The third album from Brooklyn’s Active Bird Community is a scrappy punk slugfest rife with immediate post-college struggles. This might seem typical for the basement and DIY scene, but take this into consideration: ABC’s four members have been playing together since they were 11 years old — as in, just-starting-middle-school eleven. Dating back to 2005, they’ve grown up, graduated high school, and graduated college, all within the confines of a rock band self-releasing its own music. So when they sing “I run it circles, makes me feel like I’m a child” on “Newbie,” it’s deeper than run-of-the-mill early-20s angst.
“We wrote Stick Around during our senior year of college, that moment right before you enter the ‘real world,’” guitarist-vocalist Tom D’Agustino tells Billboard. “I think that time is emotional for everyone who is about to graduate, but I think for us, childhood friends who had been making music since we were 11, this was like the last moment for us to say everything we wanted and needed to say.”
So it’s a punk version of Vitamin C’s “Graduation (Friends Forever)”? Sort of, if you swap out Pachelbel’s Canon for buzzsaw guitars. And despite the band’s collective camaraderie, there’s dissent in Stick Around, a give-and-take cycle fueling its identity. Continues D’Agustino, “There’s a tension in the record that works throughout — these forces pulling in opposite directions. There’s this feeling that you need to get out of wherever you are, plunge into adulthood with full force and not look back because the waiting is driving you nuts. Then there’s this other, more thoughtful voice, which I think comes out most articulately in Andrew [Wolfson]’s songs — a voice saying not to throw everything away.”
You can hear their complementary songwriting (along with Zach Slater’s bass playing and and Carter McNeil’s drumming) on the new album, streaming on Billboard ahead of this Friday (Jan. 27)’s street date. The night before, they’ll play a record release show at Brooklyn’s Trans-Pecos (originally scheduled for Shea Stadium). Find their other tour dates and pre-order Stick Around at their Bandcamp page.
So get back in touch with your childhood friends! Get a grip on adulthood without feeling like a phony sellout! Just don’t take any of it too seriously; with these guys as your guide, you’ll have that covered.