Among Criminals (Release Show)

Among Criminals

Four years ago, Among Criminals’ Ryan Gaughan had a wakeup call. The frontman, guitarist, and primary singer-songwriter for the punk alt-rock band found himself alone and cast out of a comfy existence. Close to being homeless, and doing any job to pay the bills, he quickly found the band was all he had. He put his everything into writing and recording a new album.

The Philadelphia trio’s latest, Kill The Precedent, is pissed and passionate. It documents a triumphant against-all-odds story, and is the first missive in a new fiery era for the politically charged band.

“You can hear a rebirth in this album,” Ryan reveals. “I realized I had to take control and put my entire being into my music. There was no safe backup plan. It was this band or nothing.”

Among Criminals threads together 1990s alt-rock, modern indie rock, punk rock, and Jamaican dub, ska, and reggae. It’s an adventurous aesthetic that conjures the fearless musicality of the Mars Volta and At The Drive In, Nirvana, and Manchester Orchestra. The band’s recordings are visceral and dynamic, and also subtly layered for a multi-dimensional “headphones experience.” The trio originally formed in 2008, but burned out after a grueling schedule of 250-300 shows a year that tested its sanity, creativity, and commitment.

The making of Kill The Precedent is something of an underdog Rock Balboa story dating back to 2014. At the time, Ryan worked over 60 hours a week slinging suds as a bartender, delivering pizza, driving for Uber, and even doing nude art modeling, among other sketchy ventures. He bounced back and forth between living in a van that kept getting broken into, and sleeping in a warehouse that necessitated he wear shoes and a winter coat each night to fend off the frigid temperature conditions. Any money made over basic bills, was used to fund Kill The Precedent —he had an unexplainable desire to finish the album.

During this time, Ryan reintroduced the band as a live entity, via three European tours and six West Coast tours. He even did a jaunt in Iceland as a solo artist. For this go around, he was unfazed by the grueling schedule, van breakdowns, and lean tour conditions, and he even found time to write and record Among Criminals’ quintessential album.

Kill The Precedent is a distillation of the Among Criminals sound down to its most potent essentials. The album’s vitriolic political message is the perfect torch-burning soundtrack for these charged times. Its immediacy is also a product of Ryan’s personal struggle to persevere despite his dim future.

The album opens with “Patience and Regret,” a raised fist of good times and good feelings with a soaring chorus and a concise and impactful punk presentation. An opening volley like this is a playful sequencing move, as, from here, the album delves into the personal and political with claws bared. Up next is “I Don’t Believe You,” a smash your TV punk anthem aimed at corporate media.

Other record highlights include “Solo Paradise,” “President,” and “Shine On.” The twistedly melodic “Solo Paradise” careens with unison vocal and guitar screeching melodies, and whiplash dynamics. The sweetly sinister “President” features laconic falsetto vocals and chill guitar accompaniment with the refrain “Kill your president.” As the track unfolds chaos and white noise blurts out the chilling refrain. The 8-song album concludes with “Shine On,” an anti war song with an impassioned earworm of a chorus. The song feels encouraging and optimistic with a sing along chorus, but it has critical overtones lending it a deeper resonance.

The album was tracked in the epicenter of Ryan’s world at Spice House Sound, in the heavy environs of Fishtown, Philadelphia. He tracked with producer and recording engineer Alex Santilli who he actually met randomly at a dive bar. The album was cut blood raw live in the studio with punk wunderkind Chuck Treece who has worked with Bad Brains, Underdog, Urge Overkill, and Pearl Jam on drums, and Bhauraw Avhad on bass. Bhauraw was a pivotal creative ally for Ryan in the relaunch of the band; he co-wrote tracks and helped flesh out arrangements.

Ryan is now on the other side of these dark times, and thinking back on his journey he says: “You have to fight to see the light on the other side. If I had not gone to those difficult places, and gone through went I’ve went through, I wouldn’t be able to go to where I’m headed. I hit bottom with no plan B, and now I’m not afraid of anything.”

Alright Junior is a raw, genuine, modern alt rock trio who has a desire to communicate their collective internal focus. Touring aggressively since 2006, Alright Junior is keen on constantly being on the go, as this band’s live show is what defines them. This musical endeavor has led Alright Junior to share the stage with Incubus, Cake, Circa Survive, Local H, Toadies, Flogging Molly, Civil Twilight, Maps & Atlases, Sponge, Our Lady Peace, Nick Oliveri of Queens of the Stone Age, 10 Years, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Young the Giant, The Ataris, The Head and The Heart, KONGOS, Bear Hands and more. The explosive, impulsive, and intense vocals of Jace Miller, mixed with the creative efficiency of Jamie Victor's bass/harmonies and Mike Fraclose's incendiary drumming, makes for an electric mixture of rock, with passionately haunting lyrics, infectious songwriting and stunning energy.

"Philadelphia's own Alright Junior has been one of my favorite locals for years now."
- Wendy Rollins, Assistant Program Director at Radio 104.5 WRFF

"Alright Junior...this is like Philadelphia's finest right here. It is such a treat getting to see these guys live. They're a talented band with HUGE stage presence. Not to mention they have addicting little songs, too."
- Jessie Sabella, On-Air Personality at Radio 104.5 WRFF

“They have endurance, no doubt, extolling their engendered appreciation for the last “good” era of rock music with all the spasmodic moves of an undomesticated bronco”
- Origivation Magazine (That Mag)

"I would describe Alright Junior as beautiful melodies, mixed with thought provoking lyrics, tied together by the threads of tangled guitars being dragged about by the rhythms of an incendiary drummer."
- Philly Rock Blog

“..Alright Junior is a must add to your collection."
- Campus Philly

“Alright Junior offer beautifully-arranged frenetic rock songs, doused with passion and finished off with a heavy dose of head thrashing. Lead singer Jace Miller is a born performer, and gestures frantically, grabs the microphone for dear life, and at one point even dives into the audience, almost knocking over an unsuspecting spectator. The entire band is all over the stage, thrashing harder than any band I’ve seen. I’m struck by the comparison of children on a Moonbounce.”

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