What could make less sense? A band of hard rockers from Los Angeles name themselves The Bronx because, as guitarist Joby J. Ford puts it, “Seems these days everyone is trying to be like everyone else, we didn’t want that at all. We love doing things totally backwards. Things that don’t make sense, make sense to us. It’s how we like our art and music.”
More importantly, The Bronx transcends easy categories like “atypical alt-metal inspired by nasty ‘70s punk” by adding a level of intensity and passion than other bands that come from the “emocore/post-grunge punk rock revival”* can’t muster.
Formed in 2002, the band includes vocalist Matt Caughthran, guitarist Joby Ford, bassist James Tweedy and drummer Jorma Vik. They initially turned down several deals from major record labels in favor of maintaining a DIY approach in keeping with the integrity of their playing.
Ford started playing guitar as a high school senior, but not for a career in rock & roll. His baseball scholarship put him through school where he earned a degree in graphic design. Later on, with the help of ex-Guns n’ Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke, The Bronx came up with an intense rock sound for their first demo. Without a record deal, they put MP3 tracks up on their website www.thebronxxx.com late in 2002, generating a beehive’s worth of buzz. The band’s debut disc appeared in August 2003, followed by a self-titled effort that marked their major-label debut for Island in 2006.
Currently embarked on a world tour behind The Bronx, the band, and Joby J. in particular, is still taking the hard road to rock & roll glory. As he recounts, “We were playing in Canberra Australia, and during the third song in the set I felt this massive pop and then heard a gigantic cracking sound. It was terrifying. All of a sudden I couldn’t move, and had to play the rest of the set standing there because I was in so much pain I couldn’t even turn my head.
“As it turned out, I had slipped my 4th and 5th vertebrae, and they locked together, pushing my pelvis forward and up, making my right hip go in and out of socket. I had to do the rest of the tour in a wheelchair, and I have been taking massive amounts of pain killers.”
Despite the trials of touring, Ford loves live concert work and the recording process: “Working hard and hearing the sounds you create during playback is one of the most rewarding things in the world to me, but performing the art you create and having people losing their minds is also one of the most rewarding things that can happen…I guess it’s the most perfect job ever. Once you get done with one amazing thing – you get to go do another amazing thing: tour, studio… studio, tour. Wash rinse, repeat.”
A vital part of his equipment is a rock amplifier legend lovingly recreated for our times, the VOX AC30 Custom Classic, which Joby isn’t afraid to lavish praise on, “I know everyone says this, but there is nothing…nothing that sounds like a VOX. I was a big fan of the vintage AC30 that had the treble boost mod. It’s very hard to find though, but sounds like the voice of God. It burns up anything else on stage and is the perfectly thought out amp, hands down.”
Asked how his guitar sounds through the AC30 Custom Classic compared to other amps he’s played through, Ford explains, “Louder than anything else. Something about those amps will just cut through anything that is on stage, even though it’s a 30-Watt amp. I get an unbelievably unique tone with every guitar run through that amp, and it brings out the uniqueness unlike any other amp I have ever played. It’s almost like it reads your mind. Sounds weird… but its true.”
If you haven’t been to places like Germany or Australia, now’s the time to broaden your horizons and check out The Bronx, who are rocking the world on their “Kerrang Tour 2007.”
For more information and show dates, click to www.thebronxxx.com/shows/
*”LA stooges The Bronx declare punk dead” The Eagle Online
By Christopher Sauter and JC Costa