Ahead of their new project, Isolation, Albany, NY-based band After the Fall are sharing their new song and video, “Break a Leg.”
The new album explores themes that are all-too-familiar to us today, created in the lens of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. New Noise chatted more with vocalist, guitarist, and leading man Mike Moak about the new album, single, and video.
This new project, Isolation, is a reflection of the lockdown and height of the COVID-19 pandemic through last year. Can you tell me more about some of the themes explored through the 10 tracks?
Yes, Isolation is a result of the lockdown and being forced to stop playing shows after two decades together as a band. One positive thing to come from the pandemic was me having much more time for song writing; I wrote two dozen songs for three bands when lockdown began; it was both crippling and therapeutic for me. The song “Mileage” is one for nostalgia, and each member of the band has their own ‘solo’ part in the song, as well as a guest appearance from Jon Snodgrass.
The rest of the lyrical themes are depression, love, heartbreak, paranoia, boredom, being isolated, and also the social/political state of affairs during the Trump era. The song “Gas Money” is about playing shows for 20 years and not really making much besides gas money. “Adios Amigo” is about our old label taking pre order money for a record the label never actually pressed last year, lying to us, and stealing money from hundreds of our fans; that’s why our vinyl release for Isolation will be feature Resignation on its B side. It will be a 20-song LP, Isolation / Resignation which were both recorded at the blasting room and produced by Andrew Berlin and mastered by Jason Livermore.
As you release the project and with the passing of time, how would you say you still relate to some of the ideas you explored? We’re still obviously navigating another stage of the pandemic, but do you all still feel pretty close to these ideas, or do you relate to the albums content in a different way, in the wake of everything currently happening?
I think the lyrics are just as relevant. They’re pretty vague at times, but the ideas expressed are still valid to me and can be relatable present day; the song “Degradation” is the politically-themed one. I’d say “Break a Leg” is my personal one. “Firewood” is a classic love song anyone can relate to if they fall in love. Most of them are mental health-related and also seem relative present day.
The band also change pace a little, with some slower songs and more vocals from Jasmine. What prompted the decisions to branch out, and do you think this will influence your records in the future?
Thanks for noticing that! Yes, we did do this intentionally. I’ve wanted to include a 50/50, female-and-male vocal dynamic with ATF for some time now … I’ve always been a big fan of Masshysteri and Teen Idols, etc.. Something about harmonized, girl-boy choruses really grab me. I think the two slower songs are also intentional, as we’ve released seven albums of fast material. We wanted to try adding some new elements this time around.
I do hope we continue to try new things every time we make new records. Doing the same thing over and over again gets stale. I think Isolation is certainly our most “pop” release to date, so who knows maybe the next one will be our darkest and heaviest.
Obviously the subject matter here is something everyone can relate to in one way or another. What do you hope fans will get out of the project as they hear it for the first time?
I hope people hear Isolation and can relate to some of the themes portrayed and can also see that a 20-year-old, blue-collar, DIY band can still make these types of big production records at a place like the blasting room and play shows with our favorite bands and elders; you just have to give a shit and do your best. There’s something to be said for sticking to your guns and sticking by your loved ones. I think After the Fall is a prime example of an East Coast band not playing by West Coast rules or standards.
I think those bands with big labels and agents and the ones with a brand-new van on their very first tour are all fine and dandy, but that’s definitely not us, as we grew up poor and worked hard to get where we’re at. I’ve traveled the world with my best friends opening for our favorite bands and elders, like Descendents and Propagandhi. I do not think most people or bands can say they’ve done the same, or that they’ve covered nearly as much ground as After the Fall has. And I’m truly grateful for that. At this point in my life, I’ve spent more physical time with my bandmates than my own immediate family.
You are premiering the song and video “Break A Leg.” What was the band’s intent behind this song, and what influenced the visuals in the music video?
I had a rough breakup a few years back; me and my ex broke up on the day of our fifth anniversary. Anyways, a year prior to that breakup, I was on tour headed to Fest, and my partner at the time actually literally broke her leg. Instead of cancelling the remaining gigs and coming right home, I remained on tour, and when I got home shortly after my return, I went to tour again, this time in Japan, and shortly after that return, I then went to play gigs in Hawaii. These were all great shows and trips and amazing destinations and so much fun all while my partner at the time was stuck at home in the winter with a broken leg. I think that’s about when when we fell out of love, and that’s what this song is about.
The video is filmed in our hometown and just portrays the gray, post-industrial, boring, depressed, upstate area we live in. My filmmaker brother Bryan Moak did the video for us, and he did a great job. Thanks Bry!
Is there anything you’d like to tease in regard to the band’s future plans after the album release?
I’d like to thank SAY10 and SBÄM, with their patience, help, and hard work! Also, thanks to Andrew Berlin and the blasting room!
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to mention an upcoming split with my HC band Male Patterns and Under Attack (RVA) out wintertime 2022. I would also like to plug our newer band Postage.
Watch the video for “Break a Leg” here:
Photo courtesy of After the Fall