Combining three-chord punk rock with ska and just a dash of country to create a unique sound all their own, Left Alone has used their DIY ethos to move up the ranks from backyard band to Hellcat Records staple. The Wilmington-based three-piece is now set to release their third full-length studio album April 7.
After being welcomed into the Hellcat family in 2005, the group released their debut full-length, the ska-punk classic "Lonely Starts and Broken Hearts", then followed it up with their diverse sophomore LP "Dead American Radio". Sights set on a more cohesive third album, the band began working on and practicing the first incarnations of what would become the self-titled effort, then time off from their touring and rehearsing schedule.
"The band had been touring constantly, but after our January tour we took a long break, which is something I've never gotten to do before," says front man and founder Elvis Cortez.
Cortez occupied his time off with a stint filling in on bass for several Unseen tours, after which he looked at the songs with fresh eyes, helping the direction of the album come together before ever entering the studio.
"I got to come home and start putting things together, and wrote all these songs specifically for this album. I didn't want to rehash old songs, or play songs we've been playing forever. I wanted music for the moment."
The time away worked towards the band's advantage and helped make the record the most cohesive group of songs to date. While Dead American Radio offered fans a large variety of styles to choose from, the latest effort has meshed into one polished and progressive sound, with personal lyrics and a commitment to give the fans something to salivate over, and silence the critics they care so little about.
The break from touring also gave Cortez time to finalize the new lineup, adding Kiel Gesicki on drums and Nick Danger on bass, tightening up the group's sound.
The first single off the record, "3 Bottles of Wine", represents the new dynamic of the group and the album, with an addictive sing along chorus, still in the tradition of the band's previous fan favorites but on a new, higher level.
Fans of Left Alone's distinct ska sound need not fear, the band hasn't forgotten their old signature and features it on the made-for-skanking romp "Sad Story", dealing with true life events living within the confines of gang-infested Wilmington.
Radically changing the personal tones of the album is the politically charged "Bombs Away", dealing with the rampant destabilization of Western civilization. The song is a stark departure for Cortez lyrically, and deals with subject matter usually non-existent for Left Alone.
"The album to me sounds like one full project, each song compliments the others," summarizes Cortez. "I feel like these are the best I've written and have the best production value, and a lot of that comes from going and living in the studio."
The group left Wilmington for almost a month to head to a studio in Fontana, a rural town in the Inland Empire, with limited distractions and a complete focus on recording the album with the same audio engineer who worked with the band on Dead American Radio.
With solid months of touring lined up, and their new album slated for a March release, the band shows no signs of slowing down or letting grass grow under their TUK-clad feet. Left Alone has always walked the road less traveled by, and without a doubt, it's a road with no end in sight.