Polyvinyl Record Co. and Emmy-nominated artist, author, activist and musician Laura Jane Grace (Against Me!, The Devouring Mothers) have released the brand new NSFW [from home] music video for “The Swimming Pool Song,” the introductory track to Grace’s recently released, critically acclaimed solo album, Stay Alive. Directed by Emulsion Lab and featuring grisly acting by Grace and Hannah Gamble, “The Swimming Pool Song” is a chilling, slasher film plot in action with a twist based on a song with separate and heavy paranormal overtones itself. Watch the video for “The Swimming Pool Song” on YouTube HERE, and please continue to wear a mask. Grace had the following to share about the symbolic nature of the video in relation to the song:
“Like how in a dream, sometimes whatever fear it is that you’re running fromisn’t actually anything to be afraid of at all. Or like how in life sometimes wecouldn’t be more wrong about first impressions and the way things will turn out.”
Across the 14 songs that comprise Stay Alive, Grace takes all her pent-up fears, anger, and anxiety and releases it, like an olive branch to the weary listeners who are feeling those exact same ways. The songs are documents of a time and a songwriter who experienced enough to find levity in the simple act of doing work. Recorded with nothing more than an acoustic guitar, an occasional drum machine, and her own powerful voice, Grace’s distinct songwriting signature is front and center. Stream and purchase the album on all platforms HERE.
Laura Jane Grace wasn’t planning on making a solo record this year. In fact, she was planning on making a record with Against Me!, the band she’s fronted for the past 23 years. But clearly, nothing went according to plan this year. “We came home from the Against Me! tour we were on in March, and right before we left, we had been in the studio working on songs, and I had been working on them for months prior,” says Grace. As she sat at home, all of her tours canceled, and the members of Against Me!—as well as her other band Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers—spread across the country, she was left with a batch of songs and no band to record them with.
“I sat around for a month-and-a-half at a home just being shell-shocked being like, ‘What the fuck happened and what the fuck is happening with the world?’ As I started to get my bearings, I just came to the realization that waiting was going to kill the record and kill the songs. I spent two years working on all these songs, and the idea of throwing them away didn’t sit well with me,” says Grace. “But then I was like, ‘What am I waiting for?’ All I have to do is adjust my scope. I can sit here on my fucking ass and do nothing, or I can work.”
So, Grace got to work. She picked up the phone and booked four days with Steve Albini and Electrical Audio to document these songs exactly as she’d been playing them in her home, straight to analog tape. The result of the session is Stay Alive, a record that doesn’t just embody that title, it serves as the guiding principle behind its creations. But it also put life back into an industry that’s been ravaged by venue closures, cancelled tours, and delayed records.
Based on a message around work, struggle, and reaffirmed commitments, Grace is looking to communicate that these sentiments are completely universal during this difficult year. As she says in “Blood & Thunder,” a love song to Chicago—or perhaps a mea culpa for “I Hate Chicago” on The Devouring Mothers album Bought to Rot—the album’s thematic premise is all but spelled out: “When you give in and quit / There’s a power to be found in it.” It’s an idea that may sound odd on its face, but it displays Grace’s commitment to no longer resisting the changes in front of her.
2020 frustrations, roadblocks and world events aside, at the end of it all, Grace made this album purely for herself. “I just want to put this out because it makes me feel alive and it’s giving me something better than sitting here losing my mind while the world falls apart,” she says. “It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about what you do. Just stay alive.”