would just jam as little kids. There’s some video in that documentary but there’s a LOT more video when we were like 7 years old and Kevin is like 9 of us just trying to play like Green Day songs and Blink 182 songs

Justin: Sublime songs.

Jesse: Yeah, Sublime songs! Whatever we were hearing on the radio is what we were trying to play. The crazy thing is that we’ve come full circle and we know a lot of the people we were trying to emulate and we’re lucky enough to call them friends. 

Justin: Some are like family.

Jesse: Yeah, some are like family now. It’s been a crazy, crazy life that we don’t take for granted. 

Justin: They always say don’t meet your idols but...

Jesse: …we’ve never had a bad experience when we’ve met our idols.

Justin: I couldn’t tell you one person that I had looked up to that I met and they ruined it for me. Everyone’s been amazing.

JS: You know what, I’ve got to say almost the same thing. The amount of people that I’ve gotten to know through doing this for…well, The Interrupters started in 2011 and I started with Dying Scene in 2011. You’re one of the bands that came out right when I was getting started with this whole thing so it’s been a fun sort of parallel, but there’s only a small, small handful of people where you go “wow, that guy’s kind of a dick.” Everybody else has been super cool and super rad and supportive of each other. Especially those people that we grew up listening to in the late 80s and the 90s. It’s a pretty good, supportive group.

Justin: It is, it is. Even when we just started out, to tour with Rancid was amazing, but then to go on and get Rhoda from The Bodysnatchers, we get Horace and Lynval and Terry from The Specials love us. It’s just insane. To have that mutual respect and to get it back is just…yeah…it’s mind-blowing.

Jesse: We did a charity show back in February where we were backing The Specials. I was the drummer of The Specials for a night. We did the whole set, like twelve songs. Justin played piano, Kev played guitar. 

Justin: You saw that thing where we played with Tim and Jesse Michaels and did the Op Ivy song? 

JS: Yeah, yeah. That was amazing.

Justin: That was the same event. That one song with Jesse was amazing but it overshadowed the fact that we played in The Specials! (*all laugh*)

Jesse: It was just mind-blowing. 

JS: Yes! Everyone kinda lost it with the Jesse thing but yeah, that’s awesome. Just awesome. 

Jesse: And just being able to sit in a room for a week with Terry and Horace; Lynval got sick so he couldn’t come out, but just to sit there and run the songs with them was mind-blowing. 

JS: I’m glad this stuff keeps happening to you, because you certainly deserve it. 

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DS Show Review and Gallery: Ruido Fest (Cypress Hill; Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Bruses, Cardiel)

Ruido Fest 2022 took place last month, August 19-21, in Chicago’s Union Park. The event is billed as the area’s largest Latin alternative music festival. The bands and performers came from the Windy City, across North America, and from all around the world. Amongst the forms of music presented are punk, post-punk, hip-hop, electronica, psychedelic, […]

Ruido Fest 2022 took place last month, August 19-21, in Chicago’s Union Park. The event is billed as the area’s largest Latin alternative music festival. The bands and performers came from the Windy City, across North America, and from all around the world. Amongst the forms of music presented are punk, post-punk, hip-hop, electronica, psychedelic, and more. All with a Latin American flavor. 

Whilst a few bands, such as Beach Goons, Siddhartha and Maldita Vecindad, had to drop out, the remaining lineup brought three days of fun and energy to large and enthusiastic crowds. Being that this was alternative music festival taking place in the US, it was not surprising that one of the most prevalent band shirts was that of grunge band Nirvana. Everywhere you looked, people of all ages wore shirts dominated with the band’s name, and often the iconic melancholy expression of the late Kurt Cobain.


Cypress Hill, the CA hip-hop legends might be characterized as punk adjacent. Singer Dr. Greenthumb aka B-Real and percussionist Bobo took the stage after about 30 minutes, give or take, introduction by DJ Lord. By that time, a thick wall of smoke connected the stage to the audience via smoke machine with a bit of thinning out above the photo pit. Some of that was the due to the smoke machine on stage. Of course the group’s advocacy for the use of cannabis for both medicinal and recreational purposes, is a major theme in its songs. B-Real paced the stage with a rather long blunt in his left hand along with the microphone as he gestured with his right hand.  The group tore through its standards such as “Dr. Greenthumb”, “I Ain’t Going Out Like That”, “Hits From the Bong”, “How I Could Just Kill A Man”, and many others. By the time they got to what is arguably their biggest hit, Insane In the Membrane, Cypress Hill had complete control of the large crowd. Capping off its set was a rollicking cover of House of Pain’s most famous tune, Jump Around.  B-Real called for everybody “standing up to get down like this here” and advised that those with a Fitbit or Apple watch the this was going to fill up their activities category. Indeed the crowd, exponentially larger than any other set that weekend, with many members attending only for Cypress Hill, was jumping around almost completely in unison.


