It was finally done. After two years, Birmingham, Ala.’s Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires had finished “Youth Detention,” the follow-up to their 2014 album “Dereconstructed.” That earlier album had showcased Bains’ ultra-revved flamethrower guitar on top of the band’s Drive-By Truckers-meet-Social Distortion Southern punk throb, along with some remarkably clear-eyed lyrics on the state of the modern South.
But as far as Bains was concerned, “Youth Detention” was the band’s best work yet. It was fiercely political, and more melodic than anything they’d done before.
So when they submitted the 17-song double album to their label, the veteran grunge-punk bastion Sub Pop Records, they were surprised to say the least when the label rejected it.
“Their comments were that it was a ‘challenging’ record, and it was ‘artistic,’” Bains says with a small chuckle. “It was not the record they were expecting. I’m not sure what they were expecting, but they wanted us to think about cutting some songs, and we were like, ‘No, this is it. This is the record.’ And they very politely and respectfully declined to put it out. They didn’t see it as something that worked for them.”
Bains and company felt justified in refusing to change “Youth Detention” because they’d been through hell making it, the culmination being the death of producer/engineer Jeremy Ferguson’s wife, who’d been diagnosed with cancer before the sessions began and died suddenly during recording.
“She just took a turn for the worse after we recorded the basic tracks,” Bains says. “It was so tragic. We dedicated the record to her, but Jeremy had a lot to handle in the wake of her passing, so we wound up finishing the record with another friend in Birmingham and Athens. It was a really long process.”
So Bains had a finished new record and no way to put it out. That’s where Don Giovanni Records, a New Jersey indie label that Bains had been a fan of for years, came along.
“Over the past three or four years as we’ve been traveling around, I’d paid attention to the authenticity of these certain bands,” Bains says. “And when I looked at their label, it would be always be Don Giovanni. So that’s kind of how I first started noticing them. I just kept seeing really good, distinctive records that were being put out through this label. They just seemed concerned about putting out records they believed in, in a way they believed in.”
Bains mentioned to the label that he had a record ready to go, and “Youth Detention” was set for release a bit later this year.
He and the band are planning on playing some of the new songs at their Greenville show, and he’s excited to let people hear the themes he’s exploring this time out.
“It deals with socialization in the period of childhood and adolescence, and the ways we kind of learn to be social beings and conduct ourselves towards those who are outside of the community,” Bains says. “It also has a lot to do with memory.”
He adds, “I will say that with this record, we’ve developed a voice as a band. We’ve folded in all these disparate sounds we’re drawn to. It’s more varied than ‘Dereconstruction.’ We were drawing on the sounds and records and bands that really attracted us to music as we were growing up.”
Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires w/ The Long Canes & The Indoor Kids
Venue: The Ninjaplex, 15 Beverly Road, Greenville
Date: Sunday, Jan. 29, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $8 adv/$10 door
Info: freshtix.com/events/gloryfiresgreenville, 864-275-1119