It is self-evidently a good sign, if a young and striving band gets compared to as many classic role-models of a scene as possible. In this matter Being Still, upcoming post-hardcore hope of Ocean City, New Jersey, US, are a contender for the Highscore, getting mentioned next to the names of Thursday and La Dispute alike. Melding progressive melodic ambient parts with old-school emocore elements their debut release Scattered Out of Focus Lights delivers an intriguing new sound to reckon with. Today I am happy to greet them as guests for an extra positive talk about how to stay hopeful, while 2020 is burning on both ends.
Thank you so much for joining me to talk about your project in these troubled times. How are you doing right now? I hope everyone is healthy.
Sean: We’re both doing well! We live with our partners and keep to ourselves mostly, so we’ve been able to keep things pretty simple during all of this.
Let´s kick it off with some major positive vibes. What is the best thing that happened to you as of yet in 2020, despite devastating incidents like the pandemic and the tragic events that started political riots all over the world?
Sean: Honestly, one of the best things has been the time and ability to interact regularly with our fans through social media. We put up merch for the first time and had way more sales than either of us were expecting, we watch all the stories that people tag us in, we’ve met and talked to several podcast teams, we see the excited comments on our videos, and it’s hard to beat all of that. And while we can’t get out and see people or travel to the places we had planned, we get to watch horror movies whenever and play games online with friends. It’s not the high life but you have to focus on what’s in front of you and what you do have. Community and support is essential for both of us.
Like I mentioned, a lot of people are connecting you with their favorite bands soundwise. What is the best correlation a fan has done by now?
Sean: We smile a little too hard when A Lot Like Birds or La Dispute come up. Those bands defined so much of our growth as musicians that it’s endlessly flattering.
Your first music, a six tracks including ep called Scattered Out of Focus Lights, officially dropped in February 2019 and excited listeners with a wild but compatible mix of different emo genres like The Wave (La Dispute, Defeater) and post-hardcore (As Cities Burn, Saosin). On your Bandcamp page you link the tag ambient-post-hardcore, which I think is absolutly fitting, as you often play with the extremes of chaotic rock passages and leave much room for gentle atmospheric melodies that gift the songs with an unexpected depth. What do you enjoy most about creating this kind of music?
Sean: It’s really simple: the variety. The first EP is full of different sounds and emotions that were all experiments in music we hadn’t been able to play with other people before. Finding each other was a blessing in that sense. We know what is fun for us to play and so we write songs that allow us to play those parts. It’s not all blast beats and soaring cleans, nor is it all vamping and reverb. We mix in flavors as they seem to fit and we’re constantly expanding our palette to try and deliver something that feels different than the last song we wrote, yet keeps the Being Still sound at its core.
You need to eat well and sleep well to stay positive and lead a happy and healthy life. What is the food that recharges your batteries best and makes you happy?
Sean: We’re both veg-heads and try to be health conscious. (Not always successfully.) Before we head anywhere, you will usually find us eating pasta and tomato/cucumber sandwiches rather than snack food. And we drink tons of water.
Ever since My Chemical Romance´s 2006 Song Cancer the door for tragic plots in the lyricism of emo bands has been violently kicked open, especially of course regarding stories that cover sickness. Your track Winter Scene (see the lyric video here) seems to embrace the darkest moment on your current release, when it covers a dreadful situation between a father and his sick son and leaves little hope for a happy ending. What are the most uplifting songs / records that you know and got you through the desperate times of isolation?
Sean: I’ve been a little obsessed with the song Basement Show BB by Cheem. It dropped just in time for this summer and it became an anthem on car rides for a while. It’s the right balance of goofy meets dancey. If I need something more intimate, I’ll reach for albums like Romance Is Boring by Los Campesinos! or E*MO*TION by Carly Rae Jepsen. Very different moods but they all feel upbeat without being overly saccharine or inauthentic.
Joey: Oh man, a lot of old Senses Fail and AFI records got me through tough times. Just growing up and being a kid I had those records to relate to, but now more than ever it’s not listening to music but writing it that helps me get through the hard times in my life. It’s like therapy to me, I need it.
Even, if it is the best part about your life, to be in a band can be very stressful. Beginning with the organisation, the struggle to grow as a team and the wish to stay relevant for your fans. What are your sources of power that give you the strength to continue to make music / together?
Sean: There’s a lot of little things we could point towards, but at the end of the day, no matter what you do, there is always a voice inside you that tells you to create. You hear an intense song or album, watch a gorgeous movie, witness a stunning piece of art, read incredible writing, and you instantly know that you have to do this. You have to give back in some way, or contribute to this movement/community, and if you don’t then you’re denying a part of you. For us, we do that through music and about a thousand other little creative projects. Sometimes it’s frustrating when the ideas don’t come out or your hands don’t do what you want them to do. But that all stems from the desire to create, and there’s nothing you can really do about it because that voice doesn’t go away.
The great news is out for a while now. You are working on a new record and have been able to announce a very special guest appearance on one of the songs everyone is thrilled about. Please give us an outlook on what is to come.
Sean: We think the second EP will be very similar to the first. It actually starts right where the previous one ends with Haunter Part 2, so that’s built into the structure itself. Incredibly, it will feature Shane Told of Silverstein. We’ve already heard his takes and those parts bring so much energy to the song. We can’t wait for you to hear it. At the same time, we’re constantly refining our sound and sanding off the elements that didn’t work before. At this point we can write something and say “That’s Being Still.” We say it all the time. We know it as soon as we hear it. And we hope our fans will know exactly what we mean, too.
Not only due to the hardships of the pandemic, but also the political trench warfare that is happening all over the world right now it´s tough to maintain a reasonable mindset and contribute to change things for the better. What are your tactics to navigate through all of this uncertainty, avoiding to get influenced by fear and desperation?
Sean: We’re both lucky to have incredibly supporting and patient partners. It’s affirming to constantly have a friend and sidekick regardless of where you are or what is happening. And through everything, it’s important to stay open. We try to listen to other people and make some sense of what’s going on around us. Leaning on friends and being open with them about how we’re feeling staves off the loneliness of feeling lost in world. Community helps ground us and gives us perspective. Sometimes, that community is music or another form of art. We know that people need people so we try and do our part in that way.
Please take this opportunity to speak directly to the readers and let them know anything you want to.
Sean: For any fans, new or old, we’d love to meet you when we can get back on track and playing shows again. We seriously do keep a close eye on our social media and try to show our appreciation to those who connect with our music. We like to see how and where people are listening to our music so please keep showing us! If you’ve never heard of us, we hope you’ll tune in for our next project and take some small part of it with you. If you make music or art, send it to us! We’d love to see what other people are up to during this time. We’re constantly inspired by you all. We’re doing everything we can to get our new music shaped up and out to our audience, so hopefully that will be in your ears soon.