We were basically three-and-a-half, four weeks in and all the instrumentals were recorded. Howard Benson wanted us to think about doing a ballad or a downtempo song, which became “If We Were Were Ghosts” and a cover.
Pink Floyd’s “Money” was the first thing blurted out, and we all kind of looked at each other like, “I don’t know.” They’re in the pantheon of untouchables. We wanted to stick to the original vibe and feel, but all of the sampling for the coins and everything, it’s all modern. So there’s a money counter and a digital coin sound from when you do an online transaction. It’s modernized so it’s not dated back to the ’70s.
“HOW WILL YOU LIVE”
I think we live in an era now where people are finally starting to talk more about mental health and trying to break the stigma of that discussion. It’s very much posting a question to somebody and saying, “If you’re just going to hide, what eats you alive, how will you live?” In a lot of ways, that was our take on where we’re at and encouraging people to talk about the stuff you’re going through. Because, ultimately, that’s the way to work it out and make it through.
Lyrically, our songs are written so no matter where you’re at, whether you are a casual listener or a die-hard fan, it can resonate with you. Music is all about the connection. For us, it’s about, first and foremost, the songs and about connecting with people and about the whole human experience, the way people experience music—both live and listening to it on record. For us, [it’s] always really important that we consider all aspects of that.
“ON THE INSIDE”
I think if anything, music is supposed to be honest, and that’s kind of the antithesis of “Unbreakable”—feeling like you are breaking on the inside. I think if we’re going to have songs like “How Will You Live” where we talk about breaking down the stigma of that, then in a lot of ways, you have to open yourself to that honesty. I feel like that’s the human experience. Everybody has felt that way at one point in time, saying on the outside everything looks great but on the inside it’s not.
We were working on the instrumental of that song, organizing it in my apartment, when we had gotten the news that Chester [Bennington] had passed away. He was a very, very close friend to our band and a close friend to all of us. I wrote that song after having a panic attack a few days after that because I was just really kind of struggling with that.
Lyrically, that song alludes to one song from each of the past releases. “Those In Glass Houses,” [from self-titled], “When You Can’t Sleep At Night” [from The Flood], “You Make Me Sick” [from Restoring Force] and “Away” [from Cold World].
It’s built on a bunch of metaphors and references from the entire discography of Of Mice & Men, and it fits in the Ya Dig saga. For us, it’s a nod to the legacy of everything of Mice & Men is and was and will be.
“IF WE WERE GHOSTS”
[It’s] all about dealing with the feelings of losing somebody. A huge inspiration for writing the lyrics to this song is thinking about Chester and just thinking about other people who I’ve lost in my life over the last couple of years. The unfortunate reality of life is the older you get, the more people you lose. Loss is such a complex feeling, complex experience and a complex emotion that it encompasses a lot of different things. That was, if anything, our tribute to Chester and our tribute to the people we’ve lost along the way.