Bruses had a smaller crowd than Cypress Hill but the Tijuana native was no less enthralling. She was clad in a variation of a business suit. A black jacket covered with numerous hand painted looking designs in white, black raggedly cut off just below her knees and sporting on each leg two belts. Clunky black shoes, a black tie white shirt completed the outfit. Almost. Rising above, from behind, each shoulder blade were several, what I can only describe as, glittery black stuffed horns. Her hot pink hair, pale foundation accented with dark red lips, reddish pink eyelids ringed in black, created ethereal stage presence. Her music and movements throughout were bewitching and she had the crowd in a trancelike state.


Elis Paprika, another one of the numerous performers hailing from the USA’s North American neighbor to the south, is also a well know activist in her native Guadalajara. She rocketed off from the start of her set, never touching down until she was finished whipping up the crowd in to exhaustion. With hyper charm and perfectly complementing her strong voice and infectious songs, few would argue with the words on bright red t-shirt, an item of her own merchandise, exclaiming “Mexican Girl Power!”


Skate punk band Cardiel consists of two Valencia, Venezuela natives: Vocalist/Guitarist Miguel Fraíno and drummer Samantha Ambrosio. However, the founded their band in Mexico City in 2010. Little flash but lots of fury marked Cardiel’s set. They pummeled through song after song, hyping up the circle pit significantly.


Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, the Buenos Aires ska legends, had the swelling crowd dancing as the night two headliners. The band ripped through “Manuel Santillán, El León”, “Saco Azul”, “Mal Bicho”, “Calaveras y Diablitos”, “Matador”, and “El Satánico Dr. Cadillac”. It was a fun way to end a Saturday night on a not too hot summer day. 


Other highlights from the weekend included sets from Sgt. Papers, El Mato, and Avantist.

See more photos below!

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DS Show Review and Photo Gallery: Punk Rock Tacos: A DIY 4th on the 3rd (Chicago, IL)

Story and Photos by Meredith Goldberg Noah Corona just needed to find a place to eat within a block or two of his home in the Chicago suburb of Villa Park, IL. It was the first day of the Covid lockdown. Lacking groceries and concerned that driving to get food might lead to him being […]

Story and Photos by Meredith Goldberg

Noah Corona just needed to find a place to eat within a block or two of his home in the Chicago suburb of Villa Park, IL. It was the first day of the Covid lockdown. Lacking groceries and concerned that driving to get food might lead to him being arrested, he walked around the corner from his home and came upon Cemitas Poblanas. The restaurant offered a $9.00 burrito meal, so it instantly became Corona’s daily spot during the pandemic. It also led to friendships with the staff and owners, “Mauro and Jennifer, a couple who had come from NYC in November ‘19 to start their new business. They are both originally from Puebla, Mexico, and spent 18 years in NYC, and worked in restaurants for a lot of that time,” says Corona (whose surname surely caused a few of his friends to tease him in 2020).

Cemitas Poblanas also has a small stage, which planted the seeds in Corona’s mind, of an idea he would work to fruition over the following year. Thus, was born “Punk Rock Tacos,” a monthly Friday nights DIY (do it yourself) event.  

Corona’s DIY ethos was inspired by the late Mark “Monk” Hubbard. The visionary Seattleite Hubbard created the famous Burnside Skatepark Project in Portland, OR. Hubbard also founded Grindline, a company which designed over 400 skatepark across the United States and elsewhere. Corona met Hubbard, a DIY inspiration to many across the world, one month prior to Hubbard’s June 2018 death. Hubbard’s band Grindline, named after his company, was playing in Oakland, CA at a skateboarding event, the P-Stone Invitational. Corona says that during Grindline’s set “He [Hubbard] stared so intensely into my soul as he performed 5 ft in front of me.”

It was a life-changing moment for Corona and would lead directly to his passion project: Punk Rock Tacos (PRT). This is the first of many ideas Corona has for PRT. One he hopes to tackle next is building skateboarding bowl behind the restaurant.

The first PRT Sunday edition led to some patrons being disgruntled by the rowdy punk rock music, so these special showcases take place in a small exterior area behind the restaurant.   

Looking forward to the Fourth of July this year, Corona organized an event to take place on the Sunday the 3rd.  As a nod to Independence Day, the 13-band showcase featured two American flags adorned to the back of an old Army flatbed truck. Said truck, which Corona purchased for the event, also served as the stage. 

Although this was a Fourth of July event, it was hardly a day for shouting “Murica” and chanting USA USA USA. 

Instead, there was a strong diversity of band and crowd members, more than a few Anti-Fascist and Anti-Nazi patches on clothing, call-outs for change and fighting back by the musicians, Pride t-shirts spotted, in addition to feminist statements made. One singer received roaring applause to his declaration that men who lay hands (violently) on women are trash. In many ways, Punk Rock Tacos Fourth on the Third represented what should be the ideals of this experiment in democracy. Oh, and rocking the pit harder than anyone else in attendance were a four-year-old named Lucas and an Australian cattle dog named Max. 

Of course, the main reason for the event wasn’t to focus on the disturbing events of the last several years, and especially the past few months. 

