And that’s no small feat for the heavy-rocking Long Island quartet.
The group’s previous efforts have been defined by explicit social and political commentary, with a populist and liberal outlook that the group backs up with good works the Hardcore Help Foundation and Actions Not Words. Those organizations took Stray From the Path to Kenya last year to witness the installation of water filters for 100 families in villages outside of the capital city of Nairobi — a visit the group capped off with a performance.
“It was the most eye-opening experience we have had as individuals and as a band,” Dijorio tells Billboard. And it certainly affected the tenor of Internal Atomics, which arrives Nov. 1 on UNIFIED Music Group (UNFD).
“I think we wanted to take more of a universal approach on it, especially with the lyrical content, and maybe not be so to the point,” explains guitarist Tom Williams. Dijorio acknowledges that Stray From the Path has a tendency to be “pretty fucking on the nose” with its subject matter, ranging from police brutality to racism and climate change.
“We’re never scared to do that,” he notes, “but something like, say, ‘Fortune Teller’ on the new record has … I don’t want to say ‘positive’ or ‘uplifting,’ but it’s more like a ‘let’s do this together’ message. On this record, we’re kind of putting things in a way [where] people can get on board with the songs and then discover the layers of what they mean.”
Meanwhile, “The First Will Be Last” is intended as a wake-up call that came directly from the Africa trip and the band’s other international experiences. “A big topic of the whole record is we want people to start acknowledging that some people don’t have everything that we have in America,” says Williams. “We’ve been to the highest places like Japan, where cops don’t carry guns and the society is super overworked, and we’ve been to Africa, where people can’t turn on their faucets without getting sick because their water is so unclean. We’ve experienced all this stuff around the world, but we have people here who are clutching their pearls and wanting to protect their money, and they don’t understand that other people don’t have that.”
Listen to “The First Will Be Last”:
“I feel like the song is super important to open up the next generation to understand we need to help each other,” adds Williams. “If we want to start changing the world as we know it, we’ve got to start considering other people’s health and well-being, not just our own.”
As Internal Atomics — which was produced by regular collaborator Will Putney (Thy Art Is Murder, Body Count) and recorded in New Jersey — is rolled out, Stray From the Path is already on the road in North America with Counterparts (whose Brendan Murphy appears on the track “Kickback”), with a European headlining tour on the horizon. The group also has high hopes for its new deal with UNFD and already feels it’s seeing results in terms of fan interest as well as the size of the venues it’s playing worldwide.
“Finally, we’re starting to see the band start to snowball into what we always hoped it would be,” says Dijorio. “We never really had much help up until this record, internationally. Past labels have been involved with us, but it was always very American-centric. We have found out that we love touring the whole world, so now being on UNFD, it feels like there’s a little more support and a good team behind us. We’re starting to see the growth we always wanted to.”