Death, rebirth, forgiveness, healing — these seem to be constant themes for 5 piece No Kind of Rider, and it’s no wonder given the band’s fractured history.
From exhaustive touring to living in separate cities, the band has been through a lot. But none of it compares to 3 of the 5 band members losing their fathers during the making of their first full-length, Savage Coasts. What was created on the other side of that loss is an impressive and poignant debut.
Their latest single “Autumn” is no exception. The art rock track holds a steady yet beautifully unnerving tone throughout until it deconstructs at the end, taking the song’s more subtle electronic flourishes and allowing them to collide for a turbulent finish. “We decided to destroy the song at the end, ” says singer Sam Alexander. “It felt right — for everything to decompose. That’s just a natural thing, isn’t it?” He continues:
“We have all known each other for so long, and together we have fought and lost and dreamt. We have hated each other and forgiven each other. That’s something that just comes with time. We have to die, to be reborn. But each night holds a new promise. What if you could shape those close to you to better fit what you need? It’s just a question that is never said. After my father died, these lyrics took a different meaning. The entire song had a different perspective. It was healing in a way I didn’t expect.”
Listen to Autumn below and read on for a quick interview with Sam Alexander. The band’s debut Savage Coast is out July 13.
As a touring musician and with band members located in different cities, has your definition of home changed?
The concept of home has become portable. Home is where your people are. That can be anywhere on earth, but it’s that feeling of connection that creates home.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about relationships since forming the band?
I try not to take anything for granted. Being in a band with people you’ve known since you were a teenager can create a sense of familiarity and comfort. That can cause you to start coasting if you aren’t careful. People change, and relationships change in response to that. It’s the same in romance, if you aren’t keeping up with who that person is now then relationships suffer.
How did music shape everyone’s healing and how did the healing process shape the music?
There’s both fiction and autobiography in our lyrics. In both cases, though, the music is a place where the chaos of our lives has an outlet. Yeah, in the process of pouring that chaos into the music, the music healed us in a way. The same song can have such different meaning to each of us. Even that individual meaning has shifted over the last two years for some of us. Believe it or not, the lyrics to “Autumn” were written before my father died and they now hold completely different meaning to me. The reality and loss of death now is much more tangible and real to me. The past me somehow wrote lyrics that would comfort the future me. That’s crazy.
Many claim the greatest pain makes for the best art. Was that true at all for you and do you think that’s a dangerous idea to rely on?
Hah – that’s a sadistic rumor with an edge of truth. If you think about it, there’s something hopeful about that idea. The hope comes from the idea that the struggle of pain has immense value. It’s absolutely true that pain can create great art. But pain is only one source. Beauty inspires great art. Solitude does too. In our case, we don’t shy away from pain as a source – but I do think it can become addictive and destructive to rely on it. When I first starting writing, I sought out pain because it gave me the emotional clarity and motivation to write music. Now I draw from wider experiences. It’s healthier and less emo.
Is there any magical moment you can recall in the recording process for Savage Coast that sparked a change in direction or some kind of growth for the band?
We are usually painfully meticulous in our songwriting process and at some point in this recording process – we let go. It was liberating to say: “We are going to stand in this room together, and play these parts, and see what happens.” There are songs we had been playing live that completely changed during the recording process. “Distinct” was basically rewritten in the studio. We unraveled it piece by piece and allowed it to take shape as we were recording. I was initially terrified because it was a song we had worked on for years. But collectively, we decided to let go. Our collaboration with Andrew and Jeremy was key to that and it was built on trust. We all understood each other artistically and we could trust each other’s unique gifts. Our faith in the process of collaboration certainly grew. Collaboration is magic, you gotta try it.
Without analyzing the album too much, is there a particular meaning or message you want the listener to walk away with?
It isn’t a concept record but we are definitely trying to take you on a journey. If you make it through the last 30 seconds and feel like you’ve been taken somewhere else, I’ll be happy. If you find a little healing from taking the journey, all the better.