Premier + Interview: The Boxcar Suite – Post Up
Time for some powerpop.
Dayton, OH trio The Boxcar Suite has a new album coming out soon, Every Side of the Abyss, and we have the privilege of premiering a new track from that record. “Post Up” is a critique of the effect social media has had on people, both in terms of what they expect of themselves and how they act toward others.
Founder and guitarist Tim Pritchard has this to say about the track:
“Post Up is a song that mourns the dreams people promise themselves and reconciles the fact that everyone will pretend to have the answers while we all know we’re all full of shit. There’s never been a better time to admit it. Humans are capable of and do amazing things, but we’re inescapably fallible and nobody ever becomes their idealized version of themselves completely. I think in the information age, this particular circumstance is underscored exponentially, especially with social media. People kind of curate a front that represents their ideals but it is always an embellishment or even fabrication of reality. It’s fascinating. In every measurable regard we live in the best time in history thus far to land on planet Earth and we have all these incredible resources at our fingertips, but look at how we all use them! Many of us expected this age would usher in some sort of utopian tech era, but many of us have watched too much Trek I guess. I certainly have. That shit is hundreds of years off, and even then, I can only hope. For now, we’re all dopamine addicts enraptured in a global brain orgy of simpletons’ delights. Believe me, I include myself. Hey, even Steppenwolf wrote anti-drug songs!
“Further, Post Up is slang for hangin’ out, gettin’ jangly and making some songs happen. That’s what we do despite anything else. To that regard, this particular song came together pretty quickly. Originating in my former basement studio space and coming to full fruition at our warehouse space within a few weeks. It’s one of my favorite things we’ve recorded and a joy to play live. It kind of captures the epitome of what the Boxcar Suite has evolved to as well as the spirit of the album in terms of lyrics.”
Every Side of the Abyss is coming out through Magnaphone Records.
Below we also have a short interview for you:
-Let’s start by talking about the “Post Up” visual, there’s a bit of postmodern internet cheese in the graphic you guys chose, it helps frame the song a little bit. Tell us more about social grace, sensationalism, and the human condition in the age of hyper-technology.
I don’t want to say Post Up is entirely about social media, but that’s part of it. It’s a reflection upon the age we live in and, lets face it, social media completely dominates how most of us communicate in our society. I think for many of us who came of age along with the information age, there was this lofty dream about entering a more utopian existence facilitated by the exchange of ideas and open communication.
Now, there are certainly aspects of that vision that have manifested. Self-directed learning and the exchange of ideas is incredible. It allows many of us to achieve things that would not have been possible before. For example, I do about 75% of my own plumbing and electrical work at home. Sweet! We all have the potential to explore the world at our fingertips. We could use that power to become more compassionate, understanding and productive individuals who work together to solve the biggest issues the world has ever faced. But…when we look at how the internet is used, it’s pretty disappointing compared to all that potential.
I think the masses are overwhelmed and overall, most people are still just trying to earn a living and find a way to be entertained at the end of the day…or all day. Social media is incredible, and I use it all the time, but I completely see that all of us participating are dealing with more than just a dichotomy in terms of the impact of these platforms and it’s a neurotic mess. We all get the opportunity to star in our own show and create our own sphere of virtual existence. I think it does reveal a lot about each person’s psyche and subconscious, but it’s all filtered in a very unnatural way, which leads us to the ugliest chasms of the mind a lot of the time. As “Post Up” infers, anonymity can be dangerous because it reduces or eliminates accountability for action in the immediate sense. Comment arguments are probably the prime example. People behave horribly, even when they are correct, not always, but an astonishing amount of the time. So, “I guess we’re always gonna dance with the people we used to be,” meaning, despite all the infinite ability to change, people get stuck with the darkest parts of their own reality.
So, we made the “Post Up” video to be a sort of mockery of our current condition and represent that in the most realistic way for our band. The video is framed to look like a bad trip version of a certain platform everybody is familiar with. This is just taking the piss really. The video itself is a pretty simple amalgamation of reality…a band in a sort of self-glamorized version of their rehearsal studio floating in and out of this imagery of grandiose ruins and natural spaces. We made it during Covid, which has proven to be a time when everything I’m writing about is underscored 10 times over. To me the video definitely depicts a social media filtered version of our everyday existence. Somehow very real and completely unreal at the same time.
-Your upcoming album Every Side of The Abyss gets mentioned as a lyric in this song. What does that phrase mean to the band and why did you choose it as the album title?
Yes, this is sort of the title track in that sense. Every Side of the Abyss refers to all the self-imposed division our society is experiencing. Statistically, we live in the absolute best time to be alive as a human being, but we aren’t coping with that very well, perhaps because everyone can see the future to some extent. There are going to be hard times and everyone has very different views on how they should be handled. And…I don’t want to sound overly conspiratorial…but there are economic and political powers that thrive on societal division and it seems clear that they are thriving now. I wrote these lyrics well before the Covid-19 pandemic, but I’ll be damned if they could have been timed better. Not that I’m a pandemic denier or anything, I’ve been very careful. But, look at all the opportunistic power grabs being attempted, look at all the suffering, hear all the protests, take a moment to process…and then check the stock market. All time high. Hooray!
