Published Jan 20, 2009What started as a bedroom recording project for ex-Arrogant Sons of Bitches dude Jeff Rosenstock has blossomed into a full-blown, awesome punk rock band with this, the band's fifth full-length. Only the second BtMI! record to feature a full band (previously incarnations relied on drums machines and the odd synthesized instrument), Scrambles delivers on all the promise shown by Rosenstock's previous efforts. By upping the intensity without overdoing the emotion, songs like "Stuff That I Like" blast out of the speakers with all the passion of an instant punk anthem. Rosenstock's songwriting, which has always been quirky and introspective, is at its best here, mixing the personal and the humorous, and finding the difficult balance between the two on songs like "Can I Pay My Rent in Fun?" The full-band sound retains the grittiness of the band's early laptop recordings, and while fans of the ska-leaning tone of that material will be bummed by the almost total lack of ska here, people who don't like ska will be stoked. With all the sing-along, emotive aggression of Latterman and early Against Me!, this is guaranteed to be one of the best records of 2009. And it's available for a PWYC download. Beat that.
How much has moving to and living in Brooklyn affected the music you're writing?
Guitarist and vocalist Jeff Rosenstock: The process of leaving Georgia and coming back up here, living with my parents again for a little bit, working a nine-to-five job, and having a much higher cost of living really focuses you on the blind careerism that plagues our nation, because you can understand the reasoning for it and almost feel like, "Shit, should I give in to this?" Living in Georgia was pretty easy, for the most part. A lot of people were musicians who worked shitty jobs when they weren't on tour and the community understood that. Since I've been back here, I've been getting a wider scope of how shitty a shitty job can be and I've really learned to appreciate the fact that I've got friends here in Georgia, and everywhere, who are creative people and make that sacrifice of feeling terrified at the world to make their art.
You started running Quote Unquote when the idea of donation-based online music distribution seemed insane. Now everyone's doing it. What gives?
Rosenstock: The whole point of this thing was to share music that I loved that my friends made with people who might not have been able to hear it, and I'm thrilled that anyone gives a shit about what I have to say or what music I like. So just as what the music industry was doing before didn't affect us, it's not going to affect us still. Maybe it'll just add a little more good-humoured bitterness than before. (Quote Unquote)