Denver post-punk outfit Weathered Statues released their debut, Borderlands, on Finnish label Svart Records in May. It’s a beautifully dark and haunting album. The groove hovers, floats then flies like a ghostly spirit through a hundred-year-old graveyard. The song’s stories read like 1800s tombstones, yet they could easily get buried in a John Hughes scene and sound just as apt as New Order. Vocalist and keyboardist Jennie Mather adapted old stories of love and death from poetry and history into the band’s songs.
In the case of “The Silver Cliff,” the grave marker remains today. It’s the grave of Clifford Griffin, above the mining town of Silver Plume in Colorado. “It’s an old story,” Mather explains of her inspiration, “a violinist who came to the mountains in Colorado seeking his fortune in silver. A miner, he would play his violin in town, and people would listen to him in the valley below. It was always very sad. The story goes he came here to escape his past. He came from England. His fiancée died. He never got to marry her. The story is he is actually buried in the town Silver Plume. He dug a grave, played one last song on his violin, and then shot himself. He fell into the grave. He left a note for people to leave him there and bury him there. I’ve always loved that story—old ghost stories, I guess you could say.”
Mather credits a lot of History Channel viewing as the entryway to the rabbit hole of her song ideas. She found Borderlands opener “Corpse Candle” while watching a historical program, then, through research, she found a poem and created the lyrics. “There were bodies, and there was this weird blue mold that would grow on them, and they called it corpse candle,” Mather recounts. “‘What’s that? That sounds fantastic,’ [so] I looked it up. I found an old poem that didn’t have an author attached to it. It’s about a blue flame that you might see in a cemetery. There’s lots of things that have the name ‘corpse candle.’ The first thing I heard was the weird blue mold that grows on bodies. I guess I have a really morbid sense of curiosity.”
Bassist Bryan Flanagan wrote the initial skeleton of bass for “Corpse Candle,” and guitarist Jason Heller filled it out with what Mather calls “riffs.” “It’s a group project,” Mather says. “For me, I write melodies, record it on my phone, and take it home. I think about it and work on it. That works for me if I can let it marinate in my head for a while.”
Borderlands conjures memories of The Cure’s 1980 opus, Seventeen Seconds. Weathered Statues travel a dark forest, chased by the past into the future. Images of black suns, fallen souls, and icicle feelings abound, but what marinades and motivates the macabre themes is Mather’s background in the medical field. The record’s gripping tempo is the kind of beat that would prompt escape from the clutches of deadly forces, leaving the listener running from the terror in Mather’s words under bleak clouds of imagination, driven by heavy-picked bass and siren guitars. The whole of this record is a survivor’s toolbox, the cheat codes back from black. Weathered Statues’ influences range from ’80s English bands to goth and beyond. “I love old death rock type stuff: bands like Skeletal Family, one of my favorites, Xmal Deutschland, the biggies like Bauhaus,” Mather says. “An older death rock sound if that makes sense. There’s a lot of bands doing a goth thing right now, a big revival. I hope that we stand out. More guitar-driven. That tends to be something I enjoy—less dance-y, more guitar-driven.”
Weathered Statues are excited to head to Europe on tour with Kuudes Silmä through Oct. 20, taking their English-influenced post-punk to a place that feels like home. The vibe will take listeners right back to the ’80s and push the genre to the future. “Playing Europe is a completely different situation,” Mather says. “It’s DIY. We play in these completely different venues. They feed you. They give you a place to stay. They give you beer. Sometimes, they give you breakfast. They’re well-organized. They really want to take care of the bands that come through. We’re very grateful.”