Interview with the Artist: A Day Without Love’s “Solace”

Without the ability to find comfort in battle, you will never be able to win the war. I wrote this record so I could win the war.”

—-

Back in January, we talked to Brian Walker about his life’s journey, inevitably intertwining his times of both triumph and struggle. His willingness to be vulnerable, as is with anyone who submits a Coping piece, was extremely courageous and admirable.

One of the focal points of Brian’s life was, and is, music. The inspiration he’s gained from music over the years inspired him to become a musician himself. In his Coping piece, he mentioned how his band, A Day Without Love, came to be.

Now, nearly nine months later, ADWL has freshly released Solace, a new album that speaks to many of the themes and experiences that Brian has thoroughly described to us. I had the pleasure of asking him some questions about the album, the processes of writing and recording, and the future of the band.

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1) What inspirations went into writing Solace? Are there recurring themes throughout the album that stick out to you?  

I was inspired to write Solace during a very dark time in my life as well as a very transitional time in my life. I had decided to write this full length after leaving SXSW and beginning to stop drinking. This record is kind of my way of trying to let out all of the vices in my mind. Sonically, I would say Kevin Devine has been a very large influence, as well as Alex G and Modest Mouse. Thematically, there are recurring themes around racism, depression, and alcoholism.

2) Bring us through the recording process. I noted that you took the photo for the album cover as well as writing the lyrics and music. How was the process for you? Was it different from previous recordings?

 Yes. My friend Brianna and I got out to a park with my friend Karaamat (the album art designer) and we took some photos in West Philadelphia. It was a pretty cool day. As far as writing the record, I wrote 60 songs in about a year, chose 15 to pursue, and then narrowed it down to the 13 songs that are on the album. The songs were written acoustically and then built up with me and my former band mate from there.

3) Are there any songs that you particularly like or are proud of? Any songs that were harder than others to put together?

For the exception of Persistence and Solace most of these songs stayed the same way that they were written. Cruel changed a few times before we set it down to recording, but most of the writing of these songs moved very smoothly and I think my favorite song on the album cannot be narrowed down to just one. All of the songs are so different, much like a reflection of so many things that have changed in my life. In terms of difficult songs, I think tracking Too Fast was pretty tough, especially the last riff. I guess you can say that was the most metal riff that I have done in my discography so far.

4) Do you have any plans to play the songs from Solace live? If so, where and when should we keep a look out?

Yes. I will be playing across the Northeast, South, and Midwest on 3 to 4 day tour stints while managing a job. You can view most of my show dates on the band website and subscribe to the Bandsintown link to see me play at a show near you. Also, I will be playing solo sets mostly, and doing a full band show at Ortliebs, a venue in Philadelphia.

5) I hear the emotion behind this music. You noted that much of the struggles you’ve faced (racism, mental health, death, etc.) went into the content of Solace.  How was turning your pain into an creative, artistic medium?

 I find the writing this record to be very reflective and, if anything, the most reflective piece of artwork I have ever done in my life. I have samples of my grandfather in here who died of lung cancer during the writing process. I kind of see the record as a way of reminding myself of who I was, who I am trying to be, and what I am today. I know there are many problems I highlight in the record, but the point of the record was not to discuss problems, but what I do with those problems, and how do I find ways to overcome the things I can not control.

6) You also highlighted that this was your first album sober; first of all, congratulations on that. I remember from your coping piece that this was a struggle for you, and I commend you on that. What emotions, difficulties, and triumphs came from creating Solace from a place of sobriety?

Initially, I felt like I lost my best friend by not writing under the influence of alcohol and drugs. But after giving that up I felt like I was discovering myself again, which is why I think this record sounds so different than my previous records. Creating music from a place of sobriety is not only freeing; it’s comfortable because you know that you are writing from a place of honesty, a place that is clear, a place that is not covered up by the drugs and alcohol I used to drown my body with. So writing songs sober is really tight.

7) What’s the next step for A Day Without Love? How are you feeling moving forward?

Currently I plan on touring as much as I financially can. I am on a major weight loss and self-discovery journey. I want to write a record on body positivity, and I am probably going to make this sonically more different than other records. In addition, I may release a lo-fi record soon.

8) If you had to pick a single message from Solace that encapsulated the album, what would it be? What does the album say more than anything to you?

No matter how much people hate you or you hate yourself, do your damn best to find peace and comfort in the war you are fighting. Without the ability to find comfort in battle, you will never be able to win the war. I wrote this record so I could win the war. In some ways, I believe I am not alone, so I want others to feel that they know they are not alone, and they can fight their battles together. Hopefully one day we can fight our battles together.

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You can become more familiar with A Day Without Love here, as well as giving Solace a listen, here. If you’re not familiar with Brian’s journey, check out his Coping piece from this past winter.

Remember-you are not alone,

and you are loved.