For Punk Rock Tacos founder Noah Corona, this was event was not about politics or division. Rather, it was about release and people having an out outlet to express themselves. Corona reflected on the event a day after the Highland Park mass shooting. He has also been shaken by a fatal motorcycle accident just blocks away from the event which Corona informed me occurred “while we were partying.”  Per Corona, “Life is too shitty to not have a good time, and if people don’t have their outlets a whole lot more death would be upon us.” 

What an outlet it was. Among the thirteen bands were No Dead HeroesThe RustixWAYDSBQuantumThe ThrowawaysShitizen, and Real Bad Real Fast

No Dead Heroes’ mission statement is, “We’re here to fuck shit up.” Shit did not actually get fucked up but the band tore through its 30-minute set much to the delight of the attendees. Those in lawn chairs and car seats removed from their vehicles to be used as lawn chairs, as well as those who stood both near and away from the stage. Frank Lombardo propelled the band both in voice and on the drums. Whether it was the heat of the bright afternoon or his physical efforts, Lombardo’s reddened face painted a portrait of punk rock intensity. 

Milwaukee’s The Rustix don’t consider themselves a political band according to its social media. However, per a Facebook post from June 25, 2022, “Rustix and the Midwest Hardcore Punx scene stand in solidarity with people that have uteruses. If you don’t, don’t come to our shows, you aren’t welcome.” For the band members some issues transcend politics and The Rustix brought a set that was as tight and strong as that message.

WAYDSB states on its website: “We want to share our perspectives with you, and maybe our music will help you understand and feel what it is we’re expressing.” The band demonstrated this motto during its banger of a set. Drummer Liam Cavanaugh was clad in a (LGBQT+) “Pride” shirt and rainbow tie dye style cap, while guitarist James McFadden wore a t-shirt sporting the name of satirical 2016 U.S. Presidential candidate Deez Nutz. 

Quantum, out of Crystal Lake, brought the fun. With a combo multi-bongo and just enough cowbells set up, how could it not? There was Bass player Shawn Belletynee draped in an American flag as a cape, a brand-new song entitled Planet B.S., and blood. Well, blood on the bongos at least. Lead singer Zac Dawson decided it was a good sign and queried “Blood on the bongos, isn’t that a Bob Dylan album?”

Noah Corona’s own band, The Throwaways, elicited loud cheers and clapping for both the music and for his creation of Punk Rock Tacos and this event. It was obvious by his constant smile throughout the day, how grateful Corona was for that appreciation and the joy his hard work has brought him. The Throwaways, as a band, honored his hard work with its rollicking set. Immediately after the set Corona was back on the ground making sure the rest of the evening went off without a hitch. 

Ah Shitizen. With all due respect to, and respect is most definitely owed to them, Josh on drums, Elliot on bass, and Jerm on guitar, it is lead singer Claudia Guajardo who steals the most focus at every Shitizen show. With her hyperkinetic energy and charisma, she is the very definition a band’s front person. As is the case at every Shitizen show, Guajardo refused to stick only to the stage. But this being on the back of a truck, she did accept an assist from her boyfriend Adam Kreutzer (lead singer for Kreutzer and the newly joined drummer for Knoxious.) who helped her in and out of the high up flatbed stage. She scaled the truck herself before the set and after, but Kreutzer’s help allowed her the continuity of singing, microphone in hand. It’s a blast to watch Guajardo in frenzied action. The band is also a model of DIY as they finished up making their band shirts and merch themselves the morning of the event. 

Metro Chicago’s Real Bad Real Fast was formed in 5 or 6 years ago. They invited friends and family to this event on Facebook with a sentiment presently shared by a good portion of the USA: “Come celebrate Freedom (cough)” adding “At least freedom enough for us to rock your socks off!!” As the gloaming set in, lights were installed on the already too confined stage before knocking off of socks began.

Corona described the event as epic and credited his second in command organizer Matthew “Cactus Matt” Durica and sound engineer Steve Anthony for much of the success of the event and PRT, and told everyone involved that he was “proud of all of us.”

A few days after the event Corona stated, “I am happier than shit right now, and all I can think is, what’s next?”

More Photos from The Fourth on the Third below!

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DS Show Review and Photos: The Beths, SASAMI & Charlotte Cornfield Live At BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn

I will be the first to admit that my main (aka only) interest in venturing over to Prospect Park on a hot & humid Friday night was to see New Zealand’s one and only The Beths. I knew next to nothing about the 2 opening acts, Charlotte Cornfield and SASAMI. I can only say now […]

I will be the first to admit that my main (aka only) interest in venturing over to Prospect Park on a hot & humid Friday night was to see New Zealand’s one and only The Beths. I knew next to nothing about the 2 opening acts, Charlotte Cornfield and SASAMI. I can only say now that am I REALLY glad I got to The Lena Horne bandshell early enough to witness one of these sets.

