The Dallas-based Llewelyn formed in 2022 through a blend of Craigslist posts and happenstance coffee shop meetings, brings together members from various regional scenes across the United States. Their debut EP, released last week through Tomb Tree / The Ghost is Clear Records, showcases their unique blend of noisy, sassy, and visceral sound.
The band consists of veterans from the music scenes of the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and East Coast, including former members of bands like Forever Losing Sleep, Cascabel, St. Yuma, Moaded, and The Home Team. This diverse mix of backgrounds and influences is evident in their sound, which pulls from a wide range of genres to create something distinctively theirs.
Nick, the guitarist, recalls the band’s formation: “It’s wild because most of us are from different regions of the US. The fact that we’re this amalgamation of members from different scenes still trips me out. I’m grateful Cody, Aaron, and Josh reached out and were down to take a chance on my post. I think it could have all gone much worse!”
Tyler, the bassist, shares his initial hesitation: “I’m still bewildered that Cody asking me to jam with some Craigslist folks actually worked out haha. We all got comfortable with each other pretty quick.”
Aaron, taking on the role of the frontman, found the experience of being in Llewelyn a refreshing change: “I hadn’t been in a band in about 5 or 6 years. Going out there and not being able to hide behind an instrument is super different for me, but I love it! Now I get to buy cool clothes instead of guitar pedals.”
The EP, titled “Disposable Culture,” delves into themes reflecting on the disposability of modern societal values. “So much of the (mostly Western) cultural fabric feels disposable because of how entrenched it is in fleeting social media posts, attention-seeking, absurd and polarizing takes on every issue under the sun, and overwhelming amounts of (often unreliable) information,” explains the band.
Recorded at Niles City Sound in Ft Worth with Marshall Pruitt and mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege, the EP consists of five tracks each telling a unique story. From the anxiety-inducing “Heliophobic,” written by Aaron during a mentally taxing call center job, to “Sway,” which explores the frustration and hopelessness of depression, each track delves into deep personal and societal issues.
“Disposable Culture,” the title track, stands out as an angry critique of modern consumerism and the transient nature of today’s society. Meanwhile, “Dorian Gray” touches on the fear of aging and the changes that come with it, and “Ritual” encapsulates the feeling of being trapped and longing for freedom.
Llewelyn’s debut EP is a narrative journey through the complexities of modern life, filtered through the lens of post-hardcore music. The band invites listeners to dive deeper into each track, offering a detailed description of the stories and inspirations behind their creation.
Nick: I started writing the lead riff on the couch while watching TV. I don’t usually write that way, but it worked out this time around. It made me think of snakes slithering. The working title of this one was literally ‘Snakes’. Somewhere down the line, I got the idea that lap steel would sound cool over the choruses. We asked Marshall (Pruitt, Engineer/Producer) who is a multi-talented fella if he’d lay down that track and he obliged. We’re a pro country-punk fusion band.
Aaron: This song is about mundanity, and being so sick of the day-to-day that the idea of going to sleep and waking up the next morning instills a fear and anxiety in you. I wrote these lyrics while I was working a call center job. At that point, I had been there for almost 4 years, and it had really negatively impacted my mental health. Working the later shift and not getting off my shift until the sun had already set didn’t help. When I would finally get off work, I felt relief to be done, but had the anxiety of having to do the same thing the next day constantly in the back of my mind. It’d make me stay up late, because going to bed meant the day was over, and I would have to go right back to work again once I woke up. To be Heliophobic is to fear the sun, and as such I would greet the morning sun with disdain and fear rather than with the excitement of starting a new day.
Nick: The lead riff is a shifty, swaggy, swaying oddity, so the early working title was “Sway”. Aaron must have liked it or felt it fit the bill enough to leave it. I was listening to a lot of Angel Du$t and Turnstile when I wrote the chorus riff. I wanted to have the chaotic, angular riff offset by a more classic sounding, straight-ahead style hardcore riff. Cody added tamborine in the studio and it fucking rocks.
