Written by Daniel of Spirit Award
When I’m given the opportunity to share a story about our band of some sort, I immediately go searching my brain for notable things we’ve done or some interesting story about us. The question always for me is; what fuels me to keep making music and what I want from creating it?
Some backstory: I grew up in a conservative family (my father is a pastor at an evangelical church as well as a math teacher) in a small midwestern town in Ohio. I didn’t have a lot to do in that town besides get into trouble and find creative outlets. I was fairly sheltered from “secular music” or, ya know, regular, good music. Besides what I would hear on the radio or from friends, it was mostly “christian” music (Notable ones that attributed to my musical growth: Starflyer 59, Ester Drang, Pedro the Lion) . So I didn’t hear the Beatles records, or The Cure until about the beginning of high school. In junior high I had a youth pastor, who gave me a whole bunch of music; Death Cab for Cutie, Youth Group (ironic I know), Sunny Day Real Estate and Mineral. Sure it was all kinda “sad boy” music, but that was perfect for a teen. I remember thinking of Seattle as this magical music town, that was teeming with great music. I wanted to be there. I had no money and was too afraid to make the move for several years.
While my dad and I have lots of differences in belief and politics, when I told him I was putting college on hold to join a band (Pomegranates), the most loving and best thing he told me was “Life is short, you have to do what you love. Even if you are poor while doing it”. That is something that has always stuck with me and has been the reason I keep pursuing music. When I’m not creating things, whether it be music or some other form of art. I don’t feel complete.
I spent years in bands touring and every time I would play Seattle I felt this connection and joy from being there. I stopped playing for a few years when I had writers block and depression. After feeling stuck in a rut I decided to pack up my things with no job, or house and move to Seattle. It wasn’t until I moved to Seattle that I was around so much great music and industry and it inspired me to start writing again.
I had many people, including my partner at the time, make me feel like what I was doing was a waste of time. I took that to heart a lot and it made me feel guilty for doing something I loved and that I felt brought people joy.
I made a lot of terrible music from then to now. What I’ve found is it’s good to keep pressing through the bad stuff, to finally find the sound that clicks and gives you that “yes” moment. Something that makes your head tingle, or makes you dance around the room after recording it. For Spirit Award, we had been writing a lot of songs that weren’t necessarily bad, but they just didn’t give us that “yes” feeling. I think the first song that set us on a new trajectory was “Las Vegas”. We had been wanting to write more linear songs, that lead you on a path rather than repeating verses or choruses. It was the moment where I think I realized I had been overthinking writing songs, rather than feeling them out.
Something that influenced the lyrics from ‘Neverending’ was over the last several years I had been watching women getting objectified, sexually harassed and worse. This was a problem I wasn’t completely aware (or ‘woke’), and a problem that I didn’t have the courage to say something about or intervene. I had a couple personal experiences where my partner was sexually harassed and slapped on the ass by a passerby. I flipped out, calling them out for not respecting women.
I had several more situations like this over the last couple years. It seemed for a while I was a magnet for distraught people who needed help. I saw no one helping these people and I thought “how can no one care that this person is hurting or in trouble?” My answer came from the question. I was looking for someone else to deal with the situation so I didn’t have to. It was that moment I realized I need to be more aware of the people around me. We are in a time where life centers very much around everything we are doing and it’s hard to take the time (both physically and mentally) to share in someones pain and try and help.
With everything awful going in the world, I have wanted to retreat, say fuck it, let it burn and give up. But it’s a fact that we are all on earth, and we are all connected in some small or big way.
Keep helping, keep creating and keep pushing against any forces that prevent you from doing so.
Check out Spirit Award’s new album, Neverending
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