ASS LIFE just released their third album and it’s a wild and unpredictable ride through various sub-genres of punk, infused with indie and alternative influences. From start to finish, the album takes the listener on a thrilling journey through different sounds and moods, never letting up on the intensity and energy that defines the punk rock ethos. To day, we celebrate the recent release with an insightful track by track commentary and a special artist-to-artist interview with the band members shooting some questions at their friends! Check it out below after the scroll.
At times, the album veers into hardcore punk territory, with blistering guitar riffs and frenzied drumming that will have listeners thrashing along. Other times, the band channels noise punk, unleashing a wall of sound that feels like it’s about to burst at the seams. And then there are moments of indie rock, where the band’s angular guitar work and melodic sensibilities come to the forefront.
Through it all, the album feels like a celebration of alternative punk rock in all its various forms, with ASS LIFE taking risks and pushing boundaries at every turn. This is a band that isn’t afraid to experiment, to explore the edges of what punk can be, and to bring their own unique voice to the conversation.
The album was recorded and mixed by Mike Kriebel (VR SEX) at Golden Beat Studios in Los Angeles, except for the drums which were recorded by Clyde Rosencrance at Republic Audio Studio in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. It was then mastered by Kern Haug.
The band’s lineup includes Andy Hill on guitars and vocals, Chad Fjerstad on bass, guitars and vocals, Jason Greenly on lead vocals and cajon, and John Kyle on drums.
The band caught up with us for a special track by track commentary, giving you a special insight into each and every offering on this interesting album.
Chad Fjerstad: This album intro is technically a Peter Gabriel cover. I watched the Alan Parker film BIRDY from 1984 while we were working on the album and it blew my mind. Peter Gabriel did the music score for that film, and there’s a really phenomenal cue on the score called “Birdy’s Flight” – this is an interpretation of that. We named it “Cloaca” (a bird’s ass) in honor of Birdy, with a proper Ass (Life) twist.
Jason Greenly: I was given a homemade cajón a few years ago by my step-dad. He jokingly said that I had to use it on our next record. I mentioned it to the guys and we decided it would fit well on this track.
Andy Hill: I was riffing some D-beat sounding shit. I had been thinking about Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing. That whole record sounds perfect. I really just ripped off Discharge. I wanted the song to be like it could have fit on HNSNSN. Intro, verse 1, chorus, solo, verse 2, end. D-beat and crust lyrics are often about the horrors of war, and I stayed on that topic. No shortage of that going on in the world. Is the penis a metaphor? It’s up to you. I think I did 3 takes for the solo and we kept all the takes in there. Mike said it was cool.
MY SON IS MY DRUG
Andy Hill: Another wild and fast one. It starts off with a big bouncy riff. Then it gets fast and sloppy. For the lyrics, I was thinking about a guy who is talking to you at a party or a show. He parties and does drugs and shit, but he has a kid and he’s trying to tell you that his kid changed his life. In real life, I have a stepson, and I think I took a little inspiration from that. The guy in the lyrics, he’s saying he doesn’t do coke anymore, but he does. And he’s fucked up and his breath stinks and he’s talking your ear off.
THE COLDEST LAKE IN MINNESOTA
Chad Fjerstad: This was the last song written for the album. I wanted to add some more dynamic to the record and was listening to a shit ton of Slavic post-punk at the time. It was fun to go down that road, but make it Ass Life, and then name the song after our frozen-ass home state – the 3 of us grew up in Minnesota but all live in L.A. now, and have for a long time.
Jason Greenly: Chad had me write a vocal part for this one on the spot while we were in the studio. It came together quicker than I thought, and it turned out to be one of my favorite parts I wrote for the album.
Jason Greenly: I wrote this song at like 3 AM, drunk in my apartment. I made a drum loop and filler guitar part to riff over. I never ended up revising any of it.
WIPE IT (THE SHIT…FROM YOUR EYES)
Chad Fjerstad: I was listening to a lot of Wipers when I wrote this one so I figured why not give it an on-the-nose homage for a title, considering it very much remains in our realm thematically. I enjoy the way it turned out, wholly melodic and dramatic – and then once you Assify it with Greenly’s vocals, it turns into this unique hybrid of the specific punk sound it was inspired by and the melodic hardcore stuff we grew up on like Modern Life Is War and Poison The Well.
SHAPESHIFTING LIZARD PEOPLE
Chad Fjerstad: This was the most fun I ever had putting a song together with Andy and it was the only Ass Life song that I would say was a true collaboration of our creative minds and efforts. It was a full-on clown day at Bedrock Studios in Echo Park and we were laughing the whole time. Andy told me he wanted the whole song to be carried by a bass line so I ripped one out and it stuck right away. From there we just started painting it with ideas and eventually it turned into an endless BBQ-slathered guitar solo and perhaps our most bizarre lyrical offering.
I used to ride my bike to the nearest convenient store and call phone sex lines on the pay phones about once a week when I was probably 9 years old or so, so that’s what my lyrics are based on, but then Andy comes in on the second half of the song and I don’t know what the fuck he is singing about, and I love that.
