Southern California’s Versus The World is what many night call a pop-punk /alt-rock supergroup. Made up with a former bassist for The Ataris, Mike Davenport, current Lagwagon guitarist Chris Flippin, vocalist Donald Spence and Crooks and Liars drummer Bryan Charleson, the band easily has years of experience rocking out and their recent release, Drink. Sing. Live. Love., certainly proves that.
Dropped though Viking Funeral Records (Fletcher from Pennywise’s part-owned label), Drink. Sing. Live. Love. was an impressive pop-punk/post-hardcore listen from the start. I really did not know what to expect prior to checking out this release, all I knew was that the band consisted of some standout musicians from bands I have been a solid fan of for years.
Starting off the album was “She Sang The Blues”. a moderately heavy track with a good post-hardcore feel. Spence and Flippin share vocal duties throughout over distorted guitar playing as well as some fun solos. I am not going to lie, I was heavily impressed with what I heard, and I was only one song in.
There were plenty on singable opportunities on “A Fond Farewell”, a track that just screamed to be played on mainstream radio. Yeah, it sounded like a Fall Out Boy song at times (mostly from the singing solo), but who the hell cares?
“The Kids Are Fucked” easily was one of my favorite cuts off the album. Perhaps it was the Freaks and Geeks sample of Daniel yelling at Nick, “rock ‘n roll don’t come from your brain. It comes from your crotch” that got me going. Besides that, the track had all the qualities of a good listen: catchy hooks, lyrics I cold relate to at my tender age, and good ol’ fashioned guitar playing. If there is one song you need to check out on this album, this is it.
“A Love Song For Amsterdam” easily could have been a b-side to an Atari’s album. Then there was “Crooks And Lairs”, a likable typical moving-on-with-life-after-a-failed-relationship track that can make anyone who ever was in a rocky relationship can relate to. “Donner Pass” was the shortest, fastest, and heaviest track on the album. No offense, but I almost wish more songs on the album matched the tempo that this track kept. I have the feeling that Flippin had something to do with this track. Wrapping things up was “We Were Alive”, a track that was just not doing it for me. With how the alumb started, I really was hoping for a nice finale. To each their own of course.
Turns out, Versus The World dropped their debut release back in 2005 under Kung Fu Records. I think that was the year I moved to Egypt or fell off a cliff… Seriously, I am scratching my head on how I have never heard of this supergroup until today. Regardless, I now know what I was missing out on and liked a few tracks off this release. Pop-punk fans, you need to hear these guys. They certainly fit the bill.
What i like the most about this band is that it is full of musicians who have taken their lives and dedicated them to music. 10 years ago things may have been different in their lives, but they have all moved on and matured into what they are today. I respect that. Rather than recall their past, they have moved on and formed something new to impress the world with.
Drink. Sing. Live. Love. recalled the pop-punk sounds of the early 2000s with close similarities to, you guessed it, The Ataris and also Fall Out Boy and even a young Taking Back Sunday. Hell, I can even hear some old Alkaline Trio in there. Leaning more towards a rock sound at times, the album overall was a good listen. I have a slight feeling that this band might sound even better live. Here’s hoping I can experience that.
This pop-punk foursome has been turning heads all summer with their pop-punk tunage. I have been getting a kick out of all the rumors that are sprouting up as of late. I can tell you that they are not Dear Landlord as they played in New Mexico last night while Masked Intruder tore it up at Now That’s Class in Cleveland. No one from Nothington or Teenage Bottlerocket is in the band either. Beyond that, I don’t want to be the dick that ruined the punk rock Residents / Daft Punk for all of you.
Seriously, these guys are one of the most exciting bands to emerge this summer. They really need to put out their self-titled on vinyl. I think that would be an excellent idea.
Do I really need to sit here and type an intro for Teenage Bottlerocket? I am sure many of you who are reading this know who this band is and what they are all about. In the last few years they have been turning heads with their pop punk fun and special humor. Currently the band has become one of the more talked about bands on the Fat Wreck Chords roster with their recently dropped album Freak Out!. It’s easily one of my favorite releases of 2012.
I’ve been privileged to have caught this act years ago and knew back then that they would be going places one day. A few years back I was fortunate to have the chance to interview Ray just as the band signed with Fat Wreck Chords. They were still getting noticed at the time and it just a fun experience. When I heard that they was going to hit the road this summer headlining their own tour, I was stoked and felt the need to chat with them again.
This time around I was able to talk with Ray and Kody about their new release as well as whatever else came to mind. Enjoy!
How’s it going guys?
Ray: Going Great, Thanks for asking.
This is killing me so I need to get it out of the way, but last time we chatted we were talking about the worst city you ever played in and Ray said Las Cruces, NM. Well, recently I moved to Las Cruces, NM, and have caught a minor case of depression knowing you may never come down this way again. I understand. Perhaps that can change one day as I would love to see you guys live again. Can I bribe you all with chicken tacos or something?
