Inspired by themes of isolation, family and social division, Kill Chicago’s new album, The Rest, offers some perspective surrounding the events the past several months.
Kill Chicago have always asked the big questions most choose to ignore. Drawing much of their lyrical inspiration from our collective day to day struggles, the band have come to be a kind of conduit for human experience. Greg Webber’s knack for shedding light on life’s the dark corners as a means of seeking answers to the hows and whys of life have defined the group’s songs from the beginning. And when placed above a broad tonal palette that isn’t afraid to challenge listeners by pulling pop, blues, punk and reggae influences into the band’s rock and roll core, each new album from Kill Chicago is as musically free as it is thought provoking, grounding and downright inspiring. The Rest is no exception.
Understanding Webber and Co.’s desire to seek answers and truth from the hurdles we all face, it comes as no surprise that the band’s latest album, The Rest, draws much of its influence from the events of the past 19 months. And there is a comfort in that. If exploring some of life’s biggest questions through rock and roll’s universal appeal is what Kill Chicago do best, there is no time more deserving of a new Kill Chicago album than right now. With song titles like Surrounded by Love, I Meant to Call and Dear John, it seems obvious Webber hasn’t shied away from much in his examination of COVID’s broad range of effects. If there is an elephant in the room, and let’s face it, the last two years have been full of them, you can pretty much expect it to become fodder for Kill Chicago somewhere down the line.
The Rest is the band’s shortest album, clocking in at seven songs. But it may also be their most efficient. Bookended by the dream-pop bliss of Surrounded by Love and I Meant to Call, a song that serves to break the band’s entire catalogue down to its very core, the group’s collective will to explore all they are capable of remains true on this release. Which is surprising considering the out of character process that brought these songs together.
Unlike the band’s previous two albums, The Rest came together without the luxury of having an audience to bounce things off of, or a studio to hunker down in for weeks on end. With weekly rehearsals and regular performances on hold indefinitely, the group had to adjust their usual process and perhaps trust each other in ways they hadn’t had to until now.
“The main thing that changed with our writing process is that we didn’t have an audience to bounce new ideas off of so we really had to just trust our own process and what got the band excited without the feedback from the live audience,” said Webber. “Some of the songs on the new record were recorded before the lockdown and others were written and recorded during the last several months. I found it incredibly hard to write music during the lockdown because I tend to use writing music as an escape from my everyday life and with the lockdown, I didn’t have anything to escape, so I found I couldn’t get excited about writing.
“The other big difference is having three different producers and three different studios combined into one release,” he said.
The songs on The Rest were recorded across three different locations – a first for the band – and involved time at The Recordery with producers Evan Hanson and Brad Perry, Outreach Productions with producer Andrew MacRae, and a Fredericton home studio where the band’s long-time friend Alan Jeffries helped capture the album’s closing track.
All challenges aside, it was the deep friendship between band members that helped feed much of this new recording. When they couldn’t play together, all they wanted to do was play. That need to be together, creating and growing, has been at the core of Kill Chicago’s existence from the very begin and will likely be there until to end.
“During the break when we couldn’t rehearse, we all really felt the desire to play and then finally when we were allowed to expand our bubbles we got back to rehearsing on a regular basis,” said Webber. “Since there were a few shows to prepare for it allowed us to try a lot of creative ideas and you’ll hear the expansion of our sound on many of the tracks on this record.”
The Rest is available now on Apple Music, YouTube and Spotify.