If I had to select a default state for New Junk City it would be something along the lines of “now you see us, now you don’t.” The melodic punk unit has made it a habit of appearing on the scene to drop a new release, play a few shows, and then quickly recede into the background again. In the case of their most recent absence, the band has spent most of the last year working on a new LP with Damon Moon at Standard Electric Recorders in Decatur. “We definitely had a lot more of a plan this time than with the last record,” says guitarist and vocalist John Vournakis. “The songs were more fleshed out, and we had a better idea of the kind of sounds we wanted.”

In addition to their work in the studio, the band has been busy incorporating a new member into the lineup — Dakota Floyd of DIY punks the Wild. Although there were expectations of a slow transition and something of a learning curve, the veteran guitarist was a natural fit right off the bat. “It’s always kind of weird when you introduce a new person to an existing band,” explains bassist Zac Hobbs. “There is always a concern or worry that the songs wont sound the way you intended them or that things will sound good, but slightly off. With Dakota, there was none of that. He just jumped right in, picked up the old songs, and learned the new record quickly, and everything just sounded great, if not better than before.”

Today, we’re excited to premiere “Useless Friends,” the lead single from the group’s forthcoming LP, Same Places. Like much of New Junk City’s past material, the track is a hard-charging, fist-pumping anthem full of blistering guitars, rousing vocals, and buckets of four-on-the-floor energy. Still, for as raw as it is, there is a cohesiveness to the song that feels vital and new. While previous records have been mostly written piecemeal by individual members, the band’s latest is the result of a more attentive and collaborative approach.

“I hesitate to use the word ‘mature,’ because we’re not, but it’s definitely more nuanced and thoughtful,” says Vournakis. “I think there’s a song or two on there that will surprise folks.”

New Junk City is currently in the process of shopping Same Places to labels so it might be some time before the record is released. In the meantime, give a listen to the driving new single below.

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