Over the past few years, Ian Shelton has made a name for himself as one of the most prolific and unique minds in aggressive music, and now as the mastermind behind Militarie Gun, he’s pushing himself further than ever before. The band’s new dual EPs, All Roads Lead To The Gun and All Roads Lead To The Gun II, shed all sonic constraints for a menacing-yet-melodic exploration of obsessive creativity that’s impossible to ignore.
Shelton first started turning heads as the leader of acclaimed hardcore band Regional Justice Center, quickly establishing a relentlessly productive musical identity that’s equal parts vitriol and empathy. But when RJC’s extensive tour plans were put on hold at the start of 2020, Shelton’s restlessness led to the unexpected start of Militarie Gun that same day. “I’ve always been the kind of person who’s very compelled to do things,” he explains. “Everything suddenly becomes urgent, and that’s how I feel about songwriting—it’s just something I have to do when the inspiration comes.” The band’s debut EP, My Life Is Over, loudly announced Militarie Gun’s arrival and made it clear that this was much more than a side project: this was a whole new aspect of Shelton’s songwriting, one with a drastically more melodic but still fiery approach.
Drawing on a wide range of influences—from the unhinged guitarwork of Born Against, to the propulsive, present bass of Fugazi, to the kinds of hooks that would make Robert Pollard proud—Militarie Gun’s sound is as combative as it is accessible. All Roads Lead To The Gun finds Shelton ambitiously broadening these dynamics. “After recording the first EP, I just felt like I could do whatever I wanted,” Shelton explains. “I felt like I could see the limitations lifting off. I love the tension between aggression, melody, and strangeness.”
With the creative doors flung wide open, Shelton threw himself into a period of intense output that not only yielded the music on the All Roads Lead To The Gun EPs, but also a personal interrogation of his bordering-compulsive drive to make things. “A day without a goal is impossible for me, I can’t have that happen,” Shelton says. “Sometimes it’s really hard to turn off and it can be a burden to start feeling spazzy if I’m not being productive. I have a hard time finding a balance, it’s either full throttle up or full throttle down.”
With the band’s lineup expanded to include guitarists Nick Cogan and William Acuña, drummer Vince Nguyen, and bassist Max Epstein, Militarie Gun entered The Pit Recording Studio in Van Nuys, California with producer/engineer Taylor Young (Nails, Twitching Tongues, God’s Hate), and set to work capturing the manic spirit of Shelton’s writing process. “I’m not a perfectionist,” he explains. “I tend to like first drafts, it just fits my personality. Everyone is imperfect, so if a song is too, that just reflects life more.” Militarie Gun steers directly into those flaws and contradictions, twisting them into a sound where sharp guitars and heavily distorted bass tangle with dulcet mellotron and massive hooks—courtesy of Shelton’s caustic-yet-tuneful vocals—all with no song crossing the three-minute threshold.