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The Grandfather “I:Absent” – Review & Track-by-Track Interview

The Grandfather released a brand new EP titled, I:Absent, on March 3rdThis EP is the first of a series of three to come this year and is available now through your favorite digital music retailer. The band released a 2015 EP, 1222, as well as a pair of singles, “Tomb” and “Stone” mid-2016.

The Grandfather is:
Dillon Schiel – Vocalist/Lyricist
Jonluc Lowdermilk – Guitarist
Josh Smith – Guitarist
Cory Lanza – Bassist

I:Absent presents the band’s own  noisy, chaotic take on metalcore by throwing their own flavors of rage, melody, and samples into the mix. The Grandfather grabs their favorite parts of  Norma Jean, ETID, and metallic hardcore and pack it into a tightly wound sonic fireball. It’s abundantly clear that meticulous songwriting and thought  went into this album as I:Absent shows the band at the top of their game.

After growing tired of the negativity in their local scene (fights at shows, venues closing down due to property damage, kids leaving shows in ambulances), the whole band relocated from Florida to North Carolina two years ago. As soon as they settled in, work immediately began on writing new material. “It was a long process,” bassist Cory Lanza reports, “We spent about eight months writing, six months rewriting, and then another few months recording.”

The five songs can tear by pretty quickly and some of the subtleties may be lost in the overall fury of the album – I:Absent calls for repeated listens to fully appreciate the depth of each track. Mile high riffs, addictively rich tones, and slower song breaks and builds kept me enraptured for the full duration of the EP.

“Absent” is the song that allows you to dip your toes in the water with its slower pace, before the rest of the album rips you away in the undertow, an unstoppable force. “Shipman” touched on my love for Norma Jean and Zao, and “Chikatilo” had my inner Dillinger Escape Plan fan grinning. A cool detail to note is the fact that one guitarist provides guests vocals on “Koresh,” the other guitarist guests on “Kemper” and the bassist does the guest vocal part on “Shipman.” The perfect use of multiple voices gives great character and dynamic to each song.

This release sees the band take a dark look at humankind and the struggles and darkness within that each of us face.  I had the opportunity to speak with Cory just prior to the album’s release. He explained to me the reason for the overall dark tone of I:Absent, the concept of the three EPs, and the multiple ways to understand this release. Check out some of our conversation below:

The Grandfather band photo

Can you tell me a little about the concept and the writing?

The idea was that we wanted to tell a story and have it more conceptual since we had grown from our last EP. We weren’t exactly sure what we wanted to do but we came up with this idea of taking someone through this journey of being in a very bad, negative mental state and hashing it out and battling with thoughts and emotions that most of us deal with at some point in our life, and finding the bright side in it after you go through your breakdown, and feel like you don’t have anything left.Then redirecting your perspective and your thought process on more of the good things and the positive things in life. We directed it at a relationship with God. That’s  how we encapsulated the end of the journey.

As we continued writing songs, we ended up with 18 songs after six months of writing. We sat down and went through them a handful of times figuring out how to group them. That’s when we did “Tomb” and “Stone” and we released those because we didn’t feel like they fit. But we felt like through telling a story we could get the rest of the songs to fit together. We separated them into three different categories, and this EP would be the first category. These first five songs are the darkest songs in the whole group.

I believe it! Before we get into a track-by-track breakdown, do you want to give us a little insight into what these track titles mean?

The songs are named after last names of famous murderers and serial killers. Each song we felt also kind of fits what could have been going on with those people. So the songs are also directly related to those names.

So you could go through and listen to it as it is, or you can do it as a journey, and then you could also go through and listen to it as it relates to the serial killers and murderers that they’re named after. So it’s as much a part of the journey as an attempt to express what might have been going on with those people.

Cory’s Track-by-track breakdown of I:Absent

Absent, the title track. We wanted it to open kind of slow to ease into the vibe of the EP itself. It dives into some dark thoughts and feelings that people tend to struggle with when they go through hard times or dealing with grief or whatever and how it could be taken down the wrong path. That’s pretty much what’s going on in the first song. It opens up the feeling for the rest of the EP.

Koresh would be the song expressing embracing those dark and negative feelings. In the song it says “Come and die with me” and all that. It’s kind of the more iconic song on and EP because of the feelings in that song. This one is named after David Koresh, cult leader. That’s why in the song it says like, “take my hand/ I’ll show you death” and “there’s no hope for anyone.”

“Chikatilo” is our attempt at being Every Time I Die (laughs). That song is a whirlwind of bpms flying past you. There isn’t another song on the record like that song, but we wanted to have one really fast song to see how it would come out. It’s more of a suicidal kind of song. If you look up Chikatilo, he’s probably one of the worse ones on the EP. The song starts off with “I’m sick of being human/ I want to die with all of them.” There’s the suicide pain in that song, and addiction painted in that song, but it’s also very short and to the point of this meaning.

Kemper is a great song. In that song it’s mostly a major struggle with worthlessness because in the chorus it says “my black heart pumps nothing/ my soul: disgusting.” He says “hate’s what crushed me.” So it’s wrapping up some of those feelings from the first two or three songs into how you would feel in the afterthought of it; when you’ve brought yourself down to the lowest point mentally, piling on the negative feelings and feeling like there’s no point to anything and you don’t have any meaning and you’re worthless and lost and there’s no hope in anything.

Shipman, I might be restating myself here, but I feel like track five expounds on the first and second song as well. Especially in the part where there’s the break where the song dies off for a second and builds back up.

When the break comes, I do the whole break part. I say, “I’m asleep to this darkness/ my dreams have no purpose/ I can’t fake my existence/ I can’t feel a thing/ these dark thoughts are overtaking me/ with temptations better left unsaid.”  Then I say, “Come die with me/ there’s no point to this life/ we’re just wasting time/ until we all lay in the same grave.”  It attempts to tie up the whole feeling of the first five songs.

We tried to unleash as many feelings in the first two or three songs and then tried to tie them up as much as we could in track four and five.

Such heavy stuff thematically in every one of these songs.

Yeah, it’s a lot. That’s part of the reason we thought it would be a little risky to release it on it’s own. So that’s also part of the reason why in the title we put the Roman numeral, so that people would know it’s part of something.

Right, that this isn’t the end.

Yeah, it’s just part of the journey. We hope that it will connect with people for being what it is, just being the five songs that it is, and then that will help them connect better to the next part and part after that so it’s carrying people through this journey over time, not all at once.

The Grandfather Absent album cover art

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