How do you recover from a PR stumble when your brand is built on living a life where you do not give a damn what others think? This questions has been pondered by many notable artists over the last century, and there have been dozens of paths taken in response. Some worked better than others, but only one tried and true method has worked for everyone who has dared to attempt it: Continue not giving a damn.
Upon A Burning Body is a party-friendly metalcore group from deep in the heart of Texas who have built a career on living life however they choose with complete disregard for authority and anyone who tries to tell you that you need to be anyone other than yourself. It’s the kind of message that hooks young people before they’re even old enough to consume alcohol and carries into adulthood, especially if those young people end up working jobs where they feel suppressed or otherwise unable to be themselves because of those above them. Upon A Burning Body create music that is, for lack of a better word, rebellious. It follows a very particular path that has been traveled by countless musicians before them, but they travel it well with hooks that won’t quit and a bone-crushingly heavy take on metal. If you are unfamiliar with the sound I am describing, give this a spin:
A year ago, Upon A Burning Body were preparing to release an album called The World Is My Enemy Now. Ahead of the lead single the group posted a message online claiming their vocalist had gone missing in the greater San Antonio area. Blogs and legitimate news outlets alike ran the story as fact, urging fans to try and help the group find their missing member, but an investigation from Alternative Press soon proved the story to be a false alarm. The band’s label claimed to have no knowledge of the event, and future promotion for the record was kept at an absolutely minimum. It’s a shame, too, because the album was actually pretty great.
When faced with such a devastating blow to one’s promotional plans, not to mention upsetting countless fans, many artists would rush to apologize and/or promise to be smarter with all future promotions. Some may even choose to grovel. Upon A Burning Body however, chose to remain silent. They stuck to what had always worked, the music, and they shied away from the spotlight while the remaining outrage dissipated into the forgotten archives of internet forums and Twitter feeds. It was a bold play, but one that ultimately allowed the band to continue living life by their own set of rules, which only further fueled their creativity.
This week, Upon A Burning Body return with Straight From The Barrio, their fourth studio album in six years. The release leans heavily on what has worked for the group in the past (songs about fighting the man, partying as hard as you can, and generally doing whatever you feel compelled to do while thanking God for the great state of Texas) to help introduce several new ideas that find them exploring hard rock outside the world of metalcore. There is even some material that might as well be considered a ballad for a band such as them, but it’s all channeled through the same ‘we do what we want when we want’ lens, and that is what makes it work.
I think most of us spend our days living life in a way that leaves us feeling slightly restrained. Most don’t do what they wish they did for work, and even those who do often end the business day feeling as they have fallen short of their goals. Others may be in relationships where they feel they must be a specific way in order to keep their partner happy, or maybe that is the case between you and your friends. Whatever it may be that causes you to be anything other than yourself is keeping you becoming the best possible version of the person you were meant to become.
What separates people like you and me from the members of Upon A Burning Body is that we lack the gull to force the world to recognize us for the people we choose to be. We try and figure out who the world feels we should be and fit that mold, but the members of Upon A Burning Body walked away from that trap years ago and never looked back. They may trip and fall from time to time, but at the end of the day they can say they did things their way and that is something we all seek in our lives.
James Shotwell is the Digital Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. He is also the Film Editor for Substream Magazine and a 10-year music writing veteran. You should follow him on Twitter.