"We're Modern Life Is War from Marshalltown, Iowa!"
So begins every gig played by this band. This is the signal that initiates a stage invasion and subsequent mass crowd surfing - with hyped-up fans hurling themselves over the heads of others and seemingly unconcerned over the consequences should that body of fans in the audience suddenly part like the Red Sea once Moses appeared on the shore!
Modern Life Is War (MLIW) were formed in 2002 - the band split in 2008, and then reformed in 2012. Their music is best defined as hardcore punk. I first came across their music whilst searching for Ramones songs: I stumbled upon what is possibly their most 'commercial' track, 'D.E.A.D. R.A.M.O.N.E.S.' Whilst lyrics of Ramones songs may literally be written on the back of a fag packet, the lyrics to many MLIW songs are mini epics (if that's not an oxymoron!). But don't expect anything too uplifting - the songs are all too often about adolescent despair and suicidal tendencies - possibly related to everyday life in a poor, industrial town in Iowa.
The recording quality on their four albums is not what I recognise as 'hi-fi'. The band's trademark sound is marked by Jeff Eaton's ferocious, and sometimes frightening vocal delivery. The two guitarists don't take traditional solos, instead they blast through chord progressions and allow their guitars to feed back beautifully through their Marshalls, whilst the rhythm section anchors the whole band and keeps them from screaming off into the stratosphere.
- From 'My Love My Way' - First and Ellen/Momentum
- From 'Witness' - Outsiders/DEAD RAMONES
- From 'Midnight In America' - Stagger Lee/Big City Dream
- From 'Fever Hunting' - Chasing My Tail/Blind Are Breeding
This band is definitely not for everyone. The music is raw, it's powerful, it takes no prisoners.
I love 'em to bits!
Please click HERE to explore the entire Tony Besgrove archive