Cornfield took the stage promptly at 7 PM and proceeded to treat the crowd to a steady and competent set of rather quiet and subdued indie folk to which the NPR types in the crowd thoroughly enjoyed. For my ears, however her set just didn’t resonate all that much with me and after the 3 song photo allotment was met I found myself chatting with some of the other photogs in attendance for what seemed like a rather long time considering Charlotte was an opener on a three-band bill at an outdoor show that had a strict New York City mandated 10 PM curfew. Before I go any further, to be clear, Cornfield’s set did seem to be quite good but it just wasn’t my thing and I just kind of lost interest. That’s not to say that she didn’t make a lot of those in attendance very pleased with her set.


Next up was SASAMI who hit the stage shortly after 8 PM.  Truth be told, I had given SASAMI a bit of a listen on Spotify prior to the show and was merely lukewarm about what I had heard. Their first (self-titled) album released in 2019, was a quite polished indie pop album which while very listenable, didn’t exactly get my juices flowing.  And then there is this year’s second full-length LP, Squeeze which hit the shelves back in February. You’d have to do some serious searching in order to find a sophomore LP which takes as strong a departure from its predecessor as does Squeeze

The set started off with Sasami Ashworth’s “The Greatest” off the new album. And while the song on the album is rather subdued, the band came out and raged. They took what already sounded like a homage or at least a response to Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Gift Of All” and turned it into Whitney’s Greatest Gift from an alternative (much less hospitable) dimension.  From here the set only got darker, darker in a heavy metal kind of way with thundering bass lines and loud abrasive guitar chords coming from both Ashworth’s axe as well as the other guitarist who’s name I did not get. To say the least I was almost completely shocked. From here the band ripped through song after song with a fiery electric vengeance which I for one was 100% unprepared for. 


SASAMI

Sticking with a setlist comprised entirely of titles off the new one, SASAMI’s set was absolutely mesmerizing. The energy set forth by Ashworth and the rest of the band was transfixing. A combination metal hell fest combined with an almost performance art presentation made for a show to which I (and virtually every other photographer in the pit) was paralyzed to stop clicking the shutter button. Every moment following every moment felt like something that needed to be captured.  

SASAMI’s set lasted roughly 40-45 minutes yet it flew by in a flash. I for one felt winded after witnessing the whirlwind of a set which they had treated us all to. My initial reaction when it was done was, “I can’t believe it’s over so soon”.  Looking at their other setlists online however, it looks like we got pretty much their entire show.

Which brings me to the headliner, The Beths. It wasn’t all that long ago, you read from me that they were the only real impetus for me being at Prospect Park in the first place. And now as I stood and waited for them to take the stage, I couldn’t help but ponder, “How the hell are they going to top THAT?!?”  Having seen the band make a steady progression from DIY venue, Alphaville to 400-person Music Hall Of Williamsburg to 1000-person capacity Webster Hall, they were now faced with the unenviable task of playing (BY FAR) their most high-profile show ever in New York at the 5000 to 7000 person capacity Lena Horne Bandshell AND having to do that following an absolutely blistering set from the opener, not to mention their backs against the wall relative to a 10 PM curfew.


With it already being after 9, it appeared that we were most likely going to get a truncated set.  The band came on about 9:15, opening with “I’m Not Getting Excited” but clearly they were because they came out answering the call.  Despite what appeared to be some lighting irritations, Liz Stokes was exactly that, STOKED. She, along with guitarist, Jonathan Pierce, bassist, Ben Sinclair and Tristan Deck on drums hit the stage running. Barreling through stalwarts ” Happy, Unhappy” and “Out Of Sight” before offering up the lead single and title track to the upcoming album, “Expert In A Dying Field” due to drop in mid-September.


It was right about here in the set that it dawned on me that the band had figured out how they were going to get their entire set done in roughly three-quarters the normal length of the set. They were speeding everything up and HOLY SHIT, it was working masterfully!  I mean they were almost approaching Ramones kind of tempos and the songs and the vibes and the atmosphere were just perfect.

After “Dying Field” we got three more older songs before they cracked open another new one called “Knees Deep”, a bright sun-shiney rocker (come to think of it a Beth’s song and sun-shiney is just redundant…aren’t they all like that?)

Attacking each upcoming song at a breakneck pace which seemed different yet also quite right.  “Jump Rope Gazers” into “Uptown Girl” into “A Real Thing”, all done fast but not quite furious.

When all was said and done, The Beths managed to come out of the evening having sleighed the dragon. They overcame the adversity which faced them and finished the evening around 10:10 after a two-song encore of “You Are A Beam of Light” and “Little Death” to the delight of all. Liz and crew put on a masterful show which while certainly sped up, never felt rushed. As a matter of fact it appeared that the band had as much fun as the packed crowd. The normally stoic Jon on guitar was flashing a big grin much of the evening. Liz showed off a little Chuck Berry-esque duck walk and the rhythm section of Tristen and Ben were amazing keeping the sped up pace at bay and even keeled.

When all was said and done, all I could possibly say was, “What a night!”

NOTE:  For those in the NY/NJ area The Beths will be at The Asbury Lanes on August 26th and for those in or around western MA, they will be at Courtney Barnett’s Here and There Festival at MassMoca in North Adams on August 13th.

