The gods of guitars and rock must be looking down with favor on this new split release between The Saddest Landscape and My Fictions from Topshelf Records. The two groups offer up two brand new catharsis-core cuts and close things up neatly with a collaborative 13 minute masterpiece that christens the split's title of, When You Are Close, I Am Gone. In our following first listen exclusive, lessons of love, loss, and other paradoxes are the background and foreground motifs of calamity and conflict versus the conformity the heart.
The split begins with My Fictions' “You Never Stay”, that begins with the release's aggressive study of connections and questions of closeness and degrees of proximity. “What is the point of all this suffering”, cries out Bryan Carifio, Tyler Bradley, and Ryan Boone, while Seamus Menihane assaults the anguish with the rolling thunder of drum fills. Enter The Saddest Landscape who wield a different kind of love to tear us apart with on, “Loss Will Find Us”. Andy Maddox's guitars and vocals burn with pure, unbridled desire as he sends the emotions through the rise and fall of mountains, peaks and valleys with the steadfast closing chant of; “we…are…forever!”
And then there is the moment you all have been waiting for, as The Saddest Landscape and My Fictions join forces on the dragon-slaying title track, “When You Are Close, I Am Gone”. With the Fictions beginning the first half with a slow churning strum, they wrestle madly with the complications and fears involved with getting closer to the objects of affection. TSL then brings their contributions and gifts to the song's funereal pyre of refrains and marching percussion. Andy enters the void, kicking over the altars of discontinuity, as things fall apart all around with a cleverly designed myriad exit strategy that bolsters the titular epic with multiple bridges and various finales.
Both The Saddest Landscape singer-guitarist Andy Maddox, and My Fictions guitarist-vocalist Ryan Boone talked with us about their new split release, deciphering and destroying audio tags, a detailed discussion of their collaboration, and more.
First of all, how did this split come about that brought together both The Saddest Landscape and My Fictions on one release?
Andy: Initially My Fictions reached out to us and asked if we wanted to do one, at this point I think everyone expected it just to be the standard split 7″, which still would have been cool, but we had done a lot of splits/singles recently and we wanted to do something a little different with it, make it a little more substantial and being as we are all friends and live not too far away from each other we were able to.
Ryan: Initially, I emailed Andy with the idea of doing a split together. We are all friends, fans of each other's music, and on the same label, so we felt like it just made sense. We really wanted the split to be unique, and thought a collaborative song would make it stand out. That uniqueness also carried over into the physical product, which is why the LP comes with an 8 page book of extra content. It was important to us in planning the split that we give whoever buys our record something more than they were expecting.
Did you all find yourselves bonding over any other mutual favorite artists and groups during these sessions?
A: Not too much, we are all fans of what each band does so we more approached it wanting to just highlight the strengths of the two bands and hopefully push each other to do something somewhat new. I guess we bonded more as people and musicians which was rewarding in itself.
R: Not really, unless you count Aaron and I bonding over Hatebreed. Like Andy said, we definitely bonded more as musicians and people. We all got our cars towed while we were out getting tacos after one session. The long journey to bail our cars out was quite the bonding experience.
In the world obsessed with labeling, tagging and the like; I was wondering and just trying to gauge all of your responses to the following overused descriptors and signifiers:
A: Modern Life is War, Unbroken
R: SSD, Negative Approach, The Abused, Void
A: Unwound, Fugazi, Quicksand.
R: Embrace, Moss Icon, The Jesus Lizard, Unsane.
A: Born Against, The Clash.
R: The Germs, The Subhumans, Crass.
A: Gang of Four, Joy Division.
R: Killing Joke, Joy Division, Bauhaus, Wire.
A: Bad Religion, NOFX, Rancid, Off With Their Heads. As a side note I also asked our drummer, Aaron, to answer this question hoping to illustrate how random these labels can be, he answered Pantera to all 4 categories, and I do think he was serious.
Also we are fans of every band listed.
R: Descendents, Screeching Weasel.
What manners of visceral descriptions do you all feel are appropriate in an age where we have exhausted so many of the past's overused designating tropes?
