ON THE CINDER, a three piece melodic hardcore punk band from Buffalo, NY, have recently released their new album Lamplighter via Flower House Records, and they just kicked off their Canadian tour (see the dates below), a forerunner of their national tour in January/February. To celebrate, we have teamed up for an insightful track by track breakdown, a first hand commentary that gives us a much better perspective to experience this sharp offering.
Aesthetically amplified with anthemic melodies and posi energy known from the genre’s past, “Lamplighter” doesn’t change the formula much, but is a fresh and powerful reaffirmation that message-filled punk is still aflame and you can still excite by rewriting it and adding your own distinct stylistic flavor to it.
Mike: Every punk rock album needs a strong start to set the tempo of the record, and Lifeline does both lyrically and sonically. The quick intro gets the album sprinting out of the gate and the lyrics establish some of the overarching themes of the entire release: regret, frustration, supporting others, and personal reflection. Lifeline is in reference to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and we hope to spread awareness of the 24 hour hotline, nobody has to be alone in crisis or when dealing with suicidal thoughts.
Jay: If you take a look at the lyrics to summit, it’s pretty apparent that it’s about climbing a mountain (inspired by some light reading about Everest climbers at the time of its inception). However the song is really a heavy-handed metaphor about a character who has abandoned one aspect of life to pursue another and finds themselves questioning the decision — “Was it worth the sacrifice?” “ A once confident smile worn away by the grind ” has always been one of my favorite lyrics from the song since it functions as my experience both literally breaking my teeth on microphones and grinding my teeth half-asleep in a van seat and metaphorically feeling your smile fade from confident to unsure.
Mike: The thought behind ND was “how do we write a song supporting women escaping domestic violence situations without mansplaining and coming off as arrogant dirt bags?” To find the right context, we went to the source material of our band name, The Watchmen, and had this song explain the story of Sally Jupiter and her violent relationship with Eddie Blake. The song deals with the complicated emotions of someone getting away from an abuser, describing her literal fight to survive, yet the song’s outro ends on a sad note. When Sally learns of Eddie’s death, she reminisces about the best times with him, rather than what a monster he was to her when they were younger. The story says a lot about attachment to another person and how pain can vary throughout life.
Tyler: The drums in this song are some of the most dynamic on the album and definitely one of my favorites. The slamming downbeat rhythm through the chorus parts might be the most aggressive beat I’ve ever recorded and represents the most aggressive parts of the cycle of abuse. While the drawn out rhythms in the middle and through the end show the moment of death, and the complex chaotic thought process in the character’s head as she is now free from her abuser but how he has made an imprint on her forever.
Mike: I’m pretty sure this was the first song we got working on for this album, before we had any sort of working title or release plan. At the time I was living in NYC while Jay and Ty were holding down the fort in Buffalo. The song is in response to the opioid epidemic that has ravaged the US, and hit close to home when we lost our friend Corey who was one of the first kids to come to our basement shows at Flower House. Sadly, we’ve had to commemorate this song to more friends over the years, and unfortunately the song has aged very well since no one has an answer to address the opioid problem.
This song was written one morning after an overnight drive from California into the blistering heat of ‘Gus Gus the Bus Bus’ parked in the Arizona sunshine. The track stems from some frustration with the state of punk rock and is certainly exaggerated and sarcastic to make a point. The chorus line, “what better way to fight the powers that be than dirty laundry and plastic 40s,” sort of sums up the frustration pretty well.
“Punk rock to me was always about an underdog story and standing for what you believe
in, but there were times when it felt like a group of people that had started an elite club of
assholes dedicated to getting drunk and starting fights” – Jason
The song itself is certainly not a jab at all folks involved, more of a light-hearted look in the mirror. Keep your eyes and ears out for the upcoming music video for #Anarchy.
Fat, Happy, Poor:
Mike: The title of this track comes from an old saying that made its way around our group of friends in college. Maybe it was an acceptance of laziness, our means of coping with stress, or an excuse for our more belligerent behavior. FHP embraces a secular view that everyone is a small part in a larger world, and we’re all just striving towards realizing our own happiness, while trying to understand our own ‘veritas’ (truth). We wrote this song after a handful of more picked up, d-beat speed songs, so this was intended as a change of pace tune with a more straightforward attack.
Tyler: Writhe is a compact song with a lot going on inside it. The song is in the most literal sense about insomnia, something that I’ve struggled with in the past, and touches on a lot of the physical and mental things going on during an episode. This sort of by proxy also makes the song about anxiety, fear, and frustration. One of my favorite things about this song is while the lyrical imagery is able to describe so many of the events of this bout of insomnia, the musical arrangement really sets the scene. The blazing fast pace feels like the racing thoughts, the ebb and flow of the song feels like the frustrated attempts to “give in” to falling asleep, and the pacing of the lyrics sounds like the voice in your head.
Mike: People have a finite amount of time to chase their passions in life, and this song deals with the opportunity cost of chasing your dreams. I had a bad episode with a family member and my grandmother gave me some advice that I found really supportive. I ended up reflecting on where I was going and what we were doing as a band, and I tried to put my values into perspective at a challenging time. I’m really proud of the dynamic shifts we wrote into this song, they give the music an emotional flow of its own as the lyrics tell their story of hope and frustration.
While Supplies Last:
Tyler: While Supplies Last was one of the last songs written for this album. A song like this has been a long time coming for me and Mike. We both had years of attending Catholic school and being “raised Catholic”, but in both our experiences I guess you could say it didn’t take. This song stems from years of frustration with the church that was reignited during the most recent pedephilia scandel. The song itself takes a more broad attack at the hypocrisy of the actions of Catholic church and the actions it takes as a controlling greed driven organization. One of the things I’ve always said is the best way to learn how terrible the Catholic Church is, is to go to Catholic school.
Jay: The Block is taken from the perspective of a Veteran who was left homeless after finishing their time in the service (a problem that we see a lot in our country). It addresses problems with PTSD, alcoholism, and just the general difficulty reassimilating into society for a lot of folks in these shoes, and it often goes ignored — not to mention particularly high suicide rates among veterans. The phrase, “Hang me up” gets repeated throughout the choruses to serve as both the feeling of hopeless / martyrdom but also the ‘hang me out to dry’ mentality that society and the government seem to have toward veterans.
Jay: Lamplighter is the title track off the record (ironically written last) and we used it as a sort of closeout summary for the record. When we began writing this record, we decided we wanted to take the social and political issues that we all care about and present them in a very personal way. The title comes from the children’s book, “The Little Prince” (read it if you’re interested in more interested in how/why) but the message of the song is sort of simple. “I won’t give up on you if you don’t quit on me”. The album hits on themes of depression, suicide, and drug abuse and as a band we’ve always just stuck by the simply idea of taking care of one-another. We felt that this track covers that pretty well (we also wanted to take a stab a writing a ¾ song). We hope you like it!
Mike: There is something daunting about writing a title track, especially when it’s the last song you need to write. Jay and I went back and forth with what needed to be said in Lamplighter for weeks, but when he pitched “I won’t give up on you, just don’t quit on me”, the rest of the song pieced together nicely.