Interview: Matt Caughthran of The Bronx
Leading up to their Australian tour in October, Punk Rock juggernauts, The Bronx, have been relentlessly touring their self-titled fifth studio album, known to most as ‘V.’ Lead singer and all round badass, Matt Caughthran took some time to discuss the new album and all things Bronx.
Hey Matt, thanks so much for taking the time to chat, you guys have been hard at work slingshotting around the world promoting the new album, where are you guys right now?
We’re home for a brief moment, which is nice. We were in Europe for basically two months and then we came over to dip our toes in Byron Bay for a little bit and did ‘Splendour in the Grass’ and then we came home and been chilling. We’re flying out to England, playing some shows over the weekend so that’ll be cool and then a little break for two or three weeks before we kick off a big US tour. We’re busy but at the moment it’s nice to be home.
You guys were only here in July for Splendour in the Grass, and your Australian tour starts in October, we’re excited to have you back in record time, how do you feel about coming back so soon?
We’re just trying to do as much as we can, we wanted to get over and do a nice full tour and then the Splendour thing came in and, schedule wise, it didn’t really work out to stay over there and do more shows. We originally aimed to come over in October anyways because we’ve done Halloween shows over there for two years now and its been a lot of fun, but it took a little time to get it worked out but we’re stoked to be coming back and it’ll be nice to come and play some proper shows.
You guys are gonna be touring with High Tension throughout October which is will be amazing, have you played with any new bands recently that have blown you away?
Yeah last couple of tours the dates have been great, we’ve played with bands like Culture Abuse and Plague Vendor; those are two awesome awesome bands. Turnstile are awesome too, there’s a bunch of new bands that are awesome but those are three off the top of my head that I’m enjoying at the moment.
You guys have recruited Joey Castillo for this tour to come and play drums, how did that come about?
He’s a friend man, he’s a homie we knew him from the Queens (of the Stone Age) days and Eagles (of Death Metal) we’ve just been friends for a while and he digs the band and he’s a badass drummer so it was kind’ve a no brainer. He fits really well with the guys and it’s just perfect, he’s just a badass dude; he’s got Bronx DNA.
I watched you guys perform at The Black Heart in London earlier in the year, performing the new album in its entirety. That was a pretty special show, considering it was free and the room is capped at 150 people, what made you decide to do a one off show like that?
Sometimes you gotta do shit like that to shake it up. Any chance you get to do something different, one: the fans are stoked and two: it feels good doing something different, I think sometimes you can get wrapped up in it and kill a lot of cool ideas, but for us we try to do some random stuff here and there and that was just one of ‘em. We went through the whole UK playing the new record front to back in tiny ass clubs and that was awesome. Every now and then its fun to do shit like that, you play so many shows you don’t wanna do the same thing over and over.
Hearing you play the album cover to cover, I was amazed at how close to you came to capturing the sound of the record live. Did you track everything live for the album and where did you record this time around?
Yeah we did and we recorded it with Rob Schnapf at his studio in Eagle Rock in Los Angeles and it’s a small place, it’s the size of a one-bedroom apartment. We were super stoked with the songs before going in, we pretty much had everything nailed except for some lyric things that I was working on and of course there’s things here and there that need work. You try to go into the studio with as solid as a skeleton as you can and then you kinda build it from there and let the record create itself that way. But it was so much fun, Rob knew we wanted to come out with a grittier sound and a nastier mix and Rob had so much vintage gear, every song we were running different chains through guitars or bass and experimenting with a nastier vocal sound, just giving the record a little bit of separation from everything else we’ve done. It was a lot of fun and it came together really quick and that’s always a good thing. You don’t want it to be quick in a way that you don’t care about it but you want it to be in a way that you don’t get stuck and hung up and over think it, when you hit wall after wall and you’re unable to make a decision on which way the song should go and which lyric to write; the record had a really good flow that way, everything just came together. There’s always going to be songs that take longer than others but as a whole the record came together really quick.
Looking at the schedule for your Australian tour, do you plan on checking out any places while you’re here or going back to anywhere in particular?
Yeah man, of course no where in particular just yet but every time we come over there we got good people looking out for us and great friends and we always try to get out even if it’s just after a show going out and having drinks at a bar. Usually on days off we’ll hit the beach. The cool thing about this tour is that we’re playing in a lot of regional places which we’ve never done before and always wanted to do, so instead of doing the thing where you fly every day to each city, we’re going to be taking a van along highways and checking out places we’ve never seen before and we’re really excited about that because Australia really means a lot to us, it’s a great place for us to play and we’ve been there so much that in a way it feels like home so it’s gonna be nice to take a more old school local approach to touring there on this run so we’re all looking forward to it.
You mentioned earlier about doing Halloween shows, you’ll be in Melbourne on October 31st do you have anything special planned?
Absolutely man, we’re gonna turn the venue inside out, we’re gonna have a big costume party and all that stuff, we’re gonna decorate the place its gonna be awesome. We cant give away too much but we’re gonna dress up. Halloween’s fun, man and playing shows on Halloween is the best especially if you can get people to go along with it. If people come out and dress up and have a good time it’s one of the best nights ever y’know. It’s our third year doing Halloween shows there so I think it’s gonna be one for the books.
By the time you guys return, the album will be a little over a year old, do the songs feel a little more natural to you now?
Yeah I guess so, you got a year under the belt they start to feel a little more automatic, but they felt pretty natural all the way through. One of the songs (Night Drop at the) Glue Factory took a couple of times to figure out, there’s a lot of lyrics in that song, so it took some time to figure out breathing and really be able to crank that one out, but that was minor. Sometimes when you finish recording there’s always one or two things that come through that you didn’t expect, and you have to get adjusted to what you need to do to perform those. We try not to record stuff that we can’t do or doesn’t feel natural. You hear bands that record records that have a zillion samples and pitch shifted vocals and all that crazy shit and you go to see them live and it’s a total train wreck. So it’s something that in the punk rock world, it’s very raw.
Have you noticed songs have become more cemented into your regular set after seeing how fans react to them live?
Yeah that’s the cool part, seeing which songs people favour from the new batch. Every band has certain songs that they have to play that people just love and that’s awesome. You have songs that you play and then you switch out. We’ll play ‘I Got Chills’ for like a year and a half and give it a rest and then we’ll put in something from ‘Bronx III’ that we haven’t played live in ages. So that’s kind of the fun part too, it’s switching out your in-between songs that everybody digs, but you just can’t be playing the same shit over and over. If we get bored of it, eventually people will get bored of it too. We’re not one of those bands that switches up the setlist every night, it’s not really our style, we’re not a jam band. But what we like to do is approach a tour and look at what songs have we played the fucking daylights out of and give a rest and what songs haven’t we played in a while and dust off that people will be super excited to hear. Then we put it all together and hopefully it sounds good.
The fifth volume in The Bronx encyclopaedia is an absolute gem and we’re so excited to see what you guys have lined up for us in October. Matt thanks so much for the chat and all the best for the rest of the tour.
Right on man, thankyou.
Written by Rhys Bennett