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By Ryan McLaughlin

With the release and celebration show of Joy Buttons’ first EP Arkhipov behind us, BYT’s managing editor asked me to write something about being a bit older and playing loud music generally associated with a certain youth-driven angst. So, here I am and here is what I think about it: It still fucking rules.

I grew up playing the loudest music I could to try and piss off my parents, who have always been the most supportive people I’ve ever met. Even as I sit here, writing this in my apartment with my wife sitting next to me and eating dill crackers with mustard & dill crusted affine (I suck), I’m still that same stupid kid. The only real differences are that I pay my bills, make considerably less bad decisions, and I’ve discovered the concept of songwriting.

That youth-driven angst never really goes away anyway. Maybe you’ve become less angry, more in tune with yourself or whatever, but if you had it, you still have it. Sorry. And if you still have it, you are probably doing ok.


The thing is that when we are younger, that angst is veiled motivation; ambition in disguise; a challenge. It’s a sort of productive energy with which we have no idea what the fuck to do. So maybe we start bands or make art or do other things that make us feel fulfilled (another concept that becomes clearer with age). Either way, as we get a bit older, that angst driven motivation becomes unveiled and that ambition reveals itself. It gets channeled in different ways other than yelling about it into a microphone, which is still awesome. The most important thing is that something is done with it; just make it something you love. And as we get older, a lot of people forget to make that angst a priority.

If you held on to it, watched it turn into ambition and are doing something you love with it, cheers. That’s awesome. If not, find it again and make something. Anything. It’s still there.

I love writing songs. I do it a lot with a handful of projects and in many styles and that angst still remains active. Joy Buttons is all about that. Sure, it’s pretty nostalgic for us to play this type of music, but mostly there’s just nothing else like it. Call it punk or hardcore or shitty music, I don’t care. It’s fucking fun to turn my amp up and whip around whatever stupid haircut I have. It’s always been the same.

It’s always been driven by angst. It still is. High five.