The Bronx, Authority Zero
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General Admission * Standing Room Only * All Ages * Additional $2 Cash Surcharge At The Door For Attendees Under 21 * Attendees Under 16 Must Be Accompanied By A Ticketed, Adult Guardian * Concerts Typically Begin 30-60 Minutes After Advertised Door Times
If you think you know Pennywise, think again. Though the band has made a name for themselves over the past 26 years as a politically minded, melodic hardcore act who have sold millions of albums. They have become one of the most successful independent acts of all time, however they weren't always this way. In fact the group got their start playing backyard parties in their hometown of Hermosa Beach, California, without having any aspirations other than playing as many songs as they could before the police showed up. This side of the band has never been captured until now and Yesterdays sees the band putting some of their nascent material in proper recorded form for the first time ever.
Not only is this the perfect way to welcome the band's original vocalist Jim Lindberg back into the fold but Yesterdays is also in many way’s a homage to Pennywise's original bassist Jason Thirsk who wrote a bulk of the lyrics and music to these songs in the late 80s (Thirsk subsequently passed away in 1996). "Jason was the emotional core of Pennywise and his songwriting was very much about PMA (positive mental attitude) and that's really what initially drew me to the band and where we started out," Lindberg explains. “The punk scene had became really cynical and confused in the late eighties and it seemed like the only bands that were doing anything inspiring were the one's singing about positivity and unity and heading in a new direction."
Lindberg refers to Yesterdays as a "new album of old songs. It's an accurate description when you consider that the band had to relearn many of the songs here from a cassette they recorded at their rehearsal space back in 1988. Original recordings of these can be heard at the end of the album. The remaining material consists of outtakes written during Pennywise's Full Circle and Straight Ahead era during the late nineties. However when Lindberg, guitarist Fletcher Dragge, drummer Byron McMackin and bassist Randy Bradbury recut these songs earlier this year they inevitably made them sound as urgent and as they did when they were originally written.
"We always wanted to go back and record these songs because later in our career we started to get more political and angry— that may have turned some people off but that's what we were feeling at the time," Lindberg explains. "In the back of our minds we knew we had these cool, old songs that were more life-affirming, it just took us 25 years to get back to it." Recorded in the band's hometown factory district which is known for its influx of rehearsal studios and surfboard repair shops, Pennywise were conscious give the tracks a hometown feel and preserve their original spirit. “We tracked the whole thing in a few days doing a couple of takes of each song so it's a really raw album in that sense."
From the anthemic sing-along "What You Deserve" to the Minor Threat-inspired "Noise Pollution" and midtempo melodicism of "She's A Winner" (which was written as an homage to Thirsk's girlfriend at the time), it is clear why these songs got Pennywise signed to Epitaph. Even the most hardcore fans of the act will hear another side of Pennywise here. It's the perfect collection of songs to bring the band back together following two sold out shows welcoming Lindberg back at the Los Angeles Palladium in 2012. "Instead of having the pressure to write a new album it made more sense for us to play these songs and remember why we started Pennywise in the first place and I think that helped us out a lot," the vocalist explains.
The songs on Yesterdays mirror this sentiment, particularly tracks like "Thanksgiving" which memorably features the line, "think about all you have, not about what you can't get." "It's a keystone song for the band in that it’s simple message but it's important for people who are going through a tough time and feeling beaten down to hear, and that's what bands like Dag Nasty and 7 Seconds did for us with their music," Lindberg explains. "They wrote songs that felt like someone encouraging you to keep your head up and I think that type of message lies at the core of the songs on Yesterdays and embody the type of music that we've always aspired to create," he adds.
"Losing Jason was a terrible tragedy for all of us and he was such a big part of the Pennywise spirit, so us going back and recording these songs was a huge inspiration because it reminded of us of where we were when we started and why people responded to the band in such a powerful way," Lindberg summarizes. "These songs are Pennywise in our purest form and it's really as much of a gift to us as it is to our fans, many of whom have been waiting for real recordings of these tracks for years. It marks a new chapter for the band while still staying true to the way we started twenty six years ago."
