Prodigal child of the Phoenix music scene AJJ returns home to release new album "The Bible 2"

The Valley of the Sun welcomed the return of local folk-punk icons AJJ this past weekend with a two-night stint at The Rebel Lounge in celebration of its newly released album “The Bible 2.”

It is the band’s sixth studio album after 2014’s "Christmas Island," and was released under Los Angeles-based label SideOneDummy Records. “The Bible 2” is the second album to feature the band's expanded lineup with founding members Sean Bonnette and Ben Gallaty as well as Preston Bryant, Mark Glick and Chase Kamp.

Bonnette, the lead singer, said every album the band records is approached with a different creative process, and in this case, the arrangements for all the songs were organized over the course of a three-week tour.

“When we got into the studio, we just recorded them as live as possible and did overdubs when we needed to,” Bonnette said. “We had the record tracked and mixed in nine days. Definitely the fastest record we’ve ever done.”

In the years since the band was formed in 2004 under the name Andrew Jackson Jihad, their folk-punk sound, dark humor and subversive lyricism has gained them industry recognition and an international horde of loyal followers.

This year saw the band adopt a shorter name and release “The Bible 2,” along with two music videos for the tracks “Goodbye, Oh Goodbye” and “Junkie Church.” The video for “Goodbye, Oh Goodbye” was released in June, and attracted a myriad of press attention due to its scolding parody of OK Go’s viral classic “Here It Goes Again.”

Lyrically, Bonnette said the album deals with the anger often felt during childhood and adolescence, but also includes themes of closure and forgiveness. Having grown up with the Phoenix music scene, he said many bands from the area embrace the concept of hatred as a positive creative force.

“Going back to the '80s ... and up until now, the idea of being comfortable with hatred, or just being able to take negative feelings and have a place for them, is very common in Phoenix music," he said.

Cellist Glick said the Valley weather has a profound impact on the local scene for artists and fans alike.

“Phoenix is so insanely hot in the summer that you have to be good to make people want to hang out in a tiny room,” he said. “You don’t want to see a bad show when it’s already 120 degrees outside.”

AJJ played Thursday and Friday night to a packed house at the Rebel Lounge near central Phoenix, kicking off a weeklong tour of the West Coast. Although the band has cultivated a worldwide audience, its music continues to resonate with hometown fans.

ASU psychology freshman Jessica Mueller attended the concert on Thursday. She said she's been a fan of the band for two and a half years, and relates to the messages of its music.

“I like how they keep combining the softness of love and the joy of simplicity in things in life,” Mueller said. “But also darkness, like, ‘We know this shit sucks, but we’re all here together.’”

Related links:

Folk-punk rocker Andy Warpigs highlights Phoenix's evolving music scene

Valley Noise: The Haymarket Squares are Phoenix's punkgrass pioneers

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