No matter how many years Audacity have been together, they’ve yet to make anything that resembles a grown up record. For their sake, we hope they never learn how it’s done. Because any attempt to sound like a bunch of thoughtful, responsible adults would be the death of their sound. For the last eight years, the Fullerton band’s snotty defiance and youthful abandon seasoned with shards of wry, punk wisdom is the reason we tune in. Even when comparing the progressively polished production of their last two records, Mellow Cruisers and Butter Knife, vocalist/guitarist Matt Schmalfeld jokes that the cleaner they sounded, the more they felt like squares. Their reaction to this on their latest album Hyper Vessels was simple: keep getting wiser, but also get louder and heavier.
“When Butter Knife came out, I don’t think we were listening to Thin Lizzy as much but on the tour for that album we were listening to a ton of Thin Lizzy,” Schmalfeld says. “I think we started getting a little more heavy. We were messing with different guitar tones in the studio during the demo sessions too.”
Add to that the golden touch of their producer and psych rock svengali Ty Segall and the band managed to reinvent their sound just enough to make it new again. In January, they blew out of the gate with the release of their lead single “Dirt Boy” a track delivers a double barrel blast of punk-as-fuck while retaining a catchiness that might actually yield them a commercial hit on the album (out April 1 via Suicide Squeeze). As fate would have it, it was a song they wrote hastily while in the back of a tour van with the idea of making some quick cash.
“When we were first writing that, we got an offer to have songs be in this video game and so we were excited for the cash,” guitarist Kyle Gibson admits. “We were on tour at the time and we were on this really long drive to San Antonio from Houston or New Orleans. So we started working on the songs during the drive.” They scraped together a demo of the song, but in the end the video game company rejected it and the band forgot about it for a while only to revisit it before the recording of Hyper Vessels.
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Holding up in Segal’s home studio in Eagle Rock, Schmalfeld, Gibson, bassist Cameron Crowe and drummer Thomas Alvarez banged out all the recording for the album in about three days. Though they haven’t worked at that blistering pace since their debut album Power Drowning, the band proved that when it comes to their ability as a band, some things never change.
However, when it comes to their lineup, apparently some things do. Midway through the interview, Gibson and Schmalfeld tell us that Crowe recently quit the band. Though they wouldn’t divulge much in the way of details, they said that Crowe’s responsibilities outside of Audacity are what caused him to bow out. It’s unclear at this point who the band will get to replace him full time. The record release shows at the Continental Room on March 30 and The Smell on April 1 will be Crowe's final gigs with the band. The band’s show in OC this Wednesday at the Conti includes an opening set from the temporarily reunited Pterodacdudes and Death Hymn Number 9. Though it’s got to be a bummer for the band that’s been together for almost a decade, for now Schmalfeld and Gibson say they’re focused on the future and new opportunities that allow the band to continue growing wiser, louder and better than before.
“We wanna make sure that everyone’s emotionally invested in this [band],” Schmalfeld says. “I know me, Kyle and Thomas all want to continue, we’re all super tight...We’ve been a band for a really long time, some bands are only around for a couple years. We’ve been really lucky to have a solid lineup for eight years.”
Audacity's OC release show for Hyper Vessels is tomorrow night at The Continental Room. Free, 21+. For full details, click here.