Born Without Bones Still Have Plenty of ‘Muscle’
Initially formed as a solo endeavor for guitarist / vocalist Scott Ayotte, Milford, Mass., three-piece Born Without Bones have been steadily evolving for years. Now completed by guitarist Jonathan Brucato and bassist Jim Creighton, the band has put the finishing touches on their genre-bending third record, Young at the Bend, which will be released May 12 on Devil You Know Records.
Its 11 songs fluctuate between high-energy, punk-inspired rock and more gentle, country-tinged melancholy, but all paint a vivid portrait of growing up and leaving both youth and the past behind. “Muscle,” the first track taken from the new record, is very much one of the former, yet its raw, jagged spirit is countered by an old-school jangle that’s both catchy and cathartic in equal measure. We spoke to Ayotte about what inspired both this song and the album it belongs to.
Each track on this new album has quite a different sound. Why did you guys decided to focus on this one and release it?
“Muscle” was the first song we wrote after we released our second record, Baby, in 2013. We put that record out and started touring a little bit, and when we got home from the first tour, we immediately started writing again, and that was the first song we came up with that we thought was a keeper. Prior to recording it, we’d been playing it live and to friends, too, and people in Cleveland, for example, would ask us if we were going to play it. We were trying to nail down the vibe of it live and get it recorded so it matched on the record, which is something we’ve had a problem with in the past. We’d play a song one way and then record it a different way — this was the first one where we really tried to hammer the song down as a live band before we recorded it.
How different is it compared to the first version that you wrote?
When we first wrote it, it didn’t have a bridge. It was a really short song. The first batch of songs that we wrote for this new record were actually all pretty similar to “Muscle” in that they were very short, sweet, simply structured, punky rock songs. We were actually thinking, “Oh, our next record’s going to be really short,” because all these songs we were pumping out at the time were less than three minutes long, which is kind of a different thing — our band usually writes in the five-minute-plus range. I remember when we wrote it, our bass player said, “I can’t believe we wrote that song!” But it didn’t really strike me as different, for some reason. It was just another Born Without Bones song. It was a little more raw, initially, but we demoed it a couple of times, and we added a bridge and some backing vocals, some oohs and ahhs and vocal production, and I chose to sing more than on the initial demo, where I was more yelling and screaming.
Who are you addressing in this song? It seems pretty specific, as if it’s aimed at one person. Is that the case?
I’d say it’s aimed at a lot of people. Our first two records are all pretty relationship-y songs. There’s a lot of me just talking about relationships — romantic, as well as with friends and family — and there’s more of a longing and wanting to be relied on and wanting to be that special person for somebody. “Muscle” is kind of the flip side, where I don’t want to be that person. Now that I’m older, I’m finding that I want to be relied on less. While I’m singing each line of this song, I’m thinking of a different person, whether it’s my dad, or of former relationships, or friends that relied on me a lot when we were growing up and in my early 20s — it’s kind of a song about losing patience with people and feeling that you’re being relied too heavily on, and just not being willing to be that person for somebody as much as I had in the past. I think it comes from being burned!
So, did writing this song help relieve that burden somewhat?
Absolutely. I definitely said some small things in it that made me feel better about those situations, even in retrospect. It was definitely therapeutic, especially because it’s a fun song. Some of the lyrics in there are very personal to me, and I think I did a decent job of making them personal for me, but maybe not for the listener — so I can scream my head off and play this really fun song about some things I really don’t like to talk about. It feels like a healthy way to expel those demons.
You’ve been a band for about seven years, and Young at the Bend is your third record. Does it get easier as time goes on?
Making this record kind of felt like we were making our second record in a way — or what it traditionally feels like for a band to make a second record — because the first record, Say Hello, was kind of a personal greatest hits of mine over the course of four years. I played all the instruments on it and wrote all the songs, and it wasn’t really a band. It was just my little pet solo project. And then the guys joined the band in 2010 and we started writing Baby, our second record. I had written all those songs as well, but there was definitely a little more collaboration from Jim and Jonathan, who plays guitar. So, I think this new record is getting away a bit more from the singer-songwriter / solo vibe and moving towards a band that’s a lot more collaborative. This is the first record where I didn’t write all the music, and I think some of the guitar parts that really shine are Jonathan and not me. If anything, making this record was more fun than making the other two, because it was truly all of us with our brains turned on the whole time we were recording.
It’s been four years since Baby. What took so long? Was it just the cycle of life?
Partly the cycle of life, yes. It was a really eventful four years for all of us in our personal lives, but it was also a rethinking on how to just exist as a band. There were some growing pains in the past four years that were totally essential for us to go through to make this third record that we’re all really proud of and equally invested in.