Interview with Born Without Bones vocalist/guitarist Scott Ayotte | By John B. Moore
Born Without Bones have changed immensely since Scott Ayotte first started the band as little more than an acoustic solo outing seven years ago. That started to change once work began on their debut in 2010. “With Say Hello, those recordings are full-band iterations that were just in my head for my acoustic songs,” the vocalist and guitarist says. “We’ve certainly tried to push the dynamic range a bit with each release. A new song of ours, ‘Young,’ might be the heaviest song we’ve ever written, but then, a song like ‘Wishing (You) Well’ could’ve fit on Say Hello.”
The band’s second full-length, Baby, came out in July of 2013, and now, Born Without Bones are back with Young at the Bend, released May 12 on The Devil You Know Records.
“While I definitely think our sound has stretched in certain directions, there are some common threads running through all three records,” Ayotte says. “Sunday is mentioned on all three records, which wasn’t exactly planned. Each record certainly deals with loss and heartbreak. There’s also a sense of hope and optimism for the future in our music which I don’t think has changed.”
Young at the Bend also marks Ayotte’s second album with bandmates, guitarist and percussionist Jonathan Brucato and bassist, percussionist, and vocalist Jim Creighton. “The first year of the band was really the only time it was a solo project. When they joined, I think the focus was to practice a lot and play the best we could,” Ayotte says. “Over time, we’ve tried to develop our own little nuances to performance and songwriting guided by our true impulses. Them joining the band allowed the project to get more experimental and progressive.”
Each band member is lucky to have two other people with a similar ethos to bounce their ideas off of, Ayotte says. When making a decision—creative or otherwise—all three work together to make it happen.
The album’s title holds a lot of significance. “From a lyrical standpoint, I wanted Young at the Bend to be more representative of the anxieties of my generation,” he says. “I wanted to write about the things that start to affect you in early adulthood. With songs like ‘Wishing (You) Well’ and ‘Young,’ I wanted to address the financial insecurities of a lot of my peers, including myself. ‘Romance’ is a song about the tendencies of someone battling manic depression. Songs like ‘Takes Time’ and ‘What I Was Missing’ deal with losing family members, which is something I wrote a lot about when I was younger, but not so much in adulthood.”
Incidentally, this is the first album that Ayotte didn’t name. Brucato was the one who came up with the title. “To me, ‘The Bend’ represents the obstacles and insecurities of my peers,” Ayotte explains. “When my friends and I read the news, fall behind on bills, or start losing family members, it feels like it’s early in life for these things to start happening. We’re all still holding onto a less responsible and more youthful lifestyle that’s starting to slip away.”
Ayotte is quick to admit that there are some tough themes on the new record and readily admits he sees songwriting as catharsis—which was sorely needed, as his grandmother passed away before they recorded the album.
“I feel like a different part of me takes over when writing or performing music. The process is really meditative for me,” he says. “The music and lyrics of our songs are where I store a lot of feelings I have a hard time articulating. My lyrics aren’t particularly cryptic, but certain lyrics mean something to me much different than the listener. There’s a lot of sort of inside jokes with myself in our songs that are really comforting.”
Those little jokes, Ayotte confesses, help him reflect on memories a lot more fondly. Writing songs about the people and experiences that have had a profound effect on his being is his go-to form of therapy.
Fans will have plenty of time to decipher the songs on Young at the Bend, as Born Without Bones plan on touring more than they have in the past, starting with a few record release shows in June followed by an extensive Midwest and East Coast tour. “We’ve been discussing getting out to the West Coast sometime after that as well,” Ayotte says. “Performing is our absolute favorite part of being in a band, so we’re all super pumped to get back on the road.”