Track Premiere: Lee Corey Oswald – “Head Over Heels”

Posted: by The Editor

It’s been about four years since we’ve heard anything new from Portland power-group, Lee Corey Oswald. However, they are splashing back into the scene with the release of their sophomore album, Darkness, Together, out October 12 via A-F Records. We are excited to premiere their latest single, “Head Over Heels”.

“Head Over Heels” touches on the subject of building relationships and settling down, a theme carried throughout the record. As the group ages into their thirties, Darkness, Together reflects a newfound sense of maturity and personal growth.

After signing to No Sleep Records in 2014, releasing their debut album, and playing Warped Tour the following year, the group was introduced to a new level of stardom. No longer a local DIY band, LCO began facing the tribulations of road life. While they were grateful for this newfound exposure, they continued to face losses that left them feeling worn down. As a result, the group decided to take some time off to figure themselves out.

After stumbling for a bit, they came in contact with a handful of creatives who inspired them to get back on their feet. Check out our interview with the group to learn more about this brief hiatus, the creation of Darkness, Together, ditching the status quo and more. Take a listen to, “Head Over Heels” and read along below.

The Alternative: It’s been awhile since we’ve heard anything from you guys, are you excited to take another big leap back into an album cycle or is it a little nerve wrecking?

LCO: This is our first record in four years, and we are beyond excited to say the least. Some of these songs were written 3-4 years ago, so to see them finally come out is something we’re really looking forward to. It is a bit unnerving to think about a new album cycle, but also very relieving to know our band is still playing shows and putting out music.

Was it a conscious decision to take a break from creating music as a band for a bit or did it just happen organically?

There were several factors that caused our hiatus. After we did the Warped Tour in 2015, our original bassist left the band during another tour, and we were left to scramble and find a replacement for the remainder. Our friend John Ahn, from fellow A-F band Edhoculi (thanks John), stepped in and smashed. That seemed to be the theme of the following months: we left our record label No Sleep, lost our van, lost our booking agent and manager, toggled through bassists, etc. It felt like Sam leaving the band left some sort of dark cloud over us. These setbacks caused us to lose faith in the momentum we had. We felt disillusioned to the smoke and mirrors of the music industry and the instability of touring as a smaller band while maintaining healthy lives. We chose to do things like go back to school and “settle” more into Portland, with our drummer, Corey, even opening his own barber shop.

Our lifelong bud Nick Vicario ended up filling in for us on bass over the years, and even co-produced our last album. Things felt more fun. We didn’t care about touring or catering to some sort of “album cycle” or maintaining an image on a label. We toured Canada with Anti-Flag in 2016 and basically were reanimated by their graces and hopes in our band. They offered to release our record. They encouraged us to forget about the past and all the industry expectations. They called our music “art”. We hadn’t heard language like that in years. LCO was pumped to get back to the studio and express this “art”.  We are very grateful to Chris #2 Barker, Chris Stowe, and A-F for believing in us and giving us another chance to rock. Though too much has happened to write at the moment, that’s basically a synopsis of the last few years.

Being away from your loved ones can take a toll, especially when you aren’t used to touring for extended periods. How do you think the DIY community has helped create a home away from home for you in the past? What advice would you give new bands who are struggling with this? Any tours set for the future?

I think the idea of loneliness and being away from home, and loved ones, most of the recent years and in distant cities really gave us a lot of the inspiration for this record. That, and the feeling of growing older while still trying to write, put out records, and tour in this world we live in today can account for a lot of the songs, in my opinion. It’s such a divided one at the moment, and there is much anxiety created by that. Sticking together and standing for what one feels to be the just way to treat people is all one has, and hopefully these songs are relatable to that sentiment. Though most of the lyrical content is based on relationships, and lack thereof, the approach to living and thinking as discussed on the album is hopefully relatable to some. The DIY community has been very supportive of us over the years and we are extremely grateful for the friends we’ve made all over the world since we started. We couldn’t have done what we did if it wasn’t for their support.  No tours exist currently but we are playing the Fest in Florida in October and looking to book some things once the album drops.

How was your experience working with No Sleep? In general, what was the biggest difference between having their backing as a label and being a DIY band?

