Frontman Brian Wille discusses the band’s latest addition, The Way It Ends.
For the Connecticut metalcore collective of Currents, 2020 is proving to be an especially transformative year. The storyline of releasing music in a pandemic is a familiar one, but for this band specifically, there is some added significance with the recent release of their sophomore record. Anchored by the strength of the first single, “A Flag to Wave,” the direction of the effort became crystal clear. Currents had spent years asserting their place among the ranks of metalcore’s noteworthy artists, sharing tour bills with the likes of August Burns Red, Of Mice and Men, Miss May I, and We Came As Romans to name a few. On the heels of their follow-up release, Currents are asserting an ascent that merits them solely stepping into the spotlight. Composing a competent meld of melody to balance the band’s heavier tendencies, The Way It Ends, marks a new chapter for Currents, one that navigates creative integrity and their own identity, with a understanding of what the fans love.
Frontman Brian Wille discussed how managing expectation and growing as a band has resulted in such a strong record.
The sophomore record for any artist always has some added pressure – expectation. Did the band feel any of that going into the studio and if so, how did you guys balance that with satisfying your own creative direction?
WILLE – We absolutely felt the pressure to hold up to the weight of expectation. Going through the writing process though, we weren’t entirely worried – we were confident in the songs we were writing and were excited to share them with the world once they were finished. The biggest stressor is in the finishing touches; making sure the mix is balanced, making sure the track listing is correct, lining up the release to have the biggest impact it can, etc. The best way to balance expectation and satisfaction is to make sure you’re fulfilled by the music you’re making. If it resonates with you (your worst critic), then a lot of the stresses and anxieties about public reception tend to lower.
What kind of impact has the band’s growth had on the music? Touring the world, meeting new people and experiencing new places has to have some lasting effects.
WILLE – We’ve definitely grown a lot by touring – the rapid-travel and constant need to adapt & grow has had a huge effect on us as people and as musicians. We’ve also met a ton of awesome friends and role models along the way that have inspired us to do better & keep up with our peers. Looking back on The Place I Feel Safest (2017), the songwriting on The Way It Ends (2020) seems more cohesive and the direction is much more intentional. We wrote these songs with the live show in mind, something we didn’t fully consider with TPIFS; I think that touring almost non-stop for over 3 years had a lot to do with that.
Currents is in a very unique position. You guys have officially transitioned to playing much bigger stages with bigger bands and bigger bills. Do you miss the intimacy of those smaller shows?
WILLE – We still get those small shows! While it’s been a while since we’ve played a VFW, we still end up on plenty of packages that embrace the atmosphere of small, sweaty clubs. While the big stages and large crowds are thrilling and can make the stakes feel raised at times, we love to be up close & personal, so there’s perks to both. With the right atmosphere though, large rooms can also channel that same intimacy you find in smaller clubs, which is something we plan to chase going forward.
There seems to be a very personal quality to the songs on “The Way It Ends” – how much of this record comes from a real place in terms of experience.
WILLE – Most of the concepts are rooted in real emotions and events in my life and the lives of my close friends. Over the last few years, I’ve traveled a ton, made friends, lost friends, learned more about the world around me, came to some impactful conclusions and tried my best to channel all of those events and into our music. It’s hard to draw someone in for an emotional connection to something when it’s not based in reality. I write about what I know, what I see and what I experience, so these songs and their lyrical content are indeed very personal.
It seems like a very appropriate time to release an aggressive, angry record. However, it’s a scary time to release new music too. Was there any thought to maybe pushing The Way It Ends back at all given the state of the world?
WILLE – A little bit…there were some talks early on in the pandemic about pushing things back, but we felt that it would be unfair to fans to delay the record any further. We had already spent about 6 months laying the groundwork; fans already knew the record was ready, we had already released a couple songs to generate hype and we were already gearing up for the official announcement. We saw other bands decide to push their releases back and we absolutely don’t blame them, but it didn’t seem like the right move for our personal situation. The parallels between this record and what people are going through right now make it as relevant as it will ever be and there feels like no better time to give people something new to enjoy and connect with.
Songs like “How I Fall Apart” and “Better Days”seem like the opposite end of the spectrum from tracks like the single “Poverty of Self” and “Monsters.” What was the process of elimination like in creating that kind of a balanced record?
WILLE – We’re all about having our releases be dynamic. We want to tell stories & give people an adventure, and the best way we’ve found to do that is to channel a wide variety of sounds, styles and emotions. We also have tons of different influences between the five of us, so it takes a lot to keep things fresh & exciting for us. It’s great to be able to have heavy, crowd-moving songs along with slower, more ambient tracks to keep things balanced & interesting.
There’s a very conscious effort to include melody in some of the songs on the record. Was there any concern that the metalcore faithful might not be so receptive?
WILLE – Everyone has different preferences, so we’re not exactly worried about pleasing all fans of heavy music. Melody is important to us and has always been part of our band. While there are some groups within the metalcore subgenre that lean more in the hardcore-world, we draw a lot of influence from bands that have more metal and alternative leanings. Some metalcore purists may not respect, enjoy or appreciate our take on the genre, but that’s fine! Different takes make the scene more fun. We’re here for the people that enjoy what we do, and winning over people who will never have an interest in us based on their preferences is not very high on our list of priorities.
Considering the band had put out an EP in 2018, how long had these songs been marinating with you guys collectively? Was this the result of going in and writing a record or had these songs been an ongoing creative effort while the band was touring over the last couple of years?
WILLE – We had a few songs finished between tours shortly after the release of I Let the Devil In (2018), but the majority of the record hadn’t been started until roughly the Spring of 2019. ‘Split’ and ‘How I Fall Apart’ were written before the release of ILTDI, but those are the only exceptions I can think of. We find it difficult to write or record on tour, so we prefer to make it a focused effort for when we’re home.
How did your 2018 EP I Let The Devil In help the band to prepare The Way It Ends?
WILLE – I think ILTDI made us better at giving each song its own identity. Considering that TPIFS (The Place I Feel Safest) was completed in 2016 about a year before it was released and ILTDI was finished in October 2018 then released about two months later, there wasn’t much time elapsed between the completion of ILTDI and the initial writing sessions for TWIE – maybe 6 to 8 months. Our relationship with Ryan Leitru (producer of ILTDI, TWIE) was much stronger and more familiar going into TWIE, which gave us a lot of confidence. We were a good team that had our system laid out already, which was pretty important to the writing process. I think that familiarity had a positive effect on the songs and took them to a level we wouldn’t have been able to achieve with anyone else.
How are you utilizing the forced time off? How are you staying active as a band and connected with fans?
WILLE – We’re all working on different projects at home. It’s rare that we get this much time off the road, and so we’re trying to embrace it & enjoy it despite the grim reasons for the break. We’re doing our best to stay connected to our fans through weekly newsletters and occasional live-streams, but there’s nothing like getting to see everyone in person in their cities after a show. Regardless, we watch our inboxes as much as possible and try to be there for our fans when we can. We gotta stick together through all the craziness, after all.