Editors’ Notes “It is a reflection of the highs and lows of my own journey of self-discovery, rehabilitation, and reflection across the past two years,” Zach Choy, drummer, vocalist, and de facto spokesperson for Crack Cloud, tells Apple Music about the Canadian collective’s debut full-length. “I can hear where I was when it started, and I can hear where I was when we ended it.” Crack Cloud has been described as its members’ “recovery program” from their own personal battles, and Choy assesses Pain Olympics’ blend of post-punk, hip-hop, electronica, and industrial sounds as being a concept album of sorts, fundamentally about “finding your way through the world with a lot of baggage and trauma in tow. The medium is the message. Each individual song operates as an organ upon which the others rely.” Allow him, then, to act as your guide through the labyrinthine world of Pain Olympics.

Post Truth (Birth of a Nation)
“We wanted to create a world for the album, and to set the tone in a really grandiose, melodramatic way. This is that world’s ‘big bang’—it was a very visual concept. A frame of reference was the original Willy Wonka movie—going down that tunnel that Willy Wonka guides the children down, with its psychedelic nightmare sequence and range of emotions. The joy of working with a collective of people is that everyone specializes in and is geared towards different things. Here, a lot of the string arrangements were facilitated by one of our members who’s a connoisseur of that sort of thing—similarly, the industrial section. You hear these different elements and you hear the different people in our collective. This track is one of the best representations of the stitching-together that takes place within the collective and how things are pooled together based on one fundamental idea.”

Bastard Basket
“‘Bastard Basket’ felt like the natural antithesis to ‘Post Truth.’ It’s pensive and brooding where ‘Post Truth’ is big and bombastic. We wanted to strip away the magnificence and extravagance and sober the listener down. The general concept for reference for all of us while constructing the album was the idea of the rise and fall of a society, all of the discovery and contention and plateaus that you’ll read about in history. We wanted to represent those plateaus and draw parallels with personal life. I think anyone can relate to retaining an ambition and aspiration, and then waking up the next day and feeling the complete opposite. COVID even is a very tangible manifestation of that. One day you have your trajectory for 2020—and the next it’s out the window.”

Somethings Gotta Give
“This retains a despondency, but with a chorus that delivers more aggression and frustration. Musically, every song reveals the microscopic influence of what we were listening to along that two-year timeline. This was our attempt at an homage to the pop music we were listening to at the time, everything from The Tea Party to The Cure to blink-182. Pain Olympics as a whole concept took direct influence from Pink Floyd’s The Wall, The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s, and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. Those albums were lifesavers for me. They showed me how far you can take music and how visual it can actually be, and how emotionally engaging it can become when there’s a story that lasts not three minutes, but 45. As an artist, I want to tell stories that are informed by my personal experiences and hopefully resonate with people who have gone through similar things.”

The Next Fix
“This is a particularly personal song for me, and I think it came out onto the page in only 20 minutes. Daniel [Robertson, multi-instrumentalist] came with a riff and a rhythm, and the lyrics just poured out of me. I generally find lyrical inspiration to be very sporadic. This album was my first attempt at being more personal and more vulnerable as a songwriter; in the past I’ve written in a more abstract and broader manner. That was perhaps more to fit the niche of the genre we were operating within—a lot of punk music is steered by broader politics, whereas we approached this album without any sort of stylistic limitations. I’ve found it exciting to learn how to translate thoughts and emotions without hiding behind abstraction.”

Favour Your Fortune
“‘The Next Fix’ and ‘Favour Your Fortune’ are companion pieces—the two songs directly feed off one another, in terms of their conflicting energy, and I very much thrive off exploring those dichotomies. They’re two sides of the same coin, and I find it hard to manifest one side but not the other. I think there was a bit of a subliminal link in the songs’ creation, a certain residual headspace that carried into ‘The Next Fix’ from writing ‘Favour Your Fortune’ first. They were flipped in their positioning on the record to meet the album’s flow of high-low-high-low. Presenting the alternation in that way is a projection of my own personality and navigation of the world. I think I’m a pretty motivated person, but I supress a lot of anxieties and doubts. There’s a lot of highs and a lot of lows—and it’s not consistent, either.”

Ouster Stew
“I wanted this song to be really funny—and I thought it would be really funny to have a drum solo in the middle. That one’s an anthem. Musically it’s a ‘high’ moment, but it’s balanced by lyrics that are pretty sardonic, pretty cynical. If there’s any song on the album that has an equilibrium, it’s ‘Ouster Stew.’ It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing—it’s manufactured as the ‘radio song’ but deals with conflict, morality, the world’s dog-eat-dog nature. I think it’s direct projection of the contention within our culture when it comes to all politics, and I thought it’d be opportunistic to cloak that within a pop song.”

Tunnel Vision
“For all intents and purposes, ‘Tunnel Vision’ is a classic climax: It has a meandering jam in the middle, and its lyricism and use of dual vocalists with back-and-forth lines is there to fully realize the contention and duality that is such a major theme on the album. It was the most straightforward track, and one of the earliest we wrote for the album. I felt like I didn’t want to end the album with a rock song, though, which is ultimately why it wasn’t positioned to close the album.”

Angel Dust (Eternal Peace)
“We end with a pseudo resolution to an otherwise chaotic story, to bring the cyclical nature of Pain Olympics across. This isn’t the end, it’s merely the beginning. The Wall and To Pimp a Butterfly were heavily influential on the narrative device of closing an album and yet trying to leave it open-ended. We want to leave the listener in a state of mind where they are compelled to consider what they have just heard. Art can be such a profound experience when you abandon any societal or cultural hindrances that would otherwise prevent you from being able to experience a record or a painting in a pure, instinctual way. It’s about open-mindedness, and letting the music drive you on a spiritual level, as opposed to letting your own analysis drive your interpretation.”

SONG
Post Truth (Birth of a Nation)
1
5:41
 
Bastard Basket
2
4:29
 
Somethings Gotta Give
3
2:04
 
The Next Fix
4
3:24
 
Favour Your Fortune
5
2:06
 
Ouster Stew
6
2:21
 
Tunnel Vision
7
4:37
 
Angel Dust (Eternal Peace)
8
4:26
 

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