Channelling melodic hardcore energy through emo vibes and alt-rock soundscapes, Hamilton, Ontario outfit You Will Always are all too happy to take listeners on a personal journey to rock bottom and back again.
We asked vocalist, guitarist, and band mastermind Alex Re (also of Counterparts), alongside drummer Matt Soliveri, guitarist Steve Travale, and bassist Eric Bazinet (ex-Counterparts) to break down, track-by-track, the writing and recording process for their debut album, Dependent, Reliant.
1. “Brutally Honest”
Eric Bazinet (EB): This was the first song Alex [Re] sent to us. I listened to it over and over again while walking through my neighbourhood. It was very cathartic to hear the thoughts he would often share with me turned into something that already felt like it was going to be special.
Steve Travale (ST): It’s funny because you hear these insanely intimate songs all the time, but it’s rare [that] you know the characters involved or the moments they’re referring to. It’s even rarer when it’s your best friend. I was a huge fan of the decision to have this song start the album off; it really kicks things into high gear, only to drop you right back off onto sad street. Don’t worry though, sad street is just as gnarly.
Alex Re (AR): When I wrote this song, I had no idea what this project was or what it could be. I had just gotten my heart broken by someone I took a huge chance on. As opposed to wallowing, I just started writing. Within an hour, this song had fallen out of me. I intentionally combined similar writing elements [that] I often use with Counterparts, while simultaneously adding newer elements as a means of foreshadowing the vibe of the record. Lyrically, this was the song that would allow me to test out the level of honesty I was willing to purvey and how that honesty would shape the record going forward.
2. “30 Days Of Sun”
ST: I really feel like Alex found his voice on this track, something that carries through the entire album. It reminds me of almost 15 years ago when Alex and I were looking for a vocalist for our first band. We couldn’t think of anyone, mostly because all our best friends were in bands already, including YWA drummer Matt [Soliveri] included. So, we forced Alex to sing “I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t” by Brand New at one of our practices. That solidified him as the lead singer in our cute little post-hardcore outfit back when I could barely play my instrument. Now look at us! Well, I can still barely play my instrument, but that boy can sing.
Matt Soliveri (MS): This was the first song I heard from the project back in the summer. I woke up one morning to a text from Alex saying, “Do you wanna play in a band together again?” It’s because of this song that I signed on. It was a song that excited me so much and gave me a hit of nostalgia that I couldn’t resist.
AR: With this song, I wanted to subvert expectations to a certain degree. As much as our first song lays out the foundation for this band, this song was meant to show the possibilities the record could [explore] going forward. When I was writing the song, I would tell the rest of the band that I was writing a “kissing in the rain song” with a big Death Cab [For Cutie] jam-out ending. I think I accomplished that.
EB: Hearing this song for the first time, I knew this project was too good to just let Alex put [it] up on his Soundcloud for a few people to hear. This was when we decided to form a band, properly record these songs, and try to get as many people as possible to hear them. Shout out to Dom Cercone for the guest vocals in the chorus.
ST: This song is a tough listen for me, because it gets into details of some of the shit my dude was going through, and it hurts to think about how I couldn’t be there when he needed the most support. Sure, the song fucking rocks, but it comes from a dark place.
MS: As soon as I heard the chorus of this song, I was hooked. One of my favourites on the record.
AR: This song, or the idea of it, has gone through many permutations over the years. It was originally conceived as a Counterparts demo, written around the You’re Not You Anymore (2017) writing sessions. I came back to it with the intent of starting from scratch, where I’d rewrite every part while keeping the “feel” of the song intact. Lyrically, this song [reflects] feeling simultaneously content and irate, [regarding] change and how we react when things start to fade away.
4. “Our Place”
ST: Everyone tells me I’m wrong, but this is probably my favourite tune on the album—maybe it’s tied with “In Fantasy”. I think I’m right about it being the best tune, but I also thought Snowpiercer (2013) was a shit movie, which is still a major point of contention in mine and Re’s relationship. Thankfully we’ve done our best to move past it.
MS: One of my favourite things about this song was that we got the chance to experiment with some cool drum parts in the studio. Near the end of the track, there’s a tribal drum part that was recorded live off the floor.
AR: I’ve had this song floating around in my head for years now. I wrote it on piano originally, and I only had the inspiration and foresight to finish the song once I started to imagine it within the context of this band. The quote at the beginning of the song is from a film called Comet (2014), which is a movie Eric and I absolutely adore. The moment in the film is so sublimely romantic. These characters are falling in love right before your eyes, [despite] the fact that they are two completely different people with two completely different outlooks on life: whether to live in the moment or worry about the future. The moment fit perfectly within the context of the song.
5. “High Enough”
ST: This song was super cathartic for me, and probably the song I had the biggest hand in. I’m a massive synth/Eurorack nerd, so this song really let me go nuts with all the stupid toys I’ve acquired/built over the years. We’ve got Mannequin’s Mangrove giving us those trumpet-y background tones, and a 4MS Spectral Multiband Resonator giving the eerie background noises. The song really gets spacey, and when Re’s voice kicks in we’ve got a Minibrute pumping out some fat bass sounds. I hope people dig this tune, even if it is a bit of a left turn from the rest of the album.