Ray: Chicken enchiladas might be a bribe we would take.
Kody: I love Mexican food so you’re on the right path with the chicken tacos, but you’re going to have to throw something else in there too. 6 pack of HAMMS?
HAMMs….check. Seriously though, I am sure a lot has changed in the last two years since we first chatted. First off, congrats on an all new album! How stoked are you for all your fans to hear?
Ray: Very stoked to see the fans reaction to the songs, especially live. I cant wait to get out there and play these songs.
Kody: I’m stoked. I think it’s our best record yet.
The album rules. Once again you guys have impressed the hell out of me with your fun punk rock jams. Thank you.
Ray: You’re very welcome.
Kody: All in a day’s work!
You all crammed back into the Blasting Room again to record Freak Out. How did it feel to be in the recording studio working with Andrew Berlin?
Ray: Very comfortable. It was great to work with Andrew again, he is the secret 5th member of the band.
Kody: Working with Andrew is awesome. He’s one of us.
Any reason for calling the new album Freak Out!?
Ray: We usually try to name our records after songs. Originally we were going to call the record Summertime. After we recorded, Summertime just didn’t really fit the feel of the album. We all agreed Freak Out! was a better title.
“Necrocomicon” is amazing. Who came up with that brilliant song?
Kody: Me. It’s about the comic book of the dead……get it?
Ray: I love it.
Are there any songs on the album you happen to favor?
Kody: It’s hard to pick a favorite. Songs you write for a record are like children. It’d be tacky and wrong to claim one as your favorite.
Ray: I really like “Go With The Flow” and “In The Pit.” I have a special place in my heart for all the songs.
Did you do anything differently this time around or did you keep with the same sound?
Ray: We have developed our sound a little more, nothing too out there, but I think we have all gotten better at our instruments.
Kody: We used a keyboard on one of the songs. Aside from that….no.
So tell me about the video you shot for the first single off the new album, “Headbanger”.
Kody: We threw a party at Brandon’s house and a bunch of our buddies showed up sporting all kinds of heavy metal gear. So we got wrecked and recorded it.
Ray: Its a Heavy Metal party. Our friend “Magic Cyclops” is in the video, he’s the headbanger.
That song was actually written by a previous band you guys were in, SACK, right?. How long ago was that band in full force?
Kody: SACK was around for about a year and a half maybe. It was never really full force. We played three shows and they were all a fucking disaster. I blame the booze. It was a fun band though.
Ray: They were back when the “Get Wrecked” album was recorded. I think it was sometime in 2003. SACK shreds!
Any other videos in the works?
Ray: None at the moment.
You are about to embark on a huge tour in support of Freak Out!, how does it feel to get back on the road?
Kody: Awesome. This last break we took [from touring] has been the longest since we started. It’s always fun playing shows and hanging out with earth other and all our buddies in other cities.
Who are you most excited to be sharing the tour with? I must say I am bummed the hell out to not be in Cleveland to see Nothington play with you guys… (and The Beat Kids…haha)
Ray: I’m excited to hang with everyone. I really like all the bands we are touring with.
Kody: I’m stoked to have all the bands out with us. We’re lucky that we can have a say in who we take out with us. So it’s always a blast going out as a headliner cause we get to take our buddies with. I’m stoked to see Masked Intruder. That ep they put out cracks me up.
So who in the band decided that Teenage Bottlerocket needed to cover some Joy Division songs?
Ray: Kody came to me with the idea and I was all about it. I wasn’t familiar with “Ice Age”, but I knew “We Walked In Line.” The 7″ turned out great. It was cool to have Clearview involved with one of our releases again.
Kody: Todd Greene at Clearview brought it up cause he knew that we were into Joy Division. He picked “Ice Age” and we picked “Walked in Line.”
Any chance you guys will do something like this again?
Ray: We are doing a special vinyl release with Clearview, but I don’t want to give too much away. It’s going to be really cool.
Kody: I would say yes. We’ve always had fun covering other bands tunes and recording that shit.
Did you guys ever think your bad would get where it is today?
Kody: And where is that?
Ray: I never thought it would, but I always wanted it to.
10 years together as a band; that is pretty damn impressive. Are things getting easier for you all?
Ray: Yes, We just know how to do it a little better now, not too much better, but a little.
How was insubordination Fest?
Kody: It was rad.
Ray: It was alot of fun. Great bands, and Natural Bohemian beer.
“Bigger Than Kiss” made it on Rock Band. Dudes, you totally have a video game song. Is it weird playing it yourselves?
Ray: Haha, I haven’t ever played it. I was stoked “Crashing” got into Skate 2. I like skateboard video games more than the Guitar Hero stuff. I really suck at playing those guitars.
