THE LAST MILE is a Montreal, Québec-based melodic punk outfit that features former and current members of such groups as Prevenge, Ifarm, Offside, Chilton, and Answers. Originally, the Last Mile was the name of singer-songwriter Chris Snelgrove’s backing band for material he felt wasn’t fitting for his band at the time. In the beginning, every Last Mile tour would be comprised of a rotating lineup of musicians from around the globe who were up for the adventure of tour. By the end of 2019, Chris had the steady rhythm section of bassist Stephanie Cole and drummer Josh Carothers on board to round out the sound.
“II” was recorded in France, while on tour, with then touring drummer Ivan Fernandez and each song features guest vocals from old friends of the band; Patty O’Lantern from Brutal Youth on “Acetylene” and Scott Wade, the original singer for Comeback Kid, on “Out Of The Woods.” The choice of the guest vocalists was very deliberate. Chris and Scott have been friends for twenty-five years, since they were teenagers, and have always talked about doing something together once Scott found his voice singing with Comeback Kid. Patty is hands down one of the best vocalist in modern punk and he and Chris, both sxe, have been playing shows together, in multiple countries, with their respective bands for more than ten years and finally were able to work together on this release.
Both of the songs on “II” are about how one can get so trapped in their own mind that they start to question every thought and action and in doing so, push away the people closest to them, especially the ones who are really trying to help. Lyrically, both songs hold fast, thematically.
II is available on a one-sided 7” with a silkscreened B-side. There are 3 different prints on 3 different colours, clear, pink, and black. You can buy the 7” from the band’s bandcamp, Pavones Records, Palpebrite Records.
“The “II” ep, released on Pavones Records and Palpebrite Records in Brazil, finally saw its release after 5 months of postponement and uncertainty due to the ongoing Covid pandemic.” – comments Chris Snelgrove. “The decision to release the 7” was a mutual decision between the band and the labels because, like most bands, all touring plans for The Last Mile have been pushed back to spring 2021 at the earliest. Two thirds of the pressing, including Palpebrites copies, are in Europe. The records were sent to France because the intention was for the band to pick them up in April at the start of their European tour that obviously didn’t happen. Palpebrite were going to get their copies via punk post (one of the two people who run the label teaches in Spain) but then borders across the globe closed and the luxury of relatively unencumbered travel, as we knew it, was done.”
Asked about the meaning of both tracks, he offered the following:
This is just the tip of the iceberg, self-doubt is one of the most dangerous things that we, as humans, can inflict upon ourselves. It can create self-loathing, a sense of isolation, an inability to relate to other people, and can hinder our ability to positively function in society. These songs are about trying to find a balance with having unfounded doubts about yourself, your place in the world and in interpersonal relationships, feeling vulnerable, and the difficulty accepting help, and not just at face value. In the words of Ernest Hemmingway, “You never understand anybody that loves you.”
The first song on the ep,“Acetylene,” is the start of someone questioning how they’ve changed so much so that they start to emotionally and physically push those around them away.
The first verse is all in the narrators mind, self reflecting and getting angry at themselves for their ability to detach with the opening lines, “How did I become so cold, How did I become so fucking cold?” The second verse is very much a corporeal idea where the implied closeness of the other person shows how they’re willing to accept them regardless and try to help and console the narrator by making them feel loved, only to have the narrator be unable to accept and believe these actions for any extended period of time.
The uplifting tone of the chorus conflicts with the darker verses, on purpose, to showcase a moment of clarity where the narrator uses the metaphor of the light emitted from an acetylene torch, similarly to how we have been taught by movies and literature that one would see an angel, backlight and blinding at first, to illustrate how they’re blinded to what’s right in front of them in a positive way.
The end of the song features Patty O’Lantern. Him, as well as Scott, were sent the lyrics and given the option of writing their own lyrics or letting Chris write the lyrics and both of them chose to write their own to complement the songs. That in itself is a huge honour based on both of their lyrical prowess. Patty decided to approach the almost hymnal sounding end from the perspective of the partner, emphasizing the level of commitment that people have when they decide to work at a relationship instead of just giving up on it.
How did I become so cold
Pushed you away with just one glance
No second thought, no second chance
Light me up like that acetylene
Torch you turned on for you and for me
So bright to my eyes that I couldn’t see
That you were always there for me
You were there when I came back
You held me close, you never asked
Told me everything would be okay
And I believed you on that day
When you feel weak I’ll be your strength
And if you’re lost I’ll light the way
I’ll offer hope when you’re in doubt
Won’t let you burn up or burn out
“Out Of The Woods” starts with the narrator beating around the bush, stalling, making excuses, and then proclaiming that they don’t want to make their partner cry because, according to them, it’s inevitably going to happen. The immediacy of the chorus shows the narrator questioning everything and not being able to decipher whether the implied problems are actually with the relationship or just their fear of getting hurt or hurting someone else.
As the song progresses, the narrator just falls further and further down into self doubt and resilience against the idea that someone else can help them with the line, “and no, you’re not a fucking answer.” Scott Wade’s vocals come in during a chaotic part of the song where the mood completely changes. Again, Scott was given the option to write his own lyrics and he did. He’s screaming about being trapped in ones mind and figuratively falling further and further into the spiral of insecurity, only going through the motions of seeking help, and ultimately ending with the words that have become a warning sign in this day and age, “I’ll be fine.”
The immediate chorus that follows is highlighted by the same type of uplifting backing vocals in Acetylene, except this time it’s to emphasize the false positive of the “I’ll be fine” mentality. The final lyrics project the narrators’ insecurities onto their partner. Assuming that they know how and what their partner is thinking. The song ends with the image of them lying together, closely in bed while the partner soundly sleeps and the narrator is unable to, being a prisoner in their own mind.
The timing wasn’t right
Is it us or in my mind
I’ve been here before
And I don’t want to anymore
For what it’s worth
Taken in stride
My love is like a virus
And I don’t want to make you cry
Well I’ve never been too good
And no you’re not a fucking answer
I used to be a better person
But now I’m falling down again
Passing time, living in my mind
Give it a year, and I’ll be fine
Killing time, really in my mind
Give it a year, I’ll be fine
Falling, I’m falling, I’m falling again
Only pretending to reach out my hand
This isn’t what I want
And this can’t be what you need
Holding you tight
But I still can’t sleep at night