Some bands, like Death of Me, are not content with the status quo. They want to be something more, something special, something transcendent. They accomplish that and a whole lot more on their new record Hell’s where you make it, Love’s where you fake it. From the get-go, the band was intended to extend beyond genres and trends, creating a wholly unique identity. Their album explores the darker places of the human psyche and isn’t afraid to delve into gloomier subject matter.
Musically, Death of Me has concocted its own unique interpretation of modern alternative rock. It’s emotional and aggressive music, with soaring vocals and razor-sharp hooks. They combine post-hardcore, emo, darker alternative rock, and a tinge of ’80s rock. A lot of their songs are storyteller-like, emulating the spirit of Edgar Allan Poe or H.P. Lovecraft. Frequent, recurring themes include love, loss, and our own insecurities.
Today, Death of Me lead singer Jim Carter joins us for an exclusive track-by-track look at Hell’s where you make it, Love’s where you fake it. They discuss the origins of each track, the musical influences at play, and the instruments they leaned on.
“Hell’s where you make it, Love’s how you fake it, for us, was always about creating an immersive world both sonically and visually for a listener. A world that was ethereal, atmospheric, and aggressive all at the same time, yet wasn’t ashamed to gentle or even romantic when it needed to be. Straddling and blurring the lines of post-hardcore, emo and ’80s rock, I guess we wanted to sit somewhere between Depeche Mode and My Chemical Romance (which was cool, because it really meant we had no rulebook, or even frame of reference at times).
“Firmly in our minds was that we always had the mantra you ‘only get one chance to make your first record’ that first impression with a listener. So we were so laser-focused on ensuring every track contributed to that journey and vision as above. What we were able to come away with,
(after throwing out what must have been close to 30 initial song ideas), was our statement of intent as a band and the blueprint for our sound.
“The record itself was recorded in two parts over summer and winter 2022 at Lower Lane Studios. We worked with producer Sam Bloor, and it was mastered by Grant Berry at Fader Mastering.”
1. “Yearn (An introduction)”
“Starting the record with the sound of needle touching vinyl and the sound of a heavy thunderstorm. I was trying to capture the feeling of longing through music. I had this image of a character sat alone with their thoughts inside this huge gothic mansion just staring out of a window with nothing or no-one.
“Layers of synths peak and build as an ebow wails over the top with some simple piano to really set the tone of the record. We overlaid some tribal-esque sounding drums. If you listen closely actually all follow three separate patterns to make the sound, and essentially wrote what ended up being a full orchestral climax. I guess the aim of this track was to be led up gently to the top of the rollercoaster before you’re dropped right in.”
“Bleeding in from Yearn, this was actually one of the first tracks we fleshed out together and it serves as that aggressive yin to the yang of the intro. I really wanted the first lyrics/words to ever be sang on the record to mention our name and cement the vision, so that’s why it ended up being ‘Let this be, the death of me.’
“It’s fast-paced, it’s heavy, and has a soaring chorus before climaxing into a heavy ending that wouldn’t be out of place on a Silverstein or Underoath record. Lyrically this song deals with themes of loss, grief, and the guilt you face when moving on with life because of everything that will never be for someone else.”
“Probably the most ’80s-sounding song on the record. Not only for sheer amount of synths on it, but the fact we somehow managed to squeeze in a key change and also a guitar solo too. The influences with this one were so varied. The second verse has shades of ‘Bark at the Moon’ era Ozzy meets Maiden right before it hits a half-time breakdown (I’m still not sure on paper how it’s supposed to work, but it just does).
“Through some heavy bass chorus a la The Cure and New Order in the verses, haunting piano and synth and some punchy 4/4 drums. This is us wearing those pop influences unashamedly on our sleeves, but still keeping in our heavy ethos.”
4. “True blue”
“Starting with some more haunting arpeggiated Moog synths, this track further highlights the heavier side to the band. It also emphasized that dichotomy of light/dark. Guitar-wise we utilized the USA IIC+ model amp (based off the Mesa Boogie Mark series,) and by a PRS Tremonti paired with a Les Paul Custom (as were all the sounds on the record along with varies in house pedals and an Axe FX.) We used some pretty heavy bass flange for this track too. And after referencing Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin’ on a Prayer,’ we just ran with it.
“Paired with the synths we overlaid tons of Linn drum percussion and claps on this too as can be heard in the choruses. Billy Idol’s ‘White Wedding’ being a huge inspiration. Lyrically, ‘True Blue’ really is about the complete and utter devotion to a cause, feeling or love. Even as the world around you crumbles and destroys as a result, and the emotional sacrifices you make to keep that devotion alive.”
5. “Lueur d’espoir”
“Translated in French as ‘a glimmer of hope’ (and not just for the sake of wanting to sound overtly romantic), this track was to be exactly that, a mid-record pause to reflect and breathe before plunging back in. As with both instrumental pieces it features a full orchestral score. It is a homage to Hans Zimmer and Daniel Licht.”
6. “Your heart, the casket”
“This is the first single we released from the record because we felt it covered our initial ethos so well. It’s lyrically about finding what you love and letting it bury you. It’s sonically the track that blends all the genre influences seamlessly. This track came together surprisingly quickly. It was written initially just on piano during the COVID-19 lockdown. It was when those feelings of isolation were at their peak for everyone, the haunting synths absolutely play to that feeling.
“The drums really shine through on this one through playing around with the different paces in the choruses and through the snap of that Gretsch brass snare and Q Drum copper shells we recorded with. We weren’t afraid to make this track really atmospheric. It is sparse in the verses and bigger and more anthemic in the choruses. Again, the influences on this, ranged from Rush right through to Linkin Park for that nu-metal middle 8.”
7. “The long lost art to never falling apart”
“This was one of the earliest ideas we ever had, written initially in early 2021. It all stemmed from that metalcore-esque guitar riff. It wouldn’t sound out of place on an As I Lay Dying or Killswitch Engage record. This is the heaviest track on the record. We still managed to overlay some DJ scratching, siren blares, and even some interweaved screams. I remember we were laughing in the studio because we managed to make the middle 8 have an almost ’90s ethereal trance vibe to the likes of the introduction from Darude’s ‘Sandstorm.’
“With the cannon blares and the heavily delayed and reverbed guitar work. Again on paper, this absolutely doesn’t make sense, but we felt it totally worked in practice and sounded quite unique. Lyrically, this one comes back to the grief and loss and the line, ‘I know so many last words but I will never pretend to know hers’ was one of the most haunting ways to explore that.”
8. “Choice words and cursive”
“As well as being the final track, this was also the last track that was written for it. It’s the most simple to follow in terms of its structure. But it still manages to include some really intricate and technical guitar work and sweeping. The synth sounds on this track were inspired totally from Don Henley’s ‘Boys of Summer.’ The Yamaha DX-7, and the second half of the choruses contains more Linn drum Toms, digital 16th hats, and even some 808’s .
“The title for this song actually came before anything else. I thought it was ironic to have this idea of having such hurtful words or thoughts written in the most delicate of cursive handwriting or calligraphy. The power of words should never be underestimated.
“Lyrically, it’s the closest thing to a love song you’ll hear. If you unpick it, I hope it comes across as endearing as intended. It became the most natural way to end the record with an air of hope.”