Life Of Agony: “We finally got to make the record we’ve been dying to make”

A press shot of Life Of Agony

After almost threedecades of hardcore anthems, dramatic splits and long sabbaticals, Brooklyn-based alterna-metal heavyweights Life Of Agony are finally back with their first new album in 12 years. Raw and visceral, A Place Where There’s No More Pain is also the first album the band have recorded since singer Mina Caputo (formerly Keith) came out as transgender in 2011 and became, as she tells Classic Rock, “a female Iggy Pop”.

Why the long gap between albums, and why get back together now?

After you spend a certain amount of time with people you just sometimes need a flat-out break. It’s a moody thing. We make up our own rules, we’ve got our own timeline. We don’t need to be in people’s faces all the time.

Why now? Things have been so fun lately, amazing and effortless. So many beautiful things are coming our way. We’re just grateful the universe brought us together again creatively. I think we finally got to make the record we’ve been dying to make.

The lyrics on the album are full of darkness and anguish. Does that reflect real experience, or is it more theatrical exaggeration?

It’s not theatrics, it’s all based on true events. We very rarely get fictional. But we’re not depressed. We tackle head-on challenges and obstacles that are thrown our way, whether it’s drug addiction, sexuality issues, gender issues. We’re from New York – we don’t need to create fucking theatre. You just walk out the door and you’re in the circus, you know? We are more bloody and gutsy and raw, rather than wanting to throw on a Viking helmet or whatever. Leave that stuff to Beyonce; I’m more rock’n’roll. A female Iggy Pop, if you like.”

How has now being Mina affected you creatively?

It’s been amazing. I feel free. I don’t feel I’m bonded by this invisible ball and chain. I’m in a good space. When you’re full of stress and anxiety, that inhibits your performance. It’s almost ten years already that I’m out, so I’m very comfortable in my skin, more than I ever have been. Yeah, I have my highs and lows. I’m on hormones so I’m psychotic, but I feel free from the lies and the bondage and the pretending. I’ve always been gifted. Ha! I’ve always written beautiful songs.

Has the chemistry within the band changed now you’re female?

Keith could have been menacing, I guess. I was angry, I was unhappy, I was competitive, I was miserable. I wasn’t living the real me. Now I’m hitting notes I never hit before. And there’s a sarcastic, obnoxious, humorous dynamic in the band. I’m flashing the boys, you know? It’s really funny. We have a great time.

What’s next for you and Life Of Agony after this album?

I will always do music. I released my latest solo record, Love Hard, in 2016. I’ve gotten another solo record written, but before I even begin recording I also have my side project, the Neptune Darlings, which is a very John Cale-meets-Lou Reed-meets-Eno kind of project. We just finished our second record. But the momentum right now is with Life Of Agony. We’ve got a ton of touring for 2017.

A Place Where There’s No More Pain is out on April 28 via Napalm Records.

Stephen Dalton

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.