Every Second Counts
MM: It seems that in 2012, especially in Western countries, people seem to have their lives under control to an infinite degree, desperately clinging to a roadmap that takes them from birth to death. Is this song about trying to escape the rat race? Is Heartsounds your escape?
Ben: Yes, that’s exactly what the song is about. I wrote “Drifter” during the second half of my college career, and that experience combined with the time I spent with my dad before he died of brain cancer really caused me to rethink what my life meant to me. It caused me to question how I spent my days and how I want to enjoy my time on this earth. In the end, the song is a very pessimistic look at the way that the modern Western world budgets their time…It came out of the feeling of dread and fear that I would waste my days until there was nothing left of me.
MM: It’s often said that being in a band is like being in a marriage, and that the end result is more than a sum of its parts. Is that how you feel about your band? Any mistakes that you’ve made in the past decade that you’ll avoid making again in the next ten years?
Ben: I wrote this song about Laura, my bandmate and best friend. We’ve been in bands together for over 10 years now, and I just wanted to write a sort of letter to a friend type-deal, which I think came out nicely. I also wanted to throw in at least ONE positive song on the record. Laura and I have definitely made mistakes in the past and gone through a lot together, and we’ve learned from all of those experiences. That is essentially what the song is about.. a celebration of our friendship and what we’ve accomplished, however big or small that may be in the bigger context of the music industry, and life in general.
MM: This seems to be linked to ‘Every Second Counts’ in the sense that you need drugs to keep on going. Is being stuck in the previously mentioned rat race your biggest personal fear?
Laura: Yes, being stuck in that race is a big fear of mine. This song is more about the every-day depression that I felt from the moment I woke up, and the way that I could only resort to weed and booze for a lot of that time. Thankfully I’ve moved on a bit since that song, but I know that the sentiment is very relatable. It’s definitely a horrible feeling when you literally have to force yourself to get up and get going in the morning, because you see no real point to doing anything. There’s been a big black hole in my life in the past few years, and I’m finally starting to see the light, but this song deals with that overwhelming depression and lack of motivation to simply live.
Everything’s Going My Way
MM: Do you feel bad about having bad habits? The lyrics “I don’t like myself enough to be your friend” really struck me. Is that really how you feel at times?
Laura: Everybody has days where they don’t feel like talking to anyone. As a member of a band and a bartender when I’m not touring, I’m constantly interacting with people, even on my antisocial days. This song also acts as a type of anthem to, and for, my female listeners. Everyone has flaws and insecurities, and some days we hardly think about them, while other days, they completely consume us. I’ve definitely felt, at my low points, like I wasn’t good enough to be someone’s friend or girlfriend or whatever, and this song came at a point in my life when my biggest insecurity was feeling like I was just wasting time. It can also be thought of as the alter ego to the lyrics in the song ‘Drifter’.
I Have Nobody to Betray
MM: Is this particular song about losing a friend to substance abuse? By that I mean, not that the person is dead in a physical sense, but is just a different person living a totally different life?
Ben: Yes, you nailed it. I wrote the song as a devil’s advocate story, like: what if the character of Christ had let his gifts and powers get the best of him? How much can someone be praised before one comes crashing down off of that pedestal? I held a person in my life up to be a powerful figure like that, and he just let me down and broke my heart repeatedly. The title is the closure of the song, the silver lining; if this person has abandoned me, then at least we can do no further damage to each other in the future.
MM: Alienation. That’s really something we can all relate to. Has, being in Heartsounds, helped you connect to, and with, kindred spirits?
Ben: Being in Heartsounds has certainly helped me boost and bolster my self-esteem and self-confidence a bit, but this song is really the closest I’ll ever get to writing a song about being lonely and in longing for romance. I got to a point in my life though, where I felt disgusting and alone living the bachelor lifestyle that a lot of young men seem to practice. I wanted something bigger and better, and I found that shortly after finishing this record. But yeah, this song is about alienation from the opposite sex, I guess, and a desire to just feel something other than your own awful thoughts every second of the day.
You Are Not Your Body
MM: Again the word routine pops up? Can being on the road become too much of a routine? Do you fear touring will become dull at some point?
Laura: It wasn’t so much a song about touring as much as a dedication to Ben when his dad was sick. I knew that I couldn’t understand what he was going through to the point I felt like I needed to in order to be a good friend, so I wrote this song to show him that I was constantly thinking about him and about Gordon. I tried to write some of the lyrics from Ben’s perspective and some from mine. The two lines that inspired this song were when Ben said to me one day, “How come your life seems better than mine?” and when Gordon wrote, “We are not our bodies,” in response to someone asking him about having cancer. Both of those comments provoked so much thought for,and in, me that I had to explore my feelings about them in this song. The only way that I could figure out how to answer Ben was with his own dad’s advice and by telling him that I could make up for the strength he felt he was lacking during some of those nightmarish days.
