For many Americans, the work felt like it was done after Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in the 2020 election. For Los Angeles punks the SP’s, this is no time to rest on our laurels. Their new song and video for “Rise/Fall,” which we’re premiering today, is about just that.
The song opens with a jilted version of the “Star Spangled Banner,” before a burbling bass line from James Holland enters the mix. Steve LaBate’s guitars on “Rise/Fall” are treble-y, mixing punk, garage and psych sensabilities. Vocalist Steve Albertson has a snotty, nasally vocal tone with a bit of a quiver in his delivery.
While the band obviously takes influence from groups like the Dead Boys, Dead Kennedys and The Clash, a modern reference is The Coathangers. The guitars move from sharp stabs to a slinky lead riff, while in the verses the backing vocalists chime in with “Rise and fall!” between Albertson’s lines. Lyrically the song is very political, with references to American Imperialism and proxy wars. But unlike a great deal of political punk, which is well meaning but often sloganeering and cringeworthy, SP’s don’t come off as preachy.
“We wrote “Rise/Fall” during the Trump years, but its anti-war, anti-colonialist sentiment is just as relevant in this new Biden era as it has been for the histories of the U.S. and its allies,” said Albertson. “We’re still locked in the conflict in Iraq, and have been for nearly two decades. We’re still bombing targets in Syria as their decade-long civil war has no end in sight, and continues to be the center of a proxy war involving the U.S., Russia, Iran & Turkey. And through all of these wars, it’s the civilian population that suffers most. For these conflicts to continue, there needs to be a steady stream of propaganda to keep us passive and the soldiers fighting. I just rewatched Stanley Kubrick’s classic anti-war film, Full Metal Jacket, and I’ve never been more disturbed by the way he portrays the indoctrination of new soldiers. They’re intentionally stripped of their personhood to become heartless killers in the name of a war that really doesn’t have anything to do with them. “Rise/Fall” is a battle cry about how the dominance of the world’s nations will ebb and flow as they endlessly vie for power, always at the expense of the common people.”
The video features the four band members, which also includes drummer Allen Kronenberger, performing on a bizarre futuristic boat, sailing across a brightly lit, endlessly churning sea. The band worked with the Bazz Bros. on the CGI-based video.
“We were thrilled to work with the Bazz Bros. on “Rise/Fall” – they brought a satirical, nautical theme to the video,” said Albertson. “We’re on a makeshift battle raft on an angry sea, constantly riding these massive waves up and down while traversing a post-apocalyptic seascape with bodies falling from the sky and bullets whizzing past as we encounter an island that looks like a giant skull and another with hundreds of eyes watching us, only to be devoured in the end by a massive whirlpool. There are tons of metaphors built in, but the visual spectacle alone carries the video. It was a privilege to work with such talented filmmakers as Nick and Yann Bazz.”
“Rise/Fall” is my kind of rebel song — fun, bold, explosive, provocative,” said Nick Bazz. “Political yes, but not preachy or whiny. It’s full of that humorous and adventurous spirit I’m always after as a filmmaker. I immediately knew that I wanted to show the four of them spitting their words and sounds into the face of neverending tsunamis of institutionalized crimes, but with panache, humor, a tad of gore and a lot of color! No more of those soulless, spineless, desaturated music videos from a soulless, spineless, desaturated era. I want people to embrace the joyful, splashful rebellion of the “Rise/Fall” video that we created!”
“Rise/Fall” will be released on the band’s new EP Rise/Fall, which is out now on Baby Robot Records. It was recorded in LA at Prtia Street Studio in Echo Park with engineer Dylan Ely.