We are very happy to bring you the premiere of "Shadow Of Doubt" by Starving Arts, the Long Island, NY based band featuring members of This Is Hell, Blistered, Burn and Extinction A.D.
If that makes you think of crushing breakdowns and the kind of über-brutal riffs that make your ears bleed, you will be in for a bit of a surprise. Starving Arts' take on melodic punkrock marks a stylistic departure for these guys. But the end result is equally impressive. Don't take my word for it though, listen to "Shadow Of Doubt" below and check out the interview we did with vocalist Christian Beale.
The song is taken off the band's debut 7” Funeral Days, which will be out this October via Black Numbers. Pre-order is available HERE.
PRT: Before playing in Starving Arts, you were all active in some seriously pummeling bands like This Is Hell, Blistered, Burn and Extinction A.D. When and how did you all decide to start something this stylistically different?
Christian: I became super committed to the idea of starting this band around two or three years ago, and I pursued it pretty single-mindedly whenever I had downtime from playing or touring in my other bands. Studying hard, dissecting music, and honing my songwriting became a huge part of my everyday routine, and it was really refreshing to shift my creative focus onto something other than heavy music for a while.
Once I had a handful of songs together that I felt were up to snuff, I reached out to the other guys [Abbas Muhammad, Mike Fursa, Jeff Skaferowsky] to see if they were down to start playing together. They all have a love for melodic punk rock as well, and they’re all unbelievably talented / hard-working musicians, so the stylistic transition was essentially seamless for us. I can’t speak for everyone else, but this is the band I’ve always wanted to be in. I’m really excited to keep pushing.
PRT: Do you think that being ‘the angry dude in a hardcore band’ comes with an expiration date?
Christian: I think that hardcore will always be a relevant and vital means of expressing one’s feelings of discontent, sorrow, or outrage. The same goes for most other styles of music and art, anything creative really. So much of our society values power and profit over humanity, and unfortunately people have a slew of reasons to feel angry or isolated right now given the current state of affairs in this country. I think it’s important to have a positive outlet to help air those frustrations and purge those emotions, whether that vehicle is hardcore music or something else entirely.
In the context of Starving Arts, we all love hardcore and are actively involved with it to varying degrees. This band sounds a bit different than the other projects we’ve worked on, but the root emotions all extend from same exact source. Sometimes we play Leeway songs at practice.
PRT: “Funeral Days” comes with four songs that mix melody and heavy lyrical themes. What is it about that juxtaposition that appeals to you?
Christian: It’s a compositional choice I’ve always had a strong affinity for. A lot of my favorite bands utilize a similar combination in their songwriting and I think that’s part of the reason I’m so drawn to it. I tend to write lyrics about darker subject matter, but there’s generally something about sticking a bunch of minor chords under some sad words that seems a little too on the nose or obvious to me. Like a giant pity party or something. I feel that having the music itself be a bit more poppy and upbeat adds some necessary color and emotional complexity to the final product. It injects everything with a nice hint of melancholy. I think the juxtaposition is really striking and beautiful.
PRT: You recorded “Funeral Days” with Brett Romnes (The Movielife, Crime in Stereo, I Am The Avalanche). What is the main thing you learned from working with him?
Christian: Brett’s straight up amazing at what he does and I have a really deep level of respect for him, both as an engineer and as a musician. I’ve learned so much from him that it’s hard to narrow it down to any one thing. He taught me how to layer guitar and vocal tracks to help aid the natural dynamics of a song. He changed my approach to writing vocal harmonies and expanded my understanding of how to properly lock a bass line in with the drums. He helped coach me to a point where I’m really comfortable inside of a vocal booth and he demystified a lot of Pro-Tools for me. His whole approach to his craft is crazy inspiring and recording with him has made me a more intelligent and well-rounded musician. I’d recommend him to anyone looking for an engineer or producer and I’d absolutely love to work with him again somewhere down the line.
PRT: We are premiering “Shadow Of Doubt” today… can you tell us a bit more about the song?
Christian: “Shadow of Doubt” is the first track off of Funeral Days. It’s about trying to reach personal fulfillment in spite of compromising factors like mental illness, student loan debt, external expectations, and a wildly regressive cultural climate. It’s about the times when self-care seems like an impossible chore and when inner peace feels like it’s some sort of unattainable delusion.