Baltimore post-hardcore band Truth Cult have just released their sophomore album Walk The Wheel. Like their 2020 debut LP Off Fire, it was produced by Jawbox's J. Robbins and released by the Turnstile/Trapped Under Ice/Angel Du$t's crew's Pop Wig label. You can read my review in Notable Releases, and for more insight into this LP, the band made us a track-by-track breakdown:


Emily Ferrara (bass/vocals): This is the first Truth Cult song where my bass line started the writing process. I was really just wanting to play something fast, punchy, something that could carry a lot of attitude. The layering vocals really came together in the studio and added some depth to the short, chaotic track.

Paris Roberts (vocals): This one is super cool because of the pick up in it. It’s super maniacal! So due to how crazy sounding it is, I put my headspace in a setting of utter chaos. Basically this is a vague interpretation of how my mind never makes sense of anything when I am in a state of raw and intense emotion, and how I lack control sometimes of my own self. How often I believe I’m insane when my mind convinces me of such.

Ian Marshall (guitar): Who tf is the Umbrella Man?! I think on guitar I was hoping for Ron Asheton with a broken finger. Emily was really adamant about NOT singing the backups on this song. After we got her to at least “try” it and it sounded great she allowed it to stay but said her vocals here were “too riot grrrl” though that is possible.


Paris: This song is about my late friend/roommate Matt who passed away in June 2020. Someone who taught me how to have a new lease on life and love, while also helping me find proper balances between taking myself seriously and cutting myself slack/quit being hard on myself. It was a funny circumstance on how we met/became close friends, because I didn’t like him at first. Ever since he passed though, I’d felt a different type of loneliness somehow that I can’t make sense of, nor really got to grieve for him properly. This song was basically my goodbye and trying to create closure where it may not exist.

Emily: I love how the energetic and uplifting the music of this song contrasts the dark lyrics. I contributed some lyrics from some old stuff I had written, but just snippets. The chorus that I sing, however, wasn't pulled from that. Those lyrics came at a practice while I was working out a vocal pattern and they just stuck after they worked with the writing of the rest of the song.

Ian: I wanted there to be a bell/glockenspiel toward the end and have it to sound like the beginning of Salad Days. We ended up double tracking piano and organ instead. My wife Esra played the Hammond and I played piano and we recorded it at the same time because we thought it would be fun.

"Heavy Water"

Emily: Ian's wife Esra helped with vocal ideas on this chorus. The dichotomy of the jarring, angular verse with the melodic chorus works in such a weird way. This song is psycho and all over the place and I'm really happy with the way it ended up turning out.

Ian: The creepy, layered Emily chorus was influenced by the theme song for the TV program Yellowjackets. Our new guitar player Mike was the one that lobbied for it to be a “single” and sequenced early on the record; I assumed it was too weird. The line “Maybe the next one” is from Crash. J. Robbins looked really disappointed when I mentioned I had seen the movie but not read the book. The lyrics are about the strange deathpact we seem to have with intelligence agencies, military and weapons manufacturers.


Emily: This song just straight up rocks, no if ands or buts about it and it is incredibly fun to play live.

Ian: We recorded this 4 years ago but it didn’t sound quite right. Glad we waited because it has a lot of cool tension and rhythm. The guitar parts were inspired by Judas Priest and Budgie. The name of the song was in reference to the book The Invisible Man, but after it was released we realized it kinda sounds like an Acne care product. Whatever.


Ian: This song is named after the final creation from the great Tony Scott. Someone (not in the band) told me an early demo wasn’t very strong but I felt like the song was unstoppable. The little vocal Emily is singing in the verse was going to be the main verse vocal. Then Paris demoed his way and it sounded so strong we had to slide the more melodic thing as a background vocal. It makes a great texture.

"Awake, Asleep"

Emily: Ian brought this song to practice and we spent some time trying to flesh it out and make it something that made sense on the record, even though there's nothing even remotely like it on the rest of the LP. And I love that. I wrote these lyrics over the course of a few weeks while out on hikes and scribbling things down as they came to me and then taking some time to weave them all together in a meaningful way. I went into the studio with two separate vocal patterns, thinking that we would use one or the other, but it was Ian's idea to layer them together. This song pushed me in a lot of ways and had me feeling pretty vulnerable while we were recording, but I'm lucky to have someone like Ian on my team constantly encouraging me to push myself outside my comfort zone.

Robin Zeijlon (drums): This was a hard song to figure out drums for. I really took a page out of Keith Moon's book for this one, especially how he balances restraint and mayhem on Who's Next. I love how much he holds back in some of the quieter tracks so when he inevitably explodes into rock and roll mayhem it really hits. Tried to emulate that for this song.

