Last year, Miami noise-rock outfit Prison Warder released Wizened Limbs, a crushing EP that succinctly demonstrates what the band is all about: layered, cacophonous hardcore that flirts with grunge as much as it does noise. Nearly a year later, the band is finally releasing the music video for the title track, which at first seemed an unassuming venture but has inadvertently turned into an ode to Miami's music scene.
The band — Ana Farina Mackliff (bass), Lauren Palma (guitar), Bryan Adams (drums), and Christopher Aschbrenner (vocals) — is a committed bunch. Over the years, the quartet made itself a fixture of the city's punk and hardcore scenes, quickly becoming a regular at house shows and venues like Churchill's Pub, Las Rosas, and Gramps.
Unaware the world was about to plunge into an abyss of infectious disease, the band mulled over the next steps for the EP. They took their time planning a tour with post-hardcore outfit Ta Bien and began production on the visual for "Wizened Limbs" at the dilapidated venue-cum-artist-residency 777 International Mall in downtown Miami.
Then the lockdown brought everything to a screeching halt.
It is unfortunate enough, Palma and Adams tell New Times, that plans to tour were now out of the question; news that 777 International Mall — a fixture of Miami’s underground music scene and the venue of their unfinished music video — would soon close permanently only added to their stress.
With work to support the EP now stymied and venues either shuttered or forgoing live shows, the band could have easily given up and submitted to the creative slump in which many have found themselves.
Instead, unencumbered by deadlines and engagements, Prison Warder turned the shutdown into an opportunity to indulge in more creative endeavors — with the added motivation of creating a time capsule of the soon-to-be-defunct art space at 777.
“With the 777 Mall closing, we wanted to finish the video," Palma explains. "The mall is one of those places in time that you don't realize how special it is until you don’t have places like that anymore."
“We thought the mall was here to stay," Adams adds. "When we found out it was closing, it was motivating more than anything."
With help from 777 residents Vidium (AKA Greg and Eddy Alvarez), the band returned to finish the video, getting in just prior to the eviction date. Filming was helmed by Adams, who's also the founder of Figbox, a collective and video production company.
The song’s concept and name were inspired by Aschbrenner’s experience working at a Pembroke Pines restaurant where he found himself observing old men ogle waitresses and eat like slobs after a round of golf. The Hitchcockian video, starring Aschbrenner and friend Michael Cotugno, is as unnerving as it is captivating.
With the video's release now behind them, the band looks back fondly at how these trying times have brought them closer together as a creative unit. The change of plans that could have knocked Prison Warder off course has instead re-energized the group.
“It’s made us appreciate each other in different ways,” Palma explains. “And we’ve spent a lot of time experimenting and consistently playing together. We believe in what we’re doing. There’s something beautiful about the way we’ve still come together despite everything. I don’t think we would have known that about each other if we hadn’t been put in this situation.”
Things may not return totally to what they used to be, but Prison Warder is ready for whatever may come next. The band has been amassing hours of new recordings, even heading to a remote island together for a few days to play and record music.
"You know how you get that feeling during New Year's, like, 'Oh, we get to start forming new habits?'" Adams says. "[The pandemic] put us in a unique situation. It feels like an opportunity to change."
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Olivia McAuley was born and raised in London, England. After studying at the University of Miami, she worked in music PR and marketing before joining Miami New Times as the club listings editor. She also writes about music and anything and everything that's going on in her adopted city.