There’s a long-running paradox in punk—speaking in the broadest possible sense of the word—wherein the genre is obsessed with both breaking and conforming to rules. Deviate from stylistic norms too much and be chastised for selling out or lacking purity; stick to the book too closely and risk accusations of being derivative. The line between each end is thin, but when bands ignore expectations, embrace growth, and follow their own creative will, it often results in records that make a longer-lasting impact than if they’d played it safe.
Imagine where Refused or At The Drive-In would be if they only colored inside the lines.
It would be hyperbolic to predict which record will become the next Shape of Punk To Come or Relationship of Command, but while the indie post-hardcore five-piece Typesetter share little in common with those bands sonically, they do demonstrate a similar desire to grow from their gruff punk rock roots, introducing layered textures and melodies to create a sound that owes as much to Hot Water Music as it does The National—a key influence. That restless dissatisfaction with the status quo becomes apparent when one tracks the trajectory from the Chicago-based band’s early EPs to their sophomore full-length, Nothing Blues, released Oct. 26, 2018 on 6131 Records.
“When we started the band, we were not trying to be a straightforward punk band,” vocalist and guitarist Marc Bannes says. “It just kind of came out that way. From day one, at least for me personally, it was just always about trying to write really interesting songs. The things that I find interesting have changed a little bit from five or six years ago, but the end goal is the same.”
If there’s one word that best summarizes Typesetter—rounded out by bassist Alex Palermo, guitarist Kyle McDonald, keyboardist and trumpetist Sarah Bogosh, and drummer Matt Gonzalez—on Nothing Blues, “maturity” might be it. Written over the course of a few years following the release of their 2014 debut full-length, Wild’s End, the record pushes past punk’s narrow confines and reaches into more lush territory with complex melodies and massive chorus hooks.
By the time country-influenced singer-songwriter Lydia Loveless puts her subtle guest vocal touches on “Technicolor” midway through the record, it’s clear the band have naturally settled into a more mature sound—one that’s true to their roots yet reaches toward new ground.
Amongst all this change, Nothing Blues also sees Typesetter settling into a new home on 6131 after releasing their previous work on Black Numbers. There, they’ll join a suitably diverse roster that has expanded from its own roots in hardcore to help launch the careers of rising stars like Julien Baker and Culture Abuse. As with everything else the band do, it’s a relationship that came about organically.
“We drummed up a conversation, and it just ended up working out,” Palermo says. “All the stars aligned, and they’re really great people.”
Fittingly, the record’s lyrics also center on themes of personal reinvention and taking the necessary steps to push past struggles with depression and anxiety. After suppressing those feelings throughout his 20s, Bannes’ lyrics document his ongoing journey through his 30s toward better mental health, confronting personal demons rather than burying them. While he says there was no specific agenda set prior to writing for Nothing Blues, the results are as personal as they are relatable, shining a light through the darkness rather than dwelling in its futility.
“I want people to come out of the other side thinking there’s nothing wrong about addressing the way that you feel. If you feel that something’s wrong, that’s not admitting defeat,” Bannes says. “It’s a positive step to take in your life to take responsibility for your thoughts and your emotions—even the really negative things in your life.”
02/13 – Detroit, MI – The Sanctuary
02/14 – Pittsburgh, PA – Howlers
02/15 – Jersey City, NJ – FM bar *
02/16 – Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie *
02/17 – Brooklyn, NY – Kingsland *
02/19 – Allston, MA – O’Briens
02/20 – Baltimore, MD – The Sidebar
02/21 – Richmond, VA – Banditos ^
02/22 – Chapel Hill, NC – The Cave ^
02/23 – Charlotte, NC – Lunchbox Records ^
02/24 – Greensboro, NC – Boxcar ^
02/26 – Lexington, KY – Green Lantern
02/27 – Indianapolis, IN – Melody Inn
02/28 – Lansing, MI – Macs Bar
03/01 – Milwaukee, WI – Cactus Club
03/02 – Minneapolis, MN – Mortimers
03/08 – St.Louis, MO – Firebird
03/09 – Oklahoma City, OK – Blue Note
03/10 – Denton, TX – Backyard on Bell
03/13 – Austin, TX – Love Goat
05/24 – Bristol, United Kingdom – Booze Cruise
06/08 – Hamburg, Germany – Booze Cruise
* with Well Wisher
^ with Late Bloomer
Top photo by Sam Porter