Boxcutter Copes Through Pop-Punk
Eddie Ryan wrote Stuck, his debut EP as Boxcutter, under the same conditions that have inspired so many emo releases: when he was in a bad place. Ryan had just parted from the band he’d played in since he was in high school under circumstances that, though he prefers not to get into them, left him feeling blindsided and betrayed, so he started writing his own songs to channel his frustration. “I’ll take all your kicking like the hacky sack I am,” he sings over a resentfully crunchy riff on “Because It Is My Name.”
“Four out of the five songs I wrote on the EP are just me venting,” the Grafton native explains. That mood suits the music—pop-punk has long given a platform to bitterness and self-loathing—though Ryan is quick to point out his mindset was circumstantial, and that he’s not usually a particularly bitter person. He demonstrates that on the EP’s most hopeful track, “Thank You,” a message of appreciation to his supportive girlfriend.
There’s a sixth song on the EP, as well: a cover of Failure’s “Stuck on You.” To the extent that most people know about that song, it’s probably from Paramore’s 2008 cover of it. That’s how Ryan first discovered Failure, too, which speaks volumes about his musical upbringing. He came of age during the commercial heyday of emo and pop-punk, when bands like Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco were fixtures of malls and alternative rock stations alike. It’s often been pointed out that Blink-182 is a dividing line between generations, separating punk fans into the camp that was too old to get into them and a camp of reverential younger fans. Ryan came up in the generation after the first Blink-182 generation; he only discovered that group during their second pass, following their 2009 reunion.
“My musical education really started with American Idiot—that was the first album I got when I was 9 years old,” Ryan says. “That’s some album to get when you’re a child. Green Day were my gateway to punk rock and politics.” From there he branched out to take in a number of punk and emo acts, among them Taking Back Sunday, Jimmy Eat World and Brand New, all of which informed, to varying degrees, the music on Stuck.
Right now Boxcutter is technically a solo project—Ryan wrote all the songs and played all of the instruments on the EP—but, he says, that’s not the long-term vision for the group. “There’s a full band in the works,” he says. “I’m not making any huge announcements yet, but the goal is to start playing shows so we can promote this thing and start up a full band again. Otherwise I’d just be doing these songs by myself with an acoustic guitar, and that was never the intention.”
Boxcutter’s Stuck EP comes out Friday, Oct. 21.