By Nicholas Jason Lopez
By late 2016, Singer/guitarist Tony Bucci’s band Broken Field Runner was an established indie act with two releases – 2015 debut ‘Clear A Heaven So This Earth Can Breathe’ (Secret Audio Club) and 2017’s follow-up EP ‘Heavy Hanging Fruit.’ Without hesitation, he moved from Upstate New York to Los Angeles.
“My [wife] and I were living with a bunch of people and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life,” Bucci said. “We had kind of picked up and cut ties with almost everything and just moved to L.A. on a whim. I knew that I wanted to make music because I had been making music.”
Bucci never experienced the type of introspection he faced once he settled in Los Angeles, which in turn, affected his songwriting skills. It was enough to inspire content for the indie rock quartet’s second full-length, appropriately titled ‘Lay My Head Down.’ which was released Jul. 19, 2019 via Chicago’s Jetsam-Flotsam Records. It was recorded and engineered by Derek Ted (Field Medic, Owl Paws), mastered by TW Walsh (Sufjan Stevens, Pedro The Lion) and features appearances by Chris Villenueve (Drug Church) on drums and Chris Tenerowicz (Self Defense Family) on trumpet.
‘Lay My Head Down’ mixes pop-punk and emotional lyricism, with topics like isolation, leaving the past and the people in it behind and being thrown headfirst into different cultures, customs, languages, perspectives and social cliques. Despite its name, the new record is more of a message of hope than a defeatist attitude.
The video for single “Koreatown” premiered at New Noise Magazine and was released on YouTube on Jun. 25, 2019. It was lyrically inspired by the art, poetry, photography and music from Los Angeles-based artists Yoshawn Smith, Joseph Lee and Johnathan “Dumbfoundead” Park. Bucci currently resides and works in Koreatown, Calif. as a social worker who helps people with developmental disabilities and their families get access to services. The song was specifically inspired by a photograph Bucci saw on social media taken by Smith of a mural on the side of a liquor store in the area with the caption, “Paint me on the side of a liquor store when I die.”
“I really think that song is about me as an early 30’s white male, college-educated, speaking only English, moving to a place that is so very diverse culturally, musically, artistically, with food, with clothing, with language, with just about everything and how in so many ways, I could be perceived as the gentrifier or the problem, whether I’m trying to be the solution or not,” Bucci said.
Bucci also used social media as a way to engage with his audience and did a track-by-track breakdown of each song on ‘Lay My Head Down.’ A particularly emotionally heavy track for him was “Millennial Pink,” which deals with generational struggles.
“The Generation X’ers that we loved so much – the 90’s/early 2000’s music, they’re being systematically exposed as racists or serial sexual abusers or what have you,” Bucci said. “There’s one stanza in ‘Millennial Pink’ that says, ‘Our fathers were dragged from their beds and exposed for the wolves they were, Now we pretend we weren’t fooled by sheep’s clothes, halloween masks and blackened robes and I’m the millennial.’ Halloween masks and blackened robes is the album cover of ‘The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me’ by Brand New. It just really sucks to have your idols fall so mightily. Did we all just know that it was happening and we pretended that we didn’t know? How did that reflect on me? Am I just as bad? That’s kind of what the theme of this record is about. Have I sat back and allowed horrible things to happen when I thought I was doing good and who am I truly?”
Bucci has continued to play shows to support the release, the latest announced being the Twin Shrieks Fest 2020 by Twin Peaks Sessions on Mar. 7, 2020. Additionally, Alonso “El Nazzo” Figueroa joined as a full-time drummer and Jayden Seeley (With Confidence) has helped on bass during recent live performances.
“This release was all about the identity crisis that comes with being a transplant to a new place, cutting ties with everything you thought you knew,” Bucci said. “Being a moderately sized fish in a small pond and then realizing that you are tinier than the smallest little fish in the biggest pond on planet Earth and so a lot of it grapples with that kind of thing. Who am I? What am I? What does who I am mean to other people? What could I mean to achieve? What does it mean to grow older in the music industry? Things like that, so that’s a lot of what is going on in this record.”