Picture this. You’re a first-time rock star, playing your very first show. You walk out on the stage, and the crowd goes wild. You haven’t played a note, and they already want you.
Few know more about being punk rock stars than The Bronx. This Los Angeles-based band was founded in 2002 by guitarist Joby Ford and has since made its mark in the punk-rock world.
Today, the band features five members: lead singer Matt Caughthran, guitarists Joby Ford and Ken Horne, bassist Brad Magers and drummer Jorma Vik. These five rockers have been playing together since 2007, and after a five-year hiatus, the band is ready to release its fourth self-titled album, The Bronx (IV), on Feb. 5.
During these past five years, the band has spent their time in the music industry recording mariachi-style music through their alter-ego band, Mariachi El Bronx.
This new album includes 12 new tracks, including their new single, “Ribcage.”
When asked about the band’s reason for choosing to name each of their albums after the band, Vik jokingly replied, “We’re just kind of lazy.”
“We thought it would be cool for the artwork to differentiate the records, and honestly, we would rather be playing our music than argue about an album title,” he said.
Musically, the album is quite different from the others the band has released, both in the writing process and sound of the tracks.
Unlike its previous times recording, where the writing process was very scattered, The Bronx found an efficient way of creating more sophisticated rock songs.
Prior to this album, the band had trouble creating songs where each musical part flowed together. However, The Bronx has now established a method by which they systematically put their songs together.
Ford would begin the creative process by coming up with a riff and giving each song a basic structure. Then, Caughthran would add some melody ideas to the mix. Next, Vik would lay down a basic drum beat to give the song a groove. And each piece would fit together to create another Bronx hit.
“I think this style of recording has worked a lot better for us, because we all kind of know what’s happening before we put all the pieces together,” Vik said.
Many who have listened to this new album have described the band as “all grown up.” Their sound and style has matured beyond the simple aggression the band began with in 2002.
“We didn’t go into this record thinking, ‘Let’s make a more mature, accessible record,’” Vik said. “It just kind of happened because we are maturing as songwriters and individuals.”
The band has chosen to release this album through White Drugs/ATO Records, a label that gives them more freedom and creative license than their previous label, the world-famous Island Def Jam.
“Working with [Island Def Jam] was a really cool experience, and we definitely don’t take it for granted,” Vik said. “But we’re definitely better off on our own, without all the red tape. We can make music the way we want.”
It has been five years since the band’s last album release, but The Bronx has certainly been keeping busy with its alter-ego band, Mariachi El Bronx.
The punk rockers found themselves playing mariachi-style music in response to a request to perform one of their songs acoustically during a television appearance.
Rather than turning down the volume, they decided to completely play one of their slower tunes, “Dirty Leaves,” with traditional mariachi instruments.
This unique performance sparked the group’s interest in mariachi music, leading to the creation of a whole new band.
Mariachi El Bronx has released two albums, both of which are self-titled, and the band stated that there are certainly more albums to come.
The Bronx’s alter ego has both influenced the punk band’s playing style and given the group opportunities to be involved in two different musical niches.
Mariachi El Bronx has been featured on David Letterman and Jay Leno’s late-night shows, and has played gigs as far-reaching as the London Symphony Orchestra.
While Mariachi El Bronx takes a break, The Bronx continues its tour through the United States and Great Britain.
“Getting to travel the world with your best friends and partying every night is the coolest thing in the world,” Vik said.