Eternal Summers go track-by-track on Gold And Stone

Nicole Yun

Roanoke, Virginia’s Eternal Summers have a new album out today, Gold And Stone, their fourth full-length. The songs range from psychedelic garage rock to bubbly guitar hooks, while also embracing some of their most pop-oriented and punk-oriented impulses yet. Here, singer and guitarist Nicole Yun has gone track-by-track to offer up the story behind every song on the record. The album is also streaming below.

Photo by Brett Winter Lemon.

“Unassigned”
I wrote this song in a hotel room in Richmond, VA last summer- just holed up for a few days hoping inspiration would take hold. The room was dark, and this pretty and slightly sinister thing came out. The lyrics address that fine line between confidence and total egotism. A pianist friend of mine would always tell me that he would tell himself he was the best pianist in the world before he took the stage, and it would help him own his performance. That was weird and uncomfortable to me, as I struggle to be a confident person- but I liked the idea of this other self telling me I couldn’t fail. In the studio we were able to take the sinister emotions even further. Daniel and Jonathan are big fans of Jim O’Rourke, so we were inspired to use a few of his techniques to really ramp up the song from zero to 100.

“Together or Alone”
This was the very last song written for the album. Jonathan had this interesting cyclical bass line he had been working on, and it fit really strangely with this consistent arpeggiated guitar part I was noodling around with in practice. It felt off kilter and yet always worked. We also had been listening to a ton of And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead via Daniel in the van on tour. I liked the elements of hardcore and punk and sincerity in their music. I used to be in a band called Mommies where I would scream the vocals, but felt shy to try it again since it had been about 7 years. Deep down I’m a punk so it felt really invigorating and cathartic to scream again. This is also a song that one bandmate is very sure is about his love life. I love that! He will never know!

“Gold and Stone”
After many attempts, “Gold and Stone” finally made it onto an album! We wrote this for 2012’s Correct Behavior album, but it got cut. We tried to bring it into 2014’s The Drop Beneath, but Doug Gillard our friend and producer for that album felt that it wasn’t as strong as some of our other songs. It was true. As we prepared for this album, Daniel really felt strongly that we try to re-work it- make it shorter and punchier. I was really happy in the studio that our amazing engineer and mixer, Louie Lino, suggested certain parts be played on synth just for texture. I was also ecstatic to play his 1963 Rickenbacker 12-string just for this track!

“The Roses”
This was definitely the guilty pleasure song for us for quite a while, as we had to get comfortable with the fact that it was just so poppy! The working title was called “Jammy 3”, the 3 being a reference to the fact that there was a very mild Third Eye Blind 90’s radio tone to it that we all secretly enjoyed, and yet felt guilty about. As we worked it out, and especially as we arranged it in the studio, early Pablo Honey Radiohead influences (which I hoped would come through) were truly made a reality! It’s definitely one of my favorite tracks on the album!

“Black Diamond”
It took forever to sing this song without a fake English accent. I just imagined English industrial cityscapes under cloudy skies and I would just become someone else. This may be one of the most muscular and raw vocals I’ve ever done. It’s weird as a female vocalist. There can be pressure to have a gorgeous vocal, or a very distinct stylized vocal. I think this is my real voice, but with urgency. Honestly this may be the song of which I am the proudest on this album- it’s weird and strong and makes me want to make ugly faces and pump my fist. That’s success to me.

“Come Alive”
I remember last summer it would take me 20 minutes to drive to Girls Rock, the camp where I was volunteering to teach girls about guitar, being in a band, and just being confident. I would take that drive as a chance to sing melodies and record them on my phone, and it was on these drives that the melody for this song was born. In my mind I heard this Swedish tinged lounge-pop song- or a guitar based Stereolab. I’m happy with what resulted- it’s definitely our own thing.

Eternal Summers - Gold and Stone - Album art

“Ebb Tide” (commentary by Daniel)
When we were working out the songs for this album we knew we were using new structures and chords that pushed to define Eternal Summers. When I bring songs to Nicole and Jonathan I usually make it a studio thing, not letting them see the song until we’re in the studio so we can get a song that is not over-thought and works off of initial impressions and ideas. This song was similar but we did go over it a few times before the studio session in a minimal way. I write a lot outside of the band and always view these songs as the “Lee Renaldo”, “George” or “Bob Weir” songs. They add a twist to the albums and mix it up. We’ve always been interested in albums that really go all over the place while still being Eternal Summers.

