On the forefront of Atlanta’s thriving punk community, Upchuck are bound together by a purity of intention, an organic loyalty to a thick knot of uncalculated friendships, struggles, and desires. These are songs about the joy of continuing to live, songs that find each other in the rush of a crushing reality, propelling the listener onward towards a collective release. Themes of surviving through the night, youth-blinded love and chaotic street protests are subsumed under a single unifying thread: the needs we have for one another, our shared hunger for connection. In a world saturated with arbitrary rules and paper-thin moralism, Upchuck offer freedom through sensation, a type of unserious transcendence found through the swirl of bodies melting into one another in the passion of dance.
Today they’ve announced their new album Bite the Hand That Feeds, coming October 13 via Famous Class. Its opener and lead single “Freaky” puts frontwoman Kaila Thompson’s (KT) self-described alter-ego on full display, riffing upon her hunger to let loose and lean into the open-ended freedom of the long, chaotic night. It’s a cry that places joy front and center, carving out a space to live loudly in the face of daily struggles. Upchuck’s signature blend of high-impact style is put on full, muscular display as the track jolts with weaving jungle-rhythms that evoke the finer side of oddball-punk forebears.
“Freaky”’s accompanying video comes as an ode to Paul Reubens and Peew-ee’s Big Adventure which Upchuck and director Ian Cone filmed and created a month back. Check it out below.
Formed in 2018 through shared connections in Atlanta’s teeming skate scene, Upchuck’s musical aspirations have always been uncomplicated. They play for each other, and for anyone who is willing to move alongside them—there are no trappings of genre worship or social politicking in their sound, only an open spirit of friendly connection. 2022 saw the release of their first LP, Sense Yourself (Famous Class), which spread like wildfire across the scene and landed them tours alongside Amyl and the Sniffers, Negative Approach, OFF! and others.
For their follow up, Upchuck absconded to SoCal to record Bite the Hand That Feeds, enlisting the production talents of Ty Segall and the airy reprieve of his secluded Topanga Canyon home studio. Upchuck credits Segall, who recorded the entire record live to tape over the span of five days, with helping to elevate the arrangements of their second record to bold new heights. The album’s razor tight focus was forged in the fire of Upchuck’s live shows, speaking directly to the power of their in-person presence—these are songs meant to be heard pressed up against a barricade, blasted through dimed guitar amps placed so close to your ears that you can practically reach out and touch them. Live footage of Upchuck’s set is an undeniable spectacle within itself: before a single note is hit, oceans of teenage degenerates, punks, hoodie laden indie kids, and sneaker clad skaters. Upchuck places heavy emphasis upon the special quality of these shared moments with the crowd, often putting on their own shows in repurposed locations.
Speaking on the importance of live performance to the band’s overall outlook, KT does not mince words: “With all of the shit life throws at you every day, sometimes I just need to release something—I need to feel freaky, to lean into my wild alter-ego. That’s what we want to give other people too—we wanna create a space for people to come and work out whatever has been dragging them down, but together, all at once.”
Lyrically, Bite the Hand That Feeds is passionately impressionistic, following the reflections of a charmingly unreliable narrator as she clocks the shortcomings of the world around her. In the words of KT, “I’m trying to point things out as I see them, but without critiquing anyone—I see the ways certain people act and feel like I’ve got to say something about it, but I’m not trying to pretend like I don’t act the same way sometimes. It’s all you do you, live and let live.”
Its heaviest moments are counteracted by bursts of goofy levity, injecting natural breaths of fresh air into the LP’s frantic cadence The trials of moving from day to day are stripped of petty moralizing, clearing mental space to reflect upon the pleasures and desires that make it all worth going through in the first place. The album offers a sonic portrait of what it feels like to be young and caught up in the thrill of it all, coursing between ripping dance grooves and thundering dirges, anti-self-serious crowd anthems and charming pop hooks.
With Bite the Hand That Feeds, Upchuck isn’t trying to tell anyone how to live. Rather, they are simply trying to find a way to make life more worth living for both themselves and their friends—if the music compels you to move, you might as well consider yourself their friend too.