This post originally appeared on Punktastic.com.
Every day, we’re dealt varying degrees of bullshit. From getting fired from a part-time, low-paying job, to getting one of those devil papercuts right between your fingers, unexpected and generally unpleasant situations tend to find us no matter how prepared we think we are. And in the past few years, Glasgow’s Departures have been dealt their fair share of bullshit.
Having released their new album, ‘Death Touches Us, From The Moment We Begin To Love’, this summer, Departures shared some insight on how the songwriting process differed this time around and what hardships forced the band to grow considerably, together and individually.
While their trademark post-hardcore sound still rings true throughout the new album, the band ventured into new territory lyrically. Guitarist Danny Nash explains that “the major difference this time was there was a bit of preparation involved with [the album]. On our previous records we’ve always just gone into the studio with songs that are about 60% written and finished them while recording them. This time I made a point of recording as much music as I possibly could on my laptop and sent it off to the guys for them to say ‘yeah that’s cool’, or ‘yeah that’s shit’.”
He also says that this process “allowed James [McKean] to write the lyrics a lot further in advance than he usually would—he’s literally written some while standing at the microphone in the studio on previous records—and I think that really shows.”
During the writing and recording process of the new album, Danny mentions that, while life can provide insurmountable inspiration, it can just as easily take things away from you. Adding that it’s all in how you handle those significantly difficult situations that makes the biggest difference. Danny can speak directly to this as he was going through a terrible battle with cancer right as ‘Teenage Haze’ was about to be released.
“Everyone goes through shit, it’s just a fact of life,” he adds. “I think between ‘Teenage Haze’ and this record we’ve grown up a bit. The subject is a bit more focused on life itself. Both myself and James have lost close family members and that’s had a huge impact on everything we’ve written. I think as a result of things like that, we look at the bigger picture more than we did back then.”
As you listen to each song on the album, you’re taken on a harrowing journey through depression, loneliness, desperation, and even several moments of clarity, similar to what Danny describes above. Lyrics like “The sun never touches us / Still it climbs through my windows” on ‘In Colour’ paint an honest portrait of these emotions while simultaneously allowing listeners to interpret their meaning based on what they’re dealing with personally.
Though, if you’re wondering what that line means to the band… “That specific line is about being wrapped up in someone so much that you almost forget that time/life carries on, and you’re not paying too much attention to what’s happening around you. And the realisation of that happens towards the end of the song when that relationship fog lifts.”
Danny says of the album’s songwriting, “I hope people find something in the lyrics for them, writing them certainly felt cathartic at times, so from that perspective I hope [the lyrics] are able to help people in any small way.”
With each listen, I found myself pausing and paying very close attention around the track ‘Set Adrift’, which felt like a clearing of the slate, purposely placed just outside the center of the album.
Additionally, Danny says that the curation of the tracks was entirely intentional, something I find to be a crucial ingredient for a great album. “From the perspective of listening to the record on vinyl, both sides start with a much more spaced-out, melodic track, but I think any way you listen to it, that song is there in the middle to give you a break from what’s come before/comes after,” he says. “The track list is quite deliberately split into two halves, I think if you listen and read the lyrics for each side, it should become clear how we’ve split it.”
Departures’ enhanced role as songwriters is clearly on displayed in their new album. Even in this interview, Danny’s responses are thoughtful and offer a profound and intimate narrative. He mentions that “there are a lot of songs on the album that sort of call and echo each other, both musically and lyrically. There’s repeated vocal lines from different songs across the album, as well as repeated guitar parts. ‘Waiting’ and ’Broken’ are two parts of the same song, as are ‘1994’ and ‘Memorial’ for example. It was definitely a more thought-out way of doing it from the usual ’10 songs thrown together’ approach.”