Loss is a heavy thing to title your debut EP. But heavy fits just right for Belly Up, a new trio out of Vermont blending shoegaze and punk in a swirling storm of sound. And “loss” is indeed the watchword on this powerful debut. As the final line of the first song puts it, “No matter what, my mind returns to death, and the grave can’t tear it away.”
“This record addresses loss in the context of death quite a bit,” says singer and drummer Ben Lau. “In January I lost my childhood best friend to suicide. So for me personally, ‘Loss’ has been a large part of the healing process and coping with Tanner’s death. So the title refers both to one specific loss, as well as loss in general as it pertains to death.”
The band takes sonic cues from My Bloody Valentine and Pixies, with a little post-punk shimmer peaking through the reverb. Just the right sound to get across songs with titles like “Dead,” “Safety Last,” and “You’ll Never Take Me Alive.” Although this last, the album’s standout, may actual be the least somber song on the record. It also has a good enough backstory that I’ll let Ben tell it:
It’s kind of funny, when I was describing the story behind ‘You’ll Never Take Me Alive’ for the New Noise premiere, I had to use quite a bit of tact because in actuality the song is about how much we hate New York City. That being said, New York holds a large group of people that we didn’t want to alienate right off the bat but honestly, I don’t mind sharing with you now.
I wrote the lyrics for that song on the drive home from a one-off show in Brooklyn last summer. While we had a great time playing that show, we could not WAIT to get out of the city the next day. Something about growing up in the woods of southern Vermont does not prepare you for the heat and filth of the city in the summer.
So that’s one part of it. The other part of the story is that in the summer of 2014, we played a house show in Plattsburgh. We had split into two cars and when we were about 200 yards from the house we were playing, I was pulled over by the NYSP for a “crooked license plate” – aka they saw a bunch of dudes in a car with music equipment and figured they’d see what kind of trouble they were getting into. Long story short, I was arrested for possession of some schedule 3 controlled substances. I went to court, gave them the $300 they wanted before they’d let me leave but never paid them the remaining $600 they wanted to clear my name. The title “You’ll Never Take Me Alive” was born of the fear that we’d be pulled over two years later while on our way to that one-off show in Brooklyn.
I’ve since found out that my name is clear in NY state. Apparently they thought better of trying to hunt me down for smoking a little pot.
Listen to the Loss EP below, then buy it on iTunes.