With their latest release The Collab Project // Secrets, Written By Wolves are branching off into musical directions you perhaps would have never expected upon the release of their debut album Secrets. The new five-track EP, released on September 17th, is a selection of reimagined tracks from Secrets, released in late 2019.
More than just a sort of remix album, The Collab Project features completely reworked tracks that include guest appearances from some incredible artists, such as Kellin Quinn, frontman for Sleeping With Sirens, Trenton Woodley of Hands Like Houses, and the incomparable Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D. While the songs may be familiar, the band has put a whole new spin on them, reinventing them, and proving that there can be so much more to a song than what you just hear in the finished product on a record.
Part of the motivation for recording The Collab Project is to help spread mental health awareness. The goal is to help normalize open discussion of mental health issues and to help stop making it something people are afraid of being open about. The members of Written By Wolves want people to know that it doesn’t have to be a personal struggle, it can be something that you battle with others as part of your network of support.
To celebrate the release of The Collab Project and to learn more about each reworked song, lead singer Michael Murphy, and some of the featured guests on the record, have joined us today for an exclusive track-by-track rundown of the EP.
1. “Better Luck Next Time” (feat. Trenton Woodley of Hands Like Houses)
“‘Better Luck Next Time’ takes a tongue in cheek look at one of the only inevitable facts of life; no matter what we do, we are all going to die, life is going to screw you and no one gets out alive. However, the underlying theme of the song is to try not to take things so seriously – no one gets out alive so why not live a little… The second single from The Collab Project EP, featuring Trenton Woodley of Hands Like Houses. Not content to merely feature on the track, Trenton has co-produced, mixed and also stars in the music video directed by Written By Wolves guitarist Bahador Borhani.
“In his own words, Woodley said of working on the track, ‘After recently flirting with the possibility of hopping the Tasman to play some shows together, and COVID summarily putting the brakes on that almost immediately, it seemed only right to work out a way to work together in spite of it all. Already a stacked track, being given the opportunity to work on Better Luck Next Time was as much fun as the song itself; it’s a wry grin, a whirlwind of energy and both a literal and figurative reminder to stay on your toes no matter what life throws at you.’”
2. “Secrets” (feat. Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D)
“‘Secrets’ is about realizing that we are all hiding how we feel and putting on a public face, that society has put such an emphasis on bottling up and suppressing how we feel that we now no longer have the skills and tools to actually talk about these things and let the emotions out. It is about realizing that the problem is not confined to the minority and has consumed the population to such an extent that issues such as mental health and suicide are near epidemic status. ‘Secrets’ is about understanding that we are not alone in feeling this way and that it is time to change societal norms and open up about how we feel, to put more emphasis on talking to each other about things that really matter rather than how amazing we can make our lives look online.
“Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D brings his unique and powerful voice and energy to not only the recording but also to the music video directed by Nick Kozakis of Visible Studios (Tones and I, The Amity Affliction, Masked Wolf) which is a powerful look into the masks we wear.”
Of the song, Sandoval added, “I’m really excited to be a part of this project. I love featuring on songs that are diverse and step out of the rock n’ roll box. There’s a lot of great flavours in this song sure to appease your musical tastes. I look forward to what the future holds for this band.”
3. “(Our Stories)”
“This is the first track in the Lucky Stars Trilogy. The Collab Project is all about encouraging people to open up about their mental health struggles in the hope that we can help to normalize these very normal issues. So, we put the call out to our fans to see if anyone would be willing to share their stories on this EP. It turned out a lot were. ‘(Our Stories)’ is those fans, sharing their own stories in their own words. It is confronting and raw and real, but it is incredibly powerful. We are eternally grateful to those incredibly brave people that were willing to be a part of this track.”
4. “Lucky Stars” (feat. Sydney Rae White of The Wild Things)
“The idea for this song was born from the countless messages we have received from fans telling us how our music has helped them pull themselves from a dark place or, in some cases, saved their lives. We all know the healing effects that music can have on people, but I don’t think any of us ever thought we would be in such a privileged position. It is an incredible honour to mean so much to people and it is one that we are very proud of. But, as proud as it makes us, it is hard not to feel sad about the current state of society and how alienated a massive percentage of today’s society feel from it. But, until we can work out how to fix that, we can continue to be grateful for the healing qualities that music possesses and the role that Written By Wolves can play in people’s lives.
“This version of the track features the incredible Sydney Rae White of UK band, The Wild Things. Her beautifully unique voice brings a new level of vulnerability and honesty to the track that we couldn’t have imagined before.”
Rae White added, “It’s been a privilege to work on this amazing project. It’s a theme that speaks to all of us during lockdown, and to be able to contribute in my own small way shows that we are not, nor will we ever be, alone. Thanks so much to Written By Wolves.”
“The final track in the Lucky Stars Trilogy. (Hope) features the same contributors that share their stories in (Our Stories) but in this track they focus on what they do to cope with the mental health issues they deal with every day and share their incredibly uplifting triumphs over their illnesses and demons.”
6. “Help Me Through The Night” (feat. Kellin Quinn)
“This track questions the role of fate in the dark times. People often talk about fate in the good times but not so much when things go wrong. It is about questioning your place in the world and hoping that the struggles you are going through in life aren’t ‘meant to be.’ Once again though, the underlying message in this song is hope. Hope that what you are going through is not pre-ordained and is within your control to change.
“Having Kellin Quinn on this track has elevated it and taken it to the next level. Kellin loved it the moment he heard it, he came back straight away to let us know he was in and said he would get onto his parts that week, but he had his verse recorded and back to us the next day! Kellin’s voice is iconic and he brings a new layer of angst and determination to the track.”
7. “Forever & Always” (feat. Becks)
“I know you aren’t meant to pick favourites amongst your kids, but this is probably my favourite track I’ve ever written. The concept behind this song is no matter what you are going through, no matter what is happening, if the world was about to end, who would you want to be with. I felt that situation and sentiment would strip your thoughts and decisions down to their most truthful and pure. From there, we set about creating a piece of music befitting of the sentiment.
“This is made extra special for me as Becks is my wife. The song is written about her so to have her singing on it is a bit of a dream come true. After she had finished recording her parts we sat down and listened and it was as if I was hearing the song for the first time, as if this is how it was always meant to sound, and it had been right in front of me all along… With everything that has happened in the last year and a half, the sentiment of this song feels even more fitting now.
“My dad actually passed away just before this track was released and by chance, his funeral was scheduled for the release date. However, the night before the funeral, New Zealand went back into lockdown due to COVID-19 reappearing in the community. It was an incredibly tough and emotional time, and I couldn’t have imagined a more fitting day to release this deeply personal track. It bought an entirely new meaning to the song for me, but it just felt right.
“The accompanying music video is directed by LA-based director, Josh Mabie, who also directed the videos for ‘To Tell You The Truth,’ ‘Tell Me What You’re Running From?,’ and ‘Help Me Through The Night.’ He continues to raise the bar every time we work with him and this is a piece of cinematic brilliance. He also managed to get a special tribute to my dad in at the end.”