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Track-by-Track: Southtowne Lanes Frontman Matt Kupka Takes Us Through ‘Take Care’

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Southtowne Lanes
Southtowne Lanes

When those close to us pass on, we often learn a lot about ourselves, which is something to which Southtowne LanesMatt Kupka can relate. The lead singer and guitarist unexpectedly lost his father in the leadup to the recording of the band’s new album Take Care. The pain and despair that followed had a significant influence on the writing and recording of the record.

Due out on May 10th via Dog Knights Productions, Take Care dissects the various stages of grief. Kupka relates all these stages together, and the album is a commentary on how he dealt with them and how they changed him. The death of his father led him down a path where he looked deeply at his mortality. And it has changed him in a big way.

At a certain point, it felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel for Kupka. But as he processed his loss through the help of music, something positive began to emerge. Ultimately, Take Care is about the fragments of hope buried within the rubble of death and grief. Kupka uses these songs as a way of peeling back layers of pain and discovering resilience within those layers. It’s, without a doubt, the most expansive release yet for the Eugene, Oregon, hardcore band.

Joining us today for a special track-by-track rundown of Take Care is Kupka. He takes us through each song, its origins, its inspirations, and how it ties together.

1. “Never Coming Home”

“This was the second-to-last song to be fully written for the record. This was intentional, as we wanted to first song people heard to foreshadow and truly reference the rest of the record. This track is almost outside of the record… it’s like the lead-up to the main event. ‘Never Coming Home’ is what’s playing in the background of the theatre just before the lights go out, while everyone is still sitting down. The words are echoing around the room and setting the tone, and the final build-up of that song is the lights on the stage dimming and the room going still.”

2. “Witness”

“The curtains are drawn, and the album begins (and will later end) with the same set of lyrics: ‘With the past as our witness…’ After this declaration, the lyrics describe the ways in which I tried to shine a light for my deteriorating father. It establishes a prominent theme in the album: the light flickering, flickering, and eventually going out. The witnessing of the downfall.”

3. “Barely Hanging On”

“If life flashes before our eyes when we go, this song is flipping through all of those moments. Memories good and bad, all of it comes rushing to the front. And at the end of it all, witnessing the downfall, I’m tired. I feel ready to resign to whatever fate has in store, unknowing how wrong I was about to be.

“This song also has a little easter egg reference to the song ‘The Circle’ from our previous release. That song talks about my relationship with my father at that time, and ends with the lyric ‘you’re gone.’ ‘Barely Hanging On’ takes that ending (both in lyrics and instrumentation) and goes further with it, kind of showing the progression of a song over musical time, and culminating into its namesake.”

Southtowne Lanes ‘Take Care’ album artwork

Southtowne Lanes ‘Take Care’ album artwork

4. “Go Cold”

“The main event. The moment of death, the moment the light goes out. The stains of human decomposition on the walls clashing with childhood pictures and memories, and the long walk down the hallway in which I witnessed what real actual death can look like. ‘Go Cold’ was the second working title for the album, but we deemed it too dark and not reflective of the hopeful sentiments found in the record.”

5. “Disappear”

“The experience talked about in ‘Go Cold’ was so horrific and shocking that I just put it away. A common coping mechanism (stage of grief: denial) and it led me to further my own addictive habits. Substance abuse, isolation, gluttony, messy decisions–this is what ‘Disappear’ is about. I knew I would eventually have to deal with the walk down the hallway eventually, but I just couldn’t at the time.

“The second verse of this song is so simple, but it is my favourite second verse we have ever written. The song eventually evolves/devolves into an alternating-time-signature drunken declaration of memories and mortality before finally passing out.”

6. “Reprieve”

“If the record is a play, this is the intermission. Reflective of the first track on the record, this song is somewhat removed, thus its name. It pulls itself out from the linear narrative and is more overhead and reflective. Reprieve was the first song written for the record, and is the song that put the band back in a room together.”

7. “Take Flight”

“‘Take Flight’ is the beginning of the end. The coping starts to lose its effectiveness, people go, and I begin to actually deal with what I am. Anxiety at a lack of escape begins to manifest. All the parts are starting to mix together, and it becomes nearly impossible to differentiate between the emotions I have in my relationships. I can’t tell if I am beginning to heal, or beginning to lose my mind. Either way, I run with it and ‘Take Flight.’”

8. “Find Your God”

“Soaring up, I’m running with whatever change is occurring. If my father’s death was the light going out and escaping up to the skies, I am desperately racing against the speed of light to meet him before he departs this world. The song races up and up, and finally breaks through the clouds. At the end of the song, a moment of tranquillity mirrors the calm before the oncoming storm, and the last voicemail my father left me are the first drops of ensuing rain.”

9. “Hurt All The Time”

“The original title of the album, and the central theme of the record. Grief isn’t about finding a way to get rid of the hurt, it’s about learning to live with it. If the last song ended in the clouds with the rain trickling down, this song sits in that sadness a bit longer. Until it doesn’t, and we go further. The rain picks up, and we continue to race up through the storm, up and out.

“We find ourselves somewhere in between life and death, in between the light on and off, and whether or not he’s out there, I deliver my final words to my father. Grief and hope mix together and expand until the moment is broken before we want it to end, and the light escapes. With the last breath of life cut short, the curtains come down and the record ends.”

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