Be Well - JC Carey photo
Interviews

Brian McTernan (BE WELL, Salad Days Studio) discusses new EP, live shows, and more

Revelation Records recently shared Hello Sun, the new EP from BE WELL. Serving as a follow-up to the band’s critically-acclaimed The Weight & The Cost (2020,) Hello Sun is full of high-energy, Melodic Hardcore infused with emotion and lyrical depth.

Across the six songs on the record, frontman and producer Brian McTernan finds emotional catharsis through examination of childhood trauma, depression, and fatherhood while still providing a hopeful light. Rounding out the band are guitarists Mike Schleibaum (Darkest Hour) and Peter Tsouras (Fairweather,) bassist Aaron Dalbec (BANE, Only Crime,) and drummer Shane Johnson (Fairweather,) making for a truly all-star line-up.

Fans of McTernan’s more melodic work with bands like Thrice, The Movielife, Texas Is The Reason, and Praise will be particularly captivated by the title track, “Hello Sun,” which pairs gigantic guitar riffs with massive vocal hooks, hinting at McTernan’s deep contributions to the many now-classic band’s he’s produced. The song is the centerpiece of the EP, encapsulating McTernan’s transformation as a husband, father, friend, producer and bandmate.

“An interesting thing about “Hello Sun” is it actually was the first song I ever wrote for this band and we recorded it initially for the last record, but it didn’t come out the way that I had heard it in my head and it just didn’t feel like it fit at the time,” McTernan says. “But when I started working on the new record, all of a sudden it fit for me. That song put me on the path to doing this band. So, when we started writing songs like, “I’ll Leave You With This” and “In The Shadow of Who You Thought I Was,” all of a sudden, “Hello Sun” worked. The sound of it rounded it all out, and content-wise it felt like a part of this next chapter.”

You can stream Hello Sun on your preferred streaming service now and purchase the record from Revelation Records. BE WELL has also partnered with End Hits Records for a vinyl release of the record in Europe. To support the EP release, the band has an extensive touring schedule planned for this year, including shows with New Found Glory, Four Year Strong, BoySetsFire, Hot Water Music and SAMIAM.

I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to speak with Salad Days Studio owner and operator and BE WELL frontman Brian McTernan. Check out our comprehensive interview below, which has been lightly edited for general clarity.

Be Well by JCCarey

Be Well, by JC Carey

When and how did BE WELL initially form?

In 2017, I started writing the music that would become BE WELL. Initially, I was sending rough musical ideas to Mike Schleibaum and he loved them and encouraged me to develop them more. It took another year and half before we found the right people to complete the band. Aaron Dalbec had just moved to Maryland. So, we sent him some rough demos and fortunately for us, he loved them, too. Mike was, also, doing another project with Peter Tsouras and Peter joined and brought Shane Johnson along with him. I feel very fortunate to have found such great people to be doing this with.

How would you say BE WELL’s sound has changed and evolved since The Weight & The Cost?

I feel like we are stretching out musically and are more comfortable and confident now. I think the style and sound of the band is pretty well-defined, but the new songs feel like the right next step creatively.

What were some of your primary sources of inspiration and influence while creating and recording Hello Sun?

Life was more of an influence than any given band or style of music. Personally, I listen to music constantly. I have been listening to a lot of Old School Hardcore, along with some early Vagrant Records stuff and mellower stuff, like Eliott Smith & Pedro The Lion. We all love a wide range of music, so the sound of the band is a bit of a melting pot of it all.

What is the intended meaning or sentiment behind the new EP’s title, Hello Sun?

It’s about opening up and letting light shine on the things that I have hidden about myself and felt ashamed of [for] way too long.

The cameo-filled video for “I Will Leave You with This” features a lot of friends and bands you worked with. Can you tell us more about where the footage and photos came from? We recently saw you Tweeting about “the infamous Salad Days singles ad book” and its brief appearance within the video. Would/could you care to elaborate on this infamous book?

Salad Days Studio was located in a building behind my house for many years. My wife was always great about documenting things. Very early on, she started taking a Polaroid of every band member and having them write a funny “singles ad.” Over time, the ads and photos got more outrageous and funnier. It’s a really special book that is packed with the lighter side of so many of my favorite people and artists.

What are a few of your personal favorite lesser-known or as-yet-to-be-released projects you were fortunate enough to work on at Salad Days Studio?

Trial By Fire is a band that jumps out immediately. I love the record Ringing In The Dawn (2002) and it never caught on the way that I felt like it should have. The Draft’s In A Million Pieces (2006) is another that is one of my favorites that did very well, but not what I felt like it deserved. A few others would be The Graduate’s Only Every Time (2011) Engine Down’s Demure and HRVRD’s From The Bird’s Cage.

How would you say your work with your previous bands (Ashes, Battery, Biology, and Miltown) help inspire your body of work thus far with BE WELL?

I think I wanted the melodic feel of Ashes and the energy of Battery. My writing and production with other bands is, also, a huge influence for me, as well. It’s always hard to pin down the influences because I don’t think about it at all when I am writing.

How and when did the band’s fruitful working relationship with artist Simon Tripcony (@onetricpony) begin?

Simon had designed a flyer for a show we were meant to play and I immediately loved his style. We started messaging on Instagram and the connection was immediate. He has become a dear friend and I am inspired by his passion and vision. We all feel lucky to have someone that is so cool and so talented as part of our team.

Following the impending release of Hello Sun, what’s planned next for BE WELL?

Lots of touring. We have a rad show with Earth Crisis, STRIFE & Snapcase coming up and we head out to do [dates across] the whole US with New Found Glory & Four Year Strong. After that, we head to Europe with Hot Water Music, BoySetsFire & SAMIAN. We are, also, hoping to do a run of small headlining shows in The US & Europe in 2023.

Brian McTernan (BE WELL, Salad Days Studio) discusses new EP, live shows, and more
To Top