Iron Chic

Iron Chic

Racquet Club, Dead Bars, Garrett Dale

Mon · February 19, 2018

8:00 pm

$13.00 - $15.00

This event is 21 and over

Iron Chic
Iron Chic
Iron Chic’s new record is two things: both the same as previous releases, and absolutely incomparable to them. Due out on October 13, You Can’t Stay Here addresses the same big questions that have plagued the Long Island punk group from their outset: anxiety, depression, relationships, substance abuse, mortality, life, death, what it all means, why we’re forced to experience them. But this album is punctured with grief and devastation; while these are all familiar concepts, they’re relayed with an added desperation, and the claustrophobic, inescapable reality of them. There’s no punchline, no immediate silver-lining.

Jason Lubrano, the band’s singer, is aware of the absence. “On the past records, we generally try to throw in an optimistic note here and there. That might be the one thing that this record is lacking.”

That pervasive darkness goes right back to the record’s title, a line from the song, “You Can’t Stay Safe.” It’s a manifestation of a general anxiety, a permanent lack of peace. “No matter what you do in this world, there's always some danger or something lurking there for you,” Lubrano sighs. “Even when you kind of think you're okay, you might not be. That was just sort of like a desperation there: you can't really be safe anywhere.”

It’s hard to not hear all of this as a product of the loss the band suffered in January 2016, when Rob McAllister, Iron Chic’s founding guitarist, died unexpectedly. The band is still coming to terms with McAllister’s passing. “I’ve dealt with loss before in my life,” Lubrano says. “I lost my dad when I was 21, but he was sick and we kind of saw it coming, and I was able to process it in that sense. Rob was a unique thing because it was one of the first times a close friend has died, and someone my age.”

The loss of McAllister loomed over the creation of You Can’t Stay Here. “It does definitely permeate all aspects of it,” Lubrano remarks. “It’s just hanging there.” Some of the tracks had been written with McAllister, compounding the pain of his absence. Written and recorded in guitarist Phil Douglas’ house, working on the record was a sort of coping mechanism for the bandmates. “It definitely brought us closer on as friends to just have this to focus on and put our energies into and help keep our minds off of things,” Lubrano explains. That utility is something he wants to share: “I hope that translates and I hope that people can get a similar feeling from it.”

Despite the subject matter, the band’s aptitude for unbridled anthemics is on full display here. Flickering into life with a rising wave of distorted bar chords, “A Headache With Pictures” is a crass, unabashed introduction, with throttling gang vocals and “whoa-oh!”s layered over slashing guitars. The band’s self-production is evident and bracing; guitars are thick and gnarled, immediate and relentless, while drums are taut and driving. Lubrano’s voice is more earnest than ever, and when the collective comes in for the big sing-along choruses, it sounds almost comforting; there’s still an indelible element of coldness to their choir of voices, but when they sing out in unison, there’s a flicker of hope.

The grief scattered across the record is blunt and overwhelming. “Too fucking tired to bother to dial the phone, I’m still mourning the life that I left behind,” Lubrano bellows on opener, “A Headache With Pictures.” Later, he contemplates our existence: “It’s hard to be a human being. How can we, when we’re not quite sure what being human means?” These aren’t dressed up, flowery, or even terribly artistic. They feel conversational, like a page ripped from a diary. Most diary entries go unshared; the strength in Iron Chic is that they share it all, in hopes that it might
help us.

“If it's a sense of feeling like somebody understands what they're going through, or just that there's people who think the same way, or even if they ascribe some story to what they're hearing and they can relate to it, that’s ultimately what makes me feel good,” Lubrano says.

Lubrano is worried there’s no bright note on You Can’t Stay Here, no reprieve from the suffocating darkness (Although, as the dust settles on the album’s final moments, a preprogrammed melody from an old Casio keyboard rings out. Lubrano chuckles, “Phil was like, 'Is this too goofy?' and I'm like, 'Nah, I think I like it.’ It kind of breaks the tension at the end”).

