The new album, out Oct. 16, is Sam Roberts Band’s first release in a few years and talks about entering a new chapter, self-love, feeling alone and the overall chaotic energy that so many have felt this year.
The result is a rock album that is equally rejuvenating in some areas and nostalgic in others. The listener walks away with a little less confusion and a bit more hope about what the rest of the year may bring.
Sam Roberts shared track-by-track commentary with COLLiDE about the inspirations behind each track. Check it out below:
This was the first song written for the record —although we didn’t know it was part of an album yet. Still, it felt like this was the start of something…
Winter was just around the corner, like a big empty white page. The music came first and seemed to suggest walking into the unknown, through the snow, following a trail that disappears behind you as you move ahead—the only way through is forwards.
We’re collecting moments and important things in our histories and stowing them a way to help see us through the tough days ahead. “War Chest” starts like a lullaby and then the hammer drops and you’re in a dreamscape of memories, all of the ammunition you need to face the coming storm. It’s a love song, but more of a love of life and everything that makes it worth living.
This song is a conversation between generations and the importance of never letting the gulf grow so wide that we can’t still relate. It calls to mind the scene in Goldfinger when James Bond refers to the Beatles as “racket.” At the time, it didn’t make sense… how could someone that cool not like the Beatles? Now I get it, every generation hits a point where the common ground it shares with its successor starts to slip.
The song is a rallying cry to not give up so easily. Forward, together! When we play “Ascension,” it makes me want to put on my jean shorts and grow a mullet, like all the cool dudes had in the 80’s—when music hit me like a bolt of lightning.
We dubbed the genre “Afstralian”—a marriage of my South African roots with another powerful energy I can only describe as coming from the Australian outback… though never having been there myself, the connection is based more on “vibe” than “fact.”
When you’re a kid, friendship is blind and accepting. As we get older, our lives can swallow us up, leaving little room for the magic that made every day of our childhood an adventure. Through all of this complication and the coming and going, we find our way back to each other—never as often as we’d like and usually not with the same fervor as in our younger days, but we find each other nonetheless. This song really took off in the studio as the layers just kept coming together. It seemed important that the journey the words spoke to was also reflected in the music itself…
Take Me Away
The evening news, 2020, enough said, get me the hell outta Dodge, man! This song was written in a day, but for some reason took two years to knock into its current form. I don’t really get how or why that happens but some songs are inexplicably slippery. This was one of them…
I Like the Way You Talk About the Future
We always loved the way the Smiths have these long, elaborate song titles (“There Is A Light That Never Goes Out,” “A Rush And A Push And The Land Is Ours”) and wanted one for our own. I wanted to sing a song about a future that was inviting and worth searching for.
The song started with a relentless bassline and I was trying to mix Fela Kuti with the Chemical Brothers. My old high school friends Joseph Donovan and Adrian Popovic were at the production helm for this one. Gus Van Go then channeled that through his Dub Reggae chops and the song was born. It’s about selling up and leaving it all behind to go out and find another way…
We all come from somewhere—a place that no matter how far out into the world we go and how much we think we have changed, we still call it home. The place is full of ghosts and echoes and sometimes it takes more strength than you think you have to go back there.
All of Us
For the longest time, this song was called “Death Eater.” I had been reading Harry Potter out loud to my kids for 6 years (yes, it took me that long…) and I couldn’t think of anything else. When I closed my eyes I saw Hagrid, Dementors, Goblets of Fire, the Weasley Twins and Death Eaters.
The music written for the song rejected this direction and nothing fit. It was February 2020 and this was the last song to be written. The world seemed to be (and, as it turned out, was) on the brink of a new chapter. This year has taught us that there is no turning a blind eye to the connection we share with people all over this planet. “All of Us” is a celebration of that.
Sometimes the memories are so vivid, so close to being alive again and you’d give anything to feel that way just one more time. We can go right to the brink but never fully back.
“Youth” is about the bittersweet beauty in those attempts to relive our childhoods and hopefully a reminder to make the most out of all of this while it lasts!
Stream All of Us now:
Photo by: Richmond Lam