Hear Ataris, Kill Hannah and more team up for a pandemic benefit track
Acclaimed producer Sean Beavan (Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson) and artist Brandon Zano were feeling the pandemic depression hard. So they wrote “It’s Gonna Be OK,” a melodic mantra that aims to calm people coping with what may be the world’s “new normal.” The duo invited members of the Ataris, Kill Hannah and Filter among many others to participate. Today, AltPress is premiering the video for the song.
Executive producer David Kinsler created the video for “It’s Gonna Be OK” and helped compile the roll call of guest artists. The list of artists participating includes Kris Roe (the Ataris); Mikey Carvajal (Islander); Jonny Radtke (Kill Hannah, Filter); Geno Lenardo (Device, ex-Filter); Nick Rossi (3Teeth); Juliette Beavan (8mm); Sammi Doll (IAMX); Kat Leon (Holy Wars); Anastasia Grace (The Haunt); Sierra Swan (Smashing Pumpkins/Black Eyed Peas); Lindsay Manfredi (Cold); Lukas Rossi (singer/winner of Rock Star: Supernova); Breyer White (artist/producer); Jenna Fournier (NIIGHTS); Jesse Smith (Serpent Servant Slave, ex-Zao); Kay Cook; Logan Hadley; and Russell Condon (Town Meeting).
While most COVID-19 benefit tracks are earmarked to fund personal protective equipment for first responders, Kinsler took a different route. All of the proceeds generated from downloads of “It’s Gonna Be OK” will be donated to 320 Changes Direction, the mental health advocacy group started by Talinda Bennington. Kinsler was a close friend of Chester Bennington, who worked with him on various projects. The executive producer dedicates the project to the late singer’s memory.
“I had the honor to hold Chester’s hand with an advisory board where we collectively raised over $5.2 million for a children’s hospital in Phoenix over a span of five years,” Kinsler says. “He taught me a lot when it comes to philanthropy, which I’m proudly still engaged in. I’m so proud of Talinda’s efforts, strengths and her commitment to helping others by providing services and encouraging millions of people to ‘Know The Five Signs’ of emotional suffering—which a lot of us are fighting right now within the climate of this country.”
Beavan, Zano and Kinsler answered questions about the making of “It’s Gonna Be OK.” This ambitious project with a wide breadth of artists (the Ataris' Roe and IAMX's Doll) shows the depth of this rock community. They had some choice thoughts for people who think everything is “back to normal.” These guys know there’s a new normal now. And they want everyone to have a chance to participate in it.
What moved you to do this? There are thousands of musicians out there in the same no-gig economy. Do you see something more disconcerting about this situation, or did you feel it was about doing your best to soothe some souls who are rightfully fearful?
SEAN BEAVAN: Brandon sent me a quick mock-up of the main body of the track with that great hook, saying he just wanted to write something to help. It was heartfelt and really genuine. He really wanted Juliette’s [Beavan’s wife and 8mm singer] voice on it to help with the calming lullaby quality. He wanted to know if we could come up with a melody for the bridge. We heard it right away and laid it down, and then we started calling friends to help with the vocals.
BRANDON ZANO: It was an accident, really. I had just finished my next record, and it was a little on the aggressive side (which people weren't used to for my solo stuff), and I really wanted to do something with more of a positive message. COVID had just started ramping up big time, and I was scared, just like so many of us were. I had an instrumental I had worked on a couple of days before, so one night it was really late, and I was buzzed, and it just came to me. It made me feel better, and the rest is history.
Why is the song essentially a mantra? Did you find it the best way to convey the sentiment?
BEAVAN: When I heard the track, I told Brandon that he was right to keep it simple, and it really only needed the mantra. It was like a meditation, a way to get past the noise.
DAVID KINSLER: Anyone who’s ever been to interpersonal therapy or [a] one-on-one [session] with a therapist will attest to the techniques and therapeutic focus on embracing a singular, positive emotion or goal during their hour session—no matter how fucked up or upset you are in that moment. And to me, that’s exactly what I believe we all reached for in this project. Music is therapy. It’s a scientific fact. This was our opportunity to bring artists together, share a piece of our souls, stay creative during lockdown and connect again through music with a common message we all needed to hear and feel.
ZANO: You know, it's funny because a lot of people that heard it initially were like, "It's a really good chorus. When can I hear the rest?" I was all, "Uhhh." It's the first time I wrote something that didn't have some sort of a pop structure, but I liked the way that it was. Also, I thought that if I had added more words, it would make it more specific in what it was supposed to be about. I wanted it to be more of a timeless type of song. One that anyone can listen to when they are bummed about anything. Not just the craziness of what's going on right now. I just hope it makes people feel better.
Both the video and the recording of "It's Gonna Be OK" were done in lockdown and socially distanced. There's a wide berth of artists from the Ataris to 3teeth. How did you get the players assembled?
BEAVAN: Brandon and I are Clevelanders, so we can make shit happen. [Laughs.] Our mutual friend Dave was on board right away, and he was busy connecting people, as well as putting together the video. Everyone we reached out to was into it. We were so into the idea of this great creative community we have here in the L.A. area. Even if we can’t hang out together like we usually do at clubs and shows, we can still work together through Skype and our private studios. Everybody’s phone has a camera.
ZANO: Between all of us, we had a pretty decent network of people we had all worked with before. It was really exciting to see the new submissions roll in.
COVID-19 is truly an invisible enemy. What's your take on these country shows going down that don't have any hard-and-fast safety rules in place? Or the live hard-rock festival in Wisconsin formerly called "Herd Immunity Fest”?
BEAVAN: Well, since herd immunity requires a certain amount of culling, I guess I am OK with people who feel superior to everyone else placing themselves on the chopping block. I just think they shouldn’t go to hospitals and place our health care professionals in harm’s way for their recklessness. I think reasonable people can wear masks to keep their fellow humans safe until we have a vaccine in a year or so. Seems like so little compared to what the Greatest Generation went through to fight fascism.
KINSLER: Insecurity can be a real bitch. When it’s combined with ignorance and an opportunistic engine with a full gas tank? It’s easy to see where some of these so-called “artists” are steering their attention and personal gratification toward. The entire country is witnessing first-hand the effects of an evolving disease and pandemic. One that’s changing its internal shape and symptoms on the daily. The very last example we need to witness and support are people and performers who need attention [and] put human lives at risk like Chase Rice did, who obviously confused “freedom” with “focus.” Rock ’n’ roll is coming together during lockdown, contributing to helping others in quarantine [and] signing online petitions to “Save Our Stages.'' It's wearing a mask to the grocery store and donating, if people can afford it, to the community and close friends we hold true in a chaotic world. That’s what fucking rock ’n’ roll is all about.
Watch “It’s Gonna Be OK” below. You can purchase the track here.