Breaking the Law

The Bronx fights physics.

L.A. rockers the Bronx have never had to work too hard to get noticed. After just a few gigs, the quartet was beating back A&R reps because of its brutal tunes and punishing live shows, until Island Def Jam finally got through. The major-label story often ends in broken promises and poverty, but Island treated the Bronx well and helped the group release its self-titled debut on White Drugs, the band's own imprint. Relentlessly caustic and uncompromising, the Bronx's viciously metallic hardcore instantly turned heads and scarred ears.

The success story didn't end there, though. MTV picked up the album's lead track, "Heart Attack American," as the theme song for a reality show. Making up for any lost punk cred that resulted, the Bronx then portrayed the legendary Black Flag in the upcoming Germs documentary What We Do Is Secret.

The band's upcoming sophomore album -- also eponymously titled and slated to be released next month -- marries the debut's molar-busting aggression to a more accessible, melodic sensibility. The resulting full-court rock recalls early Soundgarden and Green River, without recycling grunge cliches or descending into blatant Sabbath swipes. With greater diversity -- and even a ballad -- the Bronx turns the homicidal sprint of its first record into a self-assured, menacing swagger. We recently cornered vocalist Matt Caughthran to discuss the new record and, um, physics.

Westword: Things happened really quickly for you guys. Does it ever freak you out?

Matt Caughthran: Yeah. You start to wonder, "Am I even capable of doing the things these people see in me, of reaching that type of creativity and originality to deliver on the things they're hoping for?" But when it boils down to it, they see something inside of you that could be great, but isn't great yet, and they nourish that.

Why are both of your albums self-titled?

We're just not interested in trying to think of record titles. Joby [Ford] plays guitar and does all the artwork, and he's just a badass, so we thought, "Why don't we just have these albums differentiated by their artwork?"

What was it like to pretend to be Black Flag?

Greg Ginn picked the bands to be on the soundtrack and asked us to do "Police Story," which is a song I've loved since I was a crazy-ass kid. James [Tweedy] had to go back home, so when it came time to record, Pat Smear asked Kira [Roessler] from Black Flag to come in and play bass. I was bummed for James, but I was so psyched at the same time to play with Kira.

You're doing your shows now in something called "Bronx-o-Vision." What is that?

We have this whole 3-D stage setup with a giant backdrop and stuff all over. We're gonna give out special glasses at the merch table. We actually have a whole team working on it, with scientists and shit, because it's so hard to do. You'd think it couldn't be that hard, but there's so many stupid physics laws. And it's not like you can break them.

 
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