Initially formed in Stillwater, OK in 2004, the acclaimed Portland, OR-based indie rock act Other Lives wrote, recorded and released an album under the Kunek, but a decidedly change in sonic direction and songwriting approach necessitated a re-branding. And since renaming themselves Other Lives, the band has released critically applauded material, including their sophomore album 2015’s Rituals, which further cemented their sound, a lush, cinematic and orchestrated sound that would likely draw comparisons to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The National and Ocean Rain-era Echo and the Bunnymen among others.
Other Lives’ highly-anticipated, self-produced, third full-length album For Their Lives is slated for an April 24, 2020 release through ATO Records. Deriving its title from one of the earlier songs the band wrote for the album, the Portland area-based band’s third album reportedly finds the members of the band reconnecting with the rural life they had grown up. Before the writing and recording of For Their Lives, the band’s frontman Jesse Tabish and his wife Kim Tabish left Portland and rented a friend’s A-frame home in Oregon’s Cooper Mountain region, surrounded by towering trees — and no neighbors in site. “Something about the title feels both inclusive and also of a larger scene,” explains Other Lives’ primary songwriter and frontman Jesse Tabish. “The song also embodied the direction we wanted to take.”
Naturally, the bucolic setting wound up heavily inspiring the album. “My wife, Kim, and I moving to this house and making a new life and music together was a huge part of this record,” Jesse Tabish says in press notes. “I found there was too much distraction in Portland, but here we could dedicate ourselves to work. I found that I returned to my music vocabulary in a natural way, using certain types of chords or keys, and also the way I sing. Living with roommates in Portland, I was too shy to sing in front of them. But here, I felt free.” Interestingly, that sense of freedom and togetherness carried over to the way the album was written and recorded: the album is arguably the most collaborative effort they trio has written to date — and it includes contributions from drummer Danny Reisch, who appeared on Rituals and backing vocals from Jesse Tabish’s wife Kim. “We really set out to make a band record,” Tabish says.
As the album’s material came together, they went towards a much different creative approach than its immediate predecessor: the band avoided re-working and refining tracks, instead choosing to record different arrangements of songs “to capture the vibe of something more instant,” Tabish explains. “We were adamant that For Their Love would have no tricks and nothing to hide behind, which we’d been doing psychologically, as well as as musically. We wanted ten songs that held up by themselves.” This was partially inspired by Jesse Tabish’s personal efforts to emerge from “hiding” and re-engaging with the outside world by “getting real with myself.” as he puts it. Before and during the writing and recording sessions, the band — who are also a lifelong friends — had a number of ongoing conversations about the current state of our world. And as a result, the album’s material thematically “question, observe, lament and hopefully find the slightest hope in the individual and ourselves. Characters sometimes venture into spiritual, religious or institutionalized endeavors — though I’ve personally found that self-worth is more important than any teachings or preaching,” Tabish says.
For Their Lives’ latest single is the anthemic “Hey Hey I.” Centered around a cinematic arrangement featuring enormous sing and shout along worthy hooks, strummed guitar, shimmering and soaring strings, twinkling keys and xylophone and choir-like backing vocals, the song manages to be the most direct and forceful they’ve written to date, while retaining the cinematic quality that has won them attention. But while being anthemic, the song lyrically addresses the paradigm of the downtrodden and broken working class. At the song’s core, there’s the realization that the American Dream that hard-working Joes and Janes have been sold and bought is a lie. Certainly, with the impact of COVID-10 on countless people we know and love, that realization is coming in with a starkly dire focus.
The recently released video for “Hey Hey I” is a gorgeously cinematic black-and-white visual shot at the A-frame studio in the Cooper Mountains, where the band recorded the album. “The video is a reflection of the recording process of the album, that took place in the A-frame in the woods,” says frontman Jesse Tabish. “We wanted to portray this process in a natural, organic way, without telling a story but rather showing glimpses of us working together as well as coming together with friends.”