Quickly joining the ranks of Equal Vision after forming, Glass Cloud, featuring Jerry Roush (ex-Sky Eats Airplane/Of Mice & Men) and Josh Travis (The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza), have their debut full-length, The Royal Thousand, out now. Bassist/lyricist Travis Sykes takes us through each track’s meaning. You can currently stream the entire record here and purchase the album here.
This was the first track that I wrote lyrics to. It's about people giving up or “surrendering” in their own lives things they love and care about because time is taking its course and everyone is getting older. At the point in my life when I wrote this, I was getting out of college and joining Glass Cloud. In that transitional period, I was seeing everyone I grew up with resort to normalcy and it just wasn't something I was willing to do. So this is my way of telling cats younger than me or just cats on the edge of giving up the dream, “If you want it bad enough, it'll come to you.”
“If He Dies, He Dies”
This is probably my favorite song as far as vocal melodies go. When I was writing the lyrics, I was really focused on bringing out Josh's subtle, ambient layers in the music with strong melodies in the verses. The track is so layered I felt it needed two voices playing off of each other to compensate for the complexity of the music without sounding cheesy. I based this song off of a friend of mine who used to be like a brother to me, but then we had a huge falling-out. He later had a son. I was friends with the baby's mother and she had told me about how torn their father/son relationship was. I don't know why it hit me so hard, but I felt like that kid should've been like a nephew to me. Knowing my friend, I wrote a song that said all the things I couldn't say because we didn't talk anymore at that point. Eventually, I got up the balls to talk to him and now we have patched things up for the most part. I feel like writing that song helped me push out a lot of the demons between us.
“Falling In Style”
Of all our songs, this one is the closest to me lyrically. When I wrote this, I was falling in love with the girl who I've now been with for more thana year. I wrote it in a somewhat vague style because it's a very relatable subject that I wanted other people to connect with easily. Anyone who has ever fallen in love and went through that time period of discovering each other physically can understand. It's a beautiful thing and it's something everyone goes through with new relationships. We don't play this one live and I actually prefer it that way. It's just a set of lyrics that I'd rather keep to myself and on the record for people to enjoy. It's not really something that can be understood in the setting of a live show as intense as ours.
“Ivy & Wine”
This song is one of the very few that isn't about something exclusively personal. I'm very interested in Greek mythology and the story of Dionysus, so the lyrics to this are an odd interpretation of the story of Dionysus. I basically took all of my favorite elements of the story and translated them into a play of his life. “Born the son of the god of gods”…”Shot down with lightning bolts/Open eyes in the face of glory”…”I came back to the motherland to prove I am who they say I am.” It's a powerful story with powerful elements.
I was originally going to call this one, “All Along, I'm Leaving” because it's about my thoughts on inevitably leaving home to be in this band. I felt a lot of guilt about leaving my family and friends but I knew I had to do it to make a life and a name for myself and my brothers in the band. The chorus states the main idea of having to see that look in your loved one’s eyes that says, “I don't want you to go” and having to say, “You know I have to do this.” It's the most bittersweet feeling you can feel, and every person who has been in a touring band knows that feeling. It's different from going to college or being away for other reasons because with those, you know when you're going to be back home. Being in a touring band, you could be away for months only to come home for a week and leave again for months.
“She Is Well And Nothing Can Be Ill”
There's no way to describe this song other than to say it's the pure, 100 percent “I miss you” song. I wrote the lyrics to this while we were in the studio recording. We recorded 3,000 miles away from home, so I was writing trying to deal with being away from my woman and writing things only the two of us would understand. I guess it was a weird way of reaching out to put some real meaning into the music for myself. Making the lyrics specific instead of vague and relatable like the other songs was just my way of selfishly writing for my own peace of mind.
I was having a lot of trouble trying to visualize a concept for lyrics that would fit well with the sound of the music. But then one night, I was falling asleep and all these ideas were coming to me as I was drifting off. In my dream, I was at a bar and I was involved in this bar fight, but we were fighting over the right to fall asleep. So the verses are about me fighting a dude so I could go to sleep in a dream. And the choruses are about me being awake fighting myself to get to sleep. I felt like with the floaty rhythmic vibe of the “pillow talk illusion” part, it was appropriate to write about struggling for sleep, especially since I was going through it myself. It jumped right out at me. So I wrote it all down and fell right to sleep.
This is the only song that was fully written in the studio. I came up with the idea of writing a song from the standpoint of a guy who finds out the meaning of life. He's trying to explain it to another person, but in these times humans are just too jaded to even pick up on some real heavy shit like that. Even if there were answers to all the shitty things that go on with the human race, people probably wouldn't even be listening for them. Nobody is really concerned with solutions. People just want to watch the whole shit house go up in flames, so this character in the song gets incredibly frustrated with his inability to help his fellow humans. The line “I seldom dream of you/A dream of you would shroud my perfect view,” is him saying, “Forget it, I'm just going to enjoy myself. Y'all will figure it out if when you're ready.”
“From May To Now”
Metaphorically, this track is about soldiers who've been trained and geared up for war and are ready for the challenge. In reality, it's about Chad and I getting out of college and joining this band and the four of us waiting to get in to the studio together. There was a whole lot of time that nobody knows about, where this band was being formulated and we were writing and planning and it's only now all taking shape. This track, to me, feels like that anxious feeling of wanting to get out there and see what we can make of ourselves. We were actually going to call the record “From May To Now” because that pretty much sums up how we feel about putting this record out. But once I came up with The Royal Thousand concept, we were way more hyped on that. I also think that The Royal Thousand more properly encompasses our feelings on everything in music now. Attaining the ability to take a royal few or a vast many into the knowledge and feeling of true heartfelt artistic expression is the only goal in the mind of the ever-learning and ever-curious musician.