The Electric Lungs’ Tripp Kirby talks measuring success ahead of Friday’s album release show at Davey’s Uptown

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Don’t Be Ashamed of the Way You Were Made, the newest album from punk-rock band the Electric Lungs, gets very loud, very quickly. It’s not necessarily a jump from 2013’s Simplified & Civilized in terms of volume: There is still a palpable element of chaos that the Electric Lungs seems determined to foster, thanks in part to the dangerous speed of the guitar rhythms or lead singer Tripp Kirby’s manic sing-screaming.

But Don’t Be Ashamed of the Way You Were Made is further bolstered by keyboardist Jason Ulanet, who had only recently joined the band when Simplified & Civilized was being recorded. This time around, his presence is felt early on — giving the Electric Lungs a sound that becomes increasingly impossible to define. Songs are gruff and furious, but there’s a joyful hook and energy throughout this record — like the listener is holding hands with the devil for a jolly romp through hell. 

I chatted with Kirby about the new album ahead of the Electric Lungs’ album release show at Davey’s Uptown on Friday. 

The Pitch: Give me some details about this album. 

Kirby: We started writing songs for the album right around the time the last album came out and we’ve been working on it ever since. We went into the studio over a year ago, and we had to take little breaks to raise more funds to pay for recording time and stuff like that. A lot of the songs trickled out over the past three years, and over that time, we’ve changed a lot. When we wrote our first album, it was basically drums, bass and guitar. Our keyboard player wrote on top of that. This time, he was involved in the process, and that changed the way we sound, I think. I learned how to play the banjo, too, so a couple songs feature that. 

You guys combine a lot of styles. I mean, sometimes I feel like this is rockabilly, sometimes punk, sometimes it’s vaudevillian. It’s a true cacophony.
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Yeah. None of us have big expectations of being career rockstars, so we’re not worried about fitting into 
 nything. That’s not important to the band. One of the things that we wanted to do with this band is to never worry about picking one style, that way there’s no reason not to do something that you think would be fun to try. If we want to write a song that was more country-influenced, we’re not going to limit ourselves because we’re a certain type of band, or something like that.

I think people are interested in all types of music, and so it doesn’t seem unusual for one band to try and do a lot of styles if it fits. We’re not trying to hold one group’s attention or anything. Hopefully, everyone who listens to us can find something they like. We’re just having fun jumping around. All of us have different ideas of what we love in music.

It’s been two years since your last record. Were there any big changes, or was there anything from that period that informed Don’t Be Ashamed of the Way You Were Made?

Of course, we all went through different life changes. All the guys had stuff happen in that period that were difficult. The song “Time, Whiskey and the Lord” happened because someone in my family went through a really tough break-up, and she was trying to come to terms with it, and she kept talking about how it was “all part of God’s plan.” And I was like, “Well, take comfort in that if you want, but God never plans for some guy to be a dickhead.” So it was kind of like, “Take your comfort when you can, and move on.” There are little autbigoraphucal pieces throughout the album.
You mentioned not needing to be a rockstar — and I think when you’re a local band and you’re in that mindset of, “OK, we’re probably always going be local, not national, and that’s fine,” when you stop striving for fame or whatever, measuring success becomes difficult. It’s hard to know if you’re improving as time goes on. How do you measure success?

I think it’s just personal successes. Each song that gets finished, we really enjoy that. We like that sense of accomplishment, of listening to and being proud of ourselves when we do something different. It’s like a little victory. And then when you stick them together and make an album that you’re really proud of, front to back, it’s something that you feel like however many people get a hold of it — even if it’s not that many — if they enjoy it, it’s a personal victory. That’s the freedom that we exercise in our style and with our voices. We’re really only looking for our own personal victories at this point. It’s not a victory that’s measured by money or fame or stuff like that. And as long as there are some people listening, we’ll keep doing it. Probably if there wasn’t anyone, too. [Laughs.]

The Electric Lungs release Don’t Be Ashamed of the Way You Were Made on Friday, November 13 at Davey’s Uptown Rambler’s Club. Bone Spur, Haunted Creepies and Kodascope are also on the bill. Details here. Stream or download the album here

Categories: Music