“I think early on as a band, we were trying to be one thing - a punk and ska band,” says Glenn Stewart, drummer for Clearwater, FL’s punk band VICTIMS OF CIRCUMSTANCE (VOC). “When it came time to write the fifth album, we didn't want to do that. There wasn't any specific direction. In the end, we all feel like we've achieved a bigger, more mature sound that still has that great VOC flavor.”
“Our sound has evolved over the years and we’re drifting more into becoming a band that just plays kickass music with ska elements,” adds saxophonist Jay Atheney. “This new album definitely sounds like us, but we didn’t set out to ‘make a ska album’ and I think that shows.”
Their fifth album, appropriately titled FIVE (release date: January 24, 2020 via Financial Records), straddles the lines of the American punk paradigm. From ska to reggae to punk pop to swing and even pop rock, FIVE traipses through each of the genres seamlessly and effortlessly, while tackling such topics as missed opportunities (“Aggravated”, “Enemy”, “Never Have I Ever”, “Quit Looking for the Win”), the pros and cons of alcohol (“Sober”, “Tonight We’re Getting Loud”), and death (“The Edge”, “Roll the Dice”). These reflections on life and where it leads us has been something the band often ruminates about, and this album is no different.
“Over the years, many songs that we’ve written have centered around personal responsibility and taking control of your own destiny… taking action,” says vocalist/guitarist Mike Smyth. “For example, the song ‘Sober’ is about an alcoholic who has met someone new in his life that gives him hope that he can get sober. He’s led a fairly self-destructive lifestyle up to this point and now he thinks he’s found a tool to help him change. There’s a crucial line: 'I’ve never had a thing to lose / I’ve never had another point of view.' So what happens if that person is no longer in his life?”
Heavy topics and regretful nostalgia isn’t all the band is about. A throwback to the classic ska sound of VOC, “Tonight We’re Getting Loud” is an age-old tale of working class people looking forward to the weekend when they can unwind with friends and adult beverages. “This song is a perfect example of what VOC was built on,” says Glenn. “Two and a half minutes of upbeat punk and ska with big horns and a sing along chorus. Every layer of this song can practically stand on its own."
Founded in 2005 in Clearwater, FL, Victims of Circumstance built a name for themselves by blending pop hooks and ska in a fashion that had alternative and punk mags raving. Having cut their teeth touring with Less Than Jake, Big D & the Kids Table, The Pietasters, The Aquabats, Mustard Plug, Whole Wheat Bread, The Toasters and many, many others, the band’s biggest early supporters have been The Mighty Mighty Bosstones whose saxophonist Tim "Johnny Vegas" Burton produced their first full-length album in 2007, Do It Yourself and Steve Foote of Big D and the Kids Table who produced their 2009 second album, Roll the Dice.
Now on their fifth album, VOC may be getting older but that’s not stopping them. “In fact, we’re doing an album release show in historic Ybor City in Tampa on November 9,” says Glenn. "While our album won't actually be released until January 2020, you may want to get a jump on everyone else and hear all the new stuff, better come to the show,"says Glenn. "We will continue to play a lot of shows around the southeast and any other clubs smart enough to book us!! We've toured the UK and Europe on three separate occasions over the years and hope to return there in 2020 as part of our bands 15 year anniversary.”
- Tonight We're Getting Loud
- The X
- Obey the Rules
- Quit Looking for the Win (Vinnie Owes Us a Solid)
- Never Have I Ever
- Roll The Dice
- The Edge
- Ready to Go