I never felt American until I left the United States. In 2007 I went to Europe for the first time to tour in support of Spiderman of the Rings. At the time I, like many other young Americans, didn’t identify as “American.” The United States was an evil, Earth-destroying monster of war, corporate greed and bigotry. I had been touring for years in the DIY scene, trying to live apart from consumer culture, feeling detached from what I thought of as the American lifestyle. But when I left for Europe, I was slammed into reality. Never before had I felt so much like an outsider. I was alone in foreign lands with no friends. While it was a beautiful experience and a great tour, I realized that no matter which subculture I chose to identify or what kind of lifestyle I led I would always be American. Nothing could ever change that. As simple as that idea seems, it was a massive shift in consciousness for me.
When I was writing Bromst, I wanted a title with no pre-existing meaning, something free of any prior associations. For this album, I wanted the exact opposite. America is a word with an infinite range of connotations, both positive and negative. Even its literal definition is open to discussion. In using it as the title of the album, in a small way, I‘m contributing to the discussion. To me, the underground DIY and wilderness are just as American as their evil brethren, corporatism and environmental destruction. It‘s that juxtaposition of fundamentally opposed ideologies that makes up the American landscape.
Compositionally, America is layering of dichotomies: light and dark, acoustic and synthetic, celebration and contemplation. The result can be heard as simple or complex depending on how one listens to it. The music is rooted in triadic harmony set to a fixed pulse while the individual lines are complex, phasing layers of sound. The outcomes are dense asymmetrically rhythmic phrases of textured patterns framed as pop songs.
The inspiration for the music was my love of cross-country travel, seeing the landscapes of the United States, going from east to west and back again over the course of seasons. The lyrics are inspired by my frustration, fear and anger towards the country and world I live in and am a part of. As I came closer to finishing the album these themes began to show themselves more frequently and greater clarity. There seemed no better world to encapsulate both inspirations than the simple beauty found in the word America.