"My only hope is that people can connect to the lyrics that I’ve managed to write and connect to them however they feel like they need them.”
One Step Closer have just released their debut full-length 'This Place You Know' via Run For Cover.
A stunning effort from one of the brightest lights in the current hardcore galaxy, the band have drawn on the highs that come with being on the road and the lows that come from returning home to mundanity when it comes to making their first big statement. Mixed in with the uncertainty that came with the last 18 months, and you have a raw and unrelenting record full of heart, hurt and hunger that you gets under your skin and sticks with you.
We jumped on the phone with Ryan Savitski to talk through the creation and catharsis of the album and what effect he hopes it has on those who hear it...
Regarding the album, are these songs that have been with you for a while, or were they written in the gaps you had where you could consider what you wanted to be?
“We started writing for this record in the Fall of 2019. After we had put out the EP, the natural next thing was always going to be an LP. With that in mind, we started writing, and we were doing a good few tours and shows. It was a sporadic process because of that. But then the pandemic hit, and we were on tour with Turnstile at the time in the UK. Whilst we were flying home, we decided to use the time to nail down and finish the record and get everything dialled in. We had seven songs at that point, and then we finished the last three through March/April, demoed them all in May and then recorded them at the end of the summer. The pandemic gave us the time to solidify things.”
Did being on the road so much affect what the album ended up looking and feeling like?
“From going from tour all the time to then just being home for months and months was such a drastic change in our lives. I miss touring, and I hated having to go home and stop. I had grown very distant from the place that I had grown up and lived in my entire life, and it felt weird coming back. So being out on the road and doing all this stuff, we were going through different things in our lives simultaneously. We were balancing our emotions with having to focus on the shows. But then coming home and dealing, in the same way, made me feel like I didn’t belong there anymore. That took steam ahead for the record. That’s when I started writing lyrics and songs where I knew I had been feeling this certain way, but being home made it so much worse. It took a toll on us, but it created a direction. We then knew we wanted the record to be about our home and the thing that we have experienced here.”
In going from such a community-driven space to then being plopped back into reality and the life and times you knew in the past, it’s impossible for it not to conjure up some pretty intense feelings. And sometimes, the only place you can shout about those things is back within that community…
“It’s a lot. It also puts your life into perspective in a really weird way. Every time I would come home from tour and realise that life had just carried on without me and everybody had been doing the same thing. It’s like time had been fast-forwarded, but everything else was like it was when I left. The same jobs, the same routines. But I had left and had this crazy experience of being in so many places and having so many interactions and being back, you suddenly feel, ‘Now what?’ I need to be constantly busy as well. It helps me keep away any negative energy or thoughts and motivates me to continue going down this path I’ve chosen. To sit and be stagnant sucks. Even though the pandemic where I couldn’t go and do anything at all, that was a tough adjustment. I would be having long phone calls with the rest of the band about when we thought it would be over so we could get back out. Those conversations then faded because at the time because there was nothing to talk about or update us with.”
But the thing is that this is far from a COVID record or an album that documents this period. It’s about so much more than that, despite reflecting those feelings we have all felt…
“When I was writing these lyrics, I was almost writing them as a timeline of events was going on. So to start writing in the Fall of 2019, but then as time passed, experiencing so many different things, to the pandemic hitting and the loss of a very close family member that affected me pretty badly. All of these things came together at once and tied into this intense time in all of our lives. Everybody was in the same boat in their way. As a whole country, and other countries, were in a very weird state of depression, and it became a very sad time because of that. So now that we are looking back and reflecting on it, my only hope is that people can connect to the lyrics that I’ve managed to write and connect to them however they feel like they need them.”
And getting back into the flow of being on the road, the thing that made you feel so alive and invigorated, and to share those words with those people who they have touched must feel pretty spectacular…
“It feels amazing to be able to play a show and have people still react like that. At our first show back, a kid came up to me and said, ‘I’m straight edge because of this band, thank you so much’. That sort of thing is so crazy and awesome to hear. It’s amazing seeing how people have latched on to what we do and feel the songs we put out. It’s so motivating when you see that as well. It gives me hope that moving forward, no matter how much the sound of our music changes, people will still be doing and saying the same things. It’s all about having those experiences. Seeing kids get excited for what we do will always give me butterflies, and it makes all of the work very much worth it.”
And without that enthusiasm from those in the scene, the scene will die. It takes people latching on and finding themselves in bands and songs that keep the first burning…
“That’s why we have always targeted the younger generation around our hometown. We want to bring them into this because if we don’t do that, then hardcore will die. It’s always about the next set of people coming up. If we can inspire them to start a band or get involved, the next Title Fight could be. You don’t know until you do it and try and hope for the future. I remember listening to Title Fight for the first time when I was 11 because one of my brother’s friends was heavily involved in the scene. Ever since that moment, I have wanted to be in a band. These dudes from my hometown are doing it, so why can’t I?”
Ultimately, what has it meant to you to have had One Step Closer be such a part of your life over this challenging period of time?
"It’s my rock, and I lean on it. Without it, I don’t know where I would be. If I didn’t have the people I do in this band, I would be in a much worse position. It’s something that I look forward to doing and something that truly keeps me sane and happy. If I didn’t have this outlet through the pandemic to put my thoughts and feelings into, I would be in a much darker place. This band means the world to me, and the people in the band mean the world to me. I’m just excited to get moving now.”