The Austerity Program have been at it since 1997, according to their timeline provided with their latest onslaught of an offering, entitled “Bible Songs 1”. The duo had their release show for the album, out June 14th on the band owned Controlled Burn Records label. Accompanying them on their release show were former Hydrahead labelmates back in the day, Dalek. They’re also poised to go on tour with Aaron Turner’s new project, SUMAC, in Europe this Summer.
With such great company, and such an intense aesthetic, I hope the best for the band’s future as a longtime listener. It was a great relief to hear of this new release back in December via their website.
It was such exciting news, that I just had to reach out to the band through their Instagram and gush over the fact there was a new record to them directly. They kindly thanked me, and I, noticing a dialogue forming between myself and whoever ran the IG page, asked if I could possibly get an interview about the new record coming out, and just general questions I’ve personally had about the band.
Thad was kind enough to pass word to Justin, the bands’ frontman/singer guitarist, and Justin was surprisingly willing to answer my questions.
We’d like to thank Austerity Program for taking the time to talk with us, because God knows they didn’t have to. They seem to understand that word of mouth is almost all there is for Rock music nowadays, and I respect that about them tremendously, and hope that you take something from this interview, and maybe, just maybe, look up some of the bands’ work to check out via Spotify, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Youtube, etc. etc.
null void: Do you take lyrics very seriously in your writing process? Any concepts or feelings in particular that you maybe take an extra step or two to convey? (Such as nature in song 33 or characters lives’ being explained, are there certain maybe ‘formulas’ or writing tools you enjoy utilizing?)
Austerity Program: Lyrics should compliment and live inside the music. When they’re done right, the impact of well-chosen lyrics creates a better expression. But because they’re a part of music, some things make lyrics work differently than words written on paper – the sound the words make, the rhythm of the phrasing, whether or not to rhyme, using repetition.
For the Austerity Program – when we can nail what we’re trying to do – the music conveys a particular set of emotions: violence, aggression, desperation, power. So I’m compelled to write lyrics that hang around in similar areas.
I realized a little while ago that a lot of our songs end up being about people (or things, but usually people) trying to come to terms with things that are beyond their control. That feels like a durable theme for us and it sits well within the music.
Is it as cool as one would think being in Austerity Program? Do you still find joy in touring and meeting people in the different music scenes you get to play in?
I don’t know how cool it is. We do very little of the things that more active bands do; we don’t play very many shows, we release music at a snail’s pace, we can go for a month of two without practicing.
But we get to be a part of a music community that is meaningful to us, we can engage in this band-project to do whatever we want without having to answer to anyone for it and we get to make our favorite music. So all of that is pretty cool.
And we’re both very good friends and the band has helped to keep our friendship together for a long time.
Why are you sad? Or, what makes you sad?
I’m not really sad.
Are there any particular things you do to maybe make living less harsh of an experience/hard on your mind and body?
It’s hard to say. I don’t really look at the world that way. I am mostly grateful for all of the fortune and good luck I’ve happened to have. There are a lot of people who have to deal with much tougher struggles than I do.
Are the characters often depicted in your lyrics started in a fictional state or do you perhaps write in a stream of consciousness state to look back and find that aspects of their lives are mirroring your own life (or experiences)?
I don’t know that either of those approaches describes how I write lyrics. In the past, the lyrics have usually come from a phrase or vocal sound that works inside the music. After playing with that for a bit, the sounds of the vocals begin to suggest actual words and I can begin to build a theme out of that.
The next record was approached differently, with a specific source material for all six songs.
What part of life do you find most unsettling(/unnecessarily difficult)?
What is most rewarding about being in an established/seasoned band such as your own? (less hard touring, easier to find a distributor for albums, etc?
Being more confident in more aspects of being in a band. I feel assured that we can write songs that satisfy our creative interests, have enough of an audience that some people will be interested in what we are trying to do, connect with other bands and musicians who are a part of the community that we like. I’m extremely grateful for all of the meaning I’ve been able to draw from the world of music in my life and it’s very gratifying to participate in that as a giver (as well as a taker).
There are also things that continue to be difficult about being in a band and I wish that weren’t the case – booking shows can be a pain, navigating the noise of promotion and just getting the word out, some other aspects. But that stuff is more than offset by the good things that we’ve been fortunate enough to have come our way.
And it is really nice to be in a band that I like with one of my best friends.
Are there any creative outlets associated with you two that people may not be aware of? (like that album you were going to make with basses just droning off after being strapped down and hit? I remember reading about it on the website with very vague information on its release. havent seen it tho, nor looked that hard tho, if im being honest)
I’ve released an EP as J Foley that’s songs constructed out of tape loops and loud droning guitar. That’s a really compelling project for me and I’m going to stick with it, even though I suspect the audience for it is limited.
What is something you wish you could attract more attention to in terms of art or music, even writing or any other activity one might not think to do regularly?
I am really just an audience member of all the music, books, etc. that I enjoy; I’m not the apostle of anything. Are you looking for music or book recommendations?
FIND MORE OF AUSTERITY PROGRAM
BIBLE SONGS 1 is available on Vinyl and Digital Platforms June 14th, 2019. 6 songs about the Old Testament and some of the good ol’ times, mixed in with a whole lotta the bad…
Support the band and check it out <3