  • SASAMI
  • The Beths

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Dying Scene Album Review: Florida Men record killer punk album

Florida men are usually in the news for all the wrong reasons. Whether they’re getting high on bath salts and eating a homeless person’s face off, being arrested for drunk driving on a Segway, or stealing a cop car while butt-ass naked, Florida men are always up to something. Their latest venture? Joining forces to […]

Florida men are usually in the news for all the wrong reasons. Whether they’re getting high on bath salts and eating a homeless person’s face off, being arrested for drunk driving on a Segway, or stealing a cop car while butt-ass naked, Florida men are always up to something. Their latest venture? Joining forces to start a band and release a fucking awesome album of loud, fast, snotty, pop-tinged punk rock. One small caveat: these guys aren’t actually from the Sunshine State, they’re Dutchmen. But, as a native Floridian, I accept them as one of my own.

Florida Men (the band) features members of Sun-0-Bathers and Drunktank, among others. Their twelve song debut album clocks in at under 20 minutes, delivering really fun, short bursts of melodic pop-punk, fueled by a barrage of Johnny Ramone style buzzsaw downstrokes. There’s a liberal application of the earwormy “nursery rhyme” style lead guitar parts popularized in the 90’s by The Queers and Screeching Weasel, paired with the frantic pace of bands like DeeCracks, Teenage Bottlerocket, and The Manges.

All of the songs are great, but some of my favorites include “Better Safe than Sober”, “Tiki Bar”, “Greatest of All Time”, and “No Fit”. The subject matter ranges from getting cheated on by your trailer trash girlfriend who has face tattoos and a tramp stamp, to getting drunk at a Tiki bar after nobody came to your band’s show. I must say, for a bunch of Dutchmen, these guys sure know a lot about… Florida stuff.

For old school pop-punk fans, I’d consider this “easy listening”. It’s a quick blast of fun, catchy songs. All the hallmarks of the genre are here, but these guys do “pop-punk by the numbers” way better than a lot of other bands. The singing, playing, and production are all on point. Florida Men made a really, really good album that would serve as the perfect soundtrack to any felonious acts you may want to commit.

It’s a fuckin’ bargain, too! Morning Wood Records is selling the digital version for just two bucks, and the CD can be had for the low price of five freedom dollars. Shipping to the United States (more specifically Florida) is another issue, but it’s still quite reasonable. Buy, buy, buy!!!

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Dying Scene Album Review: The Flatliners – “New Ruin”

“Let me start by peeling back my skin…” With those lyrics from “Performative Hours,” the opening track and lead single from their 6th studio album, New Ruin, The Flatliners announced their triumphant and long-awaited return to the game. With vocals hollered in throat-shredding fashion about a sonic car-crash of guitar, bass and drums, the track […]

“Let me start by peeling back my skin…”

With those lyrics from “Performative Hours,” the opening track and lead single from their 6th studio album, New Ruin, The Flatliners announced their triumphant and long-awaited return to the game. With vocals hollered in throat-shredding fashion about a sonic car-crash of guitar, bass and drums, the track serves as a perfect opening salvo for what you, the listener, are about to experience over the next thirty-eight minutes.

It’s been a while since we last heard from Toronto’s finest. Five years, in fact, since the band unleased Inviting Light on the masses. (Here’s our review from back then, although it’s formatted to the old site so it might be a little wonky, and in the migration to the new platform we lost record of who actually wrote it. Super fun feature.) That album was a bit of a departure in both the literal and figurative senses of the word; it was their first album on Rise Records after the triumvirate of Fat Wreck Chords releases that immediately preceded it, and it brought with it a sound that probably qualifies as more mature and well-crafted than some of the band more frenetic earlier work.

On New Ruin, the Flats find themselves back on Fat Wreck for the first time in close to a decade (I know, I didn’t believe it either, but Dead Language came out in September 2013). Rather than pick up where they left off, however, and fall back on an earlier sound and a shallower bag of tricks which would have, frankly, been a mistake, the band continue to move forward in a way that might just be their best effort yet.

What’s immediately noticeable on this album are the riffs. Oh are there riffs. Not to insert myself into this review, but I had a list of things I wanted to do on the evening that I first listened to this album, and decided to forgo all of them in favor of picking up my Les Paul and trying to decipher some of the rock-and-roll goodness contained herein. Frontman Chris Cresswell and lead guitarist Scott Brigham have always kept the created a variety of textures that range from blistering intensity to swirling cacophony, New Ruin finds the duo fine-tuning their craft into a series of one soaring riff after another. Paul Ramirez and Jon Darby continue to serve as the band’s rock-steady anchor on drums and bass respectively, allowing their six-stringed compatriots to sail in some pretty deep waters filled with big, anthemic, earworm-style riffs.