A central theme of this album is dissecting how those aforementioned powers exploit society, specifically the creators and laborers, for the benefit of the elite. It’s much more complex than, say, the government is evil or one party is more evil, etc. Arts, including music making, have been exploited for ages, so this is nothing new, but I think it illustrates a disposition in society that has only been exacerbated during the information age. In one sense, it is easier than ever to make your own creative works and distribute them, but to make any sort of lifestyle out of this is nearly impossible. To mitigate the pretty severe risk of coming across as a bitter, jaded old rock band dude…I mean to include artisans on Etsy and the like, writers who can self publish on Amazon, and yeah, of course, folks like us who make their own records and put them all over the internet. All that ability exists and the upside is that we all get access to amazing content that we probably couldn’t find otherwise. The downside is that none of these people are compensated for their efforts really and to find any of it, you still have to muddle through droves of utter shit or just trying to make “the next big hit.” “There’s just enough rope to keep us divided” as the song states. The frustration is that we all just keep grabbing at it. We need a revolution, but obviously not one that means gathering in the streets or ransacking a government building. We need a revolution of personal accountability…and now I’m done grandstanding. Support DIY kids…
-Your sound has an instantaneous Tom Petty feel, but from what I can definitely tell it takes some influence from late ’90s indie rock (Blinker The Star specifically comes to mind). What was the mind set when you went in to write “Post Up”?
I’ll take it. I grew up with Petty and was lucky enough to catch several shows. Needless to say, I’m a fan. So are the other guys in Boxcar Suite. It was one of a small few celebrity deaths that really broke me up because, although I didn’t know the guy, his music has meant so much to me over the years it’s almost like I did. So, of course, there is a bit of that spirit in our music. Petty was so great at taking pieces of rock and roll history and weaving a tapestry all his own. I strive to do some of the same. He was also this incredibly famous musician who stood by his convictions for his entire career. Not a single commercial placement, not a single compromise for profit. I respect that a lot.
Likewise, ’90s indie rock is indeed a big part of my musical journey as well. I grew up in the ’90s and so some of my first favorites (including some I still revere today) were from that era. There was a little window of time in the mid 90s when alternative rock became mainstream and an even smaller window where power-pop revival became part of the paradigm, and I love that. 1996 was a really formative year when two of my all time favorite bands, Superdrag and Nada Surf, hit it big with buzz bin singles. This kind of music got some serious money thrown behind it for a while and it made some really incredible records possible. I can’t say Blinker the Star was on my radar at that point, but I discovered them later and definitely love their sound. Fellow Canadians, Sloan fit that mode too. I love this world of super melodic stuff with a backdrop of buzzed and fuzzed out, loud rock and roll. It’s just perfect to me. These bands all drew on some of my favorite classics as well – Big Star, Bad Finger, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Cheap Trick, and yes, Mr Petty!
My mind set when I wrote “Post Up?” Well “Post Up” kind of has that combination angry/joyous energy like all these bands I’m referencing were/are so good at. There is some real meditative power in being able to use rock and roll to excise demons. I love punk rock and metal too which are both even more geared this way, but my writing mode generally hearkens back to melodically oriented material. Like Mr. Petty, I like to take my favorite pieces of the past and combine them into my own thing.-Let’s leave it off by giving us details about the album, and tell us what you’re looking forward to in 2021!
Every Side of the Abyss will be out at the end of February and we are stoked about the feedback we’ve received so far with the first single “Lit Hunk” which came out it December. We’ve been working on this record for a couple of years and its great that it will finally see the light of day so to speak. Artists always say something along the lines of “I feel like this is our strongest work yet”, and people either agree or not, but I sincerely wouldn’t put something out that I didn’t feel met that description. So for me, it is our strongest work. I think it’s at least the best representation of the what the band is capable of.
We recorded most of Every Side of the Abyss with our original lineup that included Tony Moore. He moved to Ireland with his family last year, so we’ve spent 2020 learning how to be a band again. We miss Tony, but have worked up a new sound that we’re really pleased with. It works great for a lot of the material from this album and surprisingly well for some of the older stuff too. We have a bunch of newer songs ready to lay down and hope to have another release ready later in 2021. This is also something that all artists say, like every year. However, we’re in full form and the studio game is stronger than ever, so folks can expect to hear what we’re working on soon.
Additionally, we’re itching to play live like all bands. We really haven’t done that during the pandemic outside of a couple of outdoor/socially distanced engagements. It was cool that those could be arranged, but I feel like there are only so many of those opportunities that are viable for any given act. For now, we’re hunkered down on the new studio material and focused on sharing Every Side of the Abyss!