Not Without My Ghosts

Not Without My Ghosts

“This record is pretty much saying, ‘You’ve got to keep moving forward and go through every day as it comes,’” Ahren Stringer tells Apple Music about The Amity Affliction’s eighth LP, Not Without My Ghosts. It’s objectively heavier than the Australian group has ever been—both musically and thematically. “You lose people on the way, you carry your grief, but you’ve just got to keep going and going. You’ve always got your ghosts, whatever that may be—grief, losing a friend, or addiction, mental health, all that stuff,” says Stringer, the band’s bassist and clean vocalist, of the album’s title and themes. “Joel [Birch, vocalist] comes up with the words, but sometimes he’ll hand me some lyrics and I’ll just be like, ‘This is pretty much exactly how I feel.’ I think he’s got a good way of telling his own story and people can connect with that in any way.” Read on as Stringer talks through each track on Not Without My Ghosts. “Show Me Your God” “This song is actually a metaphor for guns. There’s so much gun violence in America. I think something like 40 percent of gun deaths are suicides. [In the lyrics] ‘Show me your God, does he come with a clip?/Are his teeth made of steel?’ Joel’s talking about a gun. He’s just basically saying if he lived in America, with such easy access to guns, he would have shot himself in the head. I think a lot of people do that because it is so easy. You have a bad day, you’ve got a pistol in your bedside drawer. It doesn’t take much thought process and it’s just a bit too easy.” “It’s Hell Down Here” “This is my favorite song on the album. It’s very meaningful to me. It’s about one of our friends, Shane, who committed suicide. It’s a collective grieving song, I guess. Just telling them that dealing with their loss is very hard on Earth. Joel and I aren’t religious, but the sentiment is universal: ‘Is it heaven up there, because it’s hell down here.’ It’s cathartic in a way. We haven’t performed it live yet, but we’ve already done songs about friends who’ve passed. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s hard to sing them on stage—but it’s a good outlet for grief.” “Fade Away” “If you listen to sad music while you’re sad, it almost makes you happy. That’s where we come in. Joel was in a real dark place when he wrote this song. He basically writes poems and then gives them to me, and then I’ll put them to the music and kind of place the lyrics. So I’ll be like, ‘This is really fucking sad, I’ll put it to a really sad-sounding song.’ But it also works vice versa. You can have a happy-sounding song and really dark lyrics. We don’t really ever have any happy lyrics. Either way, it’s going to be a sad song!” “Death and the Setting Sun” (feat. Andrew Neufeld) “Neither myself or Joel could do what Andrew [Neufeld, Comeback Kid vocalist] did. You know how high that is? We’re not going to be able to play this one unless we’ve got Comeback Kid on tour, because no one can do that part. We realized we hadn’t really had any guests since Severed Ties, our first album. So we were like, ‘Let’s get some friends in.’ It makes it more interesting for a listener, I think, because you hear us over and over and over. Andrew’s voice is unreal. He’s one of the best of our genre, I think. Maybe even the greatest.” “I See Dead People” (feat. Louie Knuxx) “It’s definitely the heaviest song we’ve ever written. Dan [Brown, guitarist] had been listening to real heavy death metal and deathcore. He came to us with this song and everyone else was just like, ‘I think that’s a bit too heavy for us.’ And I was like, ‘No fucking way. That’s awesome.’ Joel had just written one single line and it went, ‘I see the ghosts of my friends.’ I also wanted to sample this Christian folk song and it sounded cool, but we were just like, ‘We can do better than that.’ Dan said, ‘Leave it with me.’ He went back to his studio at home and sampled [rapper] Louie Knuxx and gave it back to us. We were just like, ‘Hell yeah, that’s perfect.’” “When It Rains It Pours” (feat. Landon Tewers) “The Plot In You and their vocalist Landon [Tewers] are great friends of ours. I love his voice. Again, neither myself or Joel could really do what he does, so we got Landon in. Originally we were meant to get Jamey Jasta from Hatebreed in. He was keen to do it, and then all of a sudden he goes, ‘Oh, I’ve lost my voice from going on tour.’ That’s why this track has kind of like a Hatebreed-y breakdown. But I think Landon killed it.” “The Big Sleep” “I’m a big Ren & Stimpy fan, and in the [pilot] episode, Ren is trying to describe to Stimpy what death is and he’s like, ‘It’s the big sleep.’ Like, you know, getting put down is the big sleep. Joe [Longobardi, drummer] works overtime on this track. He’s getting better because we’re forcing him to play this shit and he keeps learning it, you know? He’s never been like a blast beat metal drummer and we’re just forcing him to do it. It’s very fun to play live. Well, for us. I don’t know about him.” “Close to Me” “When I heard this in this studio, I was like, ‘Why the fuck are there 27 tracks of this one girl just singing all different things?’ It’s over the top, but Dan and the engineer were having fun and seeing what they could do with it. There’s a lot of the same girl singing. She was working at the studio, interning or something. She did some more on the second-to-last track. It just called for it. This needed a hook, because that first part is really boring without a vocal. It feeds throughout the record, because we’ve got the ‘Ha, ah, ah’ in ‘Show Me Your God,’ and then we’ve got this part and then ‘God Voice.’ We’ve always had a bit of choir, like on ‘Pittsburgh’ [from 2014’s Let the Ocean Take Me].” God Voice “Yeah, that riff at the start is definitely new for us. My girlfriend Casey does the spoken word before the chorus. It’s hard to get clearance for stuff from movies, so sometimes we’ll just make it up and people will be like, ‘Oh, what’s that from?’ I’m like, ‘It’s not from anything.’ It’s meant to sound like a movie sample, because we were hardcore kids in 2003-04 when everyone was using movie samples and we’re just like, ‘We haven’t done that in ages. Let’s do that again.’” Not Without My Ghosts (feat. phem) “The whole record is so balls-to-the-wall. You need a palate cleanser after that many blast beats and breakdowns, so I think it’s nice to end with a soft soul. We’ve got so many dudes screaming their arse off and then we’ve got this pretty song. Our engineer said, ‘Could you be a little more pretty?’ We had a version of it with just me singing and we all agreed: We need a female feature on this song. Phem was the only one who said yes. We asked a bunch of other people: Snail Mail, because I was a big fan of her. She said no. And then we asked Courtney [LaPlante, Spiritbox vocalist] and she said no. I was like, ‘Do we stink or something? No one wants to work with us.’ Yeah, so thank you, phem.”

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