New Ruin does a wonderful job of weaving in a lot of the different things that the Flats have always done best, but does it better. There’s the caustic, piss-and-vinegar of songs like “Performative Hours” and “Oath,” the latter being lead by those aforementioned massive riffs over a punishing drum line. There’s the mid-tempo push-and-pull of chugging rhythm guitar underneath swirling, sometimes droning leads in tracks like “Top Left Door” and “Big Strum” and my personal favorite “It’ll Hurt.” At least I think that’s my personal favorite. That does seem to keep changing after approximately four dozen listens at this point, however. After another brief, swirling guitar intro, “Tunnel Vision” turns into one of the more straight-ahead, four-on-the-floor punk rock burners in the band’s arsenal. And if you’re really into the big, swirling riffs, album closer “Under A Dying Sun” sets the bar high, an epic six-and-a-half minute wave that gradually builds to a false crest at the midway point, only to regather its energy and continue crashing upon the sonic shores in bigger, bolder fashion.

Both musically and lyrically, New Ruin shines as a beacon signaling that yes, you can go home again, but you can do so with the added weight and wisdom that come with years of consciously examining and reexamining yourself and your place in…well, in all of this. “Performative Hours” laments the self-important, ego-stroking facades that we build up on all sorts of social media. Songs like “Rat King” and “Big Strum” follow the collapse of power-hungry talking heads and their minions who lose sight of the proverbial forest through the trees, eventually collapsing under the weight of their own misdeeds. “Oath” finds our narrator trying to overcome the poisonous waters of hate and instead moving toward love and freedom and acceptance. It’s all a reminder that you can keep your tongue or your pen or your axe all sharpened and ready for battle, primed to call society and our leaders and, sometimes, ourselves on an ever-increasing amount of bullshit in the hopes of a brighter, more hopeful future. We haven’t come up with an album review rating scale here at Dying Scene 2.0 yet, but pick whatever sign or symbol or totem you want, and New Ruin gets all of them.

“…to at least let a little bit of soft light in.”

You can still pre-order New Ruin on Bandcamp here and through Fat Wreck here.

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Dying Scene Album Review: Trashed Ambulance “Future Considerations”

Imagine this if you will, the year is 1999, it is the beginning of Summer, and you’re surrounded by nothing but wilderness and beautiful landscape. You’re about to take a dive off of a 40-foot cliff into a lake, which is really living in the moment. Now the loud music you have blasting on your […]

Imagine this if you will, the year is 1999, it is the beginning of Summer, and you’re surrounded by nothing but wilderness and beautiful landscape. You’re about to take a dive off of a 40-foot cliff into a lake, which is really living in the moment.

Now the loud music you have blasting on your stereo smacks you back into reality. Some fine-tuned punk rock, heavy on the melody and heavy on the fun. You pull off your headphones and stand up to stretch. What was going on before? Were you dreaming?

I was a part of a school-sponsored trip to Canada the Summer before my Junior year of High School, and what was described above actually happened. This was my formal introduction to the wonderful Country of Canada. Fast forward some twenty or so years, and Canada isn’t just a vacation destination for those who love the outdoors.

Canada has become an epicenter for punk rock for the past ten to fifteen years, boasting such great bands as Propagandhi, The Flatliners, Belvedere, Mute, and Silverstein. That’s only naming a few of the many bands who have put Canada on the map for punk rock music.

Trashed Ambulance is a three piece skatepunk/pop punk band out of Red Deer, Alberta and Future Considerations is the band’s third full length album. It is also the first album with the current lineup.

For me being a relatively new fan, after giving Future Considerations a spin, it felt like I have been listening to these guys for years. The influences in their music is instantly apparent and adding their own sound is what drew me to writing this review.

The opening track “56” sets the tone for what is going to be a very loud, energetic, upbeat, melodic and fun album. “Menace” is a standout track, mixing elements of pop punk and skatepunk into a very jumpy and poppy rock tune. On one hand, I can hear Pennywise, specifically their sound from the album All or Nothing, and on another hand I hear NOFX on this track. I really love the dueling vocals with Emilie Plamondon and Robbie Moron on “Stalk in the Park,” it gives a vibe reminiscent of the cover of “Fairytale in New York,” by No Use for a Name. “Blip on the Radar” is my absolute favorite track on the entire album and can be considered a punk rock anthem. I can already picture the crowd singing this one aloud while pumping their fists and chugging their domestic beers. This is a really fun and catchy tune that will likely become a fan favorite.

Trashed Ambulance consists of three members: Josh Hauta – Guitar/Vocals, Jason “Ozone” Ezeard – Bass/Vocals and Riley Bourne – Drums/Vocals. “We tried not to make a paint by numbers skate punk record,” exclaims Hauta. “This album was a true collaboration of ideas between the band members and producer Casey Lewis. We are proud of how it turned out and while we’re under no illusions that we will change the world with a skate punk record in 2022, we are still stoked to be able to present an accurate representation of the band and how we operate in current times.”

They should be proud, this is another solid effort by a hard-working punk rock band. I am pretty confident it will be in heavy rotation among the punk rock scene and those of you reading this review. Do yourself a favor and give this one a spin!

Future Considerations is available on CD and Vinyl via Thousand Islands Records.

