I’m Glad It’s You haven’t had an easy time over the last couple of years. In July 2017, rather than celebrating how much their debut album, The Things I Never Say, was resonating with fans on the road, an accident shook the band up forever.
While the band members walked away with minor injuries, their videographer and mentor Chris Avis didn’t. And what makes Every Sun, Every Moon—the band’s sophomore effort, once more on 6131 Records—even more impactful, is that guitarist and vocalist Kelley Bader was the one behind the wheel. The result, a eulogy of sorts, is a haunting novel of blame, optimism, and self-discovery which teaches us to let go and let fate run its course.
“The entire album revolves around the loss of Chris Avis and the subsequent period of grieving,” says Bader. “At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, writing it was one of the most difficult things I’ve done. I ignored a lot of the heavy lifting of the healing process until I began writing the album, which effectively reintroduced me to the experience all over again, only with a lot of amended expectations and a deadline.”
But make no mistake, the band doesn’t drape their songs in a morose bed. Sure, you can find something for fans of Balance and Composure in the grittier sections, but there are also catchy, anthemic jams for fans of Jimmy Eat World, Say Anything, Oso Oso, and Joyce Manor, on tracks such as “Death Is Close.” In fact, there’s an overarching, Britpop theme that adds a unique fizz to the record, despite the dark lyrical content.
“We really wanted to couple the form and content of this album much more than we had in the past, so we spent much more time and energy considering how the music performed with the lyrics and the subsequent effect that might have,” Bader continues. “We tried to use every element of the music as an opportunity to underscore, expound upon, illuminate, or even contradict what the lyrics were doing in a way that could make the meaning of what we were trying to communicate more apparent. I suppose that’s what most songs are attempting to do, which is why they’re songs, and not poems or prose. But, this is to say we were much more aware of our attempt to accomplish that effectively on this album by incorporating elements outside the genres we’ve previously been associated with.”
It’s interesting how tragedy often encourages creative risk, and Bader believes this part of the creative process ties into what we harbor deep beneath the surface.
“I thought the contradiction of the musical tone paired with lyrics about mortality and trauma would describe what it feels like trying to hide your trauma in order to stay composed and function in the world,” he says. “It’s sort of like wearing a mask every day.”
This is why, ultimately, Bader has crafted a concept album tied heavily to mortality and how we cover up when we face it head on. It’s as personal and narrow as he’s ever been in terms of narrative as well.
“‘Lazarus’ deals with losing my faith more openly than any other song,” he says. “‘Lost My Voice’ walks through coming to terms with my guilt. And ‘The Silver Cord’ is the first song to reflect on the entire process of grief and boil it down to the simple pain of missing someone. They’re three very personal takes revolving around a subject that is universal.”
As for the album’s title, it’s simply part of trying to understand his role in the grand scheme of life.
“The title is attempting to convey a sense of eternity, of always remembering and carrying that memory further,” Bader explains. “It’s also a way of accepting the duality of existing, of living in a universe filled with darkness and light, joy and grief, and loss and life.”
And from the lyrics, you can tell death is a ghost that won’t ever go away, but it’s something Bader is coping with better, especially as he knows how many lives his friend touched. Of course, the songwriter admits it hits a bit harder these days, but he has learned to lean towards the light. It’s why he can’t wait to sing, scream, and pay homage to his brother when it’s safe again.
“I think about him and his work a lot during the COVID-19 days,” Bader says. “Without people like him documenting live shows, we’d all be less connected to each other and even ourselves. I think it will be a relief to play these songs live. I’ve heard the phrase ‘Chris would’ve wanted you to keep on’ for so long now, and it’s difficult when that’s inhibited. We’ve wanted to share this story for a long time, and being together with people, playing loudly and freely, feels like the right way to share it.”
With regards to how the band is actually dealing with the present era of quarantine and self-isolation, Bader seems eager for brighter days to come, when he can honor a tremendous inspiration.
“The band is about as well as anyone else during this time,” he concludes. “We connect about once a week to check in and catch up. We’re hosting some online interviews to keep in touch with friends in bands around the country too. We haven’t written anything new yet, there’s sort of an understated pressure to emerge from this time with something new. But we’ve been focusing on this album for some time, and we want to keep our eyes on what it means to us, and share it with people who might take something positive away from it.”
Photo credit: McKenzie Melcher