It's been seven years since To Kill Achilles has geared up for a full length album release.
Back in 2013, the band emerged fresh on the scene with an emphasis in making heavy music and a full embrace of the breakdown. Their debut, Existence, managed to secure the band's footing enough to cement touring, a receptive fanbase, and the promise of more music, but life happens.
During the time in between their debut up until now, there was some significant movement. The band released their Anywhere But Here EP and again, asserted their ability to harness heavy songwriting driven by real emotion, but the output was sparse given the potential.
In 2020, the band seemed to reignite. Debuting a tandem of singles in "Beautiful Morning" and "Venom," the band announced their signing to Arising Empire and with the partnership, a sophomore record was finally on the way. Though the album took longer than anyone likely expected, there is a certain clarity that comes with life experience and for To Kill Achilles, the ability to have a second chance at a first impression is something they are taking full advantage of.
Their highly personal, pseudo-concept record in Something To Remember Me By, offers 14 tracks, all of which function as individual instances taken from each member of the band's personal experiences. The album plays out with a protagonist enduring a full year of life - 12-tracks, 12 months, with 2 recollections. Culminating in the protagonist's untimely demise, the album is a result of the band's evolution artistically and offers a narrative that could only come of actual life experience.
To Kill Achilles' vocalist Mark Tindal explained how the time in between albums for the band, ultimately helped the collective find a balance of style and substance.
It’s been more than seven years since you have released your debut album. How has the band evolved during that time and how has life impacted your art?
Smith - The band has changed a lot in that time, when we released our first album we were just kids playing in a band for fun and we released an album because “that’s what you do”. Once we had the ability to tour, we just kept doing that and over the years, members came and went, we experienced a lot more of life and once we found our stable members we decided, right, it’s time to write something with a purpose. That’s when we started writing ‘Something To Remember Me By’.
If fans found you through ‘Existence,' will they still be excited about 'Something to Remember Me By’?
Smith - We’d hope so, there is a drastic change between the two records, but it’s still our music so similarities do appear. With ‘Existence’ we just wanted to play riffs and breakdowns while someone was screaming something over the top, ‘Something To Remember Me By’ is a very vocal driven record, the album exists to tell the story of the character, the music is written to aid the story as opposed to be “cool”. It’s a completely different vibe but we’re still a heavy band (at times) so if you liked the old stuff, you should like the new stuff.
The album has a bit of a grim concept - Each song plays out like a month in a year only for the protagonist to end his life. How heavy was this album to make for you emotionally knowing the story doesn’t have a happy ending?
Smith - It was really heavy, the ending of the record was the first thing we came up with. It comes from a moment where one of us first had the thought that maybe suicide could be a way out. We got past it with the support from each other and our families but that struck a chord, what if we didn’t have this support network, where would we be? The difficult part was trying to put the story across in the simplest, most straight forward way. There’s not metaphor upon metaphor throughout the record, it’s all conversational, we wanted it to be written the way someone would say it as if they were speaking directly to you in a room. This meant no covering feelings, so we really had to be open and explain exactly how we felt in that moment - and that’s scary, but one of the best things we could have done at that time.
Particularly with “Oh God, I’ve Never Felt This Low,” the tone of the album resonates as very personal - the idea of chasing a passion only to lose people around you. How much of this album came from a real place rather than a concept?
Smith - All of it actually, every single topic is one of the members' stories put to music. We feel like if we’re trying to inspire people to talk about what they’re going through we can’t rely on making up stories, it needed to be us telling our story so you can gain the confidence to tell yours.
There is an old adage of, “you have your whole life to write your debut album and only six months to write your follow-up.” Given the time away, do you feel like this is a sort of reintroduction for To Kill Achilles?
Smith - Absolutely, we’re not the same band anymore, we grew as people, matured and decided that we wanted to talk about how life has been for us and focus on the music as opposed to just trying to follow a trend. It feels like a debut record to us and it’s exciting because we’ve finally figured out what we want to do as a band and this is just the beginning.
The title ’Something to Remember Me By’ - is it safe to say there is some duality there? The title references your character throughout the album and their eventual demise, but was there any thought to that applying to the band as well?
Smith - You got it, this record is the story of our character - but in saying that, it’s also our legacy, we’re not gonna be here forever and it scares everyone that someday no one will remember you, what was your life for? Well for us, now we have a record that will stick around after we’re gone that says “hey, we were here once, we had something to say and here’s our story, it happened, we happened” - it’s absolutely something to remember us by.
Given the climate around the globe and the prevalence of mental health concerns in the wake of the pandemic, do you feel like this record has added significance during such a turbulent time?
Smith - I think so, yes, the state of the world is terrifying just now and with increased loneliness due to lockdowns and distancing, people are missing out on time with the people they need. We’ve personally known two people to take their own lives in the last year and you just don’t know how much the pandemic played in that decision and that worries us, a lot. It’s hard times, but we can’t stress enough, finding a way to talk to the people you need is a must. Whether that’s over FaceTime, calls or even a message/email, it still needs to happen, we all need people in our lives and you need to reach out. In saying that, some people won’t have the confidence to approach someone on these topics and that’s where we would say it’s your duty as a friend, a family member or just a person to check on your loved ones. They need you, ask if they’re ok, it takes no time. You never know when your last conversation with someone could be, I know we’d rather talk for an hour as opposed to never talk again.
Something To Remember Me By arrives February 5th on Arising Empire. The album is available for pre-order - HERE