Chosen by Monk
As the rays of light at the end of the dark tunnel that has been the past 14 months of isolation and generally being shit upon from great heights grow brighter day by day, the rock ‘n’ roll year that is 2021 has somehow crept, crawled and sneaked deeper into its fifth month, with its DMs firmly planted in the mire and muck of the chaos around it, with a healthy slew of new music pinging itself our way, and especially the continuing tsunami of submissions we receive for our coveted ‘Video Of The Week’ award… Yes, as we’ve said on multiple occasions, one constant throughout the vagaries of inconsistent and often hard to stomach lockdowns is the amazing level of adaptive creativity that bands and video directors the length and breadth of the Überverse have continued to show, often in the most adverse of circumstances.
After viewing all of the entries – and, yes, we did watch each and every one of the more than 150 submissions we received this past week alone – at the end of the day (or night, depending on where you are in the Überverse), there could be only one winner… And this week’s champion of champions, fighting off some extremely competition comes from a band who, in their relatively short career, have never been afraid to confront the most personal issues, and do so in a way which is empathetic and sympathetic, accessible and identifiable… They are Michigan alt-rock combo Sleep Waker, who have just released their truly beautiful new single, ‘Distance’, the first taster of their second album, ‘Alias’, which itself is coming out at the tail end of July.
Vocalist Hunter Courtright told us a bit more about the song:
“[It] is about loss — more specifically, losing someone very close to you,’ says Courtright. ‘For me, it’s about witnessing my grandfather struggle with dementia. His passing really hit me and it was a very hard and emotional experience. I immediately knew I needed an outlet for that feeling and started working on the lyrics that eventually turned into ‘Distance’.”
Drummer Frankie Mish added:
“When writing ‘Distance’, we realised this was the perfect song to round off this album. We had most of the songs finished and this demo just sat there as a lead and a chorus, and the further we got into the process, the more we realised we really needed something to stick out as a major emotional point in the album. Once that clicked, the song just easily flowed out.”
The accompanying clip beautifully visualizes the song’s messages in a way which is both powerful and understated. With the band’s holographic performance parts interjected almost as if they themselves are ghosts, or lost souls, looking on at the unfolding story, it also reflects the senses of isolation, helplessness and hopelessness that many of us have experienced over the past year and a bit:
Like the band name, and their previous two releases – 2017’s ‘Lost In Dreams’ EP and the following year’s full-length ‘Don’t Look At The Moon’ – ‘Alias’ is based around the concept of insomnia and sleep deprivation/paralysis, although this time the band have taken the concept to a much deeper, more personal level, as Mish elaborated:
“When I had the idea to start the band, I had insomnia and sleep paralysis. It was a big thing in my life. I had the name Sleep Waker, I was playing around with logos and stuff like that. And then Hunter mentioned he had insomnia as a kid. So, we bonded over that connection.
“Each release has had a theme built around experiences we’ve had in dreams, or concepts based around sleep. ‘Lost In Dreams’ established that, and ‘Don’t Look At The Moon’ was all about sleep paralysis. But we tag-teamed the lyrics this time. I write from a lot of my personal experiences of nightmares and dreams. Overall, our overarching theme has always been the band name itself.”
“I’ve had hallucinations,” Courtright revealed.
“I’ve had the feeling of someone sitting on my chest, and monolithic figures staring at me from the corner of my bedroom. That stuff’s definitely still interwoven throughout the album. But things really took a shift this time. On this record, my lyrics are quite literal and personal. Everything I wrote was either situational to my life, or about how a person can be changed by a life event or circumstance, thus creating an alias.”
Well, there you go. That’s our latest ‘Video Of The Week’ winner in what continues to be another traumatic year for the music business. But, as ever, we at ÜRHQ will continue to do our best to shine a light into your darker corners by bringing the brightest new rock ‘n’ roll sounds to lighten your mood and uplift your soul. You can check out some of the other hot new sounds to have come our way in this weekend’s accompanying edition of the Singles Club, helmed by my colleague DJ Astrocreep. But, for the moment, from me… #KeepErLit and #KeepKickinAss \m/
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