Exploring New Territories Without A Guide

J.M. Lopez doesn’t need anyone telling him what to do.

The creative force behind California alternative rock band The Body Rampant wrote its latest EP, the hard-edged yet softly melodic Transient Years, on his back porch before really finding a footing for the band.

But after the release of the fantastic Casey Bates-produced (Portugal. The Man, Chiodos, MxPx) EP, Lopez is taking even more creative direction, without the oversight of a record label. “We all have ADHD really bad,” Lopez jokes. “Our minds are always moving and we’re never satisfied where we’re at as a band, so we’re always trying to push boundaries.”

And labels? Lopez said he’s doing just fine without one.

“At the end of the day, I don’t think they’ll do much for us besides hinder our creativity,” he said.

And the band definitely has a punk ethos. Lopez, who used to play guitar in ex-Rise metalcore act Every Bridge Burned, said the band’s adopted that do-it-yourself work ethic.

“We’re really D.I.Y., the way we write all our own songs and do all our own artwork,” he said. “We do that stuff ourselves. We keep it O.G.”

Recently, The Body Rampant has been holed up in California amassing new material and working on their live set. They’ve released two singles online – “Seabrinx,” a straight-up heavy-riffing rock jam with a huge hook and working the band’s soft-loud dynamic, and “New Riot Central,” which incorporates an electronic aesthetic and sampled kickdrums with Lopez’s overarching strained melodic vocals. The songs emanate distinct vibes and show the band’s musical curiosity, exploring different sounds and influences.

“That was us experimenting, doing something different with Todd Weinstock and Marc Jordan, the guys we produced with,” Lopez explains of “New Riot Central.” “They were pushing us to do some different stuff and we were really open minded about that.”

And Lopez said they’re continuing to evolve their sound.

“There’s going to be hip-hop songs on the album, a jazz song on the album, and a super heavy song on the album. It’s going to be really diverse,” Lopez said.

Outside of his music, Lopez’s friends and family push him to keep refining his craft. But, that all helps fuel his music making, regardless of genre.

“They’re all really happy with their lives, but I’m never really happy unless I’m constantly busy with music,” Lopez said. “So other than music, I really don’t have much I’m stoked on besides art and directing, but that all gets shoveled back into music at some point.”

Currently, The Body Rampant is collecting material for a new release— due out by the end of 2012 or start of the next, Lopez said.

Though The Body Rampant remains unsigned, and holed up in California not on tour, Lopez isn’t fazed. He’s just concentrating on what he loves to do: creating music and art.

“Labels don’t want to mess with bands that haven’t been on tour, but they don’t realize no one’s going to book you on tour unless you’re signed,” he explains. “So, you’re chasing your tail around going ‘ what am I going to do?’ But f— all that. Just write music, find someone to post it online at Absolutepunk or something, and play shows whenever you can.”



By Chris Ballard