Vocalist KEITH JONES and guitarist JACK BURNS tell the stories behind each song on DECODER’s self-titled debut, out today on Rise Records.
KEITH JONES:This song was meant to set the for ground of our concept. It’s about beginning to get over the past and moving forward in life knowing full well that we can accomplish anything. It also touches on the idea that your dreams are meant to help you pursue a stronger imagination as to what you want from life. I want people to feel as though they weren't seeing how much they can achieve with their own aspirations.
JACK BURNS:“Dreamwalker” was actually one of the first songs we wrote for the album. It was originally a demo that we released to give people an idea how our new record might vibe. We ended up changing it around a lot on the album to give it a stronger structure and to allow certain parts to catch harder than they did in the demo. We also got to a lot of cool things with the intro such as the in-room live track in the background.
JONES:This song was about a recurring lucid dream that I had been experiencing where I kept waking up to everything being different with the world and the people I knew. It affected me enough to write about it. It all felt so real as if it was actually happening. I feel like the lyrics tell the story well enough.
BURNS:“Transcendence” is one of our more up-tempo songs and is very vocally driven except for the main refrain, which is a riff that we wrote and ended up rewriting in reverse. In my opinion, this song is definitely one of the most fun to play live and it seems to be the one that gets the most crowd reaction. Surprisingly, this song changed very little from the time we wrote it to the final version, except the bassline which we made a little more “riffy.”
BURNS:When sitting down to write this song, I had a main riff I just couldn't stop playing. I showed all the guys and they were beyond stoked with it, but I just wasn't clicking with what we should do with it or where to go. We had the basic idea for the song, but when we got to the studio and we played it for [producer] Matt Malpass. We all sat down as a band and had a talk about what, where and how we wanted this song to go, and it instantly clicked as if someone turned a light bulb on in our heads. It quickly became one of the most powerful songs on the album.
JONES:When I heard the finished music portion of this song, it just felt like a song that needed to have feeling and something people could relate to. I have a lot of dreams where I can't tell if I woke up and then later I find my self awake and wishing I could just go back to the dream. It’s just such a peaceful moment that I don't want to let go. In conversations with people, I've heard them relate to “Conflicts” and I wanted something that people could mentally grasp what I feel.
JONES:I look at the past and the way I’ve lived, and I’ve witnessed things that are just sad and hurt those who love you. I have failed to help those suffering from addictions. I want you to see you can overcome anything that afflicts you or harms your body and mind. No one can make you change. You have to choose to.
BURNS:The intro riff was actually a little jam that Keith would play from time to time. One day after writing, I told him to play me the riff. He and I then jammed the riff a few times until I made it a little more complicated and put a lead guitar part over it, and boom—“Believers” was on the move. We knew we wanted to make this one a little more droney but still have an uplifting overtone. Hence the leads are more on the lighter side whereas the rhythm guitar is dark and moody to set up a clash for the vocals.
BURNS:“The Light” was the last song we wrote for the album. It replaced a song we weren't completely feeling after most of the record was finished. The main refrain of this is something I wanted to use since the beginning of the band and we just couldn't find anything to match or fit with it at all. After jamming the idea several times in the studio, we decided we should do a very “floaty” verse with a very crushing chorus to make this one of the more dynamic songs on the record. This is probably one of my favorites because it has a lot of range in style and tone.
JONES:The lyrics of this song are meant to inspire you to believe in yourself. Someone once told me I had the strength to change the world in my heart, and I feel we all have that ability. I want the listener to feel chills of joy and positive influence. If you’ve ever felt doubt in yourself, it's okay because you're human. It's easy to forget that tomorrow is a new day and you can always make a push for the better.
JONES:“The Giver” is a song that was meant to be almost like a conversation from me to those in my life who told me I would never amount to anything. The lyrics describe someone telling another person that they can’t help but care for them, but at the same time, they most be together no more because It will never make them both happy.
BURNS:This is another song that was changed several times between the demo and what actually ended up on the album. Originally it was one of the longer, more buildup-style songs, but we quickly scratched that idea and wanted to give it almost a group feel as if it were our anthem of some distant peoples. You can tell from the background vocals in the intro.
BURNS:This is another one of the songs that really pertains to the overall idea of the album. We really needed this one to fit the vibe of the lyrics and imagery the record was going to have. That in turn led us to make a very dreamy verse and pre-chorus and leave it with a very nightmarish chorus and bridge. The end leaves you unsure which state of mind you’re actually in.
JONES:This was a powerful hitting song, so we wanted there to be aggressive lyrics. We see a lot of horrid and terrible things while we live and dream—hateful and evil beings live everywhere and they instill fear in our minds. They lie, steal, cheat, murder, deceive and manipulate, haunting all they encounter.
BURNS:This is actually the answer to “The Giver.” Right of the bat, we wanted the two songs to sound similar yet be on opposite sides of the spectrum. The chorus of “The Taker” was actually something Spencer [Pearson, vocals/keyboard] had written and it seemed to fit perfectly with the heavier intro and outro. The chaos of this song gives you a brief moment of hope only to be let down dramatically by one of the heaviest parts of the entire record.
JONES:In this song, we’re back to a conversation with those who try to limit us. We’re saying we have accomplished everything we set out to do and we control our future—one everyone can be a part of. It was meant to be a positive and uplifting song, but heavy-hitting.
BURNS:We knew we really wanted this song to be intricate but still have a simple overtone. The intro is meant to feel as if the song is being heard through an air vent or in a distant room. “Drones” brings the creepy to another level by being the most eerie of our tracks. We were trying to bring a 28 Weeks Later feel to the song.
JONES:“Drones” is about the end of the world. Jack and I talked about it when he first started writing the music. I had a dream in which the world was at peace and perfect, then a beast comes to kill us and we have to run for our lives. The lyrics are meant to give that visual to the listener.
JONES:Spencer wrote most of the lyrics for this song except my part. He wanted a piano song, so we went for it. It turned out great. It’s very inspiring while still creepy and aggressive. We put a lot of work into this song to make it really strike the listener. I wanted to limit the screaming to make them more intense when they come.
BURNS: ”Holding On” is definitely the most unique track on the album. We brought in elements of jazz along with drums and bass into the picture, but kept our overall tone and idea for the record. It’s the song that closes out the album almost like end movie credits. We really wanted to clarify that the story is over by having the music build in power but it leaves you hanging with the last 30 seconds being the main riff played on piano—as if nothing ever happened. alt