Aaron: This song is about depression, and the frustration and hopelessness that comes with it. When you’ve taken medication, gone to therapy, tried finding healthy coping methods, and none of them work, you can start feeling like you’re broken. Un-fixable. At least, that’s how I felt.
Also of note, this is the first song I was shown when I joined the band. It’s come a long way from the phone recording of the main riff that Nick showed me when I met him at his house for the first time.
Nick: I wrote the bulk of this song randomly between work breaks at home. Paying homage to Drive Like Jehu with the chorus riff. This one came together faster and more effortlessly than usual, which was neat. I remember being thrilled at how little re-working I felt it needed. It was one of those ideas that just spills out and all you can do is record it quickly so you don’t forget it. The other dudes really brought this song to life from the blueprint I had. I love what everyone contributes to this song, and feel like it’s one of our best. P.S. Aaron and I had a lot of fun recording feedback for this one.
Aaron: This is like, the only song on the EP that isn’t about the state of my mental health or my various anxieties! Definitely the angriest one of the EP and my actual favorite. First one we recorded at the studio too! I tore my throat apart with this one. Like, actually. I pretty much tossed out all my vocal lessons and “correct” screaming technique for the sake of putting as much emotion into the performance as possible. Please do not do that! It’s not worth it! I had to drink so much throat-coat tea and I HATE tea!
Nick: I had the main riff for Dorian Gray kicking around for nearly 10 years and could never fit it into another project where it felt “right”. I’m stoked that it finally found a home. Musically, this song is a love letter to Slint and Regulator Watts. Everyone in the band absolutely killed it with their contributions to this track. Everything from the driving rhythm section to the washy guitar layers to Aaron’s spooky ‘oooo’s” in the choruses make this one of my all-time favorites. We’ve discussed doing a whole EP of songs in this vein some day.
Aaron: This one’s about not wanting to witness yourself age and grow old. The presence felt in the darkness of my room is a mirror. Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and compare it to photos of myself from 5 to 10 years ago. I looked like a completely different person back then. Almost unrecognizable. If that version of me met me today, would he recognize me? Would I be able to recognize a version of me that’s 5 years older? That scares me. I was at my sister’s wedding this past weekend. A lot of relatives I hadn’t seen in a few years had to double take when I would greet them. I just look so different, and I’m going to continue to look different. My younger face is now a ghost, and my current one a stranger.
The “ooos” were really fun. I did this really funky vibrato during the outro ooos, like I swallowed a whammy bar or something. My coworker came up to me at work after I heard it and was like “dude is that you? You sound SCARY dude.” It was cool. I felt cool as hell.
Nick: Josh, who was our second guitarist for the first year of the band, had the initial riff. I remember him casually playing it at a practice and it instantly caught my attention. He, Cody, and I hashed it out at my house that afternoon, collaboratively finishing it. I tend to lean toward more atonal, angular riffs. I loved how this one was more melodic but still felt like it could be a Llewelyn song. I think this song really showcases our ability to create a dynamic, emotive song. We all unanimously agreed this needed to be the EP’s closing track early on. It feels final and provides a solid sense of closure.
Aaron: I was living in Boston during the pandemic, and my room was VERY tiny. I spent most of my time in that room, which also became my workspace since I had to work remote for that year and a half. Working in the same place you sleep really sucks, and I mean that literally because there was no room for a desk and I had to set up my desktop work computer on my bed EVERY NIGHT. Doing it for so long had me feeling trapped in that room. Like it was a prison. I didn’t feel like I was free. I felt like I was chained to the phone I had to answer constantly for 8 hours a day.
This was another one of the really early Llewelyn demos I heard. I tried being a bit more dynamic with it, since it’s more melodic than the others. My scream is a lot less harsh, and at times almost melodic. It makes for a really fun set closer. A few people have told me it’s their favorite! It might be one of mine too.