The Bronx's swaggering interpretation of hardcore punk found them a quick audience in Los Angeles, where guitarist Joby J. Ford, bassist James Tweedy, vocalist Matt Caughthran, and drummer Jorma Vik founded the band in 2002. Known for a blistering live show, the quintet attracted attention from major labels after only a handful of performances. An offer from Island/Def Jam materialized after the Bronx's 12th gig, but the band decided to issue several recordings on its own label, White Drugs, before partnering with a major. Former Guns N' Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke helped the Bronx compose an intense rock sound for their first demo, and the band's debut, The Bronx, appeared in August 2003 via the Ferret Records label. Three years later, a second self-titled album marked the band's first effort for Island Records, and the band supported its release by joining Priestess, the Riverboat Gamblers, and Wires on Fire on the WHODOYOUVOODOO Tour.
The quintet then parted ways with Island and issued a third eponymous release, unofficially known as The Bronx III, with help from Original Signal Recordings. Also in 2006, after being asked to play an acoustic set, the Bronx gave their sound a new spin, shifting from hardcore to Latin sounds. This led to the formation of alter ego band Mariachi el Bronx, who made their recorded debut in 2009. In 2013, a fourth volume of proper Bronx material arrived. IV leaned more toward a polished hard rock approach than the group's earlier, punkier sound. The band returned to their mariachi incarnation for 2011's Mariachi El Bronx, and 2014's record of the same name. In 2016 they put out a live album called Mariachi Bronx Live Cuts: Live at the Teragram Ballroom and the Independent, Dec 2015. That same year, drummer Vik announced he was leaving the band. He was replaced by David Hidalgo, Jr. In 2017 the Bronx resumed their original form for their fifth record. The 11-track BRVNX, released in September of that year, was preceded by the lead singles "Sore Throat" and "Two Birds." ~ Andrew Leahey & MacKenzie Wilson
Since ’94 Authority Zero has brought their unique signature blend of anthemic melodic-punk and reggae to the masses. A lot has changed in the 20 plus years since the band got their start and they’ve found a way to persist and thrive in today’s ever-changing music world. “It’s been a long trek”, says Jason Devore (singer and longest running member of the band) as he recollected on the band’s past. The band was formed in the mid 90’s in Mesa, AZ by a group of high school friends with ample ambition but no lofty expectations. After a few years, they refined and established their sound: a mix of SoCal punk with reggae and ska tendencies. With the release of their debut album A Passage in Time (2002, Lava Records), the band’s career gained momentum quickly and they’ve since spent their fair share of time on the road, having toured extensively with such acts as Pennywise, Sum 41, Flogging Molly and many more. In recent years Authority Zero has gained momentum internationally, spending time on the European festival circuit as well as stints in Japan, Australia and even Russia. They’ve released a total of 5 full length studio albums (most having seen spots on Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart), and their music has been featured in numerous video games, tv shows and movie soundtracks throughout the years. The band’s many successes have been accompanied by a few bumps in the road (as to be expected for any group that’s been around over two decades) including a slew of line-up changes, music industry letdowns, and most recently having their van, trailer and equipment stolen while on tour in Texas. Their secret to the longevity is simple: keep it pure and believe in your music.
Now, 23 years since the band’s inception, the future remains as bright as ever for Authority Zero, consisting of singer Jason DeVore, bassist Mike Spero, guitarist Dan Aid and drummer Chris Dalley (also in Pulley and Implants). Eager to move forward, the inspired new line-up started working on a batch of songs that will become the band’s sixth full-length record. “We’d gone through a couple members during the writing process the last few years, so we’ve kind of written this record twice. We had about 12 or 13 songs put together, a couple of the guys took off and we kind of had to start from scratch with what we did have from songs I had or Mike [Spero, bassist] had written, and build off of that,” says DeVore. They did their homework before rushing in to record the new tunes. “We really did honestly have more pre-production and a grasp on what the songs were going to sound like before we went in [to the studio] in a long time. This time things were really well put together,” says DeVore.
