Earlier this year, we held a premiere of a new promising double track from Bristol, UK based screamo / post hardcore duo PUNCH ON! and today we have the honour of premiering their full debut record “I Have No History But The Length Of My Bones”, on which they prove to be experts in setting a cold and evocative tone for the well known subgenre, and adding to it.
“I Have No History But The Length Of My Bones” is a conscious synthesis of social and personal examinations and experiences by a young band already firing on all cylinders. It’s an album that speaks to the times. We caught up with both guys behind the project, Sean Addicott and Isaac Windsor, and asked them to take us through “I Have No History But The Length Of My Bones” track by track. Here’s what they offered us about their sound, creative process and the content part of the record (scroll down to see the full record breakdown):
We formed in December ’16. Two people leftover from the assumed dissolution of a band which played only one show. We tried to architect a house, built of the conceptual bones of Japandroids, fleshed out with the combination of early 2000’s Screamo, and what the Bay Area DIY scene was kicking about in around 2009/2010. An expansive guitar accompanied by driving drums. A poorly drawn monster, on a high sound pressure diet, trying to eat up all the frequencies.
In terms of the composition, instrumentals and lyrics tend to form in separate environments, with the process creating a matrimony between the two. Sometimes, I (Sean) will write entire songs for the guitar, and we figure out drum parts (Free’d From This Mortal Coil, Defensive…), some songs (“Grief”, “Last Word Syndrome”) come from jams in the practice room, and evolve into fully realised songs. Being a two-piece is liberating in this respect, because the democratic process is simplified, and limitations impose necessary compositional boundaries. We wished to retain as much of the live energy as possible when recording, so tracked the guitar and drum parts live, re-amped the bass from the guitar signal, and then tracked the vocals, in the minimum number of takes.
The whole album functions as somewhat of a coping mechanism for dealing with being an adult, or “millennial” in the 21st century – being at the mercy of a constructed world built by people with different ideals to us.
Photo by: Claire Addicott
This first song, “OwedNothing”, is a reflection on our involvement in the DIY scene, and the feeling of trying to fit our little heterotopian cluster fuck music scene inside the a world that doesn’t require it to exist. A lot of these songs came out of quite a confusing time, and this track especially explores the idea that my world cognition was based on expectation and desires that, frustratingly, didn’t need to be satisfied. It serves to me as a reminder that, although, I am owed nothing, we can still build amazing, incredible things, with the support of a community that follow the same ideals. The line about Satan refers to a Sunday a couple of summers ago. There was a stalwart crew of hanger-ons from the night before, drinking in a bar. The thin veneer of social decorum deteriorated; The bar was sparsely full, yet Suicidal Tendencies were blasting inappropriately out of the speakers, the captain (read: manager) was drunk at the helm, and someone had dropped-in off the bar on a skateboard. Later the fire alarms rang, with all too incapacitated to silence them. It was puerile, it was infantile, it was fantastic.
The next track, ‘ExpectNothing‘, extends this concept, with a reflection on Mindfulness. I appreciate it may appear inconsistent to attempt to document the experiences of meditation with a piece of music as brief as a minute and a half in length, composed of chaotic swings in tempo and rhythm, but there was an undeniable resonance in the unity between the lyrics and the instrumental. The first few song titles were derived from posts we found on nihilist memes. I’m really glad we don’t do that anymore. Truthfully, the song is about trying to avoid attachment to outcomes, disconnecting from an ocean of pressure and expectations, from attachment to emotions, and seeing life for what it is – just things happening.
