The Bronx have finally returned to original form after leaving our jaws on the ground with AQ’s 2008 album of the year, Bronx III, and heading off down a mariachi-infused rabbit hole that found Los Angeles hardcore demons reaching new heights of exposure and fandom. Setting the sombreros aside for now, the most bombastically fun sluggers in Southern California return to their pure Rock form with a crushingly awesome fourth LP.
Bronx IV is out today, and the full-album stream is available for you to taste before the big bite. You certainly don’t need our hand to hold as you listen – especially because the record is a goddamned cyclone of shitkicking awesome. So what’s cooler than having the album broken down by your favorite music site? Having the frontman for the band do it instead. That being the case, we got on the line with iron-throated Bronx singer Matt Caughthran, who indulged us in going through the album song by song, giving backstory and meanings for each track on Bronx IV.
Unholy Hand: This centers around the identity crisis of The Bronx and El Bronx. The original line in the chorus of that song came from that – one day we were The Bronx, and one day we were El Bronx, and our heads were spinning around it. The idea of The Bronx being the antichrist and El Bronx being the Holy Ghost – that’s how that idea originally came up. The rest of the song… creatively speaking, you come across so many different people in life, people who talk a big game. They talk and they talk, and when it comes time to do what they’re actually saying they’re all about, they don’t have the guts to do it. That line “I’m the Antichrist, he’s the Holy Ghost” also means, y’know, are you really as bad as you say you are, or are you just faking it? Are you really going to do the things you say you’re going to do? That song means a lot to me because it’s a reminder that as crazy as the world’s gotten, some things are fundamentally true. Nobody likes a poser. No one likes a big-talking guy, all talk and no action. That’s the worst thing you want to be.
Along For The Ride: Throughout everyone’s life, whether simple or complex, there’s points from birth ’til death where you’re motivated, in front and taking charge of your life. You’re engaged and you know exactly what’s going on and where you’re going and who you are. then there’s moments where you’re completely tuned out, and you miss out on a lot of things. You don’t give a shit, and you don’t care where you end up. It’s a reminder not to go through life not plugged in. Don’t let someone else live your life, don’t find out amazing things by listening to someone else’s story. We all have times in our lives where we’re completely engaged, and the challenge in life is to stay that way.
Style Over Everything: That’s a song about the Valley. That song has a lot to do with the crazy people you see all over the place. There’s a little bit of the beach in that song, too. There’s a line in that song, “beach cruiser in the city,” and I always laugh at how certain things seem to criss-cross in different cultures. It’s always funny to me to see some wild city dude riding around on Hollywood Boulevard on a beach cruiser. There was a wild gangster guy in Fullerton, riding around on an obviously stolen bike. It just goes out to that style of life. Just total ‘Fuck it,’ everything is out the window. It’s a guy, hulk-strong in his house, surrounded by weapons, surrounded by his ideals that the world around him is going to shit. And if you need any proof, you just need to look out your window and watch it all go down.
Youth Wasted: Progression. It’s about moving forward. You hear “Youth is wasted on the young” over and over again, but it’s only wasted if you let it. People seem to think they’re supposed to stop living original, creative lives once they hit 25 or 35 years old, but life is what you make it, man. You can do the things you did when you were young, you can have the heart you had, the drive and desire and unique vision you see the world through when you’re seeing it really for the first time. That doesn’t have to change just because you get older. It’s just a bummer when you see people turning in their fucking lives, man. They hand it over thinking that’s what you’re supposed to do, then they bitch about not feeling young anymore. And I think it’s a tired ideal. Continuing to see the world the way you want to see it, not giving up. That’s the core of it.
Too Many Devils: That song is about never being able to get over the hump. Every corner you turn, there’s only more darkness, there’s never any light. There’s only more badness, and every decision you make is a bad one, you never catch a break. It’s about all the voices in your head being devils, never having a voice of reason. Never having a good idea or something healthy. Every corner you turn is just another shitty story. I think some people live their entire lives that way. I’ve definitely lived a number of years that way, so it’s something that I think everyone can identify with.
