On records like 2010’s Not Like This and 2013’s The Constant One, Long Island punk band Iron Chic came on like your best college bud on a Saturday night — loud, boisterous, and down to crush every beer can in sight. But on the forthcoming You Can’t Stay Here, due 10/13, the brawny combo is mired in the depths of an emotional crisis brought on by the death of former member Rob McAllister, who passed away suddenly in 2016 at the age of 36.
While the music on You Can’t Stay Here — all shout-along choruses and 10-ton power chords — is the catchiest and most accessible of Iron Chic’s career, the lyrics are unrelentingly dark, even grim, reflecting not just on McAllister’s death but also the end of a long-term relationship for singer Jason Lubrano. “I got an ocean of grief / just pouring down on me / it comes without warning,” he sings in “A Headache With Pictures,” which premieres today on Uproxx. These sentiments are indicative of the entire album, which plays out like an extended, deeply troubled riff on mortality and the meaning of loss.
Formed in 2008 and composed of members hovering in the vicinity of 40, Iron Chic belongs in the same class as similarly “mature” punk acts like Jeff Rosenstock, Pup, and The Menzingers, all of whom have recently put out albums that set meditations about aging and adult responsibility to uplifting rock music. The difference with Iron Chic is the relative lack of hope on You Can’t Stay Here — it sounds like the band members are still trying to reconcile fraught emotions as they’re playing the songs.
“I usually write pretty depressing lyrics, but I was like, ‘None of these songs really have that little uptick at the end,’ or whatever,” Lubrano admits. “I just kind of ran with it at that point. I was like, ‘I guess this is what we needed.'”
You talk about grief throughout You Can’t Stay Here. Do you feel like making this record made you feel any better?
I definitely do view writing as a cathartic experience, and I’d say that just getting it out does help put things into perspective a little bit. I don’t know if I could actually say exactly how it made me feel afterward, but it does lighten the load in some ways. Being in a band, and having it be something that you can do with other people, also helps, especially when some of that grief is a shared experience.
Rob left the band in 2015, not long before he died. Had you guys been in touch with him?
It’s actually kind of a regret that things had gotten a little weird right before that time. I think it was about six months between when he actually left the band and when he passed. Me and [guitarist Phil Douglas] kept trying to make plans to see him, because we didn’t want him to think that we were abandoning him as a friend just because we weren’t able to play together anymore. He had some issues that he was dealing with at the time, too. It just never happened.