This varants a little back story before we continue; I used to run a small DIY label focusing on emo/ screamo back in 2008 to 2012 called Listen to Aylin Records. After lots of consideration, I decided to put the label on ice. In 2019, I was asked by some people I really respect and admire if it would ever be possible for me to ressurrect the label. I was proposed a 4 way split record between four of my favorite current bands, and I had to say yes. One of those bands were FRAIL BODY, a powerhouse of a trio who recently signed to Deathwish Inc. This band blew me away (along with the three other bands on the split), and I knew that they were going to be a household name. I couldn’t let the opportunity of releasing that split 12″ pass. I never would have dreamed that they would sign to one of my favorite labels either… I got in touch with the band before their upcoming album and asked them a few questions, which Lowell kindly answered.
First off all; Who are in Frail Body and how long have you been a band?
Lowell plays guitar and does vocals, Nicholas plays drums, and Nic plays bass. We’ve been together since the beginning of 2017 so about 2 and a half years.
Are there any records / band that have been pivotal to your sound or ethics?
There are quite a few records that I think we draw from. Some selections that we push when people ask us for albums with a common sound to ours are Pianos Become the Teeth – Old Pride, Daïtro – Laissez Vivre les Squelettes, State Faults – Resonate/Desperate, and Converge – You Fail Me. All of these records ride a fine line of angular anguish and melodic hopefulness that is something we strive to capture and convey.
These records stick out for us because of their dynamics. Not that it is any less valid to have a very focused emotive direction, but the challenge to not just write violent songs, or just sad songs, or just uplifting songs, but to try to draw from multiple places is one that we think brings out the best product of our writing as well as performances.
Are there any specific inspirations for you as a band that are important in the way you write songs?
Most of our songs deal with family death and terminal sickness. Most of our upcoming album “A Brief Memoriam” (11/1/19 via Deathwish.inc) is exclusively written about the process of my mother passing from cancer. We definitely have plenty of material that is self loathing and revolves around depression as well, but even then a lot of those lyrics surround situations that occurred due to her passing. Speaking personally I almost have a rule now about not writing about ex-girlfriends. I have spent the better portion of my 15 year musical career writing about failed relationships and I don’t think I will ever feel inspired by that subject matter anymore.
In forming Frail Body myself and Nic had many formative discussions about how we wanted to write about things that were actually hard to talk about, things that aren’t just easily floating on the surface. Moving forward the subject matter will probably be in a similar vain, but I personally want to delve into pushing more political and social issues. I also am beginning to write about the challenges that faced my loved ones in their past and ask permission of them to compose what might almost be considered tributes or dedications to their struggles and the things that they don’t find easy to talk about.
The way that we go about writing songs is organic. We all bare the burdens of bringing in parts. We have all individually expressed that in some of our past projects much of the material was a singular effort, or writing fell to a certain “song writer” of the band. We all give equal inputs. Many times I will come in with a full song structured expecting that probably half of it will survive. We have a rule that if at the end of our first series of play throughs, if we don’t all look at each other smiling and saying “yup, that’s the best song we’ve ever written thus far” we shelve it.
Most of the time instrumentals come first, and when we practice them, then I’m usually moved to compose lyrics to the subject matter stated previously. The words tend to naturally take form around the vibe or dynamics of the song. First and foremost we are an instrumentally based band The riffs and the way in which they are delivered come first always.
How’s life as Frail Body been different since signing to Deathwish Inc?
In short, and to make light of it, I’ve chosen to mute my notifications. Aside from that we are still the same humans in the same band. We don’t have to pay for records now so that is cool. A record label doesn’t make or break a band. We decided to sign because, aside from the fact that we all grew up listening to the Deathwish Inc. catalog and have looked up to all of those bands from Converge to Ceremony to Frameworks, we are broke from buying too many loud amplifiers and we like vinyl.
The increase in reach that has been gifted to us has been wonderful and is infinitely appreciated, but “A Brief Memoriam” was going to come out whether it was backed by a label or 10 DIY distros. Speaking personally again, I subscribe heavily to the philosophy of second death. With the Deathwish.inc signing and release of this album, presuming that climate change or capitalism doesn’t lead to our species extinction, my mother’s second death will never arrive. That’s all I personally wanted from this. But we do get to have a little more pull for booking shows and we are at the point where we rarely have to pay for gas and food when we tour. That’s something none of us thought was attainable for a little screamo band from the Midwest.
We absolutely love everyone we get to work with over at Deathwish.inc as well. It feels like in signing we just got to join a new friend group on a different coast. They’re all so incredibly supportive, and for a band that isn’t mainstream marketable, and probably never will be, its been so surreal to digest that anyone wants to invest in us. But in summation, you won’t find any rock stars here, we’ve spent some 45 collective years playing in bands across the country that didn’t go anywhere. Hell, I’m typing this out as we just learned a show we had today dropped. We have worked our asses off and we are just thankful that any of that work gained traction. If anything we have an increased sense that we need to be mature and smart about our decisions as a band whether it be what tours we take or our art and direction.
Are there any stories from tours or shows that probably shouldn’t be shared, but you now feel forced to since I’m asking?
One of the weirdest shows any of us have ever played took place at a backyard kegger in Springfield MO. We were told we were playing The Outland in Springfield, which if you’ve toured through the area that’s probably where you played, with our friends in avoid. We were informed the show was moved to the guest house of the promoter. We love house shows so we were totally on board. We showed up and over the course of the night people rolled in who didn’t seem interested in attending a show. We played outside, it was kind of a jumbled mess, and some people watched but mostly people were just binge drinking, smoking, and getting really messed up.
After we were done a group of about 10 girls who first off, didn’t watch us at all, and second off, were clearly underaged, rushed us asking for shirts. At that point we had a run of long sleeves that didn’t sell very well still taking up merch space. It was June, it had been months since we sold one, so we decided we were just going to give them out to people at the party because we didn’t want them, and none of them had money (even though they all seemed to have money for handles of liquor).
So this group asked for us to take a picture of them together with the matching shirts, which for a small screamo band is just a strange and alien request but I’ll yet again reiterate that they didn’t even watch us. So we appeased them and took a picture. One of the girls brother’s who was extremely intoxicated got upset by this and started yelling that he was going to beat us up. Some other trashed guy from the party started yelling back at him and at that point we all just ditched the whole situation and started walking back to the van because the entire night was just a loss at that point and we weren’t having any of what was about to transpire. It somehow devolved into the first guy yelling that he had a gun and he was going to come back and kill us all and then the second guy saying that he also had a gun on him right there and he was going to kill him, and then for whatever reason these two incredibly Caucasian men started yelling racial slurs back and forth at each other. Nicholas had a few beers in him and started yelling back at them “Hey, I don’t know if you know this, but you’re both white, you can’t say that shit!” and the entire party got shut down and everyone got kicked out that instant.
We didn’t get paid but I walked around the place the next morning and collected every single beer and bottle of alcohol I could find as collateral. For whatever reason whenever we play Springfield MO there’s always a fight.