Daniel Wonacott talks trauma, new beginnings on Finch, Senses Fail supergroup’s debut record
[Photo by: Daniel Wonacott/Instagram]
More than a decade ago, Finch and Senses Fail’s debut records appeared on the scene within just two years of each other. Each record, What It Is To Burn (2002) and Let It Enfold You (2004), respectively, made big waves in the emo, screamo and post-hardcore genres. The majority of the fans of one band also were fans of the other. Now at the tail end of 2017, several albums, lineup changes and a breakup later, members of these two iconic bands have joined forces to hit the reset button and make new music under the name Speak The Truth… Even If Your Voice Shakes. And their debut record, Everyone You Love Will Slip Away From You, will hit the streets Nov. 10.
Despite the nostalgia this might bring fans, guitarist Daniel Wonacott (ex-Finch) insists, “We didn’t intend to make a throwback record.” For him and the other ex-members of Finch on the project—Alex “Grizzly” Linares (guitar) and Alex Pappas (drums)—the new record is a very contemporary reflection of who they are, both as people and as musicians. It’s the kind of post-hardcore sound that etched both Finch and Senses Fail into fans’ hearts in the first place—but it’s also the first step toward a new future for everyone involved.
“[Finch] parted ways in 2016, and we kind of left a record on the table that we didn’t finish,” Wonacott explains. “I think me and Grizzly, the other guitar player, and Pappas, our drummer, we really did not want to stop. We kind of lost our singer. Instead of trying to do something new or different with Finch, I think we just decided, let’s call some friends and see who wants to make a record. So, I emailed Buddy [Nielsen] because we were supposed to do a Finch/Senses Fail tour at some point in 2016. It really came out of a desire for me and the other guys from Finch to not give up.”
If there were ever a time to give up, though, it would have been during the making of Everyone You Love Will Slip Away From You. 2016 was a particularly hellish year for the band members’ personal lives. “Grizzly was in a life-threatening motorcycle accident during the process of making this record,” Wonacott shares. “He’s fine now, but watching one of your friends go through surgery and learning how to walk again…” He trails off with a profound sense of disbelief. “Buddy’s already shared this publicly,” he continues, “but his wife had a miscarriage. My wife had a miscarriage that year.”
In spite of such cruel life challenges, and also because of them, they continued to work on the record, injecting their sentiments on life and death into the songs. “There was a lot of uncertainty in our personal lives, and we decided to pour that all in the music, and I think that’s reflected in Buddy’s lyrics. There’s some really personal stuff in there from him, and there’s also some pretty existential, heavy questions being asked throughout the record.” Such weighted thoughts come up most notably in the title track: “I just hope one day that this whole thing will make sense/I hope that this whole life wasn’t just meaningless.” “I think that reflects our state of mind," Wonacott remarks. "You’re in your early 30s and trying to figure out what the hell you’re gonna do with your life.”
So far, Speak The Truth’s plans for the future are to continue the work they’ve started. “Given the opportunity and timing and everything else, I can imagine us making a lot of Speak The Truth records,” Wonacott says. Touring, too, is definitely a goal for the band, even though they will have to work around vocalist Nielsen’s Senses Fail touring schedule.
As far as the present goes, Wonacott and his bandmates couldn’t be more excited about this new release. Consequently, it has given them a new lease on life. “It was a real pleasure for us to sit down and write uninhibited,” he says. “A lot of times when you’re in a band for decades, you can kind of pigeonhole yourself. With this, it was a pretty amazing breath of fresh air. You kind of get to make a debut record again, which is really freeing. No one knows what this is supposed to sound like. There are no limits on what we [can] do.”
So while the members struggle to get past traumatic events in their own lives, Speak The Truth will remain an important, albeit fun outlet for them collectively. “Even though a lot of the music is fairly pop punk and upbeat—and you can hear it in Finch’s catalog, you can hear it in Senses Fail’s catalog—there’s always a light and dark side to things and there’s always that push and pull,” Wonacott concludes. “That’s why we make music, because it’s therapy.”
Watch the music video for "Everyone You Love Will Slip Away From You":