Signing to No Sleep was cool because it gave our music a chance to be heard by lots of people around the world, and that was the main reason why we did it. We got onto the agency group and got onto big tours and such, so it was a step up in those respects. This is absolutely not to say that it was always pleasant. We did the Warped Tour in 2015 and it basically broke our band. We were mostly playing to people who, not only had no idea who we were, but did not care for the type of music we made at all. The tour had turned into almost a mockery of itself and the underground scene, which it was originally created to preserve. We worked our asses off and still ended up in debt as we were screwed out of our bus deal, and had to pay for a million different things to a million different people, including No Sleep. We had a ton of friends on the tour who were great and very supportive to us as well, but the aforementioned darkness of the music industry was something we had not experienced before. Being a strictly DIY band before that was difficult in areas of exposure and touring and such, but it was way less stressful than that I suppose. I think we’re really happy now with A-F because it’ll be a sort of amalgamation of the two methods. We have the DIY spirit and communal support but under a renowned record label who have already given us the exposure we’ve been striving for.

What swayed your decision to releasing “Darkness, Together” with A-F?

Touring with Anti-Flag and seeing their ethics and values really spoke to us as a band, and we were more than happy to accept A-F’s offer to release our new record.

Can you tell me a little more about the process behind this release as opposed to Regards? Recording/Inspiration/Lyrical Content/etc.

We actually recorded Regards at the Trash Treasury in Portland, Oregon-the same place where we recorded the new record. The process of writing the material was pretty much the same as Regards, in that Dan and I wrote the songs and brought them to practice to hash out ideas as a band. I would say it tackles more mature issues, such as what society deems acceptable of living as an adult (settling down, having a high paying job, starting a family, the list goes on). Regards was written when we were in our early-mid twenties, so being in our thirties now definitely impacts what we write about. I think the majority of the themes on the new album try to let the listener know that no one has to buy into what the world pressures them to do, regardless of age. I have a new song called “Thirty Something” that will either be a b-side to this record or on a future EP, and it deals with everything I just discussed. Our society, primarily the “American Dream”, is built on the impossible idea of falling pleasantly inline and contributing to an already staggeringly high population. To blindly follow in its path because our culture tells us to is the opposite of the punk ethos and to what we stand for as a band. I personally, at least, will never give into this absurd pressure. I like who I am and I like what I do at the moment. Not disrespecting people that don’t live the way I do of course, but all sides of living should be supported.

What are you most excited about for this release?

We’re very excited for people to just hear our record. When we play shows, we’re finally playing new songs that are on a new record that is out. It’s been four years since we’ve experienced that and we feel revived.

Now that you’ve spent more time in Portland, have you noticed any major differences between the East Coast scene versus West Coast?

I have noticed a lot of similarities in the scenes, be it negative like clichés and elitism, or positive like embrace and support. I will say that the east coast still seems more open to approaching people and situations bluntly and in person, whereas the west coast seems more hesitant and for lack of a better term, weary of that idea. I think people out west feel safer behind a computer or phone screen in dealing with certain inflammatory situations, and perhaps that arises from a dismissive west coast attitude not meshing with direct and open communication. Or maybe it’s a regional embrace of fearing things they don’t understand, which is also happening all too often in other parts of the world at the moment. I’m from Pennsylvania so of course I’m biased (laughs).

Do you feel like the age of technology that we live in now has affected the community so much as to say that there is more of a homogeneous feel; whereas 15 years ago different coasts had different sounds/aesthetics? Has settling into Portland changed/influenced your style?

I would say that yes, the age of technology does make experiencing life very similar to everyone no matter where you are, and that is such a strange thing to get used to for humanity. Many people are so focused on their Internet personas that they don’t know what it’s like to be a physical person in the world or in a specific location. Therefore, I think settling into Portland has affected our style in that it’s like settling into anywhere. We’ve been here for almost a decade now and it honestly just feels like home.

Off topic but necessary question as I see you mentioned Bright Eyes as an influence in a previous interview: what’s the best Bright Eyes song, the world cannot come up with an answer we need you to help sway the people, answer wisely.

“A Perfect Sonnet” is the best Bright Eyes song because it makes me sob uncontrollably when I hear it-even more so than other Conor Oberst songs. If I may, I would say “A Scale, A Mirror, And Those Indifferent Clocks” is a close second. It’s so hard to pick just one.  

Lastly, I loved the packaging on the last record, please tell me we can expect another cool 3D decoder or the likes of…

Nope sorry bud, no 3-D stuff this time. We are extremely happy with the art though, and very proud and grateful that the award winning Doug Dean lent his talents to us.  

Anything else you’d like to add?

“Garth, marriage is punishment for shoplifting in some countries.”

Darkness, Together is out 10/12 via A-F Records. You can pre-order it here.

Emily Kitchin | @deathnap4cutie

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