ALL bands go through bleak times, be it album failure, crappy tours, personal conflicts or financial woes. But it doesn’t get any worse than the death of a bandmate.
That tragedy befell US punk band Iron Chic in January 2016 when guitarist Rob McAllister unexpectedly died from undisclosed causes. McAllister had left Iron Chic six months prior, but as a founding member and close friend it left the Long Island boys grief stricken.
Yet in the ashes of their despair sprang Iron Chic’s third album, You Can’t Stay Here, released in October.
Frontman Jason Lubrano, battling with his own relationship breakdown along with McAllister’s death, delivered his darkest lyrics yet like “It's like driving a runaway hearse/I can't stop, I just make things worse/Come on and take the wheel from me/Put me outta my misery” from My Best Friend (Is A Nihilist).
However, the darkness was offset by the band’s most anthemic - almost pop - collection of punk rock. The result was Iron Chic’s most accessible album.
“It wasn’t exactly intentional, but we had a little bit of an attempt to go pop here,” Lubrano said from New York.
“I did realise the lyrics were a little more depressing for me and usually I would temperate it with an up note and that wasn’t happening this time.
“Once it came apparent we just ran with it and realised that’s what we’re doing and the juxtaposition was interesting to us.”
Since forming in 2008 Iron Chic have been pumping out energetic and emotive punk, made for throwing your arm around a friend and belting out choruses on a boozy night out.
Iron Chic released Not Like This (2010) and The Constant One (2013), the success of the latter bringing the band to Australia in 2015 where they performed alongside The Smith Street Band.
Much like The Smith Street Band there’s an intelligence to Lubrano’s lyrics. It’s not simply punk anger directed at authority. It regularly touches on mortality and morality.
“We’re always tried to do that,” Lubrano said. “These were the kind of things that were on my mind and the lens that I perceive the world through.
“I just try to put it down in a way that hopefully people can relate to.”
It’s often said creativity is fuelled by nature’s hardships and that was Lubrano’s experience while writing You Can’t Stay Here.
“It [pain] is conducive, I think, to creativity and if there’s something really important or particularly hard to go through it can be a cathartic thing and also help bring out the things you want to say,” he said.
“That’s not to say you need it. You can draw those things out of every day life as well, but it definitely doesn’t hurt.”
Iron Chic perform at the Hamilton Station Hotel on February 3.