UTG TRACK-BY-TRACK: Controller – ‘No Future’ EP

Controller feature

We first became acquainted with Controller back in September, and were instantly taken aback by their undeniable ear for all that is catchy and upbeat. The NYC quartet’s monster melodies are fun, fluid, and infectious, and at any given moment, possess the uncanny ability to completely turn around even the crappiest of days.

This powerful panache for pop is wonderfully showcased on the outfit’s latest EP, No Future, so much so that we felt obligated to highlight it in detail. Hear what frontman Jon Bellinger had to say about the group’s latest batch of tracks below, and if you’re a fan, grab a copy of your own here.


“Midnight Man”

This is the song that the EP kind of coalesced around, and it happened so quickly. I read this article a while back about this homeless lothario 20-year-old in NYC who goes home with a different woman each night so he doesn’t have to sleep on the street, and I wanted to write a really upbeat, optimistic song from his perspective. So it’s a club banger from his perspective, and he’s the only one who doesn’t see how ridiculous he is, but there’s something charming about his confidence. The sax thing happened at the very last minute. I’ve always wondered why bands stopped putting sax into rock songs (i think we’re due for a renaissance, by the way), and something was missing from the track, and then we found out Nick Wold (of the band Dreamers, with whom we share a manager) plays sax and it just hit us like a bolt of lightning. He came in and nailed it in 2 takes.


“Flame”

I always start writing on the guitar, and this is a track that started with a weird riff that has kind of an M.C. Escher like timing that sounds totally normal until you try to actually play it. But this is another one that came together really quickly–in 20 minutes or so. But it’s also the one that we spent the longest on mixing, trying to get the combination of tight and messy, loud and quiet, smooth and jagged juuuuuuuuust right. It’s basically about that one dude we all know who’s getting older but still wants to go rage every night, even as his friends are starting to have kids and settle down. It’s that guy’s desperate Mel-Gibson-in-Braveheart speech, trying to rally his bros to go out, but it’s a losing battle. We are all that dude.


“Bright Light”

This is a really personal song for me. When I first moved to New York, I lived in this shitty apartment in the East Village with no heat and like, this weird death trap elevator shaft in the middle of the living room. I couldn’t get a job and was barely getting by, and there was this one winter when it was so cold, and I couldn’t afford food and I was so close to giving up and moving back home. Walking around was free, though, so I would just spend hours walking around Chinatown and the Lower East Side, and it was still weird down there, and I wanted to capture what that period of my life felt like. I still had my friends and my music, and those are the only things that got me through it.


“Separator”

I wrote this song on the way to work one day, as a voice memo. I just sang all the parts, like I frequently do when I’m trying to get it all down before I forget. It started with the opening guitar riff and the verse melody, and I think I wrote the chorus later that day. The words came much later, when we were approached by NAMI (the National Alliance for Mental Illness) to contribute a song to a charity album they were curating. The song is from the perspective of someone who knows he is slipping into mental illness, but out of pride and sadness and fear refuses to openly acknowledge it and ask for help, and ends up pushing away the people who could pull him out of it. This was actually recorded separately form the others (no pun intended), a few months earlier, at Avatar Studios right before they closed.


“No Future”

I literally have no idea where this song came from. It’s one of those ones that feels like you left the window open and it flew in when you weren’t looking. It’s about being trapped in an unhealthy relationship with someone who is making you slowly lose your mind, told from the perspective of a guy trapped alone in a house with his delusional mother. It’s a celebratory murder ballad by way of “Folsom Prison Blues,” fed through a meat grinder along with “Crocodile Rock” and “Crazy Train.” Sometimes you just need to let songs be themselves, even if they are kind of deranged. This one was super fun to record because there were no rules–we tried to make it as weird as possible without losing the hooks.

Kyle Florence

Kyle Florence is a proud Wisconsinite, a dinosaur enthusiast, and a lover of all things weird and whacky.
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