In just under a week, we’ll be headbanging up a storm to a brand new album by the kings of LA punk themselves, The Bronx, titled… Yep, you guessed it, The Bronx. Their sixth eponymous effort is yet another set of wall-to-wall bangers, proving the quintet the still whip out tunes as ball-achingly wild as they were when they formed almost two decades ago.
It goes without saying that in 2021, The Bronx are one of punk’s most venerable names – over the span of six albums equally furious and fun, they’ve built up a legacy as veritable rulers of the genre. But in 2003… Well, there was a decent amount of buzz surrounding The Bronx, but the band had yet to really prove themselves.
So, to celebrate the release of Bronx VI, we’re turning back the page to BLUNT #24, when Joby J. Ford and co. were still newbies, and their debut album was just about to change the punk game forever…
NEW KIDS FROM THE BRONX
LA actually! And if you’re not sure why, then Blunt’s Jeremy Sheaffe is your man.
While they were recording their eponymous debut album, someone from The Bronx posted on their site that the music was coming along fine. In fact, it was “as good as LA has sounded since 87-93!”
When Seattle exploded, LA became a dirty word. And post-Seattle everyone was looking for the next burgh to take the mantle of the world’s premier musical hotbed. But you can’t get away from the fact that at some point all the freaks, weirdos, waitress/actresses, and soon to be porn stars, end up in LA. So great music is always gonna come outta there.
“The thing about Los Angeles,” says Bronx guitarist and bandleader Joby J. Ford, “is that there’s bands from LA and there’s bands made up of people who moved to LA, and that separation is a very different thing. Right now, and for the past few years, the LA music scene has been unbelievable. There are so many good bands out here and nobody knows about ’em, except for the people in LA. It went from having the greatest rock bands of all time to just being stagnant, and now music has returned.”
As a 27-year old growing up in LA, all the great L.A bands have influenced Joby. He calls Rocket From The Crypt friends, Circle Jerks his heroes, but still goes to Riki Rachtman’s famed Catclub every Thursday night. And it was here he and his band mates met ex-GNR dude Gilby Clarke who recorded their debut album.
“We met Gilby at the Catclub where he plays in the Starfuckers,” says Joby. “It kinda has a rotating member thing. There’s guys from Stray Cats, guys from the Stones, GNR, LA Guns, the kinda whole L.A scene, every Thursday nite at the Catclub.
“Y’know, if you can’t do it in three takes you probably shouldn’t be doing it at all. It’s just music, man, let’s face it…”
“We got to talk with Gilby through a friend and he said he really like our band. He said ‘Most new bands are shit, but you guys are good’! So he had us over to his house and we talked about recording. We talked about what we like and what we don’t like and he offered to record our band.”
Over three sessions in Gilby’s cramped garage, Joby, bassist James Tweedy, drummer Jorma Vic and caterwauling 23 year old frontman Matt Caughthran banged out the album, every song down in three takes or less.
“That’s kinda how I am, that’s I the personality I have. Y’know, if you can’t do it in three takes you probably shouldn’t be doing it at all. It’s just music, man, let’s face it. We’re in a band, We are not in government positions. We make music. music’s simple music’s easy,” reckons Joby.
“We recorded live because that’s the kind of stuff I like. y know, where the band actually sound like they do live. I don’t really like big produced studio records, not to knock those records, because that is an art, y know. But I always got bummed at shows when I’d get totally jacked on an album then go see the band who would sound absolutely nothing like the record.”
To put things in perspective, The Bronx actually came together so they could go on tour with a band called Dead Low Tide, a little over 12 months ago. Dead Low Tide split up before the tour started, but the Bronx have never looked back. They’ve had rave reviews, had A& R folks chasing ’em and are loving every minute of it.
“I’ve never been in a signed band before. Neither Matt nor I have played in a signed band before We’ve been playing In bands for 9 years and playing to crickets,” he laughs. “Recording crappy demo after crappy demo after crappy demo, just trying to get something James our bassist was In a band called Sunday’s Best and they were signed and Jorma the drummer was in one called Death On Wednesday and they were signed, so they’ve had some experience. I don’t really have anything to base this on, other than that there’s people that like it. I guess it’s crazy considering now we’ve got a record deal and we are playing shows a lot.
“All we wanted to do was go on tour,” Joby goes on, “now we’ve got a record coming out in the UK and Japan and we’re touring everywhere l’ve got to play with my heroes. We’ve played with Rocket (from the Crypt), Turbonegro, Social Distortion, Circle Jerks… The last night of that tour Keith Morris got me up to play “Nervous Breakdown”! My favourite Black Flag song as a kid and I got to play it. I was like, Oh my God, I’m on stage with the Circle Jerks!”
Punk rock dreams, it seems, can come true.
This story was originally featured in BLUNT #24