Bay Area hardcore upstarts, SPY, have announced their new EP, Habitual Offender, due out October 1st from To Live A Lie Records. The band’s absolutely vicious blend of hardcore stomp and unhinged punk energy has quickly earned them a reputation as one of the most exciting new bands coming out of California’s fertile scene, and Habitual Offender proves exactly why.
With six songs clocking in at barely ten minutes, the new EP wastes no time in introducing Spy’s uncompromising sound and lyrics–as evidenced by visceral lead single “Exceptional American” which is premiering today via BrooklynVegan. BrooklynVegan praised the new track saying, “It’s an absolutely gnarly sounding song, and this one directs its rage towards the concept of American exceptionalism and patriotism.”
Preorder Habitual Offender HERE.
Spy released their debut EP, Service Weapon, in July of 2020, quickly drawing an enthusiastic response that included multiple sold out 7″ pressings and sold out tape runs on labels in the US, EU, Australia, and Asia–all almost a year before the band would even be able to play a show. Habitual Offender picks up where Service Weapon left off, with the band sharpening their sound even further to make some of their most musically and lyrically cutting songs. And throughout the EP, Pawlak’s explicitly socio-political lyrics are as attention-demanding as his roaring vocals. “When I started listening to punk, I always gravitated toward the stuff that was very political or intentional in some way,” he explains. “In my mind the genre is inherently political–it makes sense to me that if you’re making angry music then you’re gonna be yelling about something you have genuine rage about.”
Spy will be touring in support of Habitual Offender, including performances at FYA Fest and the Convulse Records Anniversary Weekend, as well as shows with Ingrown, Municipal Waste, Gel, and more. More tour dates to be announced soon, see full itinerary below.
Habitual Offender is due out October 1st via To Live A Lie Records. Digital advances are available for review purposes and the band is available for interviews.
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9/17/21 Portland, OR @ Brightside Social Club (Ingrown, Initiate)
9/18/21 Tacoma, WA @ Just Another Gig 2 w/ Vamachara, Ingrown, Odd Man Out, Lower Species
9/30/21 Brooklyn, NY @ St Vitus w/ Combust, Gel
10/5/21 Petaluma, CA @ The Phoenix Theater w/ Municipal Waste, Hirax, Skeletal Remains
10/8-10/9/21 Denver, CO @ Convulse Showcase
1/8-1/9/22 Tampa, FL @ FYA FEST 8
Since releasing their debut EP, Service Weapon, in July of 2020, Spy have quickly become one of the most talked about new bands in hardcore.
While at first it may seem surprising that these Bay Area upstarts with only one EP, four songs, a handful of shows, and less than two years of existence would turn so many heads, it only takes a single listen to understand exactly why. Spy makes music that demands your attention: uncompromising hardcore that’s as memorable as it is aggressive, with unflinchingly political lyrics that back up the riffs with substance. And now with the Habitual Offender EP, they’re sure to get it.
Spy began as the brainchild of vocalist/songwriter Peter Pawlak, who started writing songs with relatively modest ambitions. “I just wanted to do vocals in a band again and do something that was drawing more on the punk side of hardcore. I figured we would put out a tape and play a few house shows,” he explains. The band’s lineup solidified with the additions of guitarists Drew Satterlund and Cody Kryst, and drummer Cole Gilbert, and Spy made plans to record their first EP. But when the pandemic put everything on hold, Pawlak and Gilbert were forced to track the Service Weapon EP alone, and the four songs were released into the uncertainty of last summer. Then something unexpected happened: the songs connected, and soon the initial small run of tapes on To Live A Lie Records blossomed into more and more sold out runs, re-releases on labels in Australia, Asia, and the EU, and multiple sold out 7” pressings—all almost an entire year before the band would be able play their first show.
Now on Habitual Offender, Spy have doubled down on their vicious sound, tightening the screws even further with their most musically and lyrically cutting songs yet. “I had a certain set of principles in mind,” Pawlak explains. “The music has to be memorable and interesting: no filler, never a second wasted, never anything that’s just there to lengthen a song or maintain a certain structure. Every bit of feedback, every vocal part, every little variation on the riff needs to matter.” That stringent attention to detail is immediately apparent on the EP. Recorded, mixed, and mastered by engineer Charles Toshio (Sunami, Gulch, World Peace) at Panda Studios, the six songs clock in at just 10 minutes, yet make a lasting mark.
Especially impactful are Pawlak’s overtly socio-political lyrics; delivered with his commanding roar, the words on Habitual Offender are just as direct as the music. “When I started listening to punk, I always gravitated toward the stuff that was very political or intentional in some way,” he says. “In my mind the genre is inherently political—it makes sense to me that if you’re making angry music then you’re gonna be yelling about something you have genuine rage about.” For decades, punk and hardcore bands have been writing songs about their political moment creating music that not only documents the frustrations of their time, but also proves how slow progress can be. “The anti-police theme has obviously been in punk music for a long time,” Pawlak says. “But it still resonates, especially with everything that’s been happening in the past five years. Seeing more and more killings and abuse inflicted by cops—it’s just more and more infuriating every time.”
Songs like the sub-50-second “Obtained Under Duress” or the stomping title track directly address policing and the sweeping failures of the American justice system, while elsewhere Pawlak takes aim at the closed minds and reductionist attitudes deeply rooted in the country’s identity. The pummeling highlight “Exceptional American” speaks to this propaganda-inflicted mentality. Pawlak explains: “There’s so many issues and things that could be better in America, whether it’s people’s personal existences or financial situations or wider social issues like policing—and it’s all connected. It’s ok to be critical of the place you live in. People just don’t want to admit that things are wrong in America, they’re afraid to talk about it because it’s seen as anti-American and it’s super frustrating. There’s so much polarity and oversimplification going on—in reality every little thing is so deeply contextual and there’s so many layers to unravel. But being convinced of these really straightforward opinions with no room for acknowledgement that anything could be improved is just so unhelpful.”
Habitual Offender closes with “Negative Mind Power,” a call to harness rage into a catalyst for change, and a demonstration of Pawlak’s ability to tackle explicitly political themes without sloganeering. “The reality is that there’s a lot to be upset about and that song is about not letting it defeat you, but instead using that anger as motivation to try and put effort into making things better,” he says. “It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed or defeated by how fucked up reality is, but this is about not letting it dig me into a hole.” The song’s final crushing moments end with a squall of feedback that leaves the listener wondering what comes next. It’s an uncertain note that Pawlak embraces: Spy don’t have all the answers but they’re willing to engage with the difficult questions. “I don’t ever want to come off like some kind of authority or like I have the only way to think about these things. I’m passionate but I want to have humility about it,” he explains. “At the end of the day this is just an outlet for me to address these things that I really care about.”