The last time we spoke to Against The Current was at last year’s Reading Festival. Fresh from a Main Stage performance, they were already looking towards album two (“We had three-quarters of it done, then we wrote some more songs and suddenly, it's different") but we’ve had to be patient since.
There was a taster of new music during their arena tour with Fall Out Boy, and the double single drop of ‘Strangers Again’ and Almost Forgot’ but today, everything is unveiled. Chapter two has opened. The ‘Past Lives’ era has begun.
Alongside the tick-tock battle of new track ‘Personal’, Against The Current have announced that their second album ‘Past Lives’ will be released on September 28th - i.e. Really Rather Soon.
New songs, albums, tours - it’s all go, so we interrupted Chrissy Costanza’s first rehearsal for their upcoming shows to find out more. Turns out we’re not the only ones excited.
Hey Chrissy. We’re start at the beginning. Why call this album ‘Past Lives’?
We felt like every single song on the record encapsulates one of those key, formative moments in your life. Everything is about either an emotion or an experience that is one of those building blocks for you as a person. Sometimes when you look back at experiences that are so significant, you almost don't recognise yourself in them. When I look back like, four years ago, I can't believe it was me in that situation but I know the story as if someone told it to me. It looks like it's someone else and you’re looking in. It’s one of your past lives, almost.
Did you have a vision for the album going in?
Not particularly. We thought we were going to be quick about it. We thought we were going to write a few songs, get the record done and try not to do what we did on ‘In Our Bones’, which was write a ton of songs. We ended up writing over forty for this record as well. But that’s ok.
We don’t want to put anything out that's half-assed. We don’t want to put out anything that isn't it, that doesn’t give us that feeling. We didn’t want to put out songs we didn’t love and that we didn’t care about. We wanted the right songs on the record. In terms of sound though, we knew the direction. It was inspired by ‘Wasteland’, off ‘In Our Bones’. That was the last song we wrote for that album way after everything else was already done. When we wrote that song, something lit up for me. I felt like this is where I want to go. We wanted to write the next album inspired by those sounds. We wanted it to be a little more synth based, definitely more intricate and less straight up. We wanted everything to be interwoven in the background with lots of smaller, subtle details that makes the songs what they are, and that’s what a lot of the songs have come to be. Now we're in rehearsals for our first shows with these songs, and they're a lot harder to play than any others we've written, because they are so intricate and so finessed, whereas the others were more to the point. We've been playing them for so so long, it’s becomes second nature. When ‘Gravity’ comes on when we're rehearsing, I don’t even have to think but with these new songs, I’m fully focused on every single note because it's not muscle memory. It’s not easy. It’s not perfect the first time. Or the fourth time. Or fifth time but it’s really cool, because it feels like this is a really big stepping stone in our growth.
Tell us about ‘Personal’
It's about the experience I had with my friend Julius passing away in September 2016. The song is pretty complicated, it’s pretty intense lyrically but it sounds nice. It doesn’t sound as heavy as it is but there's a lot of complexity in the lyrics because when you lose somebody who is so young, so unexpectedly, it’s a lot more complicated than people think. It’s not just being sad. For me, it was about all of these different emotions you cycle through. It's a different type of grieving process. I’ve never lost anyone like that. I've only lost grandparents and great grandparents, so I’ve never known what it’s like to just get a phone call from nowhere. We were in the middle of Japan when it happened and I received a bunch of missed calls from my mum, which was strange ‘cos she knew I was in Japan and she knows about the time differences. When I got the chance back in my hotel room, I Facetimed her. She was just like ‘I don’t know how to tell you this but Julius passed away’ and I was stunned. I didn’t know what to feel and the past two years has just been a rollercoaster of emotions. I wanted to find a way to put that into words because I’d never experienced anger at someone for passing. I'd never blamed the person who was dead, for being dead. I didn't really know how to work through that and I didn’t want to be mad at him, because I loved him to death. He was a really great friend, he was my hero and he was the one who inspired me to be a musician. I didn’t know what to do with that. ‘Personal’ was my way of explaining that I took it personally that he passed away. It’s not personal and it wasn’t about me at all but those emotions took over. The chorus is this revelation that your dream was music and you inspired me to chase music, so now this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to chase this as hard as I fucking can because I’m not just doing it for me anymore. I’m doing it for you, because you can't.
Every one of your songs means something to you and comes from an intimate place but ‘Personal’ feels much less guarded. It’s like you’re exposing more of yourself. How are you feeling about sharing that much?
It’s not easy because it almost feels private. It feels like my message to him. It is a letter to him, more than it is anything else, about how I’ve been feeling and dealing in the wake of him being gone. It’s strange to put that out in the world, especially as a single coming out on its own. It is nerve-wracking. He did pass away from an overdose, which I don’t really like to highlight because it takes away from so much but it does make things controversial. I’ve had people talk shit about him to me on Twitter because of that, saying it’s his fault and stuff like that. It’s something I still don’t have a grasp on emotionally. I can’t really talk about it with people rationally because I just get so unbelievably angry and upset. Just opening yourself up to those sort of situations is really scary but at the same time, the only reason I’ve been doing this, or ever thought to do this, is because of him.
So why release it as a single?
It may be my favourite song on the album. From a musical standpoint, it’s the best written and lyrically it’s something people need to hear. It’s about something that is unfortunately too prevalent today and it can be very healing for people to hear other people’s experiences. I looked for that after he passed away because I couldn’t figure out how I felt. I was looking for it in other people’s music, because that’s where I go and I couldn’t find exactly how it felt for me. I couldn’t find that sense of betrayal but also, that want to continue his legacy. It was hard for me to find a song that had all of those feelings mixed together. I always felt like I was only getting a piece of what I was feeling from other songs so I wanted to put that together, in case anyone else was feeling that way too. That’s why I wrote this song. It’s got an important message and it’s a bit more specific than other things we’ve done. 'Almost Forgot' is a pretty general song about a breakup and this is a bit more intricate and intimate. We've always tried to be a band that's really honest and genuine with our fans, and we’ve always tried to connect with them on a deeper level. This is an important song to put out there for them, especially because they knew this song was coming. I’ve talked about writing this song a lot online. I've spoken about how cathartic it was for me, how many times I tried to write it and failed miserably. They know it’s coming and it’s only fair to give it the spotlight it deserves.
Who is ‘Past Lives’ for?
What I want people to take away from it is that you will have so many experiences that build you and that define you. But you don’t have to put so much weight on some of them. There were so many times in my life where things felt like the be all and end all; that breakup, that relationship, losing that friend, coming to this realisation about myself, or that bad period in my own head, they felt like everything. And they were everything at the time but looking back on them now, it's like looking back on a past life. It’s so foreign to me. I recognise it, there's something familiar about it, but it’s just not me anymore.
Ultimately, it’s important to maybe not take yourself too seriously sometimes and always know that tomorrow can be entirely different from today. That’s a really great thing. You can always start over. You can always be someone new. You can always change, you can always grow, you can always learn. You can always be better. Sure, sometimes you're going to be worse but that’s ok, because you can be better after that.