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Greyhaven’s Brent Mills On The Frantic Frustrations Of ‘This Bright And Beautiful World’

Jack Rogers
Jack Rogers 20 April 2022 at 14.58

"I just want these emotions to just live, because they are what they are."

Greyhaven have just released their absolutely crushing new album 'This Bright And Beautiful World' via Equal Vision Records / Rude Records.

A truly stunning and insatiably savage piece of post-hardcore destruction and darkness, it is a record built on the foundations of chaos, expressing the most frantic and fierce pieces of the human mind in their most raw form. And to create music that is as raw as this doesn't come easily, as vocalist Brent Mills will tell you candidly. 

Here, we chat to have about the making of the record, how difficult he found it to get things down on paper and how scared at points he is of what they created...

What was the creation of this record like for you, from the point of trying to make art out of what was going on in your head at the time?
"It’s strange. Whenever I was writing the lyrics for this record in the studio, I never had time to think or consider what we were doing. The rest of the band would say, ‘We’re recording two tonight. Do you have the words ready? Are you done?’, and I wasn’t. I would be locking myself away or walking out into the woods to try and write and pull anything relevant and authentic out. It was extremely difficult. It’s all kind of a blur. 

"The thing is that I feel like we all feel the same anxieties and frustrations that come with just being a person and trying to make our way through everything that is going on. And to talk too specifically about a date and time within that, once that period is over, those feelings go away, especially if you put them in your music. So I tried and avoided that, even though I was dealing with a lot of very specific things in the studio."

When you’re dealing with emotions that you have known about before, as well as such sudden changes in the world, you’re not going to be associating them with one moment in your life. You’re going to be associating them with your day-to-day and how you are making it through the normal stuff. Ultimately, you’re allowing yourself to be selfish and deal with the personal rather than what the general consensus in the world is…
"Absolutely, and in a myriad of ways, this period of time was the most helpless I have ever felt. In the months prior to COVID happening, I had already experienced a year that had been testing my patience, both with myself and with the world around me. I finally felt like I would get to have the release of going on tour and doing the thing that I feel the most connected to, and even that gets taken away halfway through. That’s cancelled, and I’m home despite not having anywhere to stay. I was living in the warehouse where we wrote this record. I had to move back home eventually. I had to get a job because the music was on pause. Everything that I had worked so hard on and felt like I had a grasp on was slipping.

"So by the time we hit the studio, I was so excited because we had collectively been working on these songs for two years, in so many places and with so many ideas. So that’s why I couldn’t believe that I was the one holding things up and coming up short with my lyrical contributions. I’m doing something I love, and why is it not happening? It was just so hard to feel all of these things simultaneously whilst so many more things were piling on top. The only thing that felt right was what eventually ended up on the page, and it was pretty self-indulgent, but it is what was needed. Something had to come out, and I had a lot that I was working through. The thing is that I couldn’t just pull these things out and say, ‘I’m going to write about that’. I was being destroyed internally, so I had to figure it all out myself."

To keep that feeling going on the outside, saving face because you’re in the studio and making the record now, must have been so testing?
I’m notoriously bad at letting it all get the best of me. I’ve tried to work on it and not make it so obvious that it was tearing me apart. It was such a weird juxtaposition to be in, being in such a wonderful place, hearing so much incredible music coming to life, everybody having a good time, whilst I’m sitting there with my coffee having a panic attack at 8 am with my head in my laptop. I just knew that I had to lean into everything that was going on in my head because doing that was the only thing that made sense. If I didn’t record these songs in this way, then I know that I’m not going to be comfortable with where my headspace would be when it comes time to finish."

So when you look at the record now and see what you then did make, what do you feel?
This record literally scares me sometimes. I think that it is so intense at moments, and some moments made me feel literally nauseous when we were making it. The riffs that the boys make sound like a panic attack. I have personally been on a roller-coaster even in the time since we have had it back for us to listen to. When we initially got it, I was absolutely flawed by it all musically, but really insecure about my parts. Just because those bits ended up happening so quick and not being thought out, I put a lot in there that I was hesitant about and even a little embarrassed by. But hearing the other guys pick their parts apart and say how much they loved what I was able to bring in makes me realise that I have to trust them, and they have to trust me. That’s how we make records, after all. It was a lot of validating back and forth. But now, when I listen to it, I realise that I am still unpacking some of what I said. I try not to think about them too much because I don’t want to pick them apart. Every time, I hear a new thing, which isn’t always a good thing. I really hope that people get what we have done and can pull their own feelings out of it. I don’t know when you are as deep in as we are, you can always do that."

It is fascinating to be done with your art in that way, not to want to touch or probe at why it is a certain way. But it must make you wonder why you feel that way?
Yeah, and the thing is that it is as honest as it can be because I didn’t have the chance to think about it. I have said things to myself that I probably wouldn’t have said if I had sat for a second and thought about it. But I think I fell into the trap with the last record. I had never been in a scenario where people had given a shit about what I was writing and saying, so when they would ask me, I felt like I always needed to have some heady or significant thing to say. But that’s not how these things end up on the page. It’s not the way that I write. I think that might have been half the problem initially, as I may have felt like I needed something flashed out and reasoning for me to say it. I’m not going to be like that this time. There’s so much shit that I don’t even understand that came out of me, and I’m not going to tell anybody what I do, because that’s pretty intimate. I just want these emotions to just live because they are what they are."

So, as you consider the future and what the following stages of life in Greyhaven will be, what do you feel as though the band has provided you that you probably wouldn’t have expected? Is that more of a continuous process that you’re still going through?
"It’s interesting because Greyhaven has been such a slow burn of a band. We haven’t done anything that blew up overnight. We are still relatively small, so it takes a lot of trust and security in one another and commitment to want to be still doing this. We’ve been doing this together for seven years now, and it has become its own little family. So anytime anything is happening with the band, it’s all very exciting because we know what it means to each of our lives. We understand the obstacles that come with it, but we are all committed to it. That’s because I don’t think the music we make would work with any other group of people. I couldn’t do this with anybody else, so we aren’t afraid to push our limits with each other. And now I’m so excited to share our connection with everybody else. It’s all about sharing the art. That’s what makes this all so special."

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