And no nerdy details have been left out.
Last week the lads in Our Last Night released their brand new album 'Let Light Overcome' - guitarist Matt Wentworth has taken us through all the details of the album track by track (and he's left out none of the nerdy details).
Over to Matt:
"'Demons' was one of the first songs I started writing for 'Let Light Overcome'. The opening synth line was something that randomly popped in my head one day, so I recorded it acappella into the voice notes on my phone... I think I was walking through a grocery store at the time. Whenever I have an idea that I think could be cool for a song I record it right away, even if I just have to hum it into my phone - this way when I sit down at my computer to write a song I always have a starter idea to work with.
"The first version of the song was much slower and calmer than what it is now, but later on in the writing process I decided to experiment with the chorus a little bit by switching the drum beat from half time to double time. We were all really unsure about it at first because we were so used to hearing it the original way, but it was much more exciting than the first demo.
"The lyrics are some of my favorites on the album. They could seem really dark if read pessimistically, but if you dive deeper the meaning is more inspiring than assumed. They suggest that at our core, all humans have a similar capacity for good and evil. The inner battle between the two is something we all face and it’s our responsibility to win that battle at all costs."
"I wrote the intro guitar riff for 'The Leap' during a sound check on our tour European tour last fall. From there I started programming the riff in Logic Pro on my laptop so I could start piecing together the entire song. By the end of the tour I pretty much had the entire song structure laid out with singing melody ideas and maybe 50% of the lyrics written. I wrote most of the melodies and lyrics when we were out in a game reserve in South Africa for a few days. We would go on safaris in the morning and evening, so we had a lot of downtime in the middle of the day.
"When tracking the drums and doing some of the production it felt like the song was pulling us in more of a progressive rock / experimental direction so we tried to let it go there. The intro / first verse drum beat is definitely has an unconventional rhythm, instead of having a groove that settles in it keeps pushing and pushing. I think thats why the release into the first chorus is really satisfying as a listener.
"The chorus instrumental felt really uplifting so I wanted the lyrics to match or even amplify that feeling. We all go through times where we feel stuck and don’t know how to take the next step. So I wrote about how taking risks or leaps of faith is usually the only way to get out of that rut. It’s definitely scary exiting your comfort zone but complacency is a crafty form of evil. There is always a path to move forward and the only answer is to break camp."
'BURY THE HATCHET'
"The way this song came together is as weird as it gets… I almost don’t know if I should share it (haha). We did a cover of 'Who Let The Dogs Out' last year and the first version I did was WAY too heavy and sounded absolutely nothing like the original song. But I really loved how it was turning out, so instead of scrapping it completely I saved it and started the cover again from scratch. We were a couple days from tracking drums for the album but we felt like we needed one more song, so I was searching through old demos and came across something called 'Baha Metal'.
"Then we took out everything that melodically resembled 'Who Let The Dogs Out' and then wrote the heavy riff section after the second chorus, which we took to a new level of heaviness for our band. This section kind of takes you on a journey that gets more and more intense until it phases out into an ambient trap section with some chopped up vocal parts. When we first listened back to the bridge after we wrote it, we all kind of looked at each other like 'Really? Does that even sound like Our Last Night?' The general consensus was 'Why not?'.
"Since this track came together last minute, I decided to give it a title before I started lyrics. I had 'Bury The Hatchet' written down in my song idea notes and I felt like it matched the instrumental so I went with it. Naturally, the lyrics are about the importance of forgiveness. It talks about how difficult it can be to forgive someone even when you know you have become a slave to the anger of it all. The verses are written from the perspective of someone struggling with this, while the chorus is more of a confident declaration from a third person, instructing to let it go."
"Our good friend Kyle Horvath, who plays drums in Jule Vera, produced this track for us and did an awesome job! It’s an interlude that musically leads into the next track on the album 'Castle In The Sky'. But lyrically, it foreshadows a song we haven’t written yet..."