But the record is the bright note. The feverish admissions of anxiety, the blunt discussions of mortality, the struggle to stay afloat in tar-thick clouds of depression; these are all dark, yes, but the externalization of them, casting them into light and setting them to a fierce, determined melody, is a cry for survival and perseverance. These are tributes to fortitude, not weakness. Iron Chic has been through a hell of a fucking year. They’re still standing, and they made a record together. That’s the bright note.
Racquet Club
Racquet Club
Racquet Club Racquet Club RISE “These things that you have learned, have they served you well?” A few years ago, Blair Shehan was burnt out. His highly respected rock band The Jealous Sound released A Gentle Reminder on Rise Records in 201 but although the album was well-received and the band toured with acts like Death Cab For Cutie and Sunny Day Real Estate, they never really hit their stride. Then something unexpected happened: Shehan's previous act Knapsack starting playing shows again and he immediately rekindled a musical and creative partnership with the band's guitarist Sergie Loobkoff, who was also a founding member of Samiam. “The Knapsack reunion was a real gift for me because there was no pressure and it was just for the fun of it,” Shehan recounts. “Sergie and I started talking about writing new music together but as soon as we began we knew that this was going to be a different beast altogether.” Racquet Club’s lineup also features The Jealous Sound drummer Bob Penn—whose sweetly syncopated drumming never sacrifices raw power—and new bassist Ian Smith, who was previously a touring member of the Bravery and happened to be a neighbor of Shehan when he was looking for a bassist for the project. However another big player in the existence of Racquet Club was Rise Records' owner Craig Ericson who immediately saw the potential in these songs even in their earliest form. “Craig knew what we were doing and sent me an email saying that he wanted to put out the record and that instantly gave us a tangible goal to work toward,” Shehan recounts. “I had to think about it because in order to do this well I would have to really show up to the artistic process. It had to be my priority. I knew it was going to shake my life up.” “My hope was that the sound of this band would be familiar but show significant growth as well," he continues. "Everyone in this band contributes ideas and for this record we really tried to break some of our habitual writing patterns and let the best ideas win." With that in mind, the perfect person to eventually record these songs was another collaborator from their collective past, Alex Newport (Bloc Party, Frank Turner), who recorded Knapsack's final album This Conversation Is Ending, Starting Right Now back in 1998 and went on to produce albums for their peers such as At The Drive- In. “Alex had moved back to Los Angeles and was the obvious choice,” Loobkoff recalls. “With weeks of rehearsal and pre- production and two years of writing behind us, we were probably more prepared for this album than any album any of us had done in the past,” he continues. “We really concentrated on the songwriting; a lot of that spark has to come from Blair and then we all added our parts and eventually it turned into what you hear now.” Simply put, Racquet Club is a breathtaking rock record that will appeal to fans of the members' previous projects but also stands on its own as something singularly impressive. From the driving pop perfection of “Let Beauty Find You” to the stripped-down power of “Blood On The Moon” and melodic moodiness of “Boundaries,” these ten songs are like different shades of the same color-- and together they paint a picture that's more hopeful than anything Shehan has penned in the past. “The records that I've done in the past have really been reactions to chaos in my life and the guilt or hurt that came along with them,” Shehan explains. “I'm still dealing with those tendencies but now rather than focusing on the chaos I’m focusing on solutions and those small victories.” In other words when Shehan sings, “Get out of your own way, get out of your head” it’s a reminder to not get caught up in the self-doubt that plagues so many of us. However while the songs mainly come from Shehan, they wouldn't be nearly as dynamic without the other members' contributions and correspondingly Racquet Club showcases some of Loobkoff's most inventive playing to date. “Sergie has an incredibly deep sonic palette and a fluid almost '70s rock sensibility so it was really fun to work together and build something where I'd be like, “Wow, what were you doing there?” Shehan says. From the chiming harmonics on “Blood On The Moon” to the descending melodic lines on “New Granada” the songs on this album see all of the members stepping outside of their comfort zones to create something that grows more compelling with each listen. That's not serendipitous, it's because every note on Racquet Club was carefully constructed and labored over. “Making this record together was a struggle at times and there was a lot of self-doubt on Blair's part but we pulled it off,” Loobkoff summarizes. Shehan echoes this sentiment adding, “For me making this record was a challenge in a lot of ways and just completing it makes me feel so good. In life you get these moments where you realize your goal is worth taking a chance on because once you accomplish it you can walk upright in the world knowing that you did your best.” In the end, the very act of creation is what makes Racquet Club a success-- and the songs speak for themselves in a way that will stay with the listener long after the album has ended.
Dead Bars
Dead Bars
Dead Bars formed in 2013 by two drummers (C.J. Frederick (2) and John Maiello) from New Jersey who met each other while both living in Seattle, Washington.
Garrett Dale
Garrett Dale
Venue Information:
The Hi Hat
5043 York Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90042