-DK

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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A Message to Myself: It’s Not Your Fault

Hi friends,

I wanted to share some food for thought for anyone else who gets stuck on the track of thinking: Something about me is fundamentally wrong, I don’t deserve the things I want, and my hopes and expectations are too high.
This way of thinking can come about for any number of reasons. Sometimes, when our expectations don’t match up with reality, it feels like this is somehow due to a moral failure or a sense of unworthiness.
Often, things simply don’t work out. Not because we did something wrong. They just didn’t work. It’s pretty simple, right?
But for some reason, instead of internalizing things this way, our inner dialogue goes more like this:
This didn’t work out, and it’s my fault, and this will continue to happen because of who I am. Maybe I deserve less than I thought.
Have you been there before? Have you felt your energy shift as your mind goes from thinking about small disappointments to making a giant, irrational leap in thinking that somehow, you are being rejected for who and how you are, and that’s why things aren’t working? 27955620062_70b62fc866_k.jpg
I don’t always feel this way, as I’ve worked for years to change my inner dialogue and it has dramatically improved. But when I do feel this way, I want to shrink and hide. To stop asking for more. To be as small as possible to avoid future disappointments.
But I think that as tempting as it is to do that, we really need to do the opposite. When circumstances in your life lead you to believe that you are not good enough, or wrong, or undeserving, the best (and maybe only) way to push past those self-imposed limitations is not to curb your ambition and enthusiasm and your hope for better things. As counterintuitive as it feels, in those moments we need to expect more, know that we deserve more, and hope for bigger and better things. Especially when we feel that the opposite is true.
Not everything negative that happens is a rejection of who or how you are. In fact, most things are not. Sometimes they are just reminders that you are settling for less than what you deserve: which is to feel loved, fulfilled, and inspired.
Lots of things about you are fundamentally good. You deserve the things you want. Your hopes and expectations are not too high, so long as you are willing to put in the work to get them (and I know you are).
I’ll be repeating that message to myself for as long as it takes to really believe it, and I hope you will, too.
With love,
Samantha B.

Thanks to Sam for contributing her words to our site.
Always remember you are not alone.
You are loved.
PF

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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Poetry: quiescent ontogeny (shedding September skin)

image1

 

go back some steps and paint the rest the colors they were meant to be.

parasites preventing psychology-
absent sounds without answers, potential apart metamorphosis.
the mistakes were easy,
splitting monochrome apart of the omniscient wind.

and they never learned anything.

I couldn’t escape the quiescence of ontogeny
descending east or west in our
oblivion as nothing-
these spider webs bury dead
under my intuition
ashamed of my own decisions
refusing to light,
but the flicker always subtle in the night,
aggressive how I wanted to make it shine.

we’re butterflies with broken mirrors,
scintillatingly self-reflecting that our deepest fears will never resonate with
the man under the bridge or the
child in Idaho or the
part of my father i never want to see in myself,
but always will.
hand-crafted maps fade because we’re told to abandon
caterpillars
as if this growth was a virus and not a blessing disguised as
thousands of glass shards unlocking doors.
I wanted to know more.

I couldn’t think where my mind begins
it shifts back hollow where I started
blonde curls lost frivolously among the pile of careful maple leaves
you should’ve tried to understand while you
blurred the sharpness of this image,
shades of fuschia indecisions
evading a dream,
incomplete sets of glass menagerie fog when I fall asleep.
shuffling the shutter, parallel to the stress it put me under.
a life repeating its first day,
continuing cabarets
confusing caves in sheep
crystallize
an endless disease.

flowers don’t communicate in binary;
your daisies were fireworks,
mute mutilations of my morbidity,
simultaneously transforming
sheep from tangible reality.
as I felt every strand of indifference-

IT ALL COULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT.

but
our faces yield yellow hues in
both pines needles and piles of
orange maples.

ashamed of where I hadn’t  been
because of the person I have yet to become
knowing what I will never be.
It was strange to see me as a human being
amorphous
feathers drifting incomplete
as crows without grief
circling aware
predicting what I could not escape
luminescent highways miles from fate
time spent
in the essence of these transgressions
pardon me gray.

what can i call colors i see,
branches of the trees from Polaroid memories,
or dreams of what the world should be?
where can i find these answers on this endless canvas,
this bruised, mountainous landscape,
constantly hammering away against our wars with self-abandonment?
what’s the spectrum where
trees and
everyone you’ve ever known that’s felt loss
can sing in harmony?

trapped in my mind,
hope is destiny when it’s not in our plans

running out of time,
the colors will fade as limbs grow thicker

footsteps erase.

mirrors adapt.

This piece is a collaboration between Zachary Johnson and Danny Kochanowski.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

-DK

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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Creative Pieces dear hope

Why is Happiness so Hard?

Why is Happiness so Hard?

The last couple of months have been difficult. They have been hard for reasons I cannot fathom into words because I do not know the correct vocabulary to describe the empty pit in my stomach, the yearning in my chest for something more.

More. I always need more.

I have everything in this world but my brain, my chest, my heart, my throat, my limbs, my being is always grasping for more.

Maybe more isn’t want I need. It’s not what I’m searching for. No, what I’m ultimately wanting is to feel at ease. To feel okay. To feel worthy. To feel utter happiness.

There are dark clouds inside my mind that like to take a backseat most of the time but never fully leave my head. They precipitate ideas that I am not good enough, I do not deserve what I have: the people in my life, the progress I have made.

