"A Total Separation of Self"
This is a favorite off the record between all four members of Heartsounds. Every time we write an album it's hard to decide what track is going to be the opener, but eventually it becomes clear. We knew this would be the first track on the album as soon as we finished writing it. I really love the riffs, and the vocal melodies just seemed strong and powerful and a bit more anthemic than we've ever sounded. This was one of the super-fun songs for Trey [Derbes, drums] and I to play when we were constructing the parts and making it flow. Lyrically, the song deals with the idea of experiencing violent highs and lows in life, and how to navigate that tumultuous drift from miserable to ecstatic. I wrote the lyrics for this one and wanted to try to express the feeling of hitting what feels like rock bottom, and then working through it to the other side, where everything feels almost too good to be true.
This just felt like the right track to be second on the record. We love these kinds of tempos, and this song came together nicely with its riffs and melodies. Lyrically, the song deals with spiraling back into negative headspaces after working so hard to not feel that way. It is mostly about my disappointment with repeating old habits, and not achieving the kind of personal growth that I strive for. It's a pretty bleak song, lyrically, but the melodies give it an almost uplifting tone. The music on this track definitely falls into that sweet spot that we love in terms of tempo and guitarwork. I think this is kind of a headbanger, in a weird, melancholy way.
This is one of my favorite songs that we've ever written, mostly because the entire song has this kind of driving, downbeat feel. There aren't really any “fast” parts in the song, but it feels pretty intense the whole time, which I dig. We decided to make this the title track on the album because the lyrics sum up the themes of the record: self-reflection, analysis and obsessive thinking. Those things can almost drive a person insane, and this is one of the more personal songs I've written about that weakness in my life and the way I feel that something exists within my mind that I can never really escape. That's a rough thing to deal with on a daily basis; it gets grating and distorts my perspective. This song feels pissed off and manic–which is a good reflection of how I was feeling when writing it.
"Can’t Always Be Looking Down"
I love this track because it is just over two minutes, which is usually a difficult feat for Heartsounds. Most of our songs end up in the three to three-and-a-half minute range, but I like the fact that this is a fast, ripping song that doesn't really repeat too much. In regards to the lyrics, Laura [Nichol, guitar wrote this one, and explains it this way: "I have a habit of staring at the ground when I walk, and I have to remind myself to look at the scenery around me. But then I step on a syringe the minute I glance up at a sunse. So you know, it’s your typical love song."
"Where Are You?"
This song has a heavy-metal vibe toward the beginning, as there are about 45 seconds of riffing before any vocals kick in. I like having long intros though, and don't always believe in “getting right to it,” even though I like that aesthetic too. Laura wrote the lyrics to this song as well, which is about how we all project our insecurities onto our significant others. Sometimes it keeps her up at night, then she writes songs like this.
We had to have a mid-tempo song or two on the album, and this would be one of them. I wrote this song about my frustrations and disappointments with the music industry as it stands in 2013. I haven't been around for nearly as long as a lot of bands that are still going today, but I've been doing this for about 13 years, and a lot has changed in that time. There are less avenues for bands to really stand out, and there is less of a future for most musicians and artists these days. More importantly though, this song deals with my constant fluctuation between feeling like a coward for not living life as fully as I perceive I could, and the confidence that I sometimes feel in treating music purely as something I love, so as not to strangle it. Regardless, it's always a dilemma in my head, which can get exhausting.
This is the shortest song we've ever written. It's just a minute and-a-half long but ended up being the most difficult one to write for some reason. We had the riffs there, but the vocal melodies and structuring were giving us a bit of trouble. We eventually worked it out and couldn't be more stoked with how it turned out. Laura wrote this one about how both she and I like to pile shit on our plates to the point where there’s a constant anxiety about everything plummeting down. In her words, "Some days it feels like it would help just to have someone say, 'You’re doing great!,’ even if it’s a lie."
I wouldn't call this a “slow song,” but it's certainly the slowest on the record. At first, the riffs reminded be of something that would be on one of the last three Nada Surf albums. Inevitably though, I felt like throwing a bigger sounding chorus in there, which turned out to be one of my favorite parts on the record. This is also the most vulnerable-sounding song on the record, at least in my opinion. I love Laura's lyrics on this song, which are about how at some point when you grow up you realize every person is fucked up in his or her own special way. The song is about her losing faith every day, but still having the hope that there are a few people in the world a little less fucked up than everyone else.
2011's Drifter was largely about how I was dealing with my dad's battle with brain cancer. There aren't any other songs on Internal Eyes about that process and how I dealt with it afterward, which is why I wrote "Afterthoughts.” It's not exactly a happy song, as it deals with my own disappointment in not really being able to keep the lessons I learned from my dad's passing in mind when dealing with obstacles in life. It seemed really clear when he was running out of time that I would somehow make the most of every single day, but I find myself dealing with a lot of emotional stress on a weekly basis, which is not what he would have wanted. This is a song about the fact that no matter how powerful a life lesson, sometimes you can't control how you feel, regardless of what you've learned. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's a reminder that we're not perfect, even if the answer stares us right in the face.
"The World Up There"
This is a bitter song–bitter toward people I meet on a daily basis that don't seem burdened or weighed down by the world and all the bullshit that consumes our lives almost every day. It's about bitterness, but also about the envy I feel toward people who float through life, seemingly without a care in the world. I'll admit that this anger comes from wanting to successfully be able to feel that way, but I fail with most attempts. This song isn't a celebration of self-acceptance; it's more of a surrender to my own body and mind, and the fact that I am who I am. I can work on my faults, but these people walking around seemingly unscathed don't really have the answers. The last line in the song says that “no one has the answers, just temporary composure,” which is how I really feel about the world. People should stop pretending that they are on top of their shit 100 percent of the time, and let themselves be a bit more vulnerable. I don't think the expectation of steadfast mental solitude and perseverance through any conflict is necessarily healthy. But hey, what do I know? ALT