Since forming in 2009 in Willimantic, Conn., indie rockers the World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die
have regularly released singles, EPs and even demos. The ensemble often makes use of strings and horns in sculpting its ornate tunes.
Earlier this year, it added another boundary-pushing album, Always Foreign
, to the catalog as well.
Speaking via phone from a café near his home where he was having a bagel and coffee, singer-guitarist Tyler Bussey says the band has remained prolific because it doesn’t adhere to rock band conventions when it comes to songwriting.
“I think the typical rock band and the way it functions is that you have a central person who writes the songs, and the band learns how to play them,” he says. TWIABP performs on Wednesday, Oct. 11, at Mahall's in Lakewood
. “It’s a vehicle for one main songwriter. From the very beginning, our band was a project where everyone was doing stuff on their own. They had other bands they wrote in and worked in, and then, we teamed up. It just multiplied. It made things combustible creatively. That’s kind of what it is. We take turns taking charge, and there are different people who might be more creative at a certain time. We always have a stockpile of material.”
Bussey says the band dug up two older but previously unrecorded tracks for Always Foreign
. Then, the band wrote the rest of the tracks in the wake of the presidential election.
“I would say there are themes but not a concept to the album,” he says when asked how the songs function as a whole. “We don’t write records that way but certainly the feeling in the room that first week was that we are going to write something darker and angrier. When we got back together later, we went the other direction. We thought we needed to provide some contrast. Otherwise, it would be slog if the whole record was like that. When we got back together we started writing short and immediate songs.”
Songs such as the punk-y “The Future” suggest the “darker and angrier” tone, but with its whispered vocals and sparse production that highlights crisp guitar tones, “Faker” represents the album’s softer side.
“It’s funny the way we sequenced the album,” says Bussey. “It kind of goes in reverse. The end of the record is what was written first. That stretch that includes ‘Marine Tiger,’ ‘Fuzz Minor’ and ‘Infinite Steve’ is something that we knew would end the album.”
The album’s mid-tempo single, “Gram,” features upper-register vocals and beautiful guitar harmonies. Its content, however, isn't so pretty. The song provides a commentary on the healthcare system and pharmaceutical industry.
“It’s about a lot of things,” says Bussey when asked about the tune. “The core of it addresses the unjust laws on the books regarding drug offenses and the hopelessness of communities affected by drug issues. There chorus line is ‘should have never been a crime.’ I didn’t write the lyrics, but the subjects go from self-medicating, whether it’s over the counter prescription drugs to smoking weed and the harsh punishments that come with self-medicating. [The U.S. health care system] is a bad system that unfairly targets lower income people. The song touches on those issues.”
After recording such an ambitious album, lesser bands might struggle to conceive what a follow-up album might entail. But Bussey says he’s not concerned about what will come in Always Foreign
“The thing about our band is that there are so many of us in it and so many different creative perspectives,” he says. “That’s one of the things that makes our band unique. We come from different musical points of references. Some of us are into more abstract things and spend our time playing punk or noise. Someone will come to the table with an idea that no one else would have thought of. That’s why our records sound like they’re all over the place. It’s a meeting of the minds. Every time we make a record, it’s surprising to us. The next album will be the same. We’ll come to the table with whatever weird material we’ve collected and try to turn it into something that works together.”