A galloping sense of urgency skips into listener’s ears immediately upon click play on the brand new Honey and Salt release. The self-titled release is the glimmering light of tasteful mathy styled punk. Guitars are frenetically stringing pieces together while the bass is keeping its own graceful bellow underneath. The drums roll through every progression with blistering speed. All that’s left is for the vocals to entangle themselves into the madness, utilizing call and response and a variety of infectiously built melodies on opener “A Nihilist Takes Up Knitting.”
“Simple Errors” is a poppy track for the group, combining chord progressions together with a easier to follow frantic pace, still finding ways to alternate the time signature just enough to keep listeners excited and on their toes. A quick to the punch tune that keeps finding ways to extend its length, the track comes to a spiraling and fun climax. “Bowling Green Memorial” takes its time in delivering the finale, creating an atmospheric middle that is extremely introspective. “Myths” is a snapping, snare driven tune with plenty of intricate patterns finding a place behind the yelled, harmonious vocals.
Honey and Salt is an incredible release, and New Noise Magazine is presenting an insider look at the creation of the record with this track by track from the Austin, Texas three piece.
A Nihilist Takes up Knitting
We knew we wanted this song to be the first song on the album, so we all decided, before Wade (vocals and guitar) started writing lyrics, that we wanted the lyrics to have a clear theme for the record. This song is about remaining positive during incredibly bleak times, and standing with those that are defying oppressive forces.
Musically, we wanted to start the album with an upbeat song and Ben (drums and vocals) wanted to have his drums fairly straightforward at first. We wanted to reach a wider audience with this album, so when Austin (bass and vocals) wrote his first catchy riff on the verse, we knew this had to be the first song on the record.
Lyrically, this song is the most direct and political. We’re all aware of income inequality in our society (especially with the influx of wealth in Austin), so we wanted to address this issue head on by pointing out the structural flaws in our economic system. We, like many in the United States, have a front row seat to the income inequality that is present due in part by the free-market capitalism of this country. Austin, TX specifically is facing a affordable housing crisis directly from the influx of wealth into the city as the tech industry’s money prices out underserved communities.
Musically, this song was inspired largely by the danciness of Q and not U and the quick intensity of the Fall of Troy. We knew the subject matter of income inequality could be a bit heavy for what structurally is a pop song, so we took inspiration from Q and not U in the verses to lighten up the overall feel of the song. We also wanted to be a more dynamic band as a whole on this record and we wrote the outro’s decrescendo with that in mind.
“Oyster” was the first song we wrote when Ben joined the band, so it feels the most energetic and emotional for us when we play it live. When Ben first joined the band, he didn’t have much background listening to math rock and was listening to a lot of metal at the time, like August Burns Red and Underoath. This is why there’s a lot of double bass on this song, in particular.
Lyrically, “Oyster” is about Wade’s philosophical problems in which he’s trying to deal with the inconsistency of trying to hold onto values and meaning in the world, while also believing the universe itself probably has no objective meaning.
Wade wrote most of the guitar parts and structure for this song after playing an amazing show with our friends in Hikes and Football, etc. back in the summer of 2016. We wanted to incorporate Ben and Wade’s harmonies together on a song, and this song felt like the perfect place to incorporate these melodies.
Wade was actually nervous about bringing the first couple of riffs into practice back in 2016, because he didn’t know how receptive Austin and Ben were going to be with riffs that were a bit more straightforward than usual. After they were totally down with the riffs, Wade wrote the first half of the structure of the song and the band wrote the second half of the song in practice.
The pre-bridge part of the song was inspired by the band Weatherbox; we all really enjoy the space that section gives the song as a whole and helps make the crescendo into the bridge feel more powerful. We’re also fans of false endings and knew we wanted to incorporate at least one on this album and it seemed to fit perfectly.
Lyrically, this is one of most personal songs for Wade, as it’s dealing with past mistakes and trying to move on from them. This deals with not only past mistakes with relationships, but also major life decisions that might turn out, on reflection, to be decisions that one might regret.
But Not Both
This song was originally intended to be a full band song, but it didn’t work out for whatever reason. Once Wade played it on acoustic, it was clear that there wasn’t a need for further instrumentation. Wade has always been influenced by Elliott Smith, so to have this type of song on the album worked out great. We also wanted to make it a transitional song between our more ‘pop’ songs and the weirder songs later on the record.
We had an acoustic song on the first Honey and Salt EP, and we knew we wanted to have another on this album really just to demonstrate that underneath all of the math rock flair, there is still solid songwriting at the core of this album.
Bowling Green Memorial
This is by far the most adventurous and progressive song on the album. This song marked the start of us moving past traditional song structures for this record. We are all largely influenced by The Mars Volta, and King Crimson, and wanted to try our hand at extending the form of a song with improvisation, although we do come back to some kind of structure at the end of song to make it more unified. What’s on the record is one continuous live take with all 3 of us in the same room feeling out the part together naturally. It’s also a song that is ever evolving for our live set.
Lyrically, the foundation of the content was mainly written by Austin, as a rebuke to the Trump Administration’s war on reality and the idea of ‘alternative facts,’ hence why we’re referring to the “Bowling Green Massacre,” created by Kellyanne Conway.
Cut the Fabric
This song was probably the second song we wrote with Ben in the band, and for the longest time we titled the song, “Braid,” before Wade wrote lyrics. This is probably one of the most energetic songs to play live, and Austin’s bass ‘solo’ is one of our favorite transitions on the record. The lyrics on the “Cut the Fabric” are also trying to respond to and defeat nihilism, by showing that one has to create meaning to give meaning to our universe.
This song is about trying to dig oneself out of depression and/or anxiety by trying to find any hope or solace in the world. The lyrics on this song are the most pessimistic and bleak, but it’s meant to contrast the lyrics on the last song, “Cascade,” by showing one can remain positive in bleak times and an uncertain future.
Musically, this song was largely written around the bassline. The tempo and lyrical content were definitely a change of pace from the other songs we were writing at the time. We also took the most liberty in the studio with this song adding lots of layers and extra percussion on this track. We knew we wanted a track with some more space on the record as the other tracks are fairly dense so that played a big part in the direction of the music and the song title as well. The noise wash was put into the song to be a tongue and cheek contrast to the title of the track and we all really enjoy how this section turned out on recording, especially in headphones. The outro was again written around the bassline with the guitar part being largely inspired by built to spill and modest mouse.
This was the last song we wrote before going into the studio, and all of the energy and excitement about going into the studio is represented on this song. There’s definitely post-rock and post-punk influences on this song, as we’re trying to show our wide range of influences on this record. We were also trying to tie in the theme of the record, as words are repeated from the first song, “A Nihilist Takes up Knitting.”
Top photo by Mason Mansfield