The next track (Construct/Critique) is an interesting one. Have you ever written a musical idea and almost disregarded it immediately? As though, you created a meal of mere condiments, bread, and bits of gravy dust, and some how managed to surprise yourself? Story moral: give it a go, it could become something great. Lyrically the song documents an ever-long frustration with the world having differentiated expectations based on circumstances outside of your control; expectations assigned on the basis of a lottery you never bought a ticket for, and short of being a white man, don’t ever win. It’s worth noting at this point, we are both, and both identify as, straight white men, and are aware of the privilege associated with this, even in the context of DIY. I feel my brows raise when I see other cishet men appropriating non-cishet experiences in their art, and passing it off as their own, something I am conscious of when writing, something I didn’t want to do when writing this. This song serves as a reminder to myself to be the best ally I can. At times, I don’t go as far as I should in doing this; challenging all male line-ups when putting on shows, ensuring I challenge behaviour as it presents itself to me. A reminder to work harder. I work in autism education, and feel honoured to be allowed to help people with Autism to try and understand a world which was not built with them in mind. However, I am forever finding myself 180° outside of myself thinking “at what point point does that world have to change of include them”: the world is an architected structure that employs violence as a means of keeping colours within the lines, and reinforcing an arbitrary stereotype as preferable.
For too long has that been acceptable. We must now build and normalise new structures. Change doesn’t come from the top. It comes from everyday conversations, at addressing the behaviours of others, taking up, or being allies in enabling others to take up space.
I wrote the next cheery ode (Ephemeral (A Curse)) on Boxing day 2016. A day of love, a day of sharing, a day to write a song about the need for death as a means of creating space for new ideas. A human can only live for so long, and in that time, can only exist, create, build, inspire, respire, hate burn and destroy for so long, before their inherent biological existential disadvantage causes them to pass the mantle. The narrative paints a picture of a human lifetime, from birth, through an autumnal series of hardships, until their death in the summer, with the subsequent spring opening doors for new ideas. The subtext is to embrace the idea of change, something inherently frightening to humans, but from it, great things can come.
Appropriately, following from this, “Grief”. Context: last year (2017) I lost a friend to suicide, unfortunately not for the first time. The title of the song actually came before the context (the song was written on New Years day, our friend passed in the middle of the year). We had originally written some trite lyrics paralleling the song having 5 sections with the 5 stages of grief. When news of his his passing hit, and I’d had time for reflection, a new set of lyrics flowed. I like volcanoes. They’re nature-acne; the planet suffers tectonic stress, volcanoes form, stabilise, and erupt. It’s such a perfect metaphor. Essentially, the song is about finally finding peace that follows grief.
Lyrically, the sixth track, “Free’d From This Mortal Coil”, can appear the most obtuse, but in all simplicity, it’s the most specific: it’s a meditation on having elective heart surgery. I was aged 22. Previous to entering theatre, I was required to sign a form. It stated a series of possible negative outcomes, that within 6 months there was a 0.5% chance of having a stroke, within that there was a something-percent chance I could die. A whole list. I’ve had a history of hospital engagements previous to this, from collapsed lungs largely. Each forms a moment of reflection, and the realisation that I’m not owed life, I’m as a ephemeral as everything else, and that, in all actuality, is ok. It’s liberating.
“Last Word Syndrome” is somewhat of an epic. How we ever wrote a 7-minute song with only two riffs I’ll never know. It’s a personal one, about being in a position of responsibility and support to someone, and being too young to really understand your significance in this. It’s about what happens when you move location and the impact this has on the person, and the conflict it creates when you can’t be there for them. It’s about ongoing circumstantial influences causing anxiety, and impairing sleep. It’s about trying to find a way through. I often find that lengthly meditations on these topics can form playground snitches, reporting back to the anxiety bullies; you create a cognitive climate of obsession over issues from your past, and constantly punish yourself, rather than putting a box around the circumstance, separating, and moving on with a greater knowledge of how you can help in the future.
Finally, “Defensive About Being On Fire”. Moral of the story: Fuck up, make up. That’s it. The piece reflects two narratives: That of someone who picks at the minutia of pieces in their life until it causes the threads to unravel (read: me). The latter narrative is someone who carelessly bludgeons through some elements of their life, with gale-force disregard (read: also me). The whole piece fits around a central lyrical theme: “We make the beds we ruin”. It’s about having to get up, and still get your day done regardless; put the pieces back in place, rebuild what you’ve damaged, and ultimately, find a way though: to disconnect.
In essence, “…Length Of My Bones…” is a reflection on life lessons we’ve learned thus far. Thank you for taking 5 minutes to read this self-indulgent diatribe. We love that you’d care enough.