Future Considerations by Trashed Ambulance

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Dying Scene Presents – Artists Beyond the Chords: Chris Shary

When art and music collide! “Artists Beyond the Chords” is a Dying Scene series highlighting stories from various visual artists in the scene. Our first installment showcases the work and wisdom of Chris Shary. Chris Shary is one of the hardest working artists, who’s been a hard hitting staple in the punk community for decades. […]

When art and music collide! “Artists Beyond the Chords” is a Dying Scene series highlighting stories from various visual artists in the scene. Our first installment showcases the work and wisdom of Chris Shary.

Chris Shary is one of the hardest working artists, who’s been a hard hitting staple in the punk community for decades. Based out of Stockton, California, Shary is also a dedicated drama teacher, father, husband, and self-proclaimed dork. He truly does it ALL (pun intended). Best known for his depiction of “Milo” (Descenedents), his works have also supported the likes of ALL, The Damned, Devo, Blink-182, The Meatmen, Circle Jerks, 7 Seconds, The Dead Milkmen, Agent Orange, Melvins, The Lillingtons, Chemical People, Masked Intruder, and so many more. His output ranges from album art, concert flyers, t-shirts, specialized merch items, and even action figures. With such an impressive resume, one might think it’s all done for notoriety, but deep down he’s just a huge fan expressing his undying love for music. 

Shary’s artistic journey began when he was first able to hold a crayon and pencil, but really became serious at the tender age of 6. At 17 years old, he started creating pieces for different bands and has been going strong ever since. He often teeters between different portraiture styles such as vibrant pop-art induced color blocking and black and white sketch realism. His current art-weapons-of-choice are pen and ink, mainly sharpies, but he recently started working with acrylic paints again. Consistently creating is key to his process.

“I try and draw every day, but I do a lot of thinking prior to starting commissioned work, or if I am getting ideas together for a band I want to work with. I walk my dog for a half hour every morning right when I wake up and that’s time I devote to thinking of ideas of what I might create,” said Shary.

Another way he searches for ideas is by experiencing live music. Oftentimes you can catch him at some of the biggest shows snapping shots for his latest creations. Not many can rock a phone camera in the photo pit without getting a boot from security, but he has clout, and for good reason. 

“I use the photos as reference when I’m working,” Shary explained, “but it also connects me with bands on a much closer level.”

As far as his true artistic motivation, Shary does not look outside of his own home. Family comes first, and it lives in the heart of each piece he creates. 

“My family is the thing that inspires me the most. My wife Lori is also an amazing artist and she is constantly making incredible pieces and kinda pushes me because of that. My son is also a big fan of the work we do, so I always want to impress him.”

Like a machine, Shary regularly posts new works on his social media accounts. Whether it’s commissioned or perfectly juxtaposed doodles for his own pleasure. Music aside, subjects range from pop culture references, memes, movies, television, and comic books. He never lets himself falter or take long breaks away from art, and strongly believes no creative person should. 

“I think the idea of an artist’s block is kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. People tend to psych themselves out and then can’t get out of it. It just seems like an easy way to not work. I’m all about making things and hitting headlines. Just keep doing work and there is no need to slow down.” 

For those who want to break into the music art industry, Shary preaches the importance of repetition while remaining open and to your true self. 

“Do the work. Draw everyday and be happy to do it for yourself. No one owes you anything so be happy for whatever happens. It’s not always a quick process so do the work,” he advised. 

When asking Shary what he would like to leave Dying Scene readers with he offered a pure sentiment of kindness. 

“Be nice to each other, and try seeing things from other people’s point of view.”

View and support Chris Shary’s artwork at: 

Chrisshary.bigcartel.com

Instagram

Facebook 

Chris Shary’s Liner Notes

Do you have a favorite concert memory? 
One of my biggest thrills was singing “Bloodstains” with DESCENDENTS in 97. I guess one of my all time favorite shows was one with Kevin Seconds, Steve Soto and Alyson Seconds in an acoustic setting. It was insanely beautiful. 

What bands are you listening to now? 
The Linda Lindas have been an obsession lately. Just saw Bleached and fell for them. Kinda been listening to the Lemonheads a lot lately and always Jawbreaker, and DESCENDENTS of course. Saw HoleHog in Sacramento the other night and they were rad!

What song best describes you as a person? 
The theme from Shaft. At least that’s what I hear in my head a lot.

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Dying Scene Record Radar: New punk vinyl releases & reissues (Descendents, Rancid, Joe Strummer & more)

Hello, loyal readers! Thank you for joining us for this week’s edition of the Dying Scene Record Radar, where we cover all things in the world of punk rock vinyl. Kick off your shoes and make yourself at home, because it’s time to run through this week’s releases. I hope you’re feeling spendy, because there’s […]

Hello, loyal readers! Thank you for joining us for this week’s edition of the Dying Scene Record Radar, where we cover all things in the world of punk rock vinyl. Kick off your shoes and make yourself at home, because it’s time to run through this week’s releases. I hope you’re feeling spendy, because there’s a lot of good stuff that might find its way into your record collection. Let’s get into it!

Up first, we’ve got 1-2-3-4 Go! Records with another killer exclusive pressing of a classic record. This time it’s the DescendentsEverything Sucks, limited to 1,000 hand numbered copies on blue vinyl. This will be available on their webstore Friday, August 5th at 8am Pacific (11am Eastern). Join 1-2-3-4 Go!’s mailing list to be among the first to know when it goes up.

