No Bragging Rights bring the old-school jams and they bring them hard, fast and loud, the way this special kind of pit-friendly music is meant to be played. Evoking an era when kids cared more about circle pits, stage dives, pile-ups and sing-a-longs than flat irons and auto-tuned remixes, No Bragging Rights are the embodiment of the glory of simplicity.
Make no mistake: “NBR” (as their following likes to call them) craft a catchy chorus like nobody’s business. In fact, there are more hooks than your grandfather’s tackle box on Cycles, the band’s new album for Good Fight / eOne Music. But these five Southern Californians are carrying the torch for the region’s tradition of melody blended with metal mastery, livened up all the while by a dash of traditional hardcore groove.
Fans of anything from A Wilhelm Scream to As I Lay Dying to Strung Out will find exciting reference points in No Bragging Rights, whose style sits works equally with fans who go to Warped Tour and Mayhem.
Vocalist Mike Perez wears his heart on his sleeve while guitarists Christian Lee and Daniel Garrow blend chunky riffage with melodic might. The fluid bass playing of Ryan Warrell lays atop Martin Alcedo’s tasteful but driving drum work, resulting in an distinctly powerful sound. The album’s title track sees Perez giving a shout-out to his father, who provided him with a great upbringing despite being a victim of an abusive father himself. “He broke that cycle,” the singer points out.Sharing stages with the best and brightest of the contemporary scene, NBR’s aim is nothing less than the uplift and empowerment of the disenfranchised youth who know self-loathing, self-doubt and depression too well and call the underground subcultural community home. NBR have been there and are here to tell us it gets better.“I wish more bands had something to say,” Perez points out. “Those are the types of bands that have inspired me and that’s what I want to pass down. It shouldn’t just be about slogans that will sell t-shirts.”NBR first began to rumble in Riverside, California in 1999. Envisioned as a pop-punk outfit along the lines of many of the bands who’ve called SoCal home, the band quickly adopted a moniker that symbolized their down to earth and humble attitudes. “You can’t do everything by yourself – especially in a band. You need everyone,” says Perez. “We chose the name No Bragging Rights to represent that no one individual should take all of the credit for what we’ll accomplish. We are a team.”As the guys graduated from high school their musical horizons broadened to encompass new elements, from the experimental post-hardcore of bands like Thrice to the driving urgent metalcore of local heroes like Stick To Your Guns. The Consequences of Dreams infused more melody into their more metallic sound, with Illuminator following suit and coming full circle with a punk flavor in the metalcore mix.Cycles delivers on the promise of all that has come before, taking the strongest parts of No Bragging Right’s various eras and coalescing them into their most defining and altogether most exciting work. “We have really figured out what works for us and what doesn’t,” notes Perez.”The song “Repeater” is a great example of the sound No Bragging Rights have made their own on the new album. It’s catchy, melodic and fast with a killer breakdown. “Repeater” carries on the theme of perseverance and carrying on against life’s challenges and obstacles. “When you get knocked down, get back on the horse,” Perez says simply.“Hope Theory,” the second track on Cycles, was inspired by the deep connection No Bragging Rights have made with the people who come to their shows. “I am constantly talking with kids coming from broken homes, or the social outcast who is ready to give up. I tell them it will get better. It is always darkest before the dawn. Things can change.”
The album’s closing track bravely tackles one of the biggest issues confronting youth today: body image. “Ascension” is an anthem for those who are overcome by feelings of shame or anxiety about how they look. Perez points out that even those people who society considers beautiful have their problems. “It’s a song about how we are constantly being attacked by other people, by TV and billboards and being told we must be a certain way. People are beautiful for who they are. What makes you different is what makes you special. I’ve always felt that.”
Ultimately the message behind No Bragging Rights and Cycles is one of empowerment, dedication and strength through struggle. “I want people to get into our message as well as our music,” Perez says. “I am very proud of our music. I hope people connect it with the bigger picture.”