It’s the 1930s and a debilitating drought has ravaged the Southwest, particularly in the city of Nowhere. Already feeling the weight and despair of wondering when things when will turn around, tragedy hits the poverty-stricken city and its townspeople when a single lit candle drops on the floor in St. Catherine’s church causes the structure to burn down. Even more heartbreaking is Eleanor, the pastor’s daughter, and wife to Clifford gets trapped within the burning inferno and loses her life.
The description above is the backdrop that awaits listeners of Long Island’s post-hardcore ensemble Crash The Calm’s “concept album” of A Town Named Nowhere. Dropping the album within a series of EPs, Volume 1 introduces listeners to Nowhere and presents the narrators, the Dust & Dirt. Alongside Eleanor, and the pastor, you are also acquainted with George, Clifford’s brother. Volume 2 (released today) centers around Clifford’s fears and the loudening level of anger that consumes him. As it slowly bleeds within his broken soul, Clifford begins to feel the weight of the events bleeding into his surroundings by constantly reliving the day Nowhere truly felt no longer safe or home. Crash The Calm perfectly encapsulate a storyline with heavy layers of guitar and drum lines in each of the tracks. The emotional toll of the characters is engraved with the listener with each spin.
Being in Long Island, what do you think has been the biggest influence for the band musically?
Suburban depression. Kidding aside – there’s always been a robust scene and we were lucky enough to grow up in a time when Long Island was really starting to take over the national scene. Bands like Iron Chic, Taking Back Sunday, Crime in Stereo & Brand New really helped shape our sonic influences and what we could aspire to be as musicians. CiS actually inspired the name of our band.
How did the band come to be?
In short – Pat, Brian, and some close friends decided to make a project together after meeting each other through playing in other bands & shows. They jelled almost immediately and wrote the first record How’ve You Been? and released it in 2017 not long after.
There was a time where the band was on the verge of breaking down. Just how close did it get to the band dissolving?
To put a number on it, only 40% of the original members remained – Pat & Brian had to figure out whether they wanted to continue and it wasn’t long after that the idea of Nowhere came to them. The idea of rebirth and regrowth through music and a band that wasn’t at its end fueled them to keep going. It was something that they wanted to pursue and kept them pushing forward and reforming, gaining Johnny (drums), Dave (bass), and Dan (guitar) to fill out the lineup over the course of 2019.
What led the band to draw upon a concept such as the backstory of Nowhere?
We wanted to challenge ourselves both musically and as people to create a piece of music that reflected the turmoil we as a band were feeling internally and relate it across a broader experience. It was an effort to put real-world experiences and thoughts and feelings in these characters and really tell a story.
I love the backstory of the characters that you have incorporated with the tracks. How long did this whole idea take before nailing down instrumentals and lyrics?
The concept originated in 2017 and was worked on by Brian & Pat in the background. Recording of the record began in August 2019 and ended around a year later and to be honest, so much happened at each step of the way. Until the record was mixed in full it wasn’t a finished story. Even afterward there was plenty of proofreading and dialogue happening between us as a band where we wanted to make it as concise a narrative as possible.
Was there at any point where this vision the band was trying to achieve become too much?
It’s definitely been pretty overwhelming to take on as much as we wanted to but it’s something that feels incredibly rewarding for us to accomplish. We’ve just wanted to focus on staying cohesive and keep the story flowing with each new release.
Did the pandemic in any way help the band draw up the motivation to explore doing such an ambitious project as this recent string of EPs?
It allowed us to pursue new avenues for telling the story from if anything. We wrote this record well before this pandemic but it definitely was an eerie experience seeing the world shut down around us while we were literally recording songs about people being shuttered inside. The lack of ability for us to tour I think in part gave rise to the multiple EP idea as a way to stretch the timeline of the release and tell the story piece by piece.
The beauty of the band and much space lies within the instrumentals. How important was that for the group?
It was important for us to write the instrumentals in a way that helped tie the emotion of the lyrics to the story and the message we wanted to convey. We have 2 guitars and a baritone in the band so we try not to step on each other’s toes instrumentation-wise while still bringing that ‘wall of sound’ sonically.
Do you foresee going and doing another concept-like album in the future?
We have been tossing around a few concept-based ideas we’d like to pursue in the future but for now, we’re just excited to see Nowhere through!
Photo Courtesy: Stephanie Augello