A: Depends who you are talking to, if it is to someone who has no real concept of underground music you can just get away with saying we are a punk band and end it there. We joke but more than once when meeting people in random social situations when we say we play “heavier” music we get the response “oh, like Metallica?” and we of course say yes just to end the conversation quickly, because it becomes clear that Metallica is the absolute closest reference point to what we do that they have.
Within the larger scene or whatever they do need to get somewhat specific, and mostly it is a combination of labels/journalists, and to a lesser degree message board types, starting these genre tags, which I get because they want the releases to stand out and you can't do that by saying,'here is a new hardcore record to listen to', because so many listeners have biases against genres based on past exposure. That said most bands I know truly don't care what label is assigned to them, they just play what they want and let someone else worry about what to call it. The 11 years we have been doing this we have been described as punk, metal, grindcore, post-hardcore, emo, post-heartbreak survivalism, skramz, dark wave, the list goes on but not once has it affected what we write and not one of the descriptors fully fits.
R: I don't know. I get why people use labels and I understand what they are referring to, but at the end of the day none of it really matters to me. In the world that I associate myself with, it's all punk; it's all hardcore. A lot of these 'sub-genres' just seem silly to me. I had been a little more detailed with my descriptors in the past, but people would start asking me what my band sounds like, or how I would categorize us, and I wouldn't know what to say. We are a hardcore/punk band. If you want to pigeonhole us in some made up sub-genre, that's fine, it doesn't change what we do. Music doesn't need to be placed in very specific categories. More and more often we are seeing bands play music in which many different “genres” bleed together. There's gotta be a point where people will get tired of making up new categories.
I'm curious to hear about the intense collaboration that went into recording the much talked about, 13 minute closer “When You Are Close, I Am Gone”. How did all of you go about assigning and splitting up creative duties, or was it all out of creative happenstance?
A: Initially Ryan and myself sort of loosely mapped out what we wanted to happen, dividing up the song into thirds, My Fictions / both bands together, or 'The My' as we have been calling it / The Saddest Landscape, and took it from there. I remember hearing a demo of My Fictions section and being inspired to write how I would like to see that song end and so The Saddest Landscape started writing our part with that in mind. Once we had the beginning and the ending the real trick became writing the middle section that bridges the two thirds and has both bands playing together. Ryan and I spent a lot of long car rides talking it out and he came up with that chord progression, I wrote some lyrics, Bryan had some phrasing around those words, Aaron and Seamus mapped out a double drum part and we just kept building from there until we were all happy with it.
R: Andy and I bounced ideas back and forth, and eventually mapped out a rough idea of how we envisioned the song. My Fictions wrote the first half. From there, I sent Andy a demo recording and TSL wrote their part based on it. After those two parts were in place, it was time to create the bridge connecting the songs. I had written a riff, Andy had some lyrics, and we kind of just worked it out in the studio. It was nerve racking going into the studio and winging it like that, but it ended up being a super smooth and natural process.
Will the two of you be collaborating and perhaps more in the future?
A: I hope so, we are looking forward to doing the collaboration song live, not sure how we will do it exactly but we will find a way and do a proper release show and play it at least once. I am also hoping this could be a jumping off point and we can work with other bands in the same way, maybe with some bands that don't sound anything like us, there are a lot of indie rock bands i would love to do something with.
R: We plan on playing this 13-minute song live at some point. So collaborating in that regard, definitely. I don't see us sharing another release again, we wouldn't wanna repeat ourselves.
Topshelf Records is tearing it up these days, who are some of your other labelmate favorites?
A: Pianos Become the Teeth they are possibly the best band currently playing aggressive music, live they are unstoppable. I am also very stoked that Braid is on the label, Caravels are great, the Tancred LP is solid, anything Empire Empire does is great, that Sainthood Reps/Weatherbox split got a lot of spins at home. Seth and Kevin just really have a knack for finding a lot of great bands, my advice just download those free samplers they have been doing and decide for yourself, if you are breathing chances are you will find something you like.
R: Suis La Lune, Pianos Become The Teeth, You Blew It, We Were Skeletons (RIP), among others.
The Saddest Landscape & My Fictions' split When You Are Close, I Am Gone will be available November 12 from Topshelf Records.