By Simon Weedn
Two years ago, when Seal Beach’s Rx Bandits announced a final summer tour and a vague explanation of future plans, most fans found the bandselves perplexed. Though the band had clarified that it were not breaking up, it still left some ambiguity as to when or if the band would return. Well, after a run of Brazilian dates last year making it clear that the band would still be playing from time to time, the wait in the United States is finally over. The Rx Bandits have returned to the road in celebration of the 10-year anniversary of their breakout record, The Resignation, and we’ve got the scoop.
Though it’s hard to believe that a decade has passed since the band released The Resignation, it’s not difficult to understand why the Bandits would be so excited to celebrate its release. The Resignation marked a serious turning point in the band’s career, sound and style and marked an end to a transition that had begun with their previous album, the appropriately named, Progress. The record was marked by a shift in focus from their adolescent third wave ska beginnings into a much more mature, prog-punk sound that incorporated everything from the ska and dub that it had started out with, to heavy metal, math rock, Latin, punk and influences from everything in between. The Resignation also marked a turning point in the band’s lyrical imagery with a focus on largely political and anti-war messages at a time when America was ramping up wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Although the record was largely different for the band and certainly opened the band up to a much larger, more diverse fan base, guitarist/keyboardist Steve Choi is quick to assert that it didn’t really go into the recording sessions with any lofty goals, “It was pure expression, it was just the fire inside of us, that’s all.” He further explained, “We knew it was a game changer for what we were trying to do at the time, it finally set the tone for us. It was like, ‘OK; now we’ve done this! Now we evolve from here!’ We finally got this big dark change out of us.” And change it had. From The Resignation on, the Rx Bandits would be committed to growth and experimentation, never satisfied with staying static as exemplified by their following albums, 2006’s . . . And The Battle Begun and 2009’s Mandala.
Though taking an entire album out on the road can present an array of challenges to some artists, especially when a lot of time has passed between the creation of the original material, the Rx Bandits are un-phased, “We’ve done this on a few different times in New York and Los Angeles and it’s actually a lot of fun trying to adapt the record to a live setting,” remarks Choi, “You have your set list laid out for you every night, so there’s no going back and forth on trying to decide what to play. We enjoy it!” In fact, the only real hurdle that the band seems to be faced with is trying to keep up with the 22-year-old versions of the bandselves who crafted this music in the first place, “The Resignation as a record is pretty high energy, our young selves had a lot to prove, so our 32-year-old selves had to get back in shape to play it,” Choi explains.
However, even as a band that prides itself on always looking ahead, takes a moment to remember a seminal past accomplishment, the band still continues to move forward. In conjunction with the tour, the band also released a five-song cover’s EP that has the group taking on tunes from the likes of Weezer, King Crimson and Fugazi. Additionally, there are rumors starting to circulate that after this tour wraps, the band may re-enter the studio and attempt to start recording their first new album in almost five years. However, at the moment, the band’s full focus is on the present, Choi muses “One step at a time . . . We’re just focusing on the tour right now and making sure we give a stellar performance every night and then . . . we’ll go from there ya know?”
Rx Bandits w/ Northern Face at The Glass House, 200 W. 2nd St., Pomona, (909) 865-3802; www.theglasshouse.us. Thurs, Aug. 1. 7:30pm. $20-$25.