JE: Hello! Good! Busy. We put out our debut album 6 weeks ago and have been heavily touring all over the place in support of it – it’s certainly been an adventure.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Heavy Lines”?
PV: Heavy Lines was written between musical projects. I wrote it during a time of change, a time when I was struggling with internal conflict, and the difficult task of expressing those internal struggles to the one they were specifically directed towards. I tend to do that. If I don’t know how to say something to someone, I write a song and wonder if they’ll ever know it’s about them.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
PV: I guess there’s no point in being vague about it at this point. It’s a break up song. But it was written before we were broken up. I just remember being in bed with her, unable to sleep, and the moon, or street light, or whatever source of light, was coming through our bedroom window through our shitty blinds, and cast these crazy shadows. It made me so sad for some reason. It looked like a prison or something. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I never literally ran away before she woke. It’s more of me telling myself that I wasn’t going to let myself be stagnant or stationary. This led to some pretty nasty months following the break up in which I wrote many of the other songs on the album. Severed Seams and Heavy Lines are very much sibling songs, following each other fairly chronologically. Severed Seams is the lead up to Heavy Lines contextually for sure.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
JE: Not at this time, but certainly not ruling it out. We’re all really into video production so hopefully once our tour schedule calms down a little bit we can focus (pun intended) on shooting some footage.
The single comes off your new album Facepaint – what’s the story behind the title?
PV: The name comes from the line “you shook off those scars as soon as you departed, your facepaint peels off your skin because you can’t hide what you’ll find within your chest that you can’t forget,” in the song Take Me. Throughout the album I like to think that any individual can be seen with facepaint on as they try to pass through life “normally”. Not even normally, but as someone they want to be. It’s a lack of sincerity I suppose. It can be abstract, literal, or perfect copies of other people. I see traces of it on my friends, family, loved ones, and on myself of course. Some people have it caked on, some people are in the process of taking it off, and some are sadly learning how to put it on at a young age. Facepaint is unnatural. After some time it is made to come off and expose the true flawed flesh that lies beneath. It takes effort to continue to apply facepaint. In the song the idea is once you’ve shed yourself of unnecessary desires, or toxic people, or whatever is encouraging you to put on this bull shit cover, it eventually peels off and the real beauty is exposed. This can be super hard though. Sometimes what hides under the facepaint is terrible pain, realizations that you’ve been ignoring your whole life, or things you didn’t know were there at all. I think it’s more beneficial to confront these issues than to cover them up. But also my idea of confronting problems is writing songs rather than talking to people. Is that truly productive? I don’t know, that’s just me. I’m not trying to convince people of anything, I’m just writing songs about my own personal observations.
How was the recording and writing process?
PV: I couldn’t tell you when or how the writing process began or ended, but in no way was it influenced by the prospect of creating an album. I suppose it was inevitable, but I wasn’t writing these songs for any specific reason besides what they accomplished individually. It wasn’t until I heard the final product that I realized that these songs belonged together from the beginning, and I had no idea. In a way, I had unintentionally written a “concept” album, insofar as there is a direct theme that connects all the songs. I guess this makes sense, considering they were coming from the same person around the same time. The songs stand on their own, but work together to create something even greater in my opinion.
The recording process was super fun.
JE: As far as recording goes – I would call it a very relaxed whirlwind. We recorded almost all of the drums, keyboards, string instruments, orchestral percussion, and backing vocals at three separate recording studios near us in 5 days. For everything else, we retreated to a lake house a few hours north of us and just lived there in isolation for a week and half. Waking up every morning, making coffee and eggs, and just playing music all day and into the night in our pajamas, then cracking open the whiskey as it got colder. I certainly don’t want to make an album any other way after that!
What aspect of loss did you get to explore on this record? What made you want to explore these themes?
PV: I never really wanted to explore the theme of loss, I was simply writing about it. Again, not intentionally. My writing style doesn’t really have much intention, at least not at the beginning. A lot of it is stream of consciousness, with a sprinkle of literary flair. Eventually certain ideas come out and I expand on them. I think I’m subconsciously very intrigued by the idea of a lack of something. What lies between the obvious, and why sometimes that can be good, and most of the time it hurts more than anything. The song Cursed or Worse is the exception. Cursed or Worse was very intentional, and was written very quickly because there was no questioning what I wanted to write and why I wanted to write about it. Cursed or Worse was a direct reaction to an event that felt unbearable. It was the last song written on the album, and I think is the perfect summery of my feelings on loss; I need help with it. Isn’t that ironic? I think I’m just very scared of being alone.
Any plans to hit the road?
JE: We just finished playing our first-ever show in San Francisco, and are a little over halfway through our first crosscountry and West Coast tour. At the end of October we’ll be returning to Ireland for five shows, including a few support dates with Mundy, and then we’ll return to Europe again in January for a month, playing dates in Ireland, the UK, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, including four shows supporting Bettie Serveert. We’re really excited for all this.
What else is happening next in Happy Abandon’s world?
JE: We’ll be headlining shows in Durham, NC and Washington DC this winter, as well as releasing our first ever music video, which was animated by our friend Ofer in New York City. I can’t wait to see what he’s cooked up!