If you think casinos the size of a small town and gallon-sized mixed drink holders are the only impressive things to come out of Las Vegas, then you haven't heard Last Call
's solid punk rock sounds. The foursome have officially dropped their new album, Dog Years
, via their own Broken Arrow Collective
imprint, and it's reminding us of all the reasons why we love the genre.Produced, engineered, mixed and mastered by Paul Miner (New Found Glory, Thrice, Fireworks), these 12 tracks deliver equal part emotion and melody, spewing out the coming of age anthems we all can't help but relate to, and displaying a musicianship that's tailored yet highlighted by a youthful energy.
Treat your ears to a full album stream, and then go behind each of these tracks with an exclusive track by track commentary from vocalist Austin Jeffers
and drummer Adam Blasco
. Like what you hear? The album's available for purchase via the band's Bandcamp
I suppose this track by track explanation may have some illuminating factors to some of this record, but I’d like to stress that what we write about are general things in my life. It all has truth and meaning to it, but IN NO WAY should it dictate YOUR feelings about these songs. If you find something that speaks to you hidden in these songs, hold that dear and high over anything we say it was about, as music will always be about the emotions it evokes in us individually. These are some roads but in no way are they directions, find your own meaning and live it. I love you all. Thank you for letting me become the man I am now. — Austin Jeffers
[This] was one of those songs that seemed to write itself, almost as if it wanted to get finished quickly. When I wrote the beginning riff, it immediately dictated its presence as an early track. Luckily, the lyrics seemed to sure up quickly as well. I remember my mom making a comment about how unfortunate it was that we grew up romantically in the midst of all this technology. She spoke of how relationships used to have nuisance and patience. No one could be connected forever and that kept you interested and in love for years as you learned about a person. It made me wonder if my grandparents had said the same thing to her but on different terms. The irony weighed on me and I decided that today’s age has to find a balance between lurking a person’s Facebook page and just asking outright, "How are you? What led you to be you in this life?" It’s a careful balance of true love and care. Yet, we’re all liars and hypocrites, it’s inevitable. Your greatest love will hurt you, and you will [hurt them] in turn as well. Be patient, understanding; give second chances and don’t let other people tell you how your heart should beat. —AJ
"Bones" was a ton of fun to write and record. It’s the first song on the record that I [Adam] am really in the forefront vocally. Paul [Miner] and I got to do a lot of really fun vocal arrangements for this song, and it’s still one of my favorite songs that we’ve ever written. It’s a very important and personal song for me. When Austin came to me, and had the line, “Trees don’t grow straight, they branch out in a million different ways.” I immediately knew what the song was going to be about. I really liked that line, and felt like it was a callback of sorts to
Stay On the Outside, yet nicely displayed a more mature (I use that term loosely) side of what our music was becoming. "Bones" was a chance to get a lot of shit out in the open: my deepest emotions and fears, my religious beliefs (or lack thereof), and a small glimpse of my personal experiences, both internally and externally over the last 24 years. This song is my "Fuck You” to anyone who uses their ignorance and narrow-mindedness, their religious beliefs, or fear of progress as an excuse for their bigotry and hatred. Love who you love and know that you were born to be great, and nobody has the right to tell you that you weren’t. Live the life that makes you happiest, and the life that is the best possible life that you can live. Stand. —AB
["Winter Clothes"] is again one of those tracks that seemed so simple and straight forward, yet it was so scary because we hadn’t taken on such a structured pop song since maybe "Minutes" on our
12:57 EP. I always have these pop melodies in my head but never fare well putting them together. Luckily, we are a band filled with such different musicians and tastes that it seemed to just come to everyone individually as we pounded away at it. "Winter Clothes" came to be a lyrically heavy track for me, which is about another issue in my heart—the word “slut.” I knew a young lady who was well assured and confident about herself. She had lovers and I didn’t blame it on her. [She was] a modern woman well versed in confidence. I got to know her one night, to delve into her brain. I saw someone hurting and a little scared. I realized that we’re all this way, all scared of the status quo; even me. I have buried my pain in a lover’s temporary arms. Tragedy and hurt have led us all to desperate avenues, even dishonest ones. One night, I read a blog post that said “Slut Free” with a picture of brass knuckles underneath, and sadness overwhelmed me. The fact that someone could be so mislabeled and even be threatened with violence at the hands of judging characters. I imagined someone calling this girl that (and I’ve heard it been said behind her back). I imagined her eyes welling up with tears and how I had never put it into perspective. Damn the cruelty, damn the word "slut" and damn anyone who can’t see another person’s hurt. We’re all just trying to live, so what makes you any better? —AJ
This was an interesting song to get off the ground. The riff started with my [Austin] addiction to bands [like] Iron Chic, RVIVR and I Am the Avalanche. Straight punk-oriented riffs that were simple, yet had a gravity to them. Ryan enjoyed that seeing as how, on this record, I had forced him to do some weird stuff to compliment the weird riffs that I had written.
