Slated for a January 27, 2023 release through Fat Possum Records, Say I Won’t, Bass Drum of Death‘s highly-anticipated fifth album marks three major events for the punk outfit founded and fronted by John Barrett:
- Barrett relocated from New York, where he had been based for much of the band’s run together, back to his hometown of Oxford, MS. “Moving back to Oxford was a much-needed reset,” Barrett explains. “When I started, I just wanted to play in a punk band and drink beers and travel around. I didn’t really think much past that. And I got really burned out. When I moved back home, I started writing songs again, just for fun. I realized I wanted this record to have more of a hometown feel.”
- Say I Won’t is the first Bass Drum of Death album that sees Barrett writing, demoing and recording with the touring band, rather than Barrett doing everything completely on his own. Barrett discovered a newfound freedom working with collaborators that just wasn’t available to him before, which opened different aspects of the songwriting: a process that featured live recording, layering on different parts and overdubs and then stripping it all back to the bare bones, keeping the raw, wild heart of the music intact.
- The album also sees the band returning to their long-time label home Fat Possum, who released their full-length debut, 2011’s GB City. “The switch back to Fat Possum was easy,” Barrett says. “It’s much better working with people I know and love and love everything they do.”
Recorded with The Black Keys‘ Patrick Carney at Audio Eagle Records in Nashville, Say I Won’t is a groove-oriented effort batch of songs indebted to 70s rock songs with scuzzy power chords and cruising tempos. The album seems Barrett and company at their loosest, scuzziest and most tuneful while rooted in a hard-won maturity and swagger that comes from a decade of playing music on the road and surviving to tell the story. “I had to relearn that making music is fucking fun,” says Barrett, “and you should have fun doing it. If it’s miserable, what’s the point?” He laughs. “But man, when a song hits, it’s the best feeling in the world. That’s what this record is about. Getting back to that good place and staying there.”
“Head Change,” Say I Won’t‘s third and latest single is a mid-tempo, cruise-ready ripper centered around scuzzy, power chords and a forceful motorik-like groove that sounds indebted to Led Zeppelin and T. Rex. Play loudly on your car stereo and rock out hard, y’all! “We kind of wanted a mid-tempo psych stomper, and really didn’t change a whole lot from the demo,” Bass Drum of Death’s Barrett explains. “We added the dueling guitar bridge in the studio spur of the moment, and it ended up being one of my favorite parts on the whole record.”
Directed by Joshua Canon, the accompanying video for “Head Change” is fittingly indebted to 70s horror films: a motorcycle riding bad guy stalks the video’s two female protagonists. as they meet up and get a ride from two dudes they hang out with. The video follows the cues and tropes of horror movies, with the four friends drinking beers and bullshitting in a cemetery when our stalker makes their fearsome appearance. But the video has a bloody and ironic turn.