The band entered Fort Collins, Colorado’s legendary The Blasting Room Studio (Rise Against, Descendents, NOFX) in December of 2016 to start work on yet-to-be-named new album with producer/iconic punk drummer Bill Stevenson (of Black Flag/Descendents fame) at the helm. The process was unique: the whole Blasting room team (Stevenson, Andrew Berlin and Jason Livermore) worked on the record cooperatively, resulting in a highly efficient synergy they’ve developed though years of refinement. DeVore describes the process: “It was really cool. It was like a one stop shop where they are consistently working on the record in 5 different rooms. When one piece is done with the drums, it moves on to editing. While that’s happening you are working on the bass guitar or the guitars and getting all those tracks done with Andrew. It just keeps on moving around and around in a big circle to keep the process moving. They’ve got their formula and it’s works really well.” The band also stayed at the studio for the three and a half weeks during these marathon recording sessions. DeVore fondly reminisced on the process: “It became like the bat-cave ‘cause you didn’t really know what day it was, or what time it was or anything ‘cause you’d go out in the morning first thing and the next time you went out it was dark again. It was cool in that regard but it also messed with your head a lot. It was a brilliant process; we had such a good time out there. Bill would be there tracking vocals with me for 13 hours straight and he’d stick around and drink beers with me after in the kitchen and just tell stories, ya know? It was pretty cool, man … and a different experience than I’ve ever had.” Stevenson enjoyed working with the band as well: ”Authority Zero proved to be a perfect fit with The Blasting Room. They showed up with great songs and we had the very best of times hanging out together—and just as much fun sharing our creative perspectives during the arrangement and recording process, all of which resulted in a really cool record.”
DeVore describes the direction of the new material: “It’s really going to be an exciting album. It’s a combination I think of The Tipping Point [released in 2013] meets the first album A Passage in Time. It’s really taking a step back to take a step forward—in the sense that you get a little more of what you feel like a lot of the kids that have been around for a long time have been missing out on a little bit, I think. There’s also some stuff on there that some people won’t have heard before I think as well … they’ll be like ‘that’s what band again?’ There’s a couple of surprises on there too that might throw people back a little bit—but in an exciting way. I’m pretty excited man. We’ve done about 15 tracks and we’re debating if we are going to use all 15 or hold off on a couple for bonus tracks.” The band shared an advance mix of the new record with longtime friend Jim Lindberg (singer of Pennywise) who liked what he heard: “Authority Zero are a great American band. They bring it every night they play and on every album, and this one is no different. It's melodic hardcore at it’s best. Authority Zero bring it. Always.”
The new album will be released via Jacksonville, Florida’s Bird Attack Records, who is quickly developing an extensive roster of both up-and-coming and established acts in the skate/melodic punk genre—a perfect fit for Authority Zero. “I talked to [Bird Attack] a little bit at Music for Cancer in northeast Canada, they had some stuff going on there. Our biggest conversation was really out in Europe. We did some interview stuff with them and spoke a bit about the possibility of working together. As time went on and as the record started coming together, they stayed in contact and seemed somewhat more adamant than any other options that were coming about. They were excited to work with us as a band, and to me that’s the main thing you want to hear from anyone who’s a label these days—that they’re actually excited to put out the record and and care about it as much as you do. They showed a real desire to help us out, do the best they can with the record as far as the push goes, and get it out to the most people they can. That was a real exciting thing and it was always a thing we turned back to,” says Devore.
Authority Zero and Bird Attack are aiming for a summer 2017 release for the upcoming album that will be shortly followed by a full US tour, the first for the band in a while. Subsequent international touring is being planned as well to support the new album for Europe, Japan and possibly South Africa. DeVore is looking forward to it all: “It’s hard to say what’s going to happen or come up but hopefully all sorts of fun things.”
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