The ‘Gum Drop XLVII: Hear New XYZ Affair, Win An Epiphone Electric Guitar

The XYZ Affair found their way onto our radar with a slime-filled Nickelodeon-packed “All My Friends” video. The Brooklyn band’s new Trials EP includes standout “Evening Life,” a song that caught our attention before its video clip was even completed. This week’s Drop featured the T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, and Minor Threat-referencing anthem. You can take a listen to it here. We asked frontman Alex Feder about the song’s depiction of the poetry of youth culture. He went in depth, so we weren’t able to print all of his “Evening Life” thoughts in the Drop, but check it out in full now:

Take it away, Alex:

“Evening Life” is meant to poke fun at the lasting effects that being straight edge as a teenager have had on my social life as I’ve gotten older. Maybe I watched too many episodes of “Behind The Music” as a kid, but for some reason the whole straight edge concept resonated very strongly with me when I was younger. It’s pretty hard to remain straight edge through college, considering that EVERYBODY parties. But somehow the ideas behind it became so deeply ingrained in me that I could not shake a general discomfort with drinking, partying, etc, even long after I’d given up writing X’s on my hands. It’s resulted in some pretty funny social habits, so I decided to create a character that is the more extreme version of myself and write a loving and comic tribute to Minor Threat.

The song is set up in a sort of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”-esque fashion: the narrator is looking back on his young social life, lamenting the negative effect that being a straight edge has caused. Summer parties are the ultimate in good timey-ness, and even then he’s always looking for a way to stay home (in this case, he is assuming that everybody else will be having such a good time and will be so intoxicated that they won’t even notice his absence). Throughout the song he’s attempting to assign the blame for his awkwardness on everybody else. He quotes “The Emperor of Ice Cream” in an attempt to discredit youth culture on a whole as being silly and vacuous. He quotes “Prufrock” first as a way to again criticize everybody else, then again to state his old-soul feelings of isolation (combined with Minor Threat, “I grow old, I grow old, I’m out of step with the world”). The quotes are intentionally pretentious, because they are meant to be dishonest: much as he hates to admit it, the narrator is fully aware that his inability to enjoy himself is his own fault.

At the end of the day he always comes back to the ringing words of Minor Threat that he can’t let go of (we sing, “I’m a person just like you, I’ve got better things to do” from “Straight Edge” as a Kidz Bop-esque sing along). In the last verse, he comes back and listens to the re-recording of “Out of Step” that Minor Threat did and for the first time notices the spoken section in which Ian says “Listen, these are not a set of rules, I’m not trying to tell you what to do.” All along he’s been living by a creed that was never meant to be a creed at all!

Despite that sudden realization, he knows that the beliefs have been so deeply ingrained in him that he’ll be stuck with them forever. He jokes that he’ll be “out of step” forever, unless by some miracle everybody else adopts his way of life. At the close of the song, in a final admission of defeat, he takes the “Straight Edge” quote and turns it around, “I’m a person just like you, I’ve got nothing else to do.”

This description makes it sound way more serious than it’s intended to be. The whole song is meant to be a joke about how absurd it is that I continue to be plagued by a mantra that I adopted as a 15 year old!

Stream the rest of the Trials EP here.

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We also offered one winner the chance to take home a red Epiphone G-400-SG electric guitar, courtesy of Scars On Broadway. This is what it looks like:

You can learn more about it here. Speaking of knowledge gathering, maybe you can learn a Scars On Broadway song or two. The band’s the new collaboration between System Of A Down’s Daron Malakian and John Dolmayan. They mention Iggy Pop, David Bowie, and Neil Young as influences on the new material, opened for Metallica last month and have a debut out 7/29 on Interscope. Here’s the album cover:

Take a listen. Visit their official site. Practice. The winner gets the guitar and a copy of Scars On Broadway’s self-titled debut. Enter now, if you haven’t. There’s also still time to win the Def Jux shopping spree. Do that here.

CONTEST ENDS 08/06/08 AT 12PM EST.