As one of the original projects involving Will Benoit (Junius, Rosetta, producer for Caspian, current vocalist/guitarist of SOM), CONSTANTS was an integral member of the Boston post-hardcore/prog/post-rock scene in the mid ’00s through to the early 2010’s, and “Devotion” is their first release since 2012. The new collection of songs unveils a well-rounded b-sides, remixes and rarities that have been released over the last decade on various albums, all remastered and collected here in one place. Today, we’re thrilled to give you a full presentation of the record, along with its first listen, brief interview and special track by track commentary below!
“Devotion” features a brand new song (“ENDS”), covers of Sunny Day Real Estate, Catherine Wheel and Type O Negative songs, remixes of some previously released songs (including ones by Phil Jamieson from Caspian and Justin Broadrick from Jesu and Godflesh), and an alternate version of their song “Passage.” The band just unveiled their new video for “ENDS”, and you can check it out below as well.
“Devotion” opens with a brand new track, immediately showcasing that the band is as vibrant and prescient as ever.
The entire album serves as a glimpse behind the curtain for fans of the band, and a relatively brief introduction to their expansive and influential 15+ year career.
After a grueling decade on the road touring in the US and abroad; living in a veggie oil powered school bus, building a solar powered recording studio, and releasing 5 critically acclaimed albums that left fans and critics unsure how to categorize them, Constants decided to press pause. Each member kept playing, writing and touring with bands like Tombs, Rosetta, City of Ships, SOM, These Wild Plains, Graveyard Lovers and Living Phantoms, keeping their abilities sharp and focused. Now joined on guitar by Joel Reynolds (Junius, SOM, Driftoff), Constants has re-emerged, reinvigorated to once again confound and surprise listeners with their unpredictable blend of shoegaze, post-rock, post-metal, and indie rock.
ROB: I look at “Devotion” as sort of a parts catalog for our band. Our influences, specific examples of sounds and directions that we drew from, etc. with the new song “Ends” being a demonstration of all of these different elements put into practice.
ORION: I’m super glad this record happened and that we are sharing it with the world. I really never expected to write a new Constants song and especially did not expect there to be another release. So this is rad as fuck. The record offers a lot of insight to our collective inspirations and may shed some light onto the unique choices we have made over the years as a band.
WILL: This album is meant to give people a different perspective on where Constants was coming from. we have always tried very hard to be a challenging band to listen to, and it was always a conscious decision to change sound as radically as possible between albums. in hindsight, we probably should have known that wasn’t the best way to develop and engage a fan base, but I think it’s also telling of the type of open-minded fans that have come along for the ride.
Asked about the releasing and distribution method for this album, the band added:
WILL: so many of these songs came out on different labels over the years, and we honestly just wanted to do this for ourselves and the people who care about us, so we decided the best path was to compile the project and release it ourselves so we can reconnect with the people who have cared about our music.
Perspectives for live shows in Coronavirus era:
WILL: We definitely had planned on starting to play some shows. We played with Gifts From Enola at their Saint Vitus show in Brooklyn last Summer and that seemed like the perfect kick off show to start doing more.
ROB: Joel, Will and I had some tour plans with our other bands thwarted (SOM and These Wild Plains respectively). We did push up the release date of “Devotion” as a result of the pandemic. We wanted to play a couple of shows around the release date, but since that’s not a possibility, we’re not about to wait another year to release this music. We’d still like to celebrate these songs on stage and hopefully we can make that happen when things are a little safer.
ORION: We took a lot of time off from devoting ourselves to this band. I think this project happened because we sincerely missed one another, although we have stayed in close contact with each other over the years. I think we would all enjoy organizing a few shows in the future. We all love to perform and re-connect with people.
Boston local scene and other bands worth a check:
ROB: Constants is spread across three states these days, so there isn’t really much of a local scene to report on for us. As far as Boston bands are concerned, do yourself a favor and check out Lesser Glow.
ORION: For sure Lesser Glow! They rip! Also, not 2020, but 2019 – the new Health record “vol. 4:: Slaves of Fear has been in my ear a lot. New Maserati too. Otherwise I’m diving deeper and deeper into electronic music so Ochre, Home, Survive, Kiasmos, Throwing Snow, Ulrich Schnauss, Crystal Castles, Perturbator, M83…the list goes on. There’s a fun playlist on Spotify called “High at Work” that gets a good vibe going.
JOEL: Miserable – Lover Boy / Dog Days is lush, heavy hearted songs that are sure to give you goosebumps and make you re-think some basic principles.
Mastermind Kristina Esfandiari (King Woman) continues to deliver rich and epic music. This one is from 2018 but they just released some new music in 2020 and I’m crossing my fingers for a full length soon.
ROB: I’ve been wearing out the latest Greet Death record. It’s called “New Hell” They’re managing to pull some raw and exciting material out of some very well worn paths.