'CASTLE IN THE SKY'
"I co-wrote 'Castle In The Sky' with Kyle Horvath (who I just mentioned above). We first wrote and arranged it as a pop track that I then converted to a rock song after - kind of a similar process to recording our covers. We wanted the song to have a Twenty One Pilots/ Imagine Dragons type feel. I brought the chord progression idea, and Kyle added the swingy heavy drum beat that you still hear in the second verse, and we went from there.
"I had the phrase 'Castle In The Sky' written in my song idea notes for awhile. I think originally just thought it was an epic sounding phrase but the meaning makes for an interesting song subject. The definition of “castle in the sky” is “a dream, hope, or plan that is impossible, unrealistic, or has very little chance of succeeding.” Even though some goals may seem too big or practically unrealistic we all need them or life can start to look pretty grim. So we wrote a song about proudly building a castle in the sky at the expense of any doubters.
"It took me the longest to mix this song because of all of the layers and instruments we wove throughout the song. Another random note, the guitar riff in the bridge could be one of my favorites I’ve ever written. For music nerds, the whole song is in triplets and I’ve always been a sucker for triplet riffs."
'BLEED FOR YOU'
"'Bleed For You' was one of those unexplainable ideas when the chords, melodies, and lyrics kind of all came to me all at the same time. I wrote most of this song just over piano chords and a drum loop, so in most of the demo phases it was very basic. This allowed me to focus on the songwriting without being distracted by heavy guitars and other layers. I really tried to focus on the vibe and feeling of the song over the technicality. I liked the lyrics and melodies so much that I didn’t want the instrumental to distract from them. I’ve always wanted to write something like the last half of 'Bleed For You', it almost sounds like a whole new song when the bridge comes in. It’s a patient slow build that reels you in emotionally. It could be surprising to some people, but I’ve been listening to a lot of Christian worship music over the last couple years. Most worship songs have super long epic build-ups in the bridge and thought something like that would be cool for this track. I’d say it’s a little Coldplay inspired as well, we even snuck a well-known Coldplay drum beat into the outro.
"The lyrics are about how painful it can be battling through issues in a relationship but at the end of the day the struggle is worth it because you love the other person so much."
"'Soul Speak' was released last year but we decided to include it on 'Let Light Overcome' because it fit musically and lyrically with the other songs we were writing. I wrote the first demo of this song around the same time I wrote the first drafts of 'Demons' and 'Every Time Our Earth Shakes' last year. I originally wrote the intro guitar riff as the bridge for 'Every Time Our Earth Shakes' but it sounded too special to be buried halfway through a song. So I decided to start a whole new song based off of it and we got 'Soul Speak'.
"The lyrics are about how hard it can be to express yourself truly and honestly when there are so many outside opinions that we value."
'EVERY TIME OUR EARTH SHAKES'
"This was the first song I started writing for this album. The demo version was called 'Ninjas' because Trevor's five year old son Noah was at the studio one day. He told me about a song he wrote and it went something like 'days after day, ninjas in the way' - I don’t really remember haha. But I was playing guitar when he told me and sang his lyrics over the chords and got the chorus melody that is there now. The lyrics are obviously changed now, but no idea is too silly to start a song with. Trevor and I grew up in a fully divorced family, our parents and all of our grandparents are all divorced. So I wrote this song about wanting to change that trend. I got married last year and do take that devotion very seriously. Sometimes I feel like people get married with the thought that 'hey, I can always get divorced' and to me that is a pretty sad thing. I think around 50% of marriages in the US end in divorce, which I think is a slow and silent killer of society.
"The main guitar riff for this song was another one I wrote at sound check on tour. I feel like a lot of the best riffs come out of the first thing you play after you pick up a guitar, not after hours of sitting and playing. I remember playing it at sound check and hearing the one beat on a different note than Tim did. He played a drum beat to it that made the riff “start” on the early up beat, an 8th note before the down beat. It gave the riff a much different feel than what I was hearing but it now had a lot more energy. Sorry, more music nerd stuff!"
Check out Our Last Night's brand new album 'Let Light Overcome' below: