Nas, Wizkid and Damian Marley performed with a fitting tribute to the late Nispey Hussle.
LA Punk Rockers The Bronx are back with brand new album V – another slice of bombastic, melodic, save the world rock and roll. Ahead of their appearance at Download Festival 2018, we caught up with frontman Matt Caughthran at the conclusion of a very intimate run of UK shows, where they played the album in full followed by a string of hits.
Tell us about the new album V.
It was a really fun record to make, really stoked to make it to album number five, and it was a big deal to us to focus on what’s important to us and getting back to the core of what we do, which is playing punk rock music, to play rock and roll music and to do what we wanna do.
I don’t know about you, but what with everything going on in the world at the moment, it can’t be difficult to find things to talk about?
(Laughs) – Yeah, that’s a really struggle. I guess it’s one of the silver linings of the chaos of things that are going on around us, there are a lot of things to pick apart, to think on, to act on and to express. It’s a crazy time to be alive.
And a lot of that made it’s way into the lyrics of the record?
Yeah man, the world’s got problems and I got problems. So you know that’s pretty much where lyrically the record is coming from. There was a definite point to embrace that, and not shy away from what’s gone on in the States politically, everything that’s going on in the world politically, we’re not really a political band but your affected by your surroundings and we try not to block that stuff out and there’s stuff on the new record that’s effected by that, it’s jus the way it is.
But amongst the darker lyrical content, it really does feel like an album which you put on and feel like you can punch the air and change the world, it’s kind of joyous. Is it difficult balancing those two things together?
No, it’s not, I’m a positive person but there’s a lot of stuff that happens, but I try and make the most of everything. The Bronx is a dark band, it’s a heavy band and it’s a crazy band, but there’s an underlining positivity to all of it, there’s a lot of hope in what we do. And there’s a lot of hope in how I live my life and how we want to push our music. We are who we are, and we definitely deal with the darker side of life but there’s definitely a hope to it. And that aspect, it’s not difficult, I’m not searching for that, it’s already ingrained in who we are. We’re able to look at things with a little less despair than what you would normally think for a band like us.
What did producer Rob Schnapf bring to the table? It’s a very well produced record.
Yeah, I love it. We knew going into some people were going to be like “woah” with the production, but that’s the fun part of being in a band, doing different stuff with each record and just going for it.
One of the things we try to do is not pin down the record too much before you write it, because you have to give it space to become whatever it is going to become. The record always dictates itself – whenever you try to say “we want it to be this this this this and this”, it never comes out that way. But one of the loose things we wanted to use as a guideline was to make the record really nasty sounding production wise and get a bit closer to what we sound like live, and Rob’s the main guy for that. He’s got an awesome little studio in Eagle Rock filled with a ton of vintage gear, vintage guitars, vintage amps – he knows how to make things sound just f****d up in a really beautiful way, and that was something we chased after on this record and I’m really glad we did because it sounds different and I think it sounds awesome.
One the great things with the great record is that, front to back, it almost sounds like how you would structure a gig. Was this, the tracklisting, something you thought about?
Yeah, we try to think about all that stuff. Every aspect of the album is something we like diving into, we’re pretty meticulous the details – things like art, how way we lay it out, how each song is going to start and end go into the segment of the record. We care about what we do, and I think if you put the attention into little things, people notice it, it seems to be something worthwhile.
How’s the tour been? It can’t be that often that as a band you get to play an entire new album in full?
Yeah, it’s something we’ve never done and it’s something we wanted to try because it’s just different. We wanted to come over here and do something cool and small and intimate, it seemed like the right way to do it, just play really small places, play the new record and a bunch of other songs, and just have fun.
Does it get more wilder the smaller the venue?
Yeah… it gets a little hectic! Every show on this tour has been completely insane. In a good way.
You’ve been around for a while now. Do you see the audiences get older, or do you still the young punks in the crowd?
It’s weird, I see us getting older. We’ve doing this for a while so you feel it. But I don’t really notice it in our fans. I couldn’t tell you if our audiences have gotten older, younger or whatever. They’ve seemed the same since we started – they’re always kinda normal, in their musical prime, between 25-35, we’ve never really been a kids band and we’re fortunate enough to have some pretty awesome fans.
You’ve got two incredibly successful bands (Mariachi El Bronx being the other), not just one. Do you think if you were starting off in the music industry today, doing two acts, do you think you would still be supported in the same way?
I think people are always ready for something new, something exciting, something different. The key, much like to anything, is the quality. If it sucks people aren’t going to like it, if it’s cool people are going to be into it. So you gotta pay attention to what your doing. With the El Bronx we were fortunate, it was meant to be, it took off and it breathed new life into the Bronx and everything we do, and I don’t know if I’m sitting here without it to be honest.
You always got try to do stuff like that, that’s the whole point, you get in this position where people are finally paying attention to what you do creatively and artistically and then a lot of people once they notice that they freeze up and play it safe and that’s the wrong move. You’re supposed to push the envelope and your supposed to go forward, because that’s what people are expecting from you. So that’s we try to do.
The Bronx play the Avalanche Stage at Download Festival 2018. Tickets are on sale now through Ticketmaster.co.uk.