We’re pleased to bring you the premiere of Language’s new song “Game Piece” (listen below). The track is taken from the band’s forthcoming EP Plymouth, which is scheduled to be released on May 18th and can be pre-ordered here.
Stream “Game Piece” and stick around for an interview with the band below.
Language has been something of a best kept secret in the live music landscape in NYC. Their experimental while unflinching stylings are the product of three individual talents committed to their artistry, enjoying the hell out of playing with each other the whole way.
Comprised of Omar Afzaal (guitar, vox), Charles Sloan (bass, vox) and Wes Black (drums, vox), Language now announces their signing to Good Eye Records and a release show at Baby’s All Right set for May 16th.
Interview with Language
Omar: First of all, my wife’s sister is Charles’ partner. I pretty much met Charles on my wedding day. He even chauffeured me around town like a true gentleman that day. If you had to ask me, it was a very positive, if misleading, first impression. A few years later, my wife and I moved upstairs from Charles and my sister-in-law and started playing music. We initially existed as a different band with an additional member when we met Wes. Charles and Wes immediately clicked over their love of bullying me. Good times. After a year of working out some kinks, we settled into a three-piece lineup and officially formed Language.
Charles: Yeah, I met Omar on his wedding day and moved to New York the next morning.
Wes: It was mostly accidental – as far as what Language ended up turning into. We all discovered common influences/interests that were never really part of the initial plan and decided those angles were the way to go with the band. Still not sure what we’re doing but we’re trying anyway.
It’s been almost two years since you released your last EP. What’s changed for the band since then?
Omar: I’ve become a father. If anything, this has really raised the stakes for me as far as I’m concerned. My time away from my family truly matters. So in a way, I’m taking Language more seriously than ever. Musically, we’ve continued to push ourselves and each other to try things we never would have done in any other situation. Over the past couple of years, we’ve really tried to raise the bar as far as songwriting goes. Plymouth is a direct result of this school of thought. I feel like every measure on that short blast of a record was scrutinized to a ridiculous degree.
Wes: A lot has happened for us in our personal lives. We are also very close friends and tend to value our relationships with each other over the band so naturally, this will be reflected in our decisions and in the music. I think we’re mostly just more sure of what we’re good at and can pull off and what we can’t. I think as a band our goal is to be something no one else can copy or do for the very reason that it would require each of us as individuals executing it to do so. Basically just work to our strengths before anything – I think we’re getting better at that.
You pack a lot of diverse instrumentations into the relatively short running time of Plymouth. What’s your songwriting process like?
Omar: It’s incredibly collaborative to the point where I don’t even know how it ends up coming together. For instance, if Charles and Wes have a rhythm part that they come up, my melody might easily end up being the bass part in a couple months. We try to make sure that no idea is sacred and are willing to throw it out if it sounds remotely like hot garbage (to us). It can be a tough pill to swallow if your monster truck mosh riff gets the boot, but I usually get over it.
Charles: Everything gets tested. I might have a lyric, or hear a potential additional, but until it gets run a hundred times and inverted and handed off to another band member, it’s hard to tell what really works. We definitely need each other’s ears and ideas. Every riff I bring to practice is just a sketch. I’ve played it on my own plenty of times, but I know I haven’t really heard it yet.
Wes: Definitely collaborative. Nothing is sacred. If we’re not all satisfied with it it gets changed or thrown out. No set method except for these general rules.
What’s “Game Piece” about?
Omar: I’m going to have to let Charles answer this one. My two cents are that the lyrics have always struck me as a super desperate fantasy of packing up everything you love and getting the hell out of this country/planet. Although, I feel like Charles’ interpretation might break that spell for me.
Charles: Omar’s not wrong. I started with of a couple ideas: a middle school project where I had to decide what I would take with me on a spaceship to a new world, and the story of Aeneas, one of the mythical founders of Rome, who took his father, statues of his gods, and his son and lead them out of a burning Troy. It’s all reduced to a few shouted phrases, which is where the desperation and irrationality enter.
Are there any connecting or overarching lyrical themes on Plymouth?
Omar: For me, a lot of the lyrics pertain to political anxieties that a lot of us might be feeling right now. This isn’t necessarily a political record in any sense, but the anger, frustration, and need for action has most definitely seeped into the bones of the record.
Charles: A lot of the lyrics are about going off to find a new home, but the point of view isn’t fixed, even within a single song. Sometimes you’re the weary refugee, sometimes the greedy colonist. Sometimes you build a fire for warmth, sometimes to burn the place down. That sensation of spinning is certainly influenced by the outside world.
Wes: It also just needs to feel right sung. Some lines on the record are very personal and occasionally biographical and just happened to fit perfectly thematically and musically. There is a certain refrain that was quite literally about a near-death experience that we were involved in. It felt like it needed to be in the song and it happened to mesh perfectly with the whole feel. I think there is a magic about songwriting that somehow connects disparate things like that and somehow it makes sense.
Have you had a chance to play “Game Piece” live? How has any of the unreleased material evolved since recording, if at all?
Omar: I believe Game Piece has changed the most. I was listening back to a version we played at Shea (rip) a couple years ago and it’s almost unrecognizable. 100% of the material on this EP has changed a ton since we started demoing it and playing it live.
Charles: I agree. It took a long time before I figured out how to deliver the vocal. Recording was helpful, but it’s really benefited from live performance.
Wes: We don’t have any songs that don’t continually change. That’s something we value in music and strive for – to write something that can take on different shapes based on how we’re feeling at that very moment. I like the idea that every person who sees it live will have an experience that will never be repeated. Music is a conversation – if we can’t respond genuinely and authentically with the tools we have then we need to find new tools.