Let me briefly explain to you what I have in this life, and why I am so mad at myself.

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I have a mother who would give everything in her being to wipe the clouds from my brain, to give me even just a moment of sincere happiness.

I have a father who would cut down every single tree that is blocking the sun from reaching my dark thoughts.

I have a brother who will stand by me through every panic attack, mental breakdown, and through all of my second, third, and fourth thoughts about making decisions, and then tell me “You did so great, Rebecca”.

I have best friends who are genuinely interested in my life, how I’m doing, what my goals are, and where I’m feeling on this spectrum of intense anxiety and depression.

I have an amazing boyfriend who has dealt with every instance of my thoughts betraying myself, who has stood by me as I question his feelings for me because I am too insecure to believe that he could actually care for me.

I have four walls surrounding me and a roof over my head. I have cats who check up on me when they hear my silently crying at night. I have a job that is keeping my head financially above water. I am getting an advanced education. I am healthy. I am surrounded by beauty. I have every reason to feel intense happiness, to be content.

But those dark clouds keep rolling in.

Those clouds tell me that mom and dad are sick of my mental disparities. My brother will only tell me I am doing great for so long, and does he really mean it? They tell me that my friends do not really care about me and my wellbeing. They tell me that my boyfriend is getting sick of me, is obviously going to leave me, and that it’s best to cut ties before you get hurt. Hurt yourself before anyone else can, right?

My thoughts are irrational and I am aware of this fact. I know that what they are telling me is not real, that they are wrong. But then why do I feel the sadness that they bring? If I can understand that the rain that falls from those clouds is just my depression creeping in, why do I let the feelings of dread, worthlessness, and sadness wash over me? How frustrating it is to be clued into what parts of your mind are lying to you, and yet still believe the emotions that they emit.

And this is why I’m mad. Mad at myself. Because I am allowing these beliefs, these thoughts, these lies overtake me. And I don’t know how to stop. And others are feeling at fault for my mood changes, and I’m angry that I’m allowing my own problems to create tears in relationships that I am so thankful for. I can’t stop this cycle and it hurts.

I once went to a psychic and she told me something I’ll never forget. She told me,

“Rebecca, why won’t you let yourself be happy? Someone could ask you to paint a room, all four walls. You’d finish and they would be so happy with how it came out, they would praise you for your hard work, and you would reply, “Yeah, it’s okay, but I didn’t paint the ceiling.”

My friends, my family, my boyfriend, they all ask me why I am so sad, if they are any cause of this despair that I drag along each day. My beautiful support system feels at fault and that hurts me.

I don’t know how to fix myself. But I’m working on it. But for now, I want to say something to those in my life:

Dear You,

I am sorry. I am so sorry that whatever is happening inside of my head is affecting our connection. I need you to know that you are not doing anything to make me feel like this. You are what is keeping me afloat.

To my family, I am sorry that I am so absent. I am trying my best to not allow my self-deprecation show, because I am embarrassed that I have come so far and have taken steps backwards. Thank you for always being there for me when I need it, and thank you for giving me my space when I’m not feeling like myself.

To my friends, I am sorry for my distance. I am sorry that I have not talked more to you about this. I am trying my hardest to figure it out. Thank you for your unwavering support for me and for always picking up your phone when I call.

To my boyfriend, I am sorry that this side of me has shown itself so early in our relationship. It is not something I was expecting to happen. Thank you for your acceptance of me in dark moments and for telling me that things like this aren’t going to make you run away.

Why is happiness so hard for me? Because I’ve got my arms spread out, with ropes tied around them; anxiety yanking one way, depression yanking me the other, both as hard as they can. My fists are clenched and I’m trying to break free, but sometimes they are stronger than me. Because I am not fully “better”, and I’m not sure I ever will be. Because trusting people is hard for me. Because I do not fully like who I am as a person.

But even when these dark clouds become so large that they haze over my eyes, I always manage to see some glimpse of light, a shimmer of gold reaching through. And that is enough to snap me out, to remind me that I will be okay.

So thank you. Thank you for always reaching out for me. Thank you for poking your head through the darkness, for cutting away at the ropes around my wrist. Thank you for your constant reassurance.

Thank you.

 


 

This honest reflection comes from Rebecca, who has submitted both art and a Coping entry to us before. In her own words:

“We are all continuous and beautiful works in progress”

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

PF

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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“A Day Without Love: How My Depression Made Me Who I Am” – Coping: This is Who We Are Entry 16

In our latest submission in the Coping series, we have the story of Brian:

Depression came to me before I was aware of it. The first time I felt out of place was in kindergarten when I waited for my mother to pick me up from school. I lived right across the street from my school, and my grandmother would meet up with me to walk across the street.  Things started to change when I was told that my Mother would pick me up. At the time, this was important to me because my relationship with my Mother was distant. My Mother didn’t really do much for me, and treated me like I did not exist.  When I found out that she was going to pick me up from school, it meant the world to me, even though I was not aware that this would be the beginning of feeling like an outsider. My mother suffers from cerebral palsy and has a walking impediment. As you would guess, this was a challenge due to the public perception of disability in 1992.

Coping: This Is Who We Are dear hope