EB: One of the coolest things about this record is how Alex [tried] to include people who had a positive impact on his life, be it friends or family. This song features 20+ friends and family who lent their voices to the beginning of this track.
AR: I wanted something introspective and contemplative to place at this moment on the record and I loved the idea of stripping everything down, letting sound and mood drive the song. When I finally got clean last year, I started journaling and writing poetry to deal with the onslaught of emotions I [was beginning] to feel again. The lyrics to this song are from a poem that I wrote during that time. I was so scared to enter back into the world again. I felt like a failure, who had let everyone down, and I was absolutely terrified of potentially never finding love or happiness ever again.
6. “In Fantasy”
MS: “In Fantasy” is one of my favourites on the record. It was a song that challenged my skills as a drummer, both physically and creatively. Having not played a double kick in quite some time, I was nervous that I might not be able to pull it off or do the song justice. Once we hit the practice space, the song took on a new energy that made its way into the final track.
ST: The chorus hurts my fingers to be honest, I’ll have to turn my amp down when we play it live. That cute little sound at the beginning took me longer than the entirety of “High Enough” to get right. Don’t tell anyone, but it’s a pretty stock Reaktor patch with another layered on top of it. It sounds pretty gnarly though, right?
AR: When I was writing this song originally, I had pitched it to the guys as the “Michael Jackson song”. He’s one of my biggest influences and his music has informed a lot of my song writing choices, not just in this song. “In Fantasy” kicks off the second half of the record, what I refer to as Reliant. I had written the first 5 songs in 5 days, thinking that was all I had in me. So, I call that first half Dependent. I took a day and realized I still had more to say, so I began to plan a second half that would act as a response of sorts to the ideas proposed in the first 5 songs. Hence why the record is called Dependent, Reliant.
7. “Time and Time Again”
MS: This was a song I wrote back in 2016. It was just an instrumental track that was doomed to never see the light of day. I had forgotten about it until Alex discovered it in his email inbox. He really liked it and felt that it was a great fit for the album. After a bit of tweaking and adding lyrics, “Time and Time Again” was born.
EB: This is the only song on the record that I can recall actively being written/worked out collaboratively. Originally conceived by Matt 4 years ago, Alex sent us a rough demo with completely different lyrics/melodies etc., and it didn’t hit me as hard as the other songs up until this point. Once Alex rewrote the lyrics, and came up with a new hook for the chorus, this easily became one of my favourite tracks.
AR: Matt originally wrote the first version of this song years ago. I found it hard to write lyrics, mostly because I didn’t have as much of a personal stake in this song as I did the others, having not written the music for it. Once I re-recorded the song and put more of my own flair into it, I was finally able to articulate what I wanted this song to be about. I wanted to focus on that moment of clarity that we have when we’re able to rationally address toxicity and react to it appropriately. The devastating fact about that moment though is that it almost always goes away.
8. “You Will Never Beat It”
MS: This track was kind of Frankenstein of new material and an old song that Alex and I wrote in one of our bands back in the day. We always loved the riff and the atmosphere of the song, so when Alex said he was going to bring it back to life, I was thrilled.
EB: Alex and I always wanted to do a sort of tribal drum part on a Counterparts record. We finally got our wish and did so on this song and “Our Place”. Shout out to Nick Feudo for programming the electronic stuff at the beginning of the song.
AR: I love jamming out so much, and this song allows us to do so for a decent amount of time. This is our love letter to post-hardcore, post-metal and screamo music, made from an old idea Matt and I had 10 years ago. Similarly, to “High Enough,” this was a poem I had written around the time I had gotten clean and was trying to find my way back into the world. This song is a collection of discouraging sentiments I had written down and was specifically placed here on the record, just after a song where I appear to have some confidence and answers. I love juxtapositions like that; freely admitting glaringly obvious contradictions in your life is incredibly liberating.
9. “It’s OK”
ST: Acoustic intro, catchy lines, and a gnarly build up to the ending makes this song a beautiful fit for an album closer. I love this song, I love this band, and I couldn’t be any more thankful that I get to be a part of my best friend’s healing process. “It’s OK, I feel fine/I think it’s going away.” And thank fuck for that.
MS: Got to release my inner Travis Barker on this one. That was rad.
AR: This is the song that moves me the most, sometimes almost to tears. It was the clearest idea I had in my head of all the songs. It may seem extremely simple and straightforward on paper, but that simplicity is what makes the song so complex and layered to me. I love writing in layers; small, subtle layers that pile on top of one another. There are so many incredible and surprising moments that begin to reveal themselves through [this] structure of ever-expanding layers. I won’t lie, there’s a part of me that’s crossing my fingers behind my back when I sing, “It’s OK, I feel fine” over and over again. This is the lie we tell ourselves so we can keep moving forward. Even if we’ve come to terms with things, the past may not be done with us.