With a brutally addictive assault of rhythmic precision, gorgeous speed-freak riffs and iron-lunged vocals that rank among the very best hardcore has ever seen, The Bronx have become de facto narrators of life in Los Angeles- they are a product of the city, and the imprint is a key component of their sound. And while their unique blend of punk and hardcore has earned them a cult following, the band’s still pushing boundaries, to say the least. They just finished recording two albums- that’s right, two. And one of ’em is a mariachi record. They also kicked Def Jam / Island to the curb, and are putting the albums out themselves on their own label, White Drugs.
Yesterday, we started talking to guitarist / songwriter Joby Ford, about why emo music is for sissies, Josh Homme’s recently publicized / YouTubed outburst, and the spectacle that is Jeffree Star. Our conversation continues today, digging into deeper topics such as authenticity and why there’s no point in being on a record label anymore.
Antiquiet: What’s up with the new album? What can you tell us?
Joby Ford: Things are a lot simpler.
Antiquiet: I read an interview where you also called the new album stripped-down and more groove-based.
Joby Ford: Yeah, it’s more simplified and direct. We got our own recording studio, which is nice cause it has more of a homemade feel to it. And that’s really exciting to me.
Antiquiet: When can we get our hands on ’em?
Joby Ford: I think September is when everything’s gonna be up and running and out. And soon after that, the mariachi album will come out. It’s really exciting to be able to play two different styles of music. I mean, I’ve always believed that you should be in your favorite band, or be a band that you would wanna go see. And I think I’d definitely be interested to see a band that plays mariachi as well as punk.
Antiquiet: Was it easier to keep the energy up, being able to pogo between creative directions?
Joby Ford: Yes, absolutely, cause you’re at one end of the spectrum creatively, and then you flip to the complete opposite. I think it was really healthy to do both at once, cause we never got burnt out on one or the other.
Antiquiet: How did you adapt your style for the mariachi album? The entire concept is so completely left-field.
Joby Ford: It was interesting cause we added a member to play the guitarro, and he’s the only Mexican guy in the band, so it’s like… Have you ever heard white guys play funk? They’re trying to interpret something that just doesn’t work for them. We’ve been just trying to find our way within this mariachi thing, you know? We didn’t want to sing it in Spanish… It’s just like… we’re white. It’s about making the music your own, rather than trying to make it something that it’s not. So it was a hell of an interesting journey.
Antiquiet: You said in an interview that When you and Matt went back and listened to certain songs, you realized they were incredible songs, but they weren’t part of the record you wanted to make.
Joby Ford: Right. The way the Bronx stuff works is that the music just kind of takes off in its own direction, and we just write a massive amount of material. And within that material, the record kind of starts dictating itself. It decides where it wants to go, instead of maybe the record you set out to make. Like yeah, there’s some great songs on there, but they just don’t… fit. Maybe they’ll come out as B-sides or something different, but we always try to think about a record as a whole. The space, and the things that a full album can do as opposed to the strength of a song. I’m older, so I actually like records.
Antiquiet: Do you take cues from any other bands out there, present or past?
Joby Ford: We’re fans of the real shit, all of us. Like Otis Redding, Bo Diddley, Black Flag, just stuff that’s truly authentic. I think it’s always taking cues from any genre of music that’s the real deal, something that’s not watered down where there’s effects and shit all over it. It’s just brutally honest music about who you are and what you do.
Antiquiet: What’s your label status?
Joby Ford: We’re off Def Jam / Island, and we are going to put our albums out ourselves on White Drugs. There’s no point in being on a record label anymore. Even if you are signed, is that label even gonna exist in five years? It’s something that’s very very hard to take seriously, because record labels have to make money. And so therefore as a band, you have to do stuff that’s fucking ridiculous. You just can’t take it seriously. It’s like, I don’t want to do signings, I don’t want to have to do weird contests where you get a t-shirt and a soda and hang out with your fuckin… I don’t want to do that. I want to play music because I like it. That stuff is fine for different bands, but that stuff just doesn’t interest me. I just want to be in a band, put out my music and play.
Antiquiet: Convenience is key.
Joby Ford: I liken it a lot to cassettes. I remember when everybody thought that cassettes were gonna be the end of everything, cause you could dupe tapes and records. And in ten years, there’s gonna be some crazy fucking new thing. But there will always be a need for music. The way people go about getting it is really changing now, and it’s exciting to see people squirm. It’s not my problem.
Antiquiet: What can you tell us about your Social Club imprint?
Joby Ford: That’s been on hold for a while, but we’ve actually got the next one all pressed and sitting in our studio- we haven’t screen-printed it yet but it should be comin’ out in the next couple months. There’s two songs, one has Joe Cardamone from The Icarus Line, he sings one song. And the other one is a rendition of a song called Dirty Leaves on our last record that we had a couple people come in and play on, which is actually kind of an interesting point looking back on this band’s history, ’cause that was the first time we’d ever played mariachi music. And that’s what led to the mariachi record.
Antquiet: How many are you putting out for the next issue?
Joby Ford: 250.
Antiquiet: Songs from your second one, Eyes In The Sky, Carmelita– I can’t find ’em anywhere. Where else can I find those tracks?
Joby Ford: You can’t… (laughs) you can’t find ’em. And if you do, they’re pretty expensive. I think I saw one on Ebay for like $150 or something. My god.
Antiquiet: Any plans to put out any of that extra material down the line?
Joby Ford: Maybe… I think it’s always possible. I like hearing that kind of stuff. Like when that Nirvana With The Lights Out came out, I was really into that. Because it was just all these songs and scraps that never made it, and different renditions and all this stuff that was, you know, maybe not generally very good. But it was really interesting to go through and listen to the progress of the group and the stuff that never really made it out. I really enjoy those types of records because you really get to know the band a lot more that way. So who knows? Maybe in the future we’ll put that out, for what it’s worth.
Antiquiet: Speaking of B-sides, I really dig your cover of Needle And The Damage Done… what inspired that?
Joby Ford: Matt (singer) actually brought that in. He’s a really big fan of Neil Young. So yeah, we needed a B-side, so we just did that.
Antiquiet: Any more covers up your sleeve?
Joby Ford: I don’t know… Every once in a while we’ll do one. I think the last one we did was Television Addict by The Victims. They’re a great, great old Australian punk band. that was probably the last one we worked up. We did a Saints cover… Every once in a while we’ll rock one. And actually we’re working on some instrumental mariachi covers that we can tear out in the set as well.
Antiquiet: What kind of advice would you give a kid sitting on his bed with a guitar, who can play a bit and has some riffs down, but doesn’t know how to put a song together?
Joby Ford: My advice to him would be a song is whatever you make it. It doesn’t have to go any certain way, it’s however you want to make it sound. If you have some riffs, who says that a song needs to be anything more than just two riffs put together? I would say go for it, do whatever you want. That’s the beauty of music- there are no rules.