It’s usually quite easy to tell when an artist has a clear vision for where they want to go with their music. The result is often clear, direct, and focused, operating within a space where there is no room for fluff. If you need an example then behold, It Could Be So Simple, the impressive new album from Lonely Ghost Records artist Arise, Sir! Spearheaded by the talented and ambitious Alex Kessler, the record is a collection of songs that go well beyond the framework of one single sound. Recorded last June in Philadelphia, Kessler joined forces with Casey Cavaliere, guitarist extraordinaire for pop punk institution The Wonder Years who acted as the album’s producer. Not quite a concept album, the songs on It Could Be So Simple are generally tied to the topic of unhealthy interpersonal relationships that we all encounter at one time or another. These aren’t necessarily personal relationships, but also include perceived relationships with celebrities that you may not even realize you’re actually engaged in.
When asked about the album making process, Kessler took us through how the creative process all went down. “This project was probably the toughest to make out of the few I’ve done in my life, but also came together the easiest,” he said. “No doubt the ease had much to do with the fact that I was working with Casey Cavaliere from The Wonder Years. Surprisingly, working through the music over the internet in the middle of the pandemic wasn’t that difficult. Only two songs were written before things started getting crazy around March, but Casey and I continued going back and forth with ideas I would send his way. He would send me notes and I would revise and send them to my friend Shane who did the drums on the project. He would then record his drums after looking through Casey’s notes and then send it all back to Casey as one newly formed demo, then we would rinse and repeat.
After about six months of the back and forth, we finally had the EP written. It was just a matter of driving out to a suburb of Philadelphia to get it tracked, which we finally did in June of last year over the course of eight days. The songs themselves are somewhat tied in a vague theme of interpersonal relationships that aren’t healthy, ranging from romantic relationships to perceived relationships with celebrities. Stylistically, I really wanted to go all in with the pop-punk/rock feel I dipped into slightly on my first EP, but for the songs to be polished rather than the unhinged and rough style recording. Casey was the perfect guy to help us achieve that sound and I think all six songs are much better because of it.”
When it came to developing a sound for Arise Sir!, Kessler started the project as a method to go above and beyond emo, and pursue more of a rock oriented sound. His first exploration of this was Arise Sir!’s debut EP Something About This Needs To Be Changed, a walk through post-punk, emo, indie, and heavy pop. Since that EP’s release, he’s worked hard to further develop the project’s musical style, which led him down the path of recording the three song acoustic EP Obvious Icarus, which was released in October. The EP pushed Arise Sir!’s sound into poppier territory, and was created in an expedient manner, which didn’t allow for any undue focus on recording something that sounded “perfect.” With Cavaliere as his ally, Kessler is headed into some exciting territory with Arise, Sir!, as he continues to expand his musical horizons.