Ian: The Hammond organ sounds so good on this one. Was hoping for late period The Jam and the Stone Roses. Esra had written some piano but it was a little complex, I tried to get her to dumb it down more and make it sound like the theme from Succession. When we realized the final lyric is “I’m Falling” repeated over itself, the way the piano descends really started to click thematically.

"Kokaine Kommando"

Robin: I'm always impressed by bands that can write songs where they almost dismantle them mid-song. Fugazi would throw a major key part in an otherwise frantic, manic song and Albert Ayler would blast a squealing, nasty free jazz solo over major key R&B songs about spirituality and unity. This is my attempt to create something along those lines where there's an uptempo groove the whole song and then it falls apart into dissonant strangeness before ramping back up. I think it's fun to sort of see how far you can dismantle a song and still come back. Kind of like being in the middle of David Lynch movie and wondering how he's gonna end the movie.

Paris: This is a song I wrote while I stayed up late on drugs watching “Bringing Out the Dead,” and I had to watch it twice. The movie put me through a daunting amount of emotions (mainly fear), and at the same time almost reminded me of the same paranoia Nic Cage’s character faced throughout the movie. A few of the lyrics of this movie were taken from the movie like “When you’re in the trench of hellfire’s gold.” I assume it means when something positive is brought forth from the worst circumstance, and I basically wrote this song as Nic’s character Frank Pierce.

Emily: This song is so, so cool. Robin wrote the music for this and I am so obsessed with the bass line. I was just really feeling the chorus one day at practice and started singing over it and it stuck after that. This song is such a journey and it's so well thought out. All the additions added in the studio make it extra fun to listen to for me as well. I wasn't all in for some of them at first, but I was wrong!

Ian: Let’s just say the claps and snaps took a lot of lobbying.

"Red Heat"

Robin: This was a real gamble when I brought this song into practice. I thought Ian would call me a coward for bringing in some pop punk bullshit. But he thought it sounded good so it made its way on the record. Also Emily and Paris were able to elevate this song past my horrible pop punk instincts. God bless them. God bless them all.

Emily: I am super proud of this song. Robin brought the music to practice and was concerned it was maybe too poppy, a little too Dino Jr.-y but I immediately knew I wanted to sing on it and see it through. The lyrics were inspired by John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost which explores the temptation in the garden of Eden and the fall of man. I wrote a paper in college looking at Eve in the poem through a more modern feminist lens and I wanted to use the lyrics of the song to tell the story from her perspective as I saw it in the poem. It was really fun to write and really fun to record. Paris pushed himself vocally on this one too and the result is really just the coolest thing.

"Ain't Rubbin’ No Shoulders"

Emily: We had our friend Luke come into the studio (who is in a band with me called Posmic, and in literally 5 million other bands, talented dude) add the totally unhinged sax part at the end and I looooove the result.

Paris: This song is a fun one because this is just me complaining about the same vices I have, doing with the same people, at the same places. I am talking shit, but not in a serious way. It’s really just introspective. I recognize how it feels repetitive, but I can’t stay away. When I say “I ain’t rubbin’ no shoulders,” I mean I’m not trying to stay familiar with this habit, but at the moment it hasn’t been screwing me yet.

Ian: For guitars, the verses and choruses were an attempt at like Vic DiCara and Black Sabbath. Then the last part I thought, “what if Prince had a lobotomy?”

"What is Time?"

Robin: I created the skeleton of this song, but I think it was mostly a collaborative effort to get it where it's at. Ian put some dirt on the main riff to give it a cool The Cult vibe, Ben from Give laid down some incredible leads and Emily and Paris took the vocals to another level with bringing some real grit to balance out the major key melodic instrumentation. Drumwise I took a page out of Stephen Perkins book, especially his drumming on Ritual de lo Habitual. I love the way he accents cymbals and treats fills like they're riffs.

Emily: I sang the chorus as practice one day and thought "nah this isn't it" but I was then convinced otherwise, and I'm glad it was.


Ian: Every record we have made thus ends with one of these slow, kinda brooding tunes. We got a little silly with the layering of vocals and space noises on this one.

Emily: If there's anything Lungfish taught us it's that repetition can be much more interesting than you may expect and I think we executed that idea successfully with this track.

Paris: My singing was supposed to be a sort of battle cry, speech sort of vibe, and it’s sort of a shake of sorts for redirection of people’s “anger” or “passion.

Truth Cult -- 2023 Tour Dates
03/31 Richmond, VA @ The Broadberry w/ Gorilla Biscuits
04/06 Boston, MA @ Elk's Lodege w/ Glitterer
04/07 Philadelphia, PA @ Foto Club w/ Glitterer
04/09 Washington, DC @ Songbyrd w/ Glitterer
05/19 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom w/ Rival Schools

More From Brooklyn Vegan