If you go
• What: Lee Bains III and The Glory Fires, in concert.
• When: 9 p.m. June 18.
• Where: Mississippi Studios, 3939 N. Mississippi Ave., Portland.
• Cost: $12 for those 21 and older.
• Information: 503-288-3895 or mississippistudios.com.
Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires make raucous, loud music. The group’s label, Sub Pop Records, even touts them as a party band.
But this is one party band that can appeal to the head as well as the feet.
“I have always been drawn to music that can be intellectual and visceral at the same time. That’s sort of what of what I strive for,” singer/guitarist Bains explained in an early June phone interview. “I think that rock and roll as a form has power and a fast beat and a loud guitar — and thoughtful lyrics are not at odds. They can support one another and sharpen each other.”
Bains started forming that notion after he discovered the literate punk rock of groups like Hot Water Music, Against Me! and Avail growing up.
And with their newly released second album, “Dereconstructed,” Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires” show themselves to be a thinking person’s party band.
As lyricist and chief songwriter for the group, Bains shows he is an articulate and thoughtful writer who just also happens to like to rock really hard.
On “Dereconstructed,” several songs (including “The Kudzu and the Concrete” and “Mississippi Bottomland” deal with Bains’ roots in the South (he grew up in Birmingham, Ala.), examining its culture, the characteristics that make the South unique and how this plays into the values and ideals Bains is developing as he grows further into adulthood and seeks to gain a greater understanding of himself.
“This album is definitely toying, or at least trying to, with the notion of Southerness and identity,” Bains said. “I have found my perspective and my experience, no matter how much I’ve wished that it wasn’t at different times in my life, is a Southern one. I am a product of my place in some regard, as I think we all are. … I think if anything, this is just my attempt to confront and reconcile myself to my cultural inheritance.”
There’s also a topical element to “Dereconstructed,” as Bains looks at corporate greed and corruption on the song “Company Man” (which concludes “Don’t ever trust the Company Man”), the homogenization of communities in pursuit of profit (“What’s Good and Gone”) and blind allegiance (“Flags”).
Bains said some of the songs were written during the time of the Arab Spring and Occupy movement in the United States and was inspired by these actions.
“I was really sort of, I don’t know, experiencing a sense of anger, but also excitement and hope to some degree,” he said.
“Dereconstructed” is considerably harder rocking than “There Is a Bomb in Gilead,” the 2012 debut from Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires. And Bains feels the outspoken content of some of his lyrics played a part in this musical shift.
“I think there were a few (factors),” he said. “First of all, I think playing so much, the songs had started to become faster and more intense, the songs from the last album. And those were the songs we all most enjoyed playing and I thought felt most natural. So that was part of it. But on the other side, there were, I guess, issues I was considering when writing this album that just inspired more of that type of sentiment in me. I felt like there was more aggression behind the songs than there was on the first album.”
“Dereconstructed” was also influenced by the evolution of The Glory Fires lineup.
Bains formed the group after a stint in the Alabama-based band the Dexateens. But about a year ago, the Glory Fires went through a significant lineup change, with a new guitarist, Eric Wallace, and a new bassist, Adam Williamson joining Bains and drummer Blake Williamson (Adam’s brother).
“I think that as a result of touring so much Blake and I have definitely established more of a musical rapport, I guess, and I think also kind of gradually ratcheted up the intensity of our shows,” Bains said. “Then bringing Adam and Eric into the band kind of pushed that up like a lot more just because they’re really great players as well as energetic presences (on stage).”
Liking the way the harder-hitting sound of the new lineup, the group wanted to capture the raw and full-throttle sound on “Dereconstructed.”
That mission was accomplished. The band roars out of the gate with the loud and gritty guitars of “The Company Man” and carries that volume and intensity throughout the rest of the album. There’s a little Southern twang, plenty of garage punk-ish aggression and a good deal of melody in the songs, which makes “Dereconstructed” an enervating, in-your-face — and most of all, fun — experience.
The power of the band’s music means that even though there’s intelligence to the band’s songs, a Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires concert is hardly an intellectual exercise.
“We play rock ’n’ roll music and our shows are, well we definitely have fun at our shows,” Bains said. “There’s definitely a wildness to it. It’s not a cerebral experience, going to one of our shows.”