WORDS: MEGAN WALDER
“Wow. Damn. If only I’d have known”, Brian laughs about his statement in April that 2020 was already a “disaster”. Five months later and here we are. The pandemic still ensues, protests for BLM continue daily and people are screaming for change. Contrasting the negativity, a great need for societal justice and progression seeps through. We see it in the news, the actions of the protesters and the words of the artists that surround us. ‘In Sickness and In Flames’ has a certain synchronicity to it. Written pre-Covid, the album sits comfortably in an uncomfortable moment in history, it captures a more tarnished perception of the world around them than their previous four albums have, whilst still swimming against a dangerous tide.
“It’s cool when the art kind of sneaks up like that”, comments Sella on the surprising fit of the album in today’s climate. “It’s a reflection of life for sure. This has been a long year for me personally, as well as everything else going on in the world and you get the reflection of that in the album.” And their decision to package this album up with an image of where they once lived following its destruction by way of fire further cements their ability to make art from pain. “It’s important to me to look back on it and be like ‘oh yeah, I’ve moved past that’,” said Brian when explaining why they chose such a terrible moment in their life to be the face of this next chapter in their catalogue of work.
“IT’S COOL WHEN THE ART KIND OF SNEAKS UP ON YOU LIKE THAT…”
But it is not simply these personal disasters that influence the works of this pair, but the wider political landscape of America and its evermore vocal citizens. “It’s fucking intense right now to be totally honest.” But inspiration is all around. From the protests, the action of the police and the political tyrant that looms over the country, America is not short of content that may seep into their next album. For now, what America is short on is structure regarding their fight against coronavirus and it is this “piss poor” handling is what Brian blames for the band’s inability to bring their drive-in performances to Europe.
“I can’t wait to get back out and start feeling the energy from people that are around.” “There’s no substitute for a [normal] show at all.” But the drive-in shows they have been able to play have been “just a little taste of positive energy that we have been missing.” “I feel like everybody had sort of been missing. It was not normal; it didn’t feel like a regular show at all. But I do feel extremely happy that we got to have the experience and we got to experiment and be creative with it.” “But like, fuck that, I don’t want to do that. I want to go on tour man, I need things to go back to normal.”
But normal has never been where The Front Bottoms sit pretty. They thrive in discomfort and abnormality. As Brian says, “I’m happy, I’m sad, I’m happy, it’s like within fifteen minutes”. His fluctuation of mood not only allows him to adapt when faced with turbulence, but we see it channelled into creative energy. The pandemic has allowed him and Mat to explore new and unconventional ways to interact with fans, play their music and present their longevity as artists who do not simply give up when faced with misfortune.
“i feel like everyone has sort of been missing.”
“For me, playing the songs, that’s just one part of it. Twitch, the bookclub, the motorcycle club. Just trying to do all creative shit like that, like that’s kind of more the point at this point with The Front Bottoms for me.” And despite the numerous ideas and challenges that Brian and Mat set themselves, Brian admits that “the technology aspect is something that I have no idea about, so that holds me back a little bit.” But these limitations just offer greater challenges for the duo and their team and do not act as the barriers that many others would view them as.
So far, their new music has been met with praise from their ever loyal fanbase. Talking about these new songs, Brian explained that they are not as new as one may think and in fact some have been on the back burner for years before finding their way onto the album. But as the music develops the title often does not; “you reach the end of the song and you kind of decide that the name was always the name, the name was always what it was meant to be.” From ‘bus beat’ being a beat that was made on the bus, to ‘new song d’ at one time being in the key of a d, these titles pay ode to their origins. “It develops and develops, and the music develops, but the title doesn’t develop.”
As ‘everyone blooms’ states, “everyone blooms in their own time”, and the same can be said for these songs. Now is the time for them to surface and be the lifeline to The Front Bottoms fans that their previous work has been. Three years between albums and with today’s current events, this opus could not have come at a better time. “I’m just trying to spread love for sure,” says Brian. Now we just need to look forward to the pair of them being able to cross the seas and bring the album with them. It’s the least we deserve.
IN SICKNESS AND IN FLAMES IS OUT NOW VIA ATLANTIC RECORDS.