Unleash the Avalanche.

The first time I saw the Movielife, it was a game changer for me.  It was in State College, PA at the now-defunct Crowbar.  Fairweather opened that show – and then Brand New played.  After Brand New, at least 1/4 of the crowd left the venue, leaving a much roomier area in front of the stage for my friends and I… thank you, frat boys.

The Movielife took the stage and this lanky, tattooed guy is scrambling all over the place, leaning out into the rowdy pit and exaggerating every lyric with his entire body.  I walked out of that show and realized that it was one of the best live performances that I had ever witnessed.  I mean… I had never seen anyone command an audience like that (and that includes the time I saw a brittle Mick Jagger shimmy his way through a two hour set during their Bridges to Babylon tour – thanks dad!).   I caught the same show in Pittsburgh later that week just for good measure.

When people ask me “What’s the best show you’ve ever seen?” – Those two are always in consideration for the top spot.

Maybe half a year later, the Movielife broke up.  It was the fall of my sophomore year at Penn State and I remember being terribly affected by that news- mostly because I wouldn’t have a chance to see them play again… and because 40 Hour Train Back to Penn was perfect blend of the bands earlier hardcore influenced sound and their poppier Has a Gambling Problem EP… and because I was only 19 and I was hot-headed and fairly dramatic.

It was like the band finally stumbled upon this incredible sonic recipe and then they decided to call it a day.

Of course, guitarist Brandon Reilly started Nightmare of You and singer Vinnie Caruana started I Am the Avalanche and they both put out debut releases that had sparkles of real brilliance.  Nightmare of You sounded like the second coming of the Smiths (complete with arrogance and macabre) and I Am the Avalanche released a self-titled album full of these heaving, hard-hitting songs that could’ve been recorded by Vinnie’s previous band.  And yet there was this undeniable growth in the I Am the Avalanche release.  “Clean Up” and “Always” end with these cathartic vocals that the Movielife’s songs couldn’t hold a candle to.  You got the feeling that everything was going to be okay… and this was only the beginning.

But here we are, almost 5 years after the release of IATA’s debut album, and no release date has been set for a sophomore effort.  This probably has more to do with the downfall of Drive Thru Records (who holds the band under contract, even after curiously lying dormant for the past 2 years) than any casual fan realizes.  That’s right.  A record label is actually holding a band back from releasing a record.  Crazy.  Bands like Steel Train have been able to buy their way out of their contracts while the Reines siblings maintain a death-grip-like hold on I Am the Avalanche.  It’s not fair.

Look, as far as I can tell, people start record labels for the same reason I started blogging – because they love music (and it’s the hip thing to do).  I understand that at the end of the day, there’s a business to the whole thing, believe me.  But holding a band back from releasing new music for 5 fucking years says an awful lot about how far gone the personnel behind this label must be.  Bands NEED new albums so their fans have new material to consume and a reason to buy tickets to your shows.  (Seems pretty obvious unless you’re a greedy, penniless record label).

The way I see it, Drive Thru isn’t ponying up the cash for IATA to record something new – so they should cut the ties and wish them well.  They should do it because Vinnie Caruana is an influential voice in today’s punk rock scene – and I’m sick of hearing it primarily on guest spots.  They should do it because I Am the Avalanche is still a band… and the members of that band need to support themselves – preferably through making music and touring.  And lastly, Drive Thru Records should release the band from their contract because it would be the best thing the record label has done for fans of punk music in a long time.  (Secret Secret Dino Club?  Are you kidding me?)

As a reader, here’s what you can do to support the band while they’re in this difficult legal position…

Follow IATA on twitter.
Go see IATA shows and Vinnie Caruana acoustic shows.
Buy some freakin’ t-shirts.

Listen to this kick-ass demo that leaked last year:

**Update: I set up a new twitter account for the blog. Follow @DailyRiffage**

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2 Responses to “Unleash the Avalanche.”

  1. Ill always remember what happened to BigWig, for 2 years in highschool all i looke for was thier second CD and could find no where because their label was holding them in a chief J strongbow….awful bizz shit man.

  2. Beautifully worded and it hits home. Labels need to remember that punk rock is, first and foremost, a community. That song kicks so much fucking ass.

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