But as for your questions about touring, yes, certain moments on tour have felt like some of the most boring moments of my life. Some days, the drives, the loading in and out, the shitty parts of different cities, don’t seem worth the half an hour I’m on stage. Some days those thirty minutes are worth every second of a fourteen-hour overnight drive. Each day I struggle to find meaning when I’m tired, uncomfortable, hungry, antisocial and missing home. But I’ve toured too much to really let it consume me at this point. After all, every career and every lifestyle comes with, and at, a price. Where else can you see the world, meet lifelong friends, play music for people, party, and have daily adventures like I do? It’s an extreme give and take situation. The lows are fucking low and the highs are intensely high.
Don’t Talk With Your Mouth Open
MM: Seems pretty self-explanatory when people who talk too much need to be put in their place, but for some reason I think there’s more to this song…?
Laura: This song is also a dedication. One to every vapid pretty boy out there who thinks he’s God’s gift to this scene. We needed something to lighten up the record a bit and this is the most fun song to play on stage, hands-down. I think I wrote it after I got frustrated meeting yet another good-looking dude who couldn’t walk his talk. I’m not saying that all typically handsome dudes are lacking upstairs, but there’s a reason I used to crush mostly on the chubby bearded guys wearing glasses. A sense of humor is the sexiest thing out there and if you’re too wrapped up in your ego to laugh at yourself, you’re not worth my time.
MM: A song about love that has fully engulfed you? I’ve read that through love one can escape the fundamental loneliness of being the individuals that we are. However it can also be about your band, that feeling you have when on stage, knowing when a show is over, you can do it again the very next day.
Laura: This is a love song to Heartsounds, an entity that fulfilled me when I thought I had lost music forever, after Light This City disbanded. It’s written from the perspective of being onstage, singing to Ben and the audience. It’s ironic too in a ‘meta’ kind of way, because this is the first song I have ever written an entire vocal melody for, by myself.
Race to the Bottom
MM: Several of your songs are about emotions, and bad habits, things that the brain is directly responsible for, yet this song seems to be about a physical illness. Do you feel weak for not being able to defeat a disease? Even though there’s nothing you can personally do about it?
Ben: Well, this song is actually about my disgust and self-loathing as a result of being a young man, and constantly succumbing to sexual impulses. Basically, while I’m not a sex addict by any means, this is the song I wrote in order to express my discontent and shame with how I treated a lot of my peers of the opposite sex, as a result of an overpowering biological lust. That is just someone I never wanted to be, and this is how I dealt with those fears and instances of self-hatred in the wake of treating my female friends like shit, some times.
MM: “No need to brace myself for the worst, it’s already happened.” That’s a very strong lyric. Is that about you personally or maybe about mankind as a whole. It really love the way you compare life with being on a boat, the idea that the sea will guide us and there’s not much we can do about it…
Ben: I wrote this song the night before my dad died, as I was trying to sleep at my parent’s house, basically waiting for the inevitable. The nautical themes just seemed fitting, I guess. I was upstairs tossing and turning, basically lying in wait, dreading what was to come. The lyrics all came to me in one swoop, which is really rare for me writing-wise. The title and all the lyrical content basically grasp with this feeling of not being able to do anything or help your parent as he or she heads for that light. It’s a horrible feeling, but the song came out great. It was hugely cathartic to write that one, and I’m still emotional about it when we play it live.
Nothing Happens for a Reason
MM: A beautiful song about a bond between father and son. How does the title ‘Nothing Happens For A Reason’ fit in? Is that an attempt to avoid a question like “why is this happening to me (us)?”
Ben: Thank you. This is the most obvious song about my father. It is a dedication to him in every single way. I basically wanted to write an ode to this man who had been my guiding force my entire life, and that’s what I did. The title has to do with my attitude as an atheist who believes that everything is random in this universe, and bad luck is just plain bad luck. If anyone ever told me that “Everything happens for a reason”, especially in relation to my dad’s disease, I think I would punch them in the face. Religion is bullshit, and blindly having faith in this world dumbs you down as a human being, so that you are no more than an ignorant child who believes in Santa Claus. There is no justifiable reason that some higher power would give my dad brain cancer, nor is there any reason for the biological chaos and violence that corrupts this world every day. I chose this song as the last song on the record as a memorial for my dad, but also as a bold personal statement. Nothing happens for a reason in this world, and if you think that things work like that, you can fuck right off.