Life Under The Gun

Life Under The Gun

Militarie Gun is in a rush to get started. The Los Angeles-based band formed in the thick of the pandemic when leader Ian Shelton was forced to put his other project Regional Justice Center on the shelf. Shelton wrote and recorded the band’s first EP, My Life Is Over, by himself in September of 2020—in case there was any mystery as to his state of mind at the time. He eventually recruited guitarists Nick Cogan and Will Acuña, drummer Vince Nguyen, and bassist Max Epstein, keeping the blistering urgency of his solo work intact even as Militarie Gun grew. A pair of 2021 EPs was followed by a long tour. Shelton felt unstuck. There was a catharsis in motion. Militarie Gun’s debut album, Life Under the Gun, is what came out of that release. It runs a couple of degrees cooler than the band’s previous work, favoring layered alt-rock, hardcore, and melodic punk that let Shelton’s introspective lyricism breathe easy. The themes that weave in and out of Life slam into each other: hope and disappointment, anger and regret. “We’re coming from a moment where we were pointing the finger at others,” Shelton tells Apple Music. “And now I think people are burned out. It’s a time where people are willing to look inward. People are ready to take the chance on something a little more vulnerable right now.” Though intensely personal, Shelton’s songwriting pulls off the difficult trick of also feeling universal. “Feelings twist and stray like you wouldn’t believe/How am I supposed to trust who I’ll be in a day?” he snarls on the album’s title track, an admission that we are constantly being pushed and pulled at a speed we can never control. Below, he comments on each track from Life Under the Gun. “Do It Faster” “As soon as we wrote this song, we felt like that had to be the opener of the album. At the time, I think we were all feeling the dread of how slow reality seemed to be going as we started coming back towards normality. We started the band and weren’t able to do anything besides write songs. It was an overall impatience with life, and I’m already a very impatient person. I feel like I’ve spent a lot of days waiting for stuff from other people, and this was a song about feeling like life was slipping away during that wait. There’s this desire to have everything move faster.” “Very High” “Our guitar player Will Acuña wrote this song. This is his first band he’s ever been in, and this is one of the first songs he’s ever written. He was able to achieve simplicity in a way that the rest of us can’t because he doesn’t look past things. The only lyric I had written down when I went to start doing the vocals was, ‘I’ve been feeling pretty down/So I get very high.’ And the simplicity of the music matched with the simplicity of that lyric, which was about the desire to escape my own inner turmoil.” “Will Logic” “We named this song after our guitar player Will. I had watched the Beastie Boys documentary, and they talked about how ‘Sabotage’ was them jokingly shit-talking their friend. I thought it’d be funny to make a song kind of implying that Will was trying to fuck me over. But then the song ended up being really melancholic and stating a desire for the world to be trustworthy. So much of friendship and interpersonal relationships—you don’t know people’s motives, you don’t know what’s going on in their head. And this song is about wishing the world was a trustworthy one where you don’t have to worry about what someone wants from you or what their hidden motives are.” “My Friends Are Having a Hard Time” “I grew up in a very traumatic, crazy home, and I was not on the same page with a lot of people when I was going through those things. And now that I feel like my life has achieved a level of happiness, and I still see the people around me struggling with things, there’s this feeling of guilt: Why do I have it good right now, when others don’t? And how do I help? But this song is also realizing that, for the most part, you can’t actually help. You can be there for people, but you can’t take someone’s pain away from them. So, this is a reflection on wishing things could be different but knowing they never will be.” “Think Less” “This is a spite song. An important thing with the record was that it’s supposed to bounce in and out of self-awareness, which is something we all do as humans. You might have some great moment of reflection and then, when you look at your own actions later, you realize you can lack self-awareness and be spiteful. This song was meant to be a fuck-you and then also realize that, out there, someone has the same feelings about me.” “Return Policy” “This was the most fun to construct instrumentally. The beginning of the song is supposed to feel like Rollins Band; I wanted something more along the lines of the original influences of the band in noise rock and hard rock. And then it’s meant to melodically transform as the song gets going. So, it starts harsh, and then we wanted to make it sound like The Rolling Stones. A big part of writing this record was coming to terms with past relationships and the way that feelings change over time, but also knowing that things changing don’t make what happened in the past any less real. That really weighs on my mind. I’m someone who goes full bore in whatever direction I feel at that moment. And then, when that feeling changes, I’m left wondering who the guy that made all these decisions was.” “Seizure of Assets “I can be very irresponsible, and I’ve been broke on and off. Once, I let a lot of parking tickets gather up until, one day, my car was just taken by the city, and I could never get it back because I couldn’t afford to pay the backlog of tickets. So, I wanted to state this frustration that you feel like you work really hard and then, somehow, all that money disappears, and you don’t really actually get enjoyment out of it. I also think that parking enforcement is one of the biggest ways in which class is displayed, so we wanted to have a complete pop-rock song instrumentally, but then try to say something that’s not bullshit over top.” “Never Fucked Up Once” “This is a song about regret. I grew up around flawed people and have an inability to write those kinds of people off because these people are my family members. They’re the people who raised me. I wanted to look at this song from the side of having done something you regret in life and being unable to escape it. It’s complicated to talk about in some ways. We’ve all been hurt by people; we’ve all hurt other people. This song is trying to remind everybody that we could all use some forgiveness here and there.” “Big Disappointment” “We had recorded this for our previous record, but as soon as we started playing live shows, we saw that the song was getting better. The way I was singing it was also getting a little bit more pronounced and defined; I was more or less learning to sing as we’ve gone on. I wasn’t a singer when the band started; I was a guy who yelled in hardcore bands. And slowly, over time, I’ve been very dedicated to try and achieve the melodies I hear in my head. This song also felt like it was so tied to what we were trying to say with the record about regret and anger and desire—to do better but maybe being stuck. The lyric ‘I’m trying to live my life/With nothing to hide and no one to fight’ said everything that I wanted to say. One of my favorite things about the band is that I’m creating a permanent record for myself to have to live by to some degree.” “Sway Too” “This is probably the song I’m most proud of for the record. It’s more instrumentally and lyrically elevated. It’s going back to that feeling of mania, of going full bore on every decision and then, all of a sudden, everything turns and you’re like, ‘Who did all this?’ So much of our relationships are tied to the ways we’ve been hurt in the past. And so, it makes trying to move forward something really complicated.“ “See You Around” “Both this song and ‘Sway Too’ were my attempts at writing what I felt was a second-to-last song on the record. I wanted an energy shift before the final moment because we had ‘Life Under the Gun’ written instrumentally for a while. I really wanted this song to be more masculine, in a way. The line ‘He doesn’t sing, he doesn’t sing to me’ is about this idea in music culture that things aren’t intimate. But even if a show is just filled with men, it’s men singing to each other. And I think that’s a very intimate thing, even if we don’t talk about it like that.” “Life Under the Gun” “This was always meant to be the closer. There are a lot of questions I’m trying to answer here: Can I live to my full capacity and capability while acknowledging that there’s a trail of previous friendships and relationships behind you? And how do you rationalize those? The chorus, ‘It happens all the time,’ is about how everyone else seems to move on with their lives. Why do I stay hung up on things from the past? But ultimately, it’s about realizing that, I guess, it’s my turn—because if not, I’m gonna be stuck in the same place forever.”

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada