Iron Chic’s long-awaited sophomore full-length, The Constant One, ups the band’s ante, boasting nearly 40 minutes of their heartfelt, signature melodic punk with big buildups, warm harmonies, and gripping climaxes. The band tackles somewhat similar subject matter to 2010?s Not Like This with deeply embedded metaphors hinting at themes of communication, perseverance, and self-worth, This makes their Bridge Nine Records debut no mere sequel, but rather its own set of cleverly cloaked ideas soundtracked by a bed of driving riffs and life-affirming melodies.
The band launched an extensive tour in February in support of the record, taking along Dayton’s own Josh Goldman, of Rad Company, The Raging Nathans, and Rad Girlfriend Records, as a substitute for their regular guitarist whose obligations forced him to sit the jaunt out.
Ghettoblaster caught up with vocalist Jason Lubrano prior to their Gem City stop to discuss, among other things, the actual Iron Sheik, Goldman’s participation, and the difficulties of explaining the creative process to outsiders.
Josh Goldman, who is from Dayton, has joined you on this tour. How did you meet him and what prompted the invite to join you guys?
I think a bunch of us know Josh through different channels. I met him doing artwork. I believe he was in touch with my partner at the time, so I met him that way. My partner met him through his record label, trading records. We’d also see him around a lot when our bands crossed paths. I think he put it out there that he’d play guitar if we ever needed him. We knew he played with other bands on the road, had a flexible schedule, and that combination of factors made sense at the time. We know he’d be excited to do it and wouldn’t mind being out long stretches at a time. So he seemed like the right guy to ask.
And you did some practicing before you headed out on the road?
He’d been practicing on his own. We gave him a big list of songs to learn. We had a week of practicing before we headed out to cram. He pretty much had it down.
You guys recently did an interview with the wrestler Iron Sheik for Noisey. What was that like?
It was interesting. It was all through e-mail, spur of the moment. When we got it going it was pretty cool.
Do you think it was a put on, or that it was actually the Iron Sheik?
That’s been a topic amongst us since we haven’t actually met him, but I’m holding out hope that it was actually him. At the very least it was probably whoever runs his Twitter.
You guys have been playing music for quite a while. Have you seen changes in the way that music is delivered to fans and how they respond to it?
Definitely. With the internet it is easier to get people to hear things. You still need to have that initial interest or something that will get them to you. But the delivery system is way more accessible to bands and for people who want to hear new music to. It’s maybe led to a bit of a fracturing in the type of music people listen to. In the past, if you liked emo you had to pick through a bunch of bands to find one you really liked. You’d get exposed to a lot of sounds along the way. Now you can get what you want pretty easily. It’s more of a buyer’s market I guess.
Are you ever surprised at the kind of reach your music has?
I guess. It is surprising to me, since I’ve never had this kind of reaction to a band I’ve been in. Intellectually it doesn’t surprise me, but in actuality I find it a very new experience.
Do you guys still have full-time jobs or is Iron Chic becoming a realistic option to become a full time thing?
It is getting there. It’s kind of a yes and no answer. For instance, our guitar player is a custodian at a school and he has a kid, so he can’t easily leave for months at a time. On the other hand, Gordon, the drummer, actually quit his job so that he could do the tour. So he’s taking a leap. I’ve been putting myself in a position, between my artwork and the band, to be able to keep my head above water. We’ve all tried to put ourselves in the position that we could do as much as possible and we’re definitely trying to make it happen. That’s why we’re doing this long tour.
Did you do the art for the cover of The Constant One?
I noticed a similarity between that and the Ex-Boyfriends Disease record. Did you do that too?
It remind me a lot of that aesthetic Hot Water Music created with their early artwork. You were way connected to the music on the album so was that artwork purposeful as a way to tell the story of the record?
Sort of. It is hard to describe the thought process behind the artwork. I just stare at the page until it happens. It’s not such a conscious thing. I mean, I’ll tweak it and pull it because I want to see something, but there’s not a lot of intent behind it. It’s not a conscious thing.
So it’s more of a subconscious relationship?
Yeah, I write lyrics and do the artwork and spend this insane part of my brain doing it, but it’s not really planned.
Have you found that working with Bridge Nine has helped you achieve some of your loftier goals?
Definitely. It is a little early to say. They have been very receptive to our ideas. We’d always done all those things ourselves before. So we always had a hand in every aspect, and they were understanding about our reluctance to give up that control. They’ve worked with us. They’ve brought a lot of ideas to the table that weren’t things that we would have thought of before, and provided opportunities that we wouldn’t have had access to without them.
Does it take some pressure off you to put that in someone else’s hands?
That’s the ultimate goal that pushed us to pursue that relationship. Now we’ve got a different set of things to be nervous about, things that we don’t control anymore. In the end it evens out. We have a manager for the first time ever too. We probably spend half as much time yelling at him to do stuff as it would have taken us to do it in the first place (laughter).
Like it or not, Pitchfork has demonstrated the ability to make or break a band to some degree. Has having a good review there led to additional attention?
As far as I can tell, people were mostly just surprised that they reviewed us and gave us a good review. That’s not to say it hasn’t, but nothing that I could tell really. I wouldn’t know if there was a jump in sales or anything. We just do our end of things and hope it works out. We don’t pour over the books too much.
Do you find yourself comfortable being interrogated by the press on making music and being in the band?
I’ve done a few. It’s hard for me to explain the mechanics and thought processes. It doesn’t make me resentful per se, but it is difficult to engage a person in that conversation. And it is an obvious thing that people want to know about, as I have with bands that I like.
Do you feel a tremendous amount of pressure undertaking a tour of this size to get it right? Does it keep you up at nights? Or do you practice your hardest and then hope for the best?
It is definitely more of the latter. There is anticipation and nervousness, but we love to do it. We mostly worry about how to put up with each other for this long. We haven’t had problems on the road before, so it is more of a positive anticipation than anything else.
I read that when you were doing Shitty Rambo there were personalities in the band that made it uncomfortable to accomplish your goals. Do you believe the personalities you have on the road are poised for making the run a success?
We’re weird and sarcastic. You can’t speak in front of one of us without getting torn into for an hour afterwards (laughter). But it is like a family in that way. There is good and bad that comes with that. The Shitty Rambo thing was beyond interband politics. It bled into real life. It was a thing that affected all of us. There has never been another thing we’ve encountered like that.
When you have that kind of relationship, especially with dudes, little things are forgiven pretty quickly?
As Iron Sheik said, “Are you ready for the Wrestlemania of music?”
Oh, yeah, yeah (laughter).
(Check out Iron Chic here: http://www.ironchic.net/.)