Pilot Light: A very connected song for me. It’s about regret, to be completely honest. It’s about the things that torture you that you wish you could’ve done differently, but there’s just no way you can ever get it back. There’s no way you can right the wrongs you did. You can’t let it go, either. It just sits in the back of your mind and it never goes away. My dad was a really bad alcoholic, and he used to always tell me that ‘the pilot light is always on.’ He was sober for like 35 years before he died, but he said it never goes away, that urge to drink never goes away. And it always stuck with me, that visual of the pilot light. Always on in the back of your brain. A lot of my regrets are like that, they just never go away. When I think they’re gone, something will happen and they’ll be right back in the front of my mind.
Torches: It’s about poverty’s king. Inheriting a shitty situation and trying to make the best of it. It comes from a lot of different angles, that song. You have a guy who blew it, a dictator handing down the keys to the kingdom saying “Good fucking luck. I don’t know what the fuck to do with all this.” It’s kind of a miserable situation, that song. It’s a song based in misery, two feet in the mud, shackles around your ankles, just trying to put in the work to make life worth living.
Under The Rabbit: That’s an awesome song, man. That’s one of the first songs we wrote for the record, and we’ve had that one for a long time. I think it was Carla, our guitarron player in El Bronx, and she said “under the rabbit” about something. Joby and I were like ‘under the rabbit? That sounds awesome! We should write a song called Under The Rabbit.’ And I was thinking about how to approach it lyrically, because we had this great title… You don’t really do that, you know? You don’t think of an awesome title and say ‘Let’s write a song about it.’ Every now and then that shit happens, though, and I was just thinking about ‘under the rabbit’ connecting to the rabbit’s foot, and translating it to having bad luck. That song is just about shitty gamblers, people always trying to look for the easy way out but never getting it. They owe everybody money, and they’re always thinking that the next hand will set ’em back even or set ’em up for life. But they’ve got all their cash, all their chips in the wrong business. Their luck’s never gonna turn around. That’s what it’s like to be under the rabbit.
Ribcage: Ribcage uses the analogy of a police interrogation to make the statement that as you go through life, people will always be trying to break you down and make you do something you don’t want to do, say something you don’t want to say, be something you don’t want to be. It’s a constant pressure cooker. You constantly feel like you’re in the spotlight and people are trying to break you, but you’ve gotta stay strong and fight it.
Valley Heat: That’s just about people you see at the peak of the digital age, with YouTubes and Facebooks and all that shit. It’s people who are desperate for attention, people who broadcast their suicides on Instagram. They just want attention, hand over fist. They don’t give a fuck what it’s for or who it’s from, they just want people to pay attention to ’em. And the worst thing ever in life is to not be noticed, have people think you’re invisible or not there. That’s something that’s really pathetic, I think. It baffles me, the things people do to get attention. I don’t know why, it’s just a shallow sense of importance, but it is what it is. It’s one of the flaws of technology.
Life Less Ordinary: It’s just about being selfish. It’s about thinking you know everything, thinking you’ve been through everything before, looking at people who come to you with problems or for advice, and just looking down on everybody. Being bored with life because you think you’ve seen it all. Being stubborn, thinking you’re better than everybody. It’s just a sad song, because usually when you come across someone with those character traits, usually it’s all a mask. It’s all fake, it’s all for show, and usually they’re hollow and miserable inside. It’s all an act. It’s about the hollowness of the person who thinks they’ve seen and done it all. Because no one has.
Last Revelation: That was a funny song about false prophets, false idols. A church that’s constantly getting their hopes up for the next big thing. The next Jesus, the next savior coming back to Earth, and it always turns out to be a false alarm, something that isn’t. I grew up going to church and Christian schools and all that, and I’m not really a religious person – I’ve got my own trip with all that spiritual stuff. But I actually think about that: How hilarious would it be if Jesus was real? Can you imagine in our lifetimes if that happened next week, some dude came out of the sky? You think about people who live their lives waiting for that to happen, and looking, actively searching for the signs. Wait, he’s got this, he’s six foot, he’s got a beard, he knows the Bible backwards and forwards… but wait, oh, he’s a child molester. There’s always that one thing that just fuckin’ blows it. So that’s what that song is about, the one thing that fucks the messiah. That was fun to write about.
A rare distillation of smashing Rock fun, Bronx IV fucking crushes, start to finish. You need this in your life. Pick up Bronx IV at the band’s official site.
Reviews published prior to February 23, 2015 used a 1-5 star rating system.