Best vocals in the biz. Also, been digging that Fleshwater EP that just came out. Some of the dudes from Vein are involved, so you know the tones are gonna be legit.
Makes me nostalgic for a version of Sacramento that probably doesn’t exist. On a wildly different note, a metric ton of old George Jones sessions got released to Spotify, including the infamous “Back In the Saddle: Live ’78” record. Lastly, if you’re looking for music to drink a lot of beers to do yourself a favor and take a deep dive into Gary Stewart‘s catalog.
“Devotion” track by track breakdown
1 – ENDS:
ROB: Our first new song in seven(?) years! “Ends” was a deliberate attempt to sort of tie the whole room together in six minutes, while still leaving our sonic future open for discussion. I think it worked. I had gone to Will’s studio a few years ago to work on an early version of Ends that was intended to be the intro track to this lost EP of mine, the lyrics being a quick musing on how quickly life fades away without you realizing it. It was maybe ninety seconds in length. Will took the original concept and built it out into the basic six minute structure you hear on the record. We got together at Radar in February of 2019 for a weekend and finessed this song into what you hear on the record.
ORION: This song feels like it provides closure and also offers a new open door.
WILL: Stepping back into Constants after so much time, Rob’s demo jumped out at me really clearly. It felt like a logical next step to evaluate life and look back at all the years in Constants. The song became a weirdly detached meditation on what it’s like to become an adult, and recognize how much I’ve changed – and hopefully grown – as a person in the 15+ years since we started Constants.
JOEL – This demo hit me like a ton of bricks upon first listen. Knowing the guys since 05′ and being close with them ever since I joined the band officially last year, this one felt like an epic story that needed to be told. I can hear the blood, sweat, and tears inside this piece of music so needless to say I was super stoked and honored that I was asked to contribute to it. Very excited for the world to hear it. Play it LOUD, it’s a tearjerker.
2 – CRYSTALLIZED:
ROB: This one came from some writing sessions shortly after If Tomorrow the War was released. We used to paint houses together for a living in between tours in shoreline CT. One day while standing on thirty foot ladders we got to talking about hybrid drum setups and fleshing out what a blend of live and electronic drum sounds might sound like. We were also listening to a ton of Ulrich Schnauss and that first Washed Out EP. So, from that conversation, those records blaring, some mild sun stroke, and a few beers, “Crystallized” was born. It’s worth noting that our new bandmate Joel added some additional guitars to this version, so this is technically a new song for most people out there. Makes me wish he was always in the band…
JOEL: I always loved the main riff and the way the song flowed in general, reminded me of my favorite Godflesh songs. I ended up adding a ton of guitars to it, stuff I always heard in my head when listening.
ORION: This one really speaks to our evolving sound. Here we have a very lush, synth-laden, beat-y, and concise song that may stand out against some of our previous material. For me, this song begs the question – “what would we write next?” I’m certain it would continue along these lines.
3 – ONE:
ORION: Sunny Day Real Estate is one of my all time favorite bands – I loved learning this bass line and putting my style on it, Nate Mendel has been a huge inspiration for me. I’m honored to release this track and pay homage to a seriously incredible band that has moved me to tears on more than one occasion.
JOEL: Some time in the late 90’s, I was introduced to Sunny Day Real Estate, and I was instantly smitten. When the Constants dudes said they were working on a cover and wanted me to contribute, I was beyond stoked. I like to think we reimagined this song well and intensified the peaks of the song with some new age heaviness. I’m super stoked on the way it turned out and I’m glad I got to ‘tip the hat’ to one of my greatest influences.
WILL: They really are a great band. I love their album “The Rising Tide” so deeply. They were really good at disguising complex songs and melody as simple, tight pop songs, and everything feels so epic and anthemic. That was always something Constants strove towards. This was also the first song we worked on with Joel playing guitar. We had recorded drums and some of the bass for this song like 8 or 9 years ago and finally finished it up for this record.
4 – LOVE YOU TO DEATH:
ROB: The boys cooked up this one while I was out on the road drumming for City of Ships in Europe. The plan was to fly home after the tour, lay down drums for this cover, get Constants show-ready, and then head back to Europe for a month to support Caspian, but the universe had other plans. Instead, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted and I got stuck in Germany for two weeks. Sadly, I had to surrender drum duties to the steady hands of MIDI. Still my favorite cover of the bunch though…
WILL: Type O has been a thread throughout my life writing music. It’s so sprawling and epic, but it becomes even better once you recognize it’s all pretty tongue in cheek and I love that. Just that you can boil it down to “this is a goth metal band trying to sound like the Beatles playing shoegaze”. Peter Steele is such an underrated song writer.
5 – STRANGE FRUIT:
ROB: Our obsession with Catherine Wheel was born out of those same off-tour summer days that birthed “Crystallized”: painting houses, catching sun strokes, and listening to music that matched our conditions .