Rancid‘s Let’s Go is getting repressed, this time as a red and black splatter LP. It’s limited to 1,000 copies, and is only available from Newbury Comics. Head over here to get your hands on this one.

Brooklyn Vegan has an exclusive green 2xLP pressing of Social Distortion‘s Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes up to pre-order on their webstore. It’s limited to 300 copies and the color is pretty cool. Not a huge Social D fan myself, but this album’s alright. Also, if you join Brooklyn Vegan’s mailing list, you’ll get 10% off your order! Very nice.

Asian Man Records has brand new pressings of two classic Alkaline Trio LPs available right now. These new variants of Goddamnit and Maybe I’ll Catch Fire are limited to 1,000 copies each. Head on over to Asian Man’s webstore to order.

It’s been a long time coming but No Trigger has finally announced a follow-up to their fantastic sophomore album Tycoon. The new record’s called Dr. Album, and it’s being released next month on Red Scare. Check out the first single below, and pre-order the LP here.

Power pop singer/songwriter Geoff Palmer has re-recorded Dee Dee Ramone’s “rap” album Standing In The Spotlight. The first single, his cover of “Emergency” (my favorite song off the record), can be heard below. Stardumb Records is releasing this on vinyl; head over here to pre-order it.

The Mugwumps just released a new live album, recorded at Italy’s premiere punk festival Punk Rock Raduno in 2021. Check it out below – it kicks ass! My fellow Americans can get this here; our European friends can buy it here.

Mom’s Basement Records has announced their upcoming Queers tribute compilation God Save The Queers Vol.2 will be available to pre-order this Friday, July 29th, at Noon Eastern. Head over to their webstore to grab your copy. Canadians can get this one from Insipid Records, and our Bri’ish mates will wanna hit up Council-Pop Records.

Hardcore punk supergroup OFF! has announced a new record! Free LSD is the band’s first new studio album in eight years. They’re describing it as “a heavy punk industrial free jazz soundtrack recording”. Watch the music video for the first single “War Above Los Angeles” below, and pre-order the record here. There’s also an orange variant available from Brooklyn Vegan.

Making their second Record Radar appearance in three weeks, it’s the Dropkick Murphys with a Newbury Comics Exclusive variant of their upcoming album This Machine Still Kills Fascists. This one’s due out on September 30th, it’s limited to 500 copies on red vinyl, and you can pre-order it here.

British punk pioneers The Vibrators have announced their final album Fall Into the Sky will be released on August 12th through Cleopatra Records. Listen to the first single below, and pre-order the record on pink or blue vinyl here.

Santa Cruz pop-punks Too Bad Eugene just announced their first new album in 20 years! Distance is due out September 14th on People of Punk Rock Records. Listen to the title track below, and pre-order the record here.

Italy’s Radiation Records has reissued two LPs from Los Angeles punk veterans The Generators: 2005’s The Winter of Discontent, and 2007’s The Great Divide. Get ’em here. These are available in the US through Merchbar, too, but the price after shipping is basically the same as importing from Italy.

A decade after the downfall of The Clash, frontman Joe Strummer would spend the last three years of his life making new music with his band The Mescaleros. A box set compiling the band’s three albums and a bonus LP of demos, outtakes, rarities, has been announced. This is due out on September 16th, and can be pre-ordered here. These records go for $100+ each on the resale market, so this is actually a pretty great deal.

Reminder! If you are attending SBAM FestBrackrock Festival, or Punk Rock Holiday over the next few weeks, Fat Wreck Chords is going to have exclusive new variants of a shitload of records at their merch booth. Titles include Lagwagon‘s Hoss, Strung Out‘s Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues, the new Face to Face album, and many others. These European festivals are the only place in the entire world these will be available. Check out Fat’s Instagram for more info.

Canadian friends, check out Forbidden Beat! They’re a punk distro that always has good shit going up on their Instagram page, at very good prices. They also seem to be the only place in North America with copies of the new Screeching Weasel LP in stock, so if you’re looking for that, hit ’em up!

Now that all the new and upcoming releases have been covered, I thought I’d share what I’ve been listening to lately! I saw my favorite band Less Than Jake for the 19th(?) time last week, so I’ve been on a LTJ kick lately. I got Losers, Kings, And Things We Don’t Understand at a show in Orlando back in… 2012? And this red pressing of See The Light was one of two Christmas variants limited to 100 copies. It had been a while since I listened to either of these, so I gave them a few spins.

That’s all, folks! Thanks as always for tuning in to the Dying Scene Record Radar. If there’s anything we missed (highly likely), or if you want to let everyone know about a new/upcoming vinyl release you’re excited about, send us a message on Facebook or Instagram, and we’ll look into it. Enjoy your weekend, don’t blow too much money on spinny discs. See ya next week!

*Wanna catch up on all of our Record Radar posts? Yype “Record Radar” in the search bar at the top of the page!

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