Kody: I’m more of a Guitar Hero kind of guy. Next question.
So, just a random out of nowhere question, does it freak you out that so many of the bands on the covers of music magazines like AP and whatnot are more or less dressed in drag?
Not at all, its nothing new, take a look at the front cover of the 1st New York Dolls records, or Look What the Cat Dragged In by Poison. I think its cool. I don’t know any of those bands, but they look different, and that’s cool with me. I get bummed out on the way every one in my hometown of Laramie, Wyoming, wears North Face jackets, and they try to look all “Colorado”. I wish they dressed like the New York Dolls, so I guess its sort of a breath of fresh air, in kind of an odd way.
Kody: It would freak me out more if they weren’t dressed.
Both valid points. I still question what happened to some of these kids…
Kody: Bath salts!
Enough of me sounding like grandpa punk… Let me turn this interview over to you. Any thing you guys would like to say?
Ray: Please come check us out if we are playing in your area. It would mean a lot to us.
08/17/12 – Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class w/ Nothington, Masked Intruder
08/18/12 – London, ON Canada – Call The Office w/ Nothington, Masked Intruder
08/19/12 – Toronto, ON Canada – Horseshoe w/ Nothington, Masked Intruder
08/20/12 – Montreal, QC, Canada – Les Foufounes Electriques w/ Nothington, Masked Intruder
08/21/12 – Cambridge, MA – Middle East w/ Nothington, Masked Intruder
08/22/12 – New York, NY – Santo’s Party House w/ Nothington, Masked Intruder
08/23/12 – Asbury Park, NJ – Asbury Lanes w/ Nothington, Masked Intruder
08/24/12 – Philadelphia, PA – The Barbary w/ Nothington, Masked Intruder
08/25/12 – Baltimore, MD – Otto Bar w/ Nothington, Masked Intruder
08/26/12 – Pittsburgh, PA – Garfield Artworks w/ Nothington, Masked Intruder
09/13/12 – Omaha, NE – The Sandbox
09/14/12 – Minneapolis, MN – Cabooze w/ NOFX, Dilliner Four, Arms Aloft
09/15/12 – Chicago, IL – Riot Fest
09/17/12 – Lansing, MI – Mac’s Bar
09/18/12 – Indianapolis, IN – Deluxe w/ NOFX
09/19/12 – Cincinnati, OH – Bogarts w/ NOFX
09/20/12 – Nashville, TN – The High Watt
09/21/12 – Little Rock, AR Downtown Music Hall
09/22/12 – Dallas, TX – Riot Fest
10/09/12 – Des Moines, IA – Gas Lamp w/ Masked Intruders
10/11/12 – Madison, WI – The Frequency w/ Toys That Kill, Masked Intruder
10/13/12 – Detroit, MI – Magic Stick- Lounge w/ Toys That Kill, Masked Intruder
10/14/12 – Fort Wayne, IN – The Brass Rail w/ Toys That Kill, Masked Intruder, Flaming Nosebleed
10/15/12 – St. Louis, MO – Firebird w/ Smoke Or Fire, Masked Intruder
10/16/12 – Kansas City, MO – Record Bar w/ Smoke Or Fire, Masked Intruder
10/17/12 – Oklahoma City, OK – The Conservatory w/ Smoke Or Fire, Masked Intruder
10/19/12 – Houston, TX – Walter’s w/ Smoke Or Fire, Masked Intruder
10/20/12 – Austin, TX – Red Seven w/ Smoke Or Fire, Masked Intruder
10/21/12 – Corpus Christi, TX – House of Rock w/ Smoke Or Fire, Masked Intruder
10/22/12 – San Antonio, TX – Korova w/ Smoke Or Fire, Masked Intruder
10/27/12 – Atlanta, GA – The Loft w/ Propagandhi, The Menzingers
I do not know about you, but I am pretty excited about this.
Chris from No Sleep Records posted this picture on his Facebook today (of course it still needs print and whatnot:
Into It. Over It. Tour Dates:
Oct 17 – Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class
Oct 18 – Philadelphia, PA – Unitarian Church
Oct 19 – New York, NY – Santos Party House (CMJ)
Oct 20 – Boston, MA – Middle East/Upstairs
Oct 21 – Hartford, CT – Webster Underground
Oct 22 – Baltimore, MD – Ottobar
Oct 23 – Richmond, VA – The Camel
Oct 24 – Columbia, SC – New Brookland Tavern
Oct 25 – Orlando, FL – Will’s Pub
Oct 26 – Gainesville, FL – The Fest
Oct 27 – Gainesville, FL – The Fest
Oct 28 – Gainesville, FL – The Fest
Oct 29 – Atlanta, GA – Vinyl
Oct 30 – Louisville, KY – The Vernon Club
Oct 31 – Chicago, IL – Beat Kitchen