Lyrically, I am talking to myself and the people around me. The song refers to a time when we were on tour and I suffered an immense anxiety attack and had to be taken to a hospital because I thought I was dying. I could barely talk or move. It was one of the worst days of my life. There was a lot of dysfunction going on in my personal life and it boiled up in a very destructive way. I had never been so vulnerable and defeated. I needed help, help from my friends and the spirits beyond. I wouldn’t call this a sad song but some sort of transitional song of getting yourself back and gaining your power back.

“Play Dead”
“Okay, you’re a failure to everyone but you alone.” Some self-talk there, and perhaps talk to other musicians, artists and dreamers who are undervalued and often misunderstood. Glad we got some thick guitars on the album with this one. I like the idea as we get older as a band that some of our songs get heavier, louder, gnarlier. Also I was pretty intrigued with Glenn Danzig’s vocals for the Misfits and would often ask my bandmates in the van what they would think if I tried to sing like him. I don’t ever really do that, but a few seconds in the bridge are lightly channelling Glenn.

“Stars You Named”
The slow burner! We actually had quite a few slow songs that didn’t make the cut- but this one was a unanimous choice to stay on the album. We used to call this one “Soft Disagree” just because there is a little bit of dissonant tension in the chords. I really love melodramatic ballads- especially if they are sincere, and pulled some inspiration from Echo and the Bunnymen, Petshop Boys and other 80’s groups that have a flair for the dramatic. Jonathan got to add a lot of cool textural ambiance on synths for this one, and Daniel got to play that amazing guitar lead which for some reason reminded us of Bob Seger’s “Mainstreet.”

“Bloom”
This was actually one of the first songs specifically written for this album. Because it had been in our back pocket for so long, it was easy to take it for granted and even feel like we wanted it cut from the album. There’s definitely a psych/ stoner rock vibe to it, which is some new territory for us. It’s still pop, though. The lyrics are ones I would never have written a couple years ago- as I’ve gotten older and perhaps the longer I’m a touring musician, the more I desire to be alone. This desire to be alone can sometimes branch into some unhealthy thoughts about life and people in one’s life. We’re not really meant to be alone. At least, not all the time.

Eternal Summers tour dates:

6/2 – Boston, MA @ Great Scott
6/3 – Kingston, NY @ BSP Kingston
6/4 – Wilkes-Barre, PA @ The Other Side
6/5 – Albany, NY @ The Treehouse
6/6 – Harrisburg, PA @ Millworks ~
6/7 – Washington, DC @ Comet Ping Pong
6/8 – Richmond, VA @ Gallery 5
6/9 – Charlottesville, VA @ The Southern
6/10 – Raleigh, NC @ Neptunes Parlour
6/11 – Charlotte, NC @ Snug Harbor
6/12 – Ybor City, FL @ New World Brewery
6/13 – Jacksonville, FL @ Burro Bar
6/15 – Athens, GA @ Caledonia Lounge
6/16 – Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
6/17 – Knoxville, TN @ The Pilot Light
6/18 – Asheville, NC @ The Mothlight
6/19 – Harrisonburg, VA @ Clementine Cafe $
6/30 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Bowl #
7/7 – Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar *
7/8 – St. Louis, MO @ Firebird *
7/9 – Kansas City, MO @ Record Bar *
7/10 – Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge *
7/12 – Boise, ID @ Neurolux *
7/13 – Seattle, WA @ Barboza ^
7/14 – Portland, OR @ Bunk Bar ^
7/16 – Oakland, CA @ 1234 Go! Records ^
7/19 – Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar ^
7/22 – Oxford, MS @ Cats Purring Dude Ranch
7/23 – Nashville, TN @ The Stone Fox
7/24 – Chattanooga, TN @ JJ’s Bohemia

~ w/ Ava Luna
$ w/ Twin Peaks
# w/ Widowspeak
* w/ Wildhoney
^ w/ Nic Hessler

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