Album Review: Up For Nothing – “Twelve Stories Down”

Album Review: Up For Nothing – “Twelve Stories Down”

The album: “Twelve Stories Down”. The band: Up For Nothing. Celebrating nine years on the awesome date of 11/11/11 and ringing in said anniversary with a date one month later at the place where it all began,The Wicked Monk in Brooklyn. New York, “Having people from across the country and all the same right here in Brooklyn sing along to the songs we’ve created has without question been the best feeling I have ever felt, and I feel that the message we’re trying to get across comes out so much stronger when we play shows!” leader Justin Conigliaro states proudly.

Up For Nothing links the key to their success to prioritizing friendship first. “We’re not a band constructed of strangers that are making a cheap attempt at fame or anything silly like that. We are all friends and we all share a passion for creating music and creating it with each-other.” Other bands, take that however you like!

I caught these guys live for the first time on tour with The Bouncing Souls. All of the openers were really great that night: Up For Nothing, Iron Chic and The Loved Ones. UFN’s fast-paced camaraderie onstage is absolutely contagious. I literally couldn’t shut the fuck up about them, and Up For Nothing became the pet of the tour for me.

The current lineup came about in a pretty organic way: “Steven, Jesse and I started off as friends in high school and when UFN started playing shows in 2002; they would just come hang out and sing along.” Justin reminisces “I started teaching Steven how to play guitar back in like 2003 and he ended up taking over on bass in 2005 after our bass player left. Jesse started playing drums and playing Up For Nothing songs for the slim chance that one day he’d be asked to take over and sure enough that day came back in 2006 when our original drummer decided to stop playing music. It’s a pretty interesting story, but we’re all thrilled to be able to be in this position together, and both of those dudes worked real hard for the opportunity to be here with me. It really means the world.”

“Twelve Stories Down” sees the band controlling their pace and playing with melodies. There are clearer parts to each song, as opposed to the frenetic pace of their sophomore effort, “We’re Singing Our Last Breath.”  “Says It All” introduces the first set of Ramones-esque “Heys” to the party, while “Behind the Wheel” features claps and extremely catchy refrains.

“We have now mastered the art of creating together and trusting each-others judgment enough to be open to trying new things for the overall idea of growing as a band. We’re not a band that has an abundance of songs that were written and never used… We use almost EVERYTHING. We pushed a lot of limits with this new record and expanded our overall sound so that it can fit into endless sub genres of punk rock.” Justin adds. “I have always felt that any band is whatever the people in it make it out to be.”

“When the Clock Strikes Twelve” is an excellent example of the way in which this album demonstrates a decided progression of style and shows off the musical fortitude of the trio consisting of Justin, bassist Steven Calco and drummer Jesse Brennan. This anthemic masterpiece with breakdowns and gang vocals mixed in with toe-tapping percussion is a sure hit, but the singalong potential of “Twelve Stories Down” is a given.

“I will honestly say that this was the most interesting recording process that we will probably ever be involved in.” Justin assures me. “Mr. Jerry Farley has recorded and produced everything that we have ever put out dating way back to our first demos in November of 2002 and has had us previously record in basements, random studios, his apartments, and even had my laying down in his closet at one point a few years back and singing into a microphone in the sky (yes, this actually happened!). Jerry can make a fart sound like art, if given the chance.”

“Jerry was asked to produce bands at NOVA Entertainment Group, which up until this point, had been known as a music video production studio that has worked with such artists as KORN, Mudvayne, etc…NOVA is stocked with state of the art recording equipment that had seldom been used before we began recording. Since we’ve become so close with Jerry over the years, he asked us to be the first full length album that he recorded at this place and we jumped at the opportunity. This was the first record that we recorded in one space, and without interruption.”

Lyrically, the album typically runs the gamut, as did its predecessor from wistfulness:

“Get away from the negativity in my brain” – Can’t Get Away,
“Experiences gone, there’s no place left to go but home” – The Slouch
“Run away from all the lives that failed before they could become themselves” – When the Clock Strikes Twelve

to cautious optimism:

“We can’t live for tomorrow, we only have today” – Destruction
“Remember the world is always in your hands” – All We Need

“We’ve been asked for years what type of punk we play, and I never really knew how to answer that before.” Justin muses “This record just made that question a million times harder for us and anyone listening. I have always felt that any band is whatever the people in it make it out to be. We’re easygoing people and we like to be silly and have a good time. With that said it’s always been our priority to have that vibe translate into the music that we play.”

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