Chad Fjerstad: I wanted to start another punk band that I could just be the front person of and only do vocals and maybe play a guitar solo here and there live. This was the first song I wrote for that project, but after sitting on the sole demo for a few years I realized that my life had gotten way too busy, especially musically, and it wasn’t going to happen. There was no time. But I still dug the song, so when it came time to put together this third Ass Life album, I thought it would sit in very nicely with the new Ass material, and reflecting upon the finished product I still think it rounds out the album very fucking nicely.
“Vomitive Hues” is a term I saw used in the fantastic Dutch novel Turkish Delight, which I read after seeing the film adaptation, which is also one of my favorite films. Both are wicked sick.
REALLY COOL CARS
Andy Hill: I came up with the lyrics on a dogwalk at San Pasqual Park near Highland Park. The verse is about a break up, a relationship going ok then dying, and hurting afterward, and the chorus is talking about cars and kind of how they suck. Living in a big city, especially L.A, people get in such power trips about their car. Who fuckin cares about you and your dumbass new car- fuckin loser! Yeah. “Song writing”. It is hard for me to listen to the first part of the song because I don’t like how my voice sounds, and I cringe at some of the lyrics. Chad, Jason and John said they liked it and we should definitely include it on the record. The second part is from some riffs I put together. I love Pallbearer and that part is total PB. I got to rip a solo at the end too. I think the second half sounds sick, John did the drums remotely, and he nailed them, especially that song. We were never in the room together, never played that song together.
CATCH THE RAINBOW
Andy Hill: I wanted to make a fast paced, pop punk sounding song, but make it kind of shitty sounding too, and I think we kinda got there. The main guitar riff is like a Tom Petty riff. I wanted the second half to be the payoff for the first half. The lyrics contain references of: what I was listening to at the time (“Taste” by Ride), a conversation I had with a girl who was a sex worker, the book Esperanza Rising and a convo with a person on a dating app. The lyrics are influenced by the end of a relationship and growing as a person afterward. I used to be really into the video game Bloodborne, maybe ‘cosmic plane’ is from that. I like the song, super fun ending. Chad rips the melodic bass lines. Stoked on it.
Artist to Artist interview
Chad Fjerstad: Tell us a bit about how this third album came to be.
Jason Greenly: The way I see it, 3 albums is better than 2 albums, so that’s where I stand on that. It kinda came together the same way, just sending each other demos and getting stoked on them. Our drummer John had moved away, but we still wanted him on these songs. Thankfully, he was able to record his drum tracks in Pennsylvania.
Andy Hill: I just wanted to come out with another Ass Life record. The last few years, I have not been listening to a lot of hardcore punk. I put on Hatebreed or D-beat when I’m running sometimes, but I’ve been listening to a lot of pop and dance music, stuff on KXLU, salsa, “shoegaze”- whatever. I like checking out the new sick bands and old shitty hardcore demos. it’s inspiring, but yeah I’ve been on some other shit. So I wanted to see if I could incorporate my vibes in my life into new Ass Life songs, and we cooked up some stuff. There is still some hxc but there’s other stuff in the soup as well.
Chad Fjerstad: Jason, you came up with the lotto scratch album cover. What inspired that?
Jason Greenly: The scratcher idea was stuck in my head for a while before it became the album art. I had a couple other versions that were more involved, but didn’t come together quite right when using the programs I used. I use these shitty free programs because Photoshop’s subscription program is fucking ridiculous.
Chad Fjerstad: How was it working with the hardest working rock-and-roll engineer in L.A., Mike Kriebel?
Andy Hill: Mike is cool and he gets shit done. I appreciate his recording techniques and also the ways he interacts with people. We got everything hooked up and ready, then we did a bunch of takes, then we picked the best takes. He offers just enough input so that I knew what to do, what might sound best, when its time for another take, etc. I switched between 2 amps depending on the song, the more metal-sounding one (Mesa) and the non-metal one (Fender I think). He provided the amps. Get that Golden Beat sound, baby.
Jason Greenly: Mike is great to work with. Efficient and patient are two words that come to mind.
Chad Fjerstad: What are your favorite things about the album? Favorite moments, elements, etc…
Andy Hill: My favorite part is how varied the songs are, they hit different vibes, more so than any other Ass Life record. But still HXC, DOGGY. I have a lot of favorite parts in the songs: The solo in “Sildenafil Penis” (which has all of the takes included), the beginning of “My Son is My Drug”, the end of “Catch the Rainbow”, Coldest Lake, the end of Cool Cars. “Serious Man” is great too, the lyrics and the guitar. Lizard People makes me laugh in a ‘why did we do this’ way. Good laughter. Good guitar playing in that one, I was vibing that day.
Jason Greenly: One of my favorite parts of this record is a nod to Prefab Sprout. You find it.
Chad Fjerstad: Andy, all your songs are all so different from one another. Do you set out to make an album with so much variety? Or, does it just kind of happen? Or do you not even think about a full, cohesive album when you write a song?
