Anthemic choruses, yearning stories and fist-pumping grooves – Militarie Gun’s latest album Life Under The Gun certainly isn’t lacking in the big moments, but as BLUNT would learn speaking with vocalist Ian Shelton, it’s the little things that make it work.
When held up to previous releases from the LA rockers, Life Under The Gun shows a band truly focused on consolidation, concentrating their sound down to a lean, sturdy core, like how an anime villain reaches their most powerful form.
Over 12 tracks, the band sustain a punchy, shouty and ultimately nourishing experience that perfectly fills the gaps between melodic hardcore and pop rock – An incredibly consumable morsel that bites back.
None of this was an accident, nor was it easy …
What I feel as though perhaps, the lifespan of the creation process is somewhat of a key feature of Life Under The Gun. How different is the final product compared to what you started to write?
Ian: It’s different by inches is the way I would describe it. It’s the things you can’t quite put your finger on that get workshopped so much. It was just these minor tweaks that were just slowly improving the songs. It’s the process of doing it over and over, but barely changing it. On the demos right before this, I was singing so much more aggressively. Then because I had that practice period, I sang a little more soft and more vulnerable on the record, because just through doing it so many times, I learned how to sing better.
It’s kind of the little blink and you miss it things that you fuss over
Ian: The big moments are there from the first moment, otherwise, the song doesn’t progress. It just dies on the vine and we get rid of it. The first draft is 95% of the way. Then we’ll spend two years workshopping the last 5%.
I’m not a perfectionist, really; in at least the first iteration of something. I just like getting an idea out of my head and somewhere else where I could just view it and externalise whatever this idea is, and then I could work on it. If it’s not instantly grabbing, then it’s a waste of time. I’m not going to sit there and workshop something that isn’t working.
I feel like each release, Militarie gun gets more internal. Life Under The Gun is such a personal journey, I heard it as your most introspective yet, or am I overthinking things…
Ian: The goal is 100% to retreat further inward. It’s a process of getting more comfortable with the format: how do I say what I need to say within two minutes?
The whole thing with Military Gun was to figure out how to distil and say something important with as few words that make sense melodically. It took me a long time to figure it out, or however long it’s taken me, and hopefully I’m still getting better at it.
I write fun songs all the time. All the time. We have demos upon demos, upon demos, upon demos. Ultimately, for the way that I am viewing an album, I want it to explore something deeply personal to me, because I’m going to have to talk about it for two plus years and do all these interviews. I don’t necessarily feel too motivated to do that about something that means nothing.
I think that that really does explain the amount of buzz that’s behind you guys. You’d think it’s the big things, like we talked about before, which will resonate with the fans, but really, it’s these kind of small, internal, deep, dark, scary things that connect us
Ian: We have a song called Fell on My Head, and it’s about just having a bad day. It’s one of the songs that people love singing along to the most, and it’s pretty freaking important. Yet people like it for that reason, because they could relate to just feeling like, “Well, today my skin doesn’t fit, I just feel terrible living inside myself.”
A big moment for that was Very High, ‘I’ve been feeling pretty down, so I get very high,’ because it’s as earnest and plainly stated of a lyric as I could ever possibly imagine putting out into the world. I wrote it and I was really afraid of putting the song into the world. I was like, “Oh, people are going to make fun of this,” but I was like, “It’s so good, I think it’s good,” at the same time…
I’ve heard that it’s so dumb that it’s smart.
It’s condensed, sudden and it’s very impactful. Like a suckerpunch.
Ian: That was the hope!