With their new album The Shape of Everything released next week on Pelagic Records, U.S ‘doom pop’ outfit SOM have shared the new video for the dreamy post-metal track ‘Center’, directed by Samia Zaidi.
Will Benoit from the band comments: “‘Center’ was one of the first songs we worked on as a band remotely during lockdown. The vocals were originally written for another project that ultimately got shelved, but I really liked what I had come up with and couldn’t just leave them on a hard drive to die. The chorus has this anthemic, almost pop hook, but if you read the lyrics and look under the hood, the song is much darker.
“I love songs that present themselves one way on first listen, but can take you somewhere completely different the more you pay attention. I felt like there was room on The Shape of Everything to explore a slightly different tone like this one, but outside the vocals, I honestly had no vision for where it could be taken musically.
“So we tried an experiment: can the band write music around an existing vocal? Particularly in a time when we couldn’t all be in the same room anyway, it seemed like a good time to try out a different approach. I sent the isolated vocal tracks to everyone on top of a simple drum beat. Joel and Justin went back and forth developing the instrumental melodies and dynamics until we settled on this big dirging riff that really only changes to make the verses drive harder. Mike added lush, drippy guitars over the top and brought the whole thing to life.
“It took a lot of Zoom calls and sending files back and forth, which probably made this the most challenging song to finish on the album — both lyrically and musically — but it’s heavy, it’s pretty, and it accomplishes a lot of what I hope to accomplish with SOM all inside of a 4-minute song.”
Following the acclaim accrued by 2018 debut The Fall, the group (comprised of current and former members of Constants, Junius, and recent Grammy nominees Caspian) had planned to enter the studio in 2020 to record the follow-up. However, pandemic-induced lockdown forced them to improvise and record entirely remotely, producing 2021’s luscious Awake EP.
This new workflow redefined SOM’s process, which carried into the completion of their forthcoming LP. Its concise compositions balance gritty riffs with airy vocal lines that will appeal to fans of Deftones and Tame Impala alike, and are just as primed for rock radio as for shoegaze-loving connoisseurs.
“About halfway through the writing cycle for our new record, I woke up to an email from our guitar player Joel with an mp3 attached called ‘animals’,” says vocalist and guitarist Will Benoit. “He sent it at like 3 or 4 AM, so I knew he was excited to share something that he had obviously stayed up late working on. He was living in Richmond at the time and this was during last year’s George Floyd protests, so he was front row watching monuments getting torn down and experiencing a real cultural shift. Later on he said it was both horrible and inspiring.”
It’s this creative efficiency and sense of intuition in songwriting that gives The Shape Of Everything its compelling power. The intentional, self-imposed paradigm of minimalism, the aim to reduce each musical idea to its emotive essence is what makes the band sound huge — and of course the flawless, modern yet incredibly warm and rich production by Will Benoit himself. The album was recorded, mixed and mastered at his own Radar Studio in Connecticut – New England’s first solar-powered recording facility.
The tracks are part of SOM’s ongoing mission to “leave this place better than we found it.” Frontman Will Benoit co-founded the outfit with drummer and former Constants colleague Duncan Rich, as well as Adai founder and now-Caspian drummer Justin Forrest. While touring on The Fall, the band recruited old friends guitarists Mike Repasch-Nieves and Joel M. Reynolds, both formerly of Junius and Driftoff.
While many artists lumbered in inactivity, SOM used the darkness of recent times to create and heal. The Shape of Everything’s introspective bliss is an insight into the kind of harmony the quintet seek to cultivate in all facets of life.