Militarie Gun: the band that exploded out of the pandemic to become one of the exciting live bands in hardcore

Militarie Gun: the band that exploded out of the pandemic to become one of the exciting live bands in hardcore

The pandemic era was a strange time, one where we all had a lot more free time than we were used to, and very little with which to occupy it. The period was a devastating one for working musicians, however, who instantly found themselves unable to do many of the things that musicians do in order to survive. Quite asides from the financial issues, however, were the creative ones – all of a sudden people who had spent their working lives creating stuff suddenly found themselves without an outlet.

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It’s perhaps for this reason that the lockdown period became something of a fertile one for new bands to form – as many musicians channelled their downtime into creating new stuff, whether solo or teaming up with friends and roommates to pass the long weeks of sheltering in place.
Most of those bands and projects didn’t get anywhere of course, but some did more than that – for Militarie Gun, it lit the touchpaper on what would become an explosion. What became Militarie Gun was originally a pandemic solo project for frontman Ian Shelton, but shortly after releasing the band’s first EP in 2020 he realised that it needed to become a proper band.
Image: Jaxon Whittington
The Proof
MG’s music has often been described as melodic hardcore, but in a very 2024 sense there’s plenty of other influences there too, not least Modest Mouse in Shelton’s frantic delivery. What perhaps sets the band apart from others, however, is their work ethic – almost as soon as they were able the band started playing shows and touring relentlessly across the US, Europe and Canada. The band quickly earned a rep as energetic and compelling live performers, and established themselves as one of the most exciting new guitar bands of recent years.
The proof of this was found in last year’s debut album, Life Under the Gun, a hook-laden burst of effervescent rock that straddled many genres and, crucially, was the gestalt work of the entire band and the music they’d created over two years of hard touring.
“I’m really proud to have written those riffs,” says guitarist William Acuña of one of the album’s tracks, the blistering standout track Do It Faster. “It seems to get a good crowd reaction when we play it live.”
Do It Faster is a standout track on Life Under the Gun, and even before it arrived in the world the band were expecting it to connect with their audience – though they probably didn’t expect it to get picked up by, of all things, a Taco Bell commercial.
“I don’t think it’s that surprising, but I think it’s very cool,” says bassist Waylon Trim, who joined shortly after the record was completed, of the song’s reception. “I think we kind of expected that to be the bigger single on the album. It’s a pretty simple song but from the first time I heard it, I knew it would catch people’s attention.”

Changing Places
The presence of Trim does indicate that things haven’t always been smooth sailing for Militarie Gun – the band has experienced several line-up changes in this period, most notably the departure of guitarist/bassist Nick Cogan. Cogan left shortly after the album was completed to focus his attention on his primary band, Albany post-hardcore band Drug Church.
The departure of a key member is obviously going to impact the whole, but Acuña is sure that the addition of Trim hasn’t changed the energy or sound of the band.
“I don’t think much has changed,” he admits. “I feel like the groove is still there and the sound is still there.” The band has been having other guitar players fill in when playing live, but the goal is for a replacement to be found and for the band to maintain a consistent lineup. “We obviously love Nick and wish we could have him all the time, but unfortunately, he plays in an incredible band called Drug Church.”
Unsurprisingly, the band’s 2024 touring slate has been typically unrelenting – starting in the US, then Australia, then back to the US, then to Europe and then finally back to the US again. It’s enough to give you jetlag just writing it, but remarkably the band are determined to squeeze in some time to work on their sophomore album along the way.
Image: Jaxon Whittington
“I think we’re going to do a lot more writing and recording, trying to finish the next album,” explains Acuña. “Luckily, we’ll have Waylon this time. So, we’re excited about that!”
For a band that started as a solo project, you’d expect the writing to be led by Shelton, and for the most part it is, though it’s for a good reason.
“Usually one person brings in an idea for a song and for the most part, that’s Ian [Shelton] because he will just never stop writing songs,” Acuña chuckles. “The rest of us, we try to come up with as much as we can, but we’ll never be able to match his pace and output. Then usually, it’s one or two of us putting a demo together. Writing and recording while on the road is something that many bands have found to be a daunting task as the travel is often exhausting, but the band always keeps an acoustic guitar on tour for when inspiration strikes.”
It’s interesting to think of these high-energy hardcore songs starting out on a humble acoustic guitar, but the reality of being a band on the road as much as Militarie Gun are means there’s little choice in the matter. “We’re not able to go to the practice space and hook up all our gear every time we want to write something,” Acuña explains.
Whatever the formula is, it’s working – Militarie Gun continue to tour like they’re making up for lost time, playing bigger venues and stages each time they pass through, with more and more fans finding their critically lauded debut album.
Image: Jaxon Whittington
The next step will be the trickiest one yet, but as you’d expect from a band with such self-belief and determination, Acuña isn’t leaving anything to chance.
“Anytime we’ve been home this year, we’ve been working on demos,” he explains. “And we have a pretty big batch of demos already that we’re excited about.” If past evidence is anything to go by, when Militarie Gun get excited about their music, you should too.
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