If the kids from “Stranger Things” played in a band, the result would be Massachusetts’ Save Ends. Formed in 2010, the band have a Midwestern emo burn similar to acts like Annabel, Laura Stevenson, and Waxahatchee. Their newest album, A Book About Bad Luck follows up 2016’s Hug Your Friends EP and details life’s ups and downs ever so candidly. Released on Sept. 29, the record finds Save Ends back on the Black Numbers label and crafting a narrative that elaborates on friendship, their love of everything from beer to “Dungeons & Dragons,” and, of course, the never-ending journey of self-discovery.
A Book About Bad Luck is a pretty interesting album title. What does it imply?
BC: Overall, the record is a pretty big downer, lyrically. So, we didn’t think it’d be a good idea to call it something like Celebratory Times in the USA or whatever. The title itself came from a line in the opening song, [“Bad News”]—“I started a book about bad luck / And how to cope with growing up”—and it really seemed to fit the theme of the album. The album is almost totally about growing older and dealing with your relationship to the past. So, I suppose, in a way, the title reflects an idea of a catalog of all the blows that life hands you, while you cope with growing up.
It’s definitely emotionally heavy. Two standout tracks are “Heavy Hearts” and the closer, “The Wraith I’m Running From.” Can you share more of what they’re about?
BC: I’ll speak to the “The Wraith I’m Running From,” because I wrote the lyrics for that one. On every album, we try to have at least one reference to “Dungeons & Dragons” on it. We’ve told this story a bunch, but Save Ends is a reference to a fourth edition “D&D” mechanic, and we decided to start this band while a bunch of us were playing “D&D.” So, the game has a special place in our hearts.
This song is about our friend’s character, who happens to be an undead Dwarven Lich. He’s an evil character who gave up his mortal life to become a ghoulish, hovering undead thing. Anyway, the song is a love letter from him to a long-lost love. It’s basically him struggling to reconcile what he’s become while asking his former lover to escape their mortal body and live forever with him. I’d like to think of this as a letter that never got sent.
CA: And I’ll take “Heavy Hearts.” It’s about being in a situation where no one wants to be the one to make the hard decision. It’s about saying “fuck it” and moving forward for your own sake!
In terms of the musical essence of the record, there’s a lot of Midwestern indie and emo tones, similar to Annabel, but then there are moments where you can sense some Waxahatchee, some Laura Stevenson, and so on. Which artists would you say really helped influence this record?
BC: Well, we really like Annabel—shout out to [drummer] Bad Andy [Hendricks] and the boys! I think they make some of the best emo out there. So yeah, they could have definitely been an influence. Bands like Waxahatchee and Laura Stevenson are definitely influences too, but maybe just because we like them. We definitely didn’t go out trying to sound like anyone. But I’m sure our favorite bands find a way to shine through in the music.
For me, my formative touchstones include those Vagrant [Records] bands like The Get Up Kids, The Anniversary, Saves The Day, as well as bands like Propagandhi, Millencolin, The Weakerthans, Osker, and Braid. Maybe Death Cab For Cutie fits in there somewhere too; I feel like I’ve consistently listened to them over the years. [Guitarist] Tom [Ciesluk] and [bassist] Brad [Rheault] both played and play in No Trigger, respectively, and they tend to have some influences more on the hardcore or punkier side of things. But one of Tom’s all-time favorite bands is Jethro Tull, so—to summarize, I have no idea who our influences are.
CA: Bad Andy! For real, being compared to any of them is such a huge compliment. They’re all definitely in heavy rotation for me. The Anniversary, Rainer Maria, and The Forecast have always been my biggest influences when it comes to this band. I also listen to a lot of records from the ‘90s still, like Failure’s Fantastic Planet, Archers Of Loaf’s Icky Mettle, and Swervedriver’s Mezcal Head. So, I think somewhere, my brain mashes those things all up and then songs come out!
That’s a lot of different styles there! What are some of your favorite songs off the new album? Which ones are you looking forward to playing the most?
BC: I like “Beautiful Trouble” and “Goodnight Moon” a lot. Same with “Way Back.” But I think I look forward most to playing “Hateful Kids.” It’s probably not going to win any awards for best song ever written, but the message is about how America’s value system is all out of whack, and I’d like to talk about that and then sing about the hateful kids who are running and ruining our country.
CA: “Surf Bed” is the first stripped-down acoustic song we’ve ever put on a record, and I think it came out really cool. “Beautiful Trouble,” “The Wraith I’m Running From,” and “Way Back” are really dynamic songs, so I find them fun to play, because they really keep me on my toes!
Wrapping up, what do you think separates this album from your previous stuff? What would you tell fans to expect from it?
BC: We spent years on this record. Our last full-length came out in November 2013, so we’ve had a lot of time to work on things. We’re all very proud of it, and I personally think it’s the best thing that we’ve ever done. When you play with the same people for so long, the writing process becomes incredibly comfortable. Like, writing songs with this group feels incredibly easy. So, I think our writing process has improved since the early days.
We’re also approaching our mid-30s, and we’ve gotten some perspective on things that we didn’t have seven or eight years ago when we started this band. I think if you liked our older stuff, you’re going to be able to draw a straight line from that to this record. I think we’ve just gotten better at it.