ORION: Sick band. Long live the 90’s.
WILL: at a certain point around the time we were working on Pasilfora, we all went through a deep dive into 90’s shoegaze influenced rock, and Catherine Wheel are the kings of that sound. Such cool melodies layered together.
6 – IF YOU ARE TO BLOOM:
WILL: we were asked to do a HUM tribute record so we decided to pick what we thought would be the hardest song to learn and play well. It was a challenge, and I remember all the vocal harmonies being way more tricky than I expected. We really tried to make a unique version of one of my favorite songs.
ROB: Can’t say no to a Hum tribute record. City of Ships were also on the comp, and I tracked their version of “I Hate It Too” immediately after wrapping this one.
ORION: Hum is another one of my all time favorite bands and super influential for us. There is something so special about them – their songs, tones, and vocals all click for me. To be a part of the comp this originally came out on celebrating such a rad and timeless band was an honor.
7 – THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE PT I (JUSTIN K. BROADRICK REMIX):
WILL: I’m honestly not even sure how this one happened. I must have emailed Justin cold? We went back and forth, he did this amazing remix, and then I asked if he’d be interested in mixing our next record (If Tomorrow the War). He responded and said he’d like to produce it, which was a pretty amazing thing to hear. He has always been an inspiration to me – he’s never been afraid to take the path that no one expects musically. I learned a lot working with him on that album.
ROB: This was our introduction to working with Justin Broadrick. I always admired the way he wrote a completely new instrumental under the vocals. Definitely got us thinking about melodies in a new way. I was also shocked that aside from a few artistic edits he left my drums untouched. Honestly, I had expected him to “select all, delete” my work…
8 – THE TIMELESS (PHILIP JAMIESON REMIX)-
WILL: The Caspian guys are all great friends of ours. We used to tour together A LOT. at that time Phil was starting to experiment with electronic music, and doing his own ambient solo stuff, so I encouraged him to do a remix. I think it came out great, I wish he would do more like it now!
ROB: I hadn’t heard this since it was originally released on the Japanese edition of “Foundation” years ago until a couple of days ago. Made me well up when I threw it on. It’s amazing how Phil’s writing sensibility and attention to dynamics that make Caspian so goddamn special can be heard so clearly in this remix, even though it’s mostly ambient. Good work, Phil.
9 – IN DREAMS (TODD ANDREW REMIX):
WILL: It’s funny, we just randomly got this remix from Todd who I didn’t really know at the time. Maybe we had talked on myspace or facebook. But we received it, and I loved it. I was like “who is this guy!?” Since then we’ve remained friends and done some work for the same music production company. One of his claims to fame now is that he has music featured in the Deadpool movies, which is rad.
ROB: We put all the stems up for “If Tomorrow the War” up for download on our website for people to remix at will. This was BY FAR the most impressive submission.
10, 11 – YOUR DAUGHTER’S EYES / A QUIET EDIFICE (LIVING PHANTOMS REMIXES)
WILL – these were really early attempts at remixes for me. I knew the sound I was chasing, as Rob mentioned we were listening to a lot of Ulrich Shnauss around the time, but I didn’t quite have the knowledge of how to get there yet. But we wanted to include them because 1) they were released on the Japanese version of ITTW by Stiff Slack Records 2) they represent a moment in time where I was pushing myself to learn a new way to approach music.
12 – PASSAGE:
WILL: this was the only song we released with Jon Hassell on guitar and vocals, and the first thing we did with Rob on drums. It feels like the right way to end the album, because it was such a new and exciting moment for the band. we had this new enthusiasm with Rob, and at that moment we really felt like the sky was the limit. It was from there that we finished writing “The Foundation…” had the opportunity to tour across Europe a BUNCH of times, and see 3 more albums released worldwide through several labels. it’s crazy to think it was more than 10 years ago.
ROB: This is officially the third time “Passage” has closed out a Constants record, and this version’s first appearance in a digital format. “Passage” was my first contribution to the recorded works of Constants, so I’m personally elated that it’s seeing new life through this release.
“As emotional rises go, ‘Sunrise’ does a good job of finding lovely moments – the guitar riff in the chorus stands out – amidst the gloom and thunder of the rest of the track. That’s a type of optimism, too – call it the kind that you have to fight for – and it’s something Constants seem most interested in exploring right now.” – MTV
“Constants’ fusion of disparate styles is one of the most organic yet. Instead of soft-loud-soft-because-ISIS-do-it, Constants work through melodies, textures, and rhythms with remarkable fluency.” – DECIBEL
“Their melodic sense is based on consistently edgy but still soothing, layered guitar washes that leap towards massive chord progressions…” – OUTBURN
“heavily lush indie rock…” – RCRD LBL
“The one-time metalheads (and Jesu associates) serenely slowdive into shoegaze, [and] loudly party like it’s 1991…” – SPIN