New York City hardcore crew Cash Bribe keep things sweet and simple on their new album, Escape From New York. Rooted in old-school powerviolence, hardcore and punk with a healthy dose of rock ‘n’ roll spirit, their new EP wastes no time in getting straight to the point. We’ve got a video premiere for their new song “ICBM,” which should give you a chance to find out exactly what Cash Bribe are all about.
Starting with a wall of screeching feedback before every instrument kicks in at once, “ICBM” is a danceable hardcore punk number accompanied by a live performance video. In addition to the premiere, Decibel shot the shit with Cash Bribe vocalist JD to talk about the new EP and what’s next for Cash Bribe. You can pre-order the EP now via Bandcamp.
Escape From New York is Cash Bribe’s second release after last year’s Facemask City. Has anything changed within the band or in your approach to writing/playing music since then?
JD: The most glaring difference between Facemask City and Escape From New York is our expanded lineup – I joined on vocals and Brian joined on bass. Most of these songs are remnants from the Facemask City era, I think, but mostly unfinished, so this album required us to collaborate as a four piece to bring them to fruition. We also enlisted Sasha Stroud at Artifact Audio to record, mix, and master the album, which to me was as important for the album as the songs themselves. We couldn’t have been more psyched to record at Artifact and we couldn’t be happier with Sasha’s work.
You guys cite a bunch of different genres and artists that influence Cash Bribe’s music. What does your writing process look like?
JD: All of our songs start with Kirk [guitar] – he brings ideas/sketches to practice and we try to filter the ideas through Larry’s drumming and Brian’s bass to craft them into songs. We try to write with a sense of thoughtful urgency – the way these songs sound is intentional and deliberate, but we try not to overthink or overwork them. Kirk and I don’t have a set convention for lyrics – he had already written a lot of the lyrics to Escape when I joined/he comes up with ideas as he writes riffs, but we work together to make sure each song is saying what we want it to say. Kirk’s a very skilled lyricist and I think the way our writing interplays is critical to their intensity.
Escape From New York is also your first EP as a quartet. How does the expanded lineup affect your sound?
JD: I think Kirk and Larry had a four piece in mind when they formed Cash Bribe, so this lineup is much more “the intended sound” than before. They weren’t bad as a trio – you can hear Kirk’s vocals on Facemask City… I liked the EP enough that I tried out for the band. Finding Brian on bass was pretty fortunate…he has been in a lot of local bands we respect. Brian actually played at the first punk show I saw in NYC back in 2008 – and when he tried out, we knew he was our guy pretty immediately. We needed a powerful bassist who could strike that ideal balance of backing up Kirk’s leads while staying in the pocket with Larry, and he does it all with style. Brian Jackson is ice cold – what’s cooler than being cool?
To me, what underlies the whole thing is our hunger – music is only fun/satisfying to me if I’m challenging myself. I joined Cash Bribe because Kirk and Larry want to work hard and push their creative limits, and Brian has this insane drive, he’s always trying to be better. Practices are a blast, but they are work, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. In a year, we’ve proven to ourselves and each other that we’re willing to push this as far as possible, and we each bring something to the table creatively that works cohesively to create our sound. Basically, we’re really excited about what we’re doing and I think it comes through in the sound.
We’re premiering the track “ICBM” today. What can you tell us about the song?
JD: It’s an apocalypse song filtered through the experience of living in New York, and how our external and internal environments inseparably influence each other. Society is a death cult and it seems that we are more brazen about our slow suicide more each day. Civilization is at a critical mass and yet we continue to consume at increased rates knowing that it is not sustainable, knowing that we are stealing time and resources from our future.
New York is, on one hand, an exaggerated microcosm of the world around us, and on the other, confrontational in a way that other places aren’t, and in that, we’re forced to wrestle with our addictions and indulgences in a uniquely visceral way. New Yorkers are being stretched thin – wages don’t cover rent, our mayor is hellbent on creating an AI-assisted police state, our police force values the protection of wealth and property over the well-being of human beings and we look at our most marginalized individuals and communities as nameless, faceless data points. In the face of all of it, we create divisions between people, whether racial, economic, religious, sexual, cultural, whatever. And we all know better – from the mayor to the mega-wealthy to you and me to the drunk outside my bodega—we know how to treat each other with kindness, compassion and dignity. This isn’t anything new and this isn’t anything that isn’t happening anywhere else. When looking at what humanity is facing and how little we are doing to face it, one can’t help but think it’s too late.
The EP drops on December 1. What can we expect from Cash Bribe after that?
JD: Shows. Lots of shows. We have a few in January that we’re going to announce soon, and we’re planning on getting out of NYC for a few of them, so hit us up if you want us to play your town! We’re also already starting on our next batch of songs, though it’s a little early to say what we’re going to do with them. Cash Bribe is just getting started, so watch out for us.