Andy Hill: I did not think about a cohesive album. I get ideas and I try to make them come to fruition, usually with some help. The songs will change a bit during the process, but I try to have a super solid idea to draw from- the well you come back to, the main part of the idea. I wanted some poppier stuff on this record, and I am very influenced by pop and rock music cuz I listen to it, but in my mind we are a hardcore band and we ended up making what could mostly be called hardcore punk. HXC should have some element of ugliness, nastiness, to counteract how ugly and nasty our dear world can be. I wanted fast, not too metal, some solos, sick riffs that bop, either weird vocal parts, ugly vocals, or singing parts that elevated the riff.
I smoked a lot of grass in the last 5-6 years, and I did that instead of doing work on myself, good helpful work for my life. I was going through the end of a relationship and it was tough. Writing music is a way of ‘getting my feelings out’. It feels good to make music when you’re sad. Its a catch 22- I wanted to write honest, heartfelt emotional music, but you need to get hurt to do that and have the music be authentic. When you actually get really hurt emotionally, it feels horrible and you barely care about anything. SO, I haven’t been smoking lately, and now I’m trying to do that good-ass work on myself and really grow.
Chad Fjerstad: Jason, you’ve been screaming in this band for a full decade now. How are those vocal pipes feeling? Has it gotten easier over the 10 years, or more difficult? Is there anything you want to do as a vocalist in the future that you haven’t yet?
Jason Greenly: The pipes are feeling good. I guess it’s gotten easier overall. I rarely lose my voice, but when I do I can feel it coming and I take steps to prevent it. In the future I just wanna do what I can to make my parts interesting and fun for me.
Chad Fjerstad: What have y’all been listening to a lot of lately?
Andy Hill: The lilys, suicide, lil boodang, the maine & mayday parade, ryan adams ‘jacksonville city nights’, alex g, simple minds, danny brown & jpegmafia, marcus marr, caroline polacheck, charli xcx, foxes, rainbow & dio, roxy music, m83, luis enrique
Jason Greenly: Desmond Dekker and Porter Wagoner
Chad Fjerstad: Jason, you got to play the cajon on “Cloaca”. How did that feel? Why a cajon? Where’d that come from?
Jason Greenly: I don’t play the cajón, but I did record the cajón track on the intro. I only did one take, it came out just alright. My step-dad built me a custom “ASS LIFE” cajón a couple years ago. He started making them during the pandemic. I’m not sure why he decided to make cajóns in particular, but it’s great that he did.
Jason Greenly: “Coldest Lake” is a stand-out song on the record. Chad, were you in Minnesota when you wrote it, or did you just have cold weather on the mind?
Chad Fjerstad: Since it’s inspired by the cold sound of Slavic post-punk where people are generally perceived as very cold, all that cold simply made me think of our home state. It felt like a proper time to pay Minnesota some respects, even if the song makes it seem kind of scary or intimidating – that’s okay. That’s chill.
Jason Greenly: “Vomitive Hues” is another song on the record. What does “intransigents” mean and why didn’t you correct me when I mispronounced it while recording? It made me look foolish.
Chad Fjerstad: LOL. Sorry, bud. An intransigent is an extremely stubborn person who’s mind can’t be changed. Though the plural form “intransigents” might not be in the dictionary, it makes sense to me and I like the word.
Jason Greenly: Chad, you’re involved in so many music projects and bands. The amount of work you put in is impressive. How do you manage to do it all? Do you sleep?
Chad Fjerstad: It’s really coming to a head this year and it’s gotten to the point where I mostly have no time for anything other than working enough to pay the bills, eating, and doing my best to keep my girlfriend happy. And yeah, somehow I usually manage to get a healthy amount of sleep in. Though it feels great to be doing what I’m doing, I don’t think I ever want to be this musically active again. This is my peak. I have 3 full-length albums by 3 different projects coming out in the next 2 months (Ass Life, K’mono, and More Ephemerol) and I’ve been touring regularly with 2 projects (VR SEX, and More Ephemerol). Pushing 3 albums at the same time is…a lot, especially when they are all self-released and I am doing everything myself. I would prefer to only have one in the pipeline in the future, two max, but…I’m excited to give myself a pat on the back when it’s over and try to slow down and relax a little, or maybe work on something other than music during the 2nd half of this year.
Chad Fjerstad: What have y’all been into eating this year?
Jason Greenly: This year I really got into oatmeal and nuts.
Andy Hill: Delicious question! I love Italian food, I love making garlic bread and dipping into a marinara like sauce. I watched a tiktok video this morning about homemade meatballs and I would like to try that. I made a pot roast with beef chuck last week, it provided a ton of meals. Other than that, a lot of veggie burgers, buffalo cauliflower, turkey sandwich with the bread grilled on a pan, tempeh with eggs, and every day I get a free hot lunch from the school I work at. Some of them are bomb.
Chad Fjerstad: Any specific plans for the future of Ass Life? What would you like to see happen with the band?
Jason Greenly: I wanna make some more demos and play in the midwest.
Andy Hill: I want to tour and play shows with sick bands, and I want to play benefit shows, I want to try and generate some money for causes like supporting people who are hungry and/or homeless, people in recovery, animal welfare, and mothers who need help financially or life help. Regarding the band, I’d like to make another thing, maybe an EP, maybe a record. I want people to dance at the shows.