Dog Years was also the whole genesis of what was going through my head over the last year as I sat on this album. I watched all my friends buy houses and get pregnant. I felt a tinge of jealousy—I felt lonely. I remembered that time in 2011 when I accidently got turned around on a Texas turnpike at four in the morning. I was heading west, and the thought of just going home . . . getting a “real job,” enveloped me. I remember looking back on my life and how, at 25, I was surprised about where I’d gone. How I thought I’d be a teacher, already with kids and a loving wife. I laughed because I realized all those expectations were poisoning something important to me. I’m still making music I believe in and mean every word when I sing them. That’s valuable, because later in life, no part of this will be a regrettable. So I turned the van around. —AJ
When we're on tour, we have a tendency to jam random ideas before going into certain songs, and this was just one of those things that just kinda stuck. We built off of the pre-existing first-half of the song when we were home, and then decided that it had evolved into something that we were really excited about including on the record. We've never had the platform to include an instrumental track on a release, so this was a perfect way to slingshot into the mayhem that is "Braid," which itself is unlike any song that we've written before. —AJ & AB
This song was interesting because I loved the chord progression; it was weird and slow, yet strangely intense. We had gotten the song to a point where it was all but lacking vocals, and one day while Adam and I were driving, he says, “I hate 'Braid.'” We were playing with the idea for almost eight months, back and forth until we came to a decent working space with the vocals together. I don’t think either of us had ANY idea how cool the song would end up outside of our heads. This songs premise is based on the independent video game entitled . . . you guessed it “Braid.” I don’t normally just outright make a song based upon a single subject, but ‘Braid’ was just this experience that spoke so much to me. It’s a game about an idea and the pursuit of it; the mistakes we make on the way, and how sometimes narcissism won’t let us let go of something we didn’t quite reach. It’s told through the pursuit of a princess who you thought you were saving, but truly your search was just you chasing her, and you are a villain by mistake. There are also some hidden concepts in the game, but I don’t want to spoil all of it. I recommend you buy it and let it blow your minds. —AJ
"Live like Roark"
We originally wrote this song at the end of 2010 or early 2011 to go on
Stay On the Outside. We all thought it was an amazing song, but just couldn’t ever get it to a point where we were happy including it on a record. When we were getting
Dog Years to its full potential, it just kind of came back up and we realized now was the time to get it done. This song is about our modern age and how we can’t seem to stop cutting each other’s throats. Banks took my mother’s house like she didn’t hold down multiple jobs her entire life to protect and feed me. The world is overflowing with fear, and unless we start meeting each other in the middle again, being kind and working hard as a whole, we’re going to eventually be killing each other in the streets. I’m scared, but I’m willing to do what I can to bring people who are less fortunate than me hope and a future. We’re all decent human beings at our core. Don’t let some cruel world tell you to be a bloodsucker. —AJ
The decision to re-record "Glassell St." came with a huge weight to us. We have noticed a huge reaction to "Glassell" when we went places and played over the last two years. We were hesitant though because we felt like maybe keeping old—old and new—new would be better for us as we moved forward. Still, we talked and talked and decided that the song still rang true to us. It had heart and meaning even now. We also decided not to alter it too much, save for blow it up powerwise and touch on some of the small things we wanted to. The message is simple in "Glassell": Don’t use music as a weapon, and do your best to be honest with your heart. —AJ
"No Bridge Back"
