Let’s find the fears that we’ve collected
Reject the brutes we’ve seen elected
Protect those who need be protected
Accept the truths that we’ve neglected
These lines come from a poem by Andrew Savage of Parquet Courts. James Vinciguerra, drummer for the adventurously shifty Australian punk band Total Control, sent them to his California-based friend Jeremy Stith on New Year’s Day after hearing it recited. And were it not for that gesture, Stith’s band, Orange County’s sleekly brutal Fury, wouldn’t have made a second album.
“The poem was the spark for the whole record,” the Fury vocalist says of May’s Failed Entertainment. “We were gonna break up after the last one. Say our goodbyes and call it a day. But I got that poem from a friend, and I told [guitarist Madison Woodward], ‘I think I’ve got more to say.’ And luckily, he felt the same way. And every time I showed that poem to somebody, they would have the same reaction that I had.”
The poem appears on the new LP as the second-to-last track, “New Year’s Eve,” recited in pieces by a crowd of mixed-gender voices. It’s a crucial signifier that Stith’s throatily barked political frustrations and internal anxieties, while viscerally personal, are intended for communion.
“It’s just sharing something that you love and something that really makes you really feel like you’re alive,” he says of including the poem and having a bunch of friends say the words. “It just felt like the obvious choice to have as many people that were connected to the words and love the poem to do it.”
Helped in the studio by Savage and mixing engineer Jack Endino (Nirvana, Soundgarden), Failed Entertainment presents Fury with clean volatility, placing no filter between the listener and the hardcore band’s limber but burly riffs and concussive rhythms — and the roiling emotions they project. It’s the latter aspect that Stith taps into with his lyrics.
“I love how Maddy writes. He’s my favorite songwriter,” the 27-year-old frontman offers. He and the guitarist have known each other since puberty, though Woodward was three years ahead of him in school.
“It’s like a lot of the work is done for me,” Stith continues. “There’s so much emotion, and there’s so much atmosphere. It feels really fully formed, kind of like how a movie can give you a sense of a feeling in a subconscious way. It was easy to fit what I was going through. I think with each different song, it was a layup for me.”
This emotion fuels Fury’s thrilling duality. Stith’s words frequently get furiously political, expressing pointed consternation with the way the world is going. But he keeps the details vague, mingling these social concerns with the personal issues they can so often exacerbate.
Take the expert whiplash of “Vacation” and “America.” As the band grinds coarsely distorted gears through what could otherwise be a breezy bit of kinetic rock music, Stith rails about a “Vacation / Over too soon,” shocked out of relaxation by growing apprehension.
By contrast, the subsequent “America” sneers and stomps, with the singer tearing at his vocal cords, disgusted at the state of his country: “Innocence isn’t my America / Fabricated and struck from skies above / Now we find ourselves stuck standing in this place / Here we are again, the dance of days.”
For Stith, the dichotomy isn’t so much intentional as it just feels right. It’s a quality shared by the music and movies he connects with, so it seems like the best way to reach his audience.
“There’s just stuff that hits you right away when you encounter it, that you really feel connected to someone,” he explains. “And I think at the end of the day there’s got to be a reason for screaming my head off for 20 minutes every night and doing this. Normal people don’t scream every day. Or sane people. There has to be a reason to do all that. And I really think it’s that I want to not feel alone. I want to be connected with people.”
Is it enough to sustain the band through a third record? For now, Stith isn’t sure.
“That’s for tomorrow,” he says. “I feel good about today with what we got.”
Where: New Brookland Tavern, 122 State St.
When: Thursday, June 20, 7 p.m.
With: Magnitude (headlining), Diztort, Envision, Point of Contact
Price: $15 ($10 advance; all ages)
More: 803-791-4413, newbrooklandtavern.com