Brendan Kelly of the Lawrence Arms doesn't mean to sound all “flower powery” about it when he claims to be living the good life.

But who could blame him? He's merely expressing the sheer joy he has for his current situation: Playing music, touring the world, doing a little partying here and there – all with his two best friends in tow.

“It's us against the world,” he says.

When Kelly talks of “us,” he's referring to band mates Chris McCaughan and Neil Hennessy, who since 1999, have been producing their own unique sound of aggressive pop-punk with a gritty edge. Though people do their best to compare them to others, their music truthfully doesn't echo anything else out there today, which depending on who you ask, could be their biggest strength or their biggest weakness.

“Categorizing your music reduces it to a sound that it may or not sound like, or a word that some may or may not approve of,” Kelly says. “Being lumped into some group or category is not why we did this in the first place. It's about playing music and doing what we love.”

To understand the chemistry the three have with each other is to understand that their journey didn't exactly begin with the Lawrence Arms. Kelly and McCaughan have been friends for the greater chunk of their lives, living together, getting evicted from apartments together and generally wreaking havoc on the streets of Chicago together.

And it just so happened to be their history and the brotherly bond they share that ultimately inspired the band's latest and possibly most dynamic release yet, Oh! Calcutta.

“We came off touring from our last release, with an idea of what we wanted to do thematically with this record. We were asking ourselves what we have in this world, what it boiled down was that all we really have is each other – we are three friends first and foremost and that's what it's really about,” Kelly says.

He continues, “It's not so much a reflection of the past, but it's about moving on and about the future.” Listen to “Jumping the Shark” and “Great Lakes/Great Escapes” for clarity-songs, which Kelly says exemplifies the feel of the record.

On prior albums, the two have alternated between songs, singing back up for each other, allowing the tracks to be labeled Kelly's and McCaughan's. This time around, however, Kelly who sings the hard-hitting punk songs with a raspy voice, shares the vocals with McCaughan, who is considered the melodic one of the two, showing them off musically as one cohesive unit rather than two separate entities.

On being lifelong buddies who both play music, Kelly admits there's nothing wrong with a little healthy competition from time to time.

“Sure there's always that thought in the back of your mind, like I don't want his songs to sound better than mine, but it's not in a devious, I want him to fail sort of way. It's more about learning from each other, pushing each other and striving to be better at what we do,” he says.

In the end, it really just boils down to being able to live out your dream with your best friends by your side, Kelly explains.

“It's the only way I could do it,” he says. “If I was doing this with anyone else, who would I hang out with on tour? We are in this together.”

Oh! Calcutta is currently available. The Lawrence Arms will perform June 2 & 3 at the Avalon, in Hollywood and June 4 at the Grove, in Anaheim. For more information, visit