["No Bridge Back"] is a touchy subject with Adam and I [Austin]. It’s a song about the perils of the universe and how some people cope with it. This song touches on what I’ve been fighting with my whole life and that is depression and suicidal-thoughts. I will not lie; I’m a very privileged guy. I have people fighting for me and wanting me to win, and even with this, I will lose hope. I’ll fall into the depths and find almost no way out. I have contemplated suicide before, and I’ve even come close to the edge of it. It’s terrifying to feel hurt about the gravity of the world around us and not know how to cope. People will offer useless platitudes about how others have it worse and that you should be grateful, about how they “understand.” Still, in this world, how you cope will always be up too YOU. I know that you’re all scared, and I won’t fake to know what your pain is. I do know that you can find ways to move forward. That at the end of the pain, there is a way to move on. Go ahead and hurt, you’ve earned the right, but know that I will listen, not wait to speak. If you ever feel alone and want to talk, please email me: folkaustin(at)gmail.com. —AJ
I think that the lead in the chorus is so dope, and it’s all thanks to Adam for finding it hidden in some terrible shit that I was writing. One night, we sat down on the floor of Adam’s basement, guitars in hand, and about an hour later, we had roughed out what would become one of my favorite songs on the record. This song is for the first person I ever loved. We said goodbye to each other with some of that love in tact. I watched her grow up and make mistakes, the same mistakes that I was making. This song is about how that’s ok. We’ll both fuck up and let ourselves live with that, and someday in the future I’ll have grown and you will have grown and we’ll have coffee and laugh. Tragedy + Time = Comedy. I’ll always believe in you, and I’ll see you on the other side some day. —AJ
Epic sauce! I love big riffs and this song is one of those times we went with a huge riff and a huge chorus. It’s so simple yet so effective. There is a life lesson in there somehow? "Breathing Fire" is for you all, though it’s a promise that I’ll try not to spill the same dredge album after album. I’ll try not to pander and I’ll try to touch on something more than those moments you’re told about all the time. If I act like a hypocrite and do, I’ll try to make it more about the emotions of it than just the situation itself. Also, it’s about following your dreams . . . cheesy right? But it’s true. Don’t tear it all apart before you build something important. Be confident and heartfelt and it will make anything you do worth it. —AJ
"Small Town Blues"
This was the last song we wrote for
Dog Years. It kind of just came out of the blue one night in September when Adam and I [Austin] were hanging out. Lyrics and all, it’s just bled from us like and severed arterial vein (metal, right?). When we came back to Paul with it, he listened to it and for the first time ever just said, “Dope. Let’s record that bitch.” We were all like “Yes.” Small Town Blues is a song that is a testament to love and fear. I fell for someone who was hurt so badly from a relationship of seven years falling apart that she lost all confidence in love. I guess what’s so special about love is that you need some blind faith in it to find it. It is about how running sometimes keeps you from something true. When you kiss someone, and look into his or her eyes and say, “I love you,” hold that dear. Give that person faith in something that is real in the realm of life. Faith that something can mean more than you or the bullshit you’ve been through. —AJ
Our Final Thoughts
'Dog Years' is an album that is obviously steeped in the negative. We’re rather negative people I guess—that at least is a truth I need to have out there. We in no way feel that way about all things, but this last year has been a rough one. We know that what we do is truly great: We travel the world with our friends doing the most fun thing that we could ever do . . . and occasionally, people pay us for it! We look no gift horse in the mouth. Yet this comes with so much sacrifice.
'Dog Years' is intentionally a dark album, a fact that we came to accept as we jumped the hurdles in front of us a collective group. Three years ago, we were able to find a partner and friend in Paul Miner, and he has helped us make those emotions true without getting totally lost in them. Without him, this record would not exist, and we couldn’t be more grateful for him, so thank you, Paul.
Ultimately we want to tell you that life fucking sucks, but that’s everyone’s problem with it, soooo . . . Amongst all of the shit, you need to search for the little bits of joy that YOU FUCKING DESERVE. Back up your friends and loved ones who treat you the same. Love and try your damn best to be happy. Thank you, all.