The Bronx Are Ambitious

The Bronx Are Ambitious
"We threw a bike down the stairs into a bunch of cymbals and recorded that,” says Matt Caughthran, vocalist for L.A. punks the Bronx. "A piece of cymbal broke off and cut our bassist Brad’s [Magers] leg pretty bad. I think that’s on the record.” Since appearing out of nowhere in 2003, Caughthran and company have been throwing metaphorical bikes down a whole lot of stairs, and their most recent cymbal-crashing outing, The Bronx (III), is no different. Tracked by the band in a studio they built themselves, the only difference on this, their third self-titled record, is that they had even more room to fuck shit up.

"You can set up experiments and it’s not costing you by the hour,” says Caughthran. "I think this record has a different pace to it, psychologically. It was more relaxed in the studio, and that’s reflected in the songwriting. This record comes out a little more on the rock’n’roll side than the hardcore side, and it feels really good.” While Caughthran sounds relaxed on the phone, six months ago he had good reason not to. When the band signed a major record deal after just a dozen local shows, there was a lot of doubt about their ability to deliver on a staggering amount of swaggering punk rock hype. They did, and followed up one killer full-length with another, this time on Island. And then things started to go wrong; six months ago, they found themselves label-less. "It’s a frustrating environment to be in when you’ve put your heart and soul into something and you take it to someone and they don’t understand or appreciate it,” says Caughthran. "It was a trip. I’m glad I got to experience it. But we started gearing things towards being more self-sufficient. We saw things our friends’ bands were doing, and we realized you can be a lot more proactive. You can just do it. It’s right there.” So the band started a construction company (Horny Construction), built a studio (Big Game Lodge), and recorded two records. Yeah. Two records.

"The goal of the band was always to do different things and put ourselves in uncomfortable places, creatively speaking,” says Caughthran. Which is why the band hammered out a collection of songs, due in early 2009, under the title El Bronx. It’s a mariachi record. "I think it’s the best thing we’ve ever done,” says Caughthran. "A lot of people thought we were joking, and a lot of people think we still are. But the record is going to come out, it’s going to be really good, and people are going to be real surprised.” The idea came out of an acoustic television appearance when the band opted to try something new; custom-made charro outfits and songs like "Quaalude Quesadilla” quickly followed.

"We worked real hard on it to make sure we did the genre justice,” says Caughthran. "I think Bronx fans are going to love it, and I think people who don’t necessarily jive with aggressive music are going to be able to get a good window into what the Bronx are about.” Until then, Bronx fans will have to be satisfied with The Bronx (III), a vitriolic slice of balls-out rock and roll that streamlines the band’s massive sonic attack. It’s a more focused record, which is easily explained by the fact that the Bronx must have been concentrating pretty fucking hard when writing and recording it. "We don’t want to look back and say we didn’t work hard enough or do as much as possible while we were in the spotlight.”