Rancid's upcoming fourth album, Life Won't Wait (June 23),
will be a 22-song opus that will include not only the band's signature
blend of traditional punk and ska but also forays into rock steady and
rockabilly, according to band publicist Steve Martin.
Contrary to speculation, Martin said Life Won't Wait will not be a
reggae-heavy album, as was rumored after the California band recorded two
numbers in Jamaica last year.
"This is very much the next logical Rancid record," Martin said Wednesday.
"It's built on punk-rock anthem after punk-rock anthem, along with some
really uptempo ska. There are a couple of real departures, but very few."
Among the songs that Martin expects to turn heads immediately is the title
track, which features guitarists Tim Armstrong and Lars Frederiksen trading
vocals with dancehall great Buju Banton. "It's heavy, dark, old-school
ska," Martin said.
In addition, he pegged "Crane Fist" as the band's most challenging work to
date. The song offers Hammond B-3 organ and piano dueling over a rock-
steady tempo propelled by bassist Matt Freeman and drummer Brett Reed.
"Lady Liberty," on the other hand, is "outright rockabilly," according to Martin.
A number of the songs deal with working-class themes that Rancid have
explored on past albums, including their last collection, 1995's neo-punk
classic ... And Out Come the Wolves, Martin said. "New Dress," for
example, examines links between a poverty-stricken American girl and
children fighting to survive in the former Yugoslavia, while "Warsaw" looks
at class issues on a global scale. "Leicester Square" relates the true
story of a band friend trying to escape his gangster roots.
"It was a record that came into being in a number of places over a whole
year," Martin said. While two of the tracks were completed in Jamaica, the
other cuts were completed in Los Angeles at Armstrong's own Bloodclot
Studios, as well as in San Francisco, New York and New Orleans.
Several friends of Rancid's stepped in to assist on various tracks. Dicky
Barrett, leader of current ska sensations the Mighty Mighty Bosstones,
lends vocals to "Cash, Culture & Violence." "Hooligans" features vocal
contributions from Neville Staples and Lynval Golding of the veteran ska
group the Specials and guitar work from their bandmate Roddy Radiation.
"Something in the World Today" includes singing by Roger Miret, longtime
shouter for hardcore Agnostic Front.
In addition, Hepcat singers Greg Lee and Alex Desert (who record for
Armstrong's Hellcat label) take a turn at the mic on "Hoover Street," a
song that addresses the personal demons of an addict.
Earlier this year, Lee told SonicNet Music News that Life Won't
Wait will be an extension of the musical revolution that the Clash began two
decades ago with their explorations of punk and reggae. "If you can
imagine picking up exactly where the Clash left off, that's what I heard,"
Rancid's label, Epitaph Records, will preview an as-yet-undetermined track from
the album on the label's website during the first week of May. The song
"Bloodclot" has been chosen as the collection's first single.
Life Won't Wait's complete track listing: "Intro," "Bloodclot,"
"Hoover Street," "Black Lung," "Life Won't Wait," "New Dress," "Warsaw,"
"Hooligans," "Crane Fist," "Leicester Square," "Backslide," "Who Would've
Thought," "Cash, Culture & Violence," "Cocktails," "The Wolf," "1998,"
"Lady Liberty," "Wrongful Suspicion," "Turntable," "Something in the World
Today," "Corazon de Oro" and "Coppers."