Kyoto based Nature’s Neighbor are releasing their new album “The Glass Album” in a couple of weeks and today we’re giving you their new single “Michael & The Whale“, along with an interesting backstory shared by founder and mainman Mike Walker.
“Michael & The Whale” is a good example of slow paced indie alt rock, ending on a calm, mellow note, leaving the listener with a sense of peaceful resolution.
“2020 was a breaking point for me personally.” – says Mike. “I had been living in the city of Chicago for over ten years by then, and although the city was and always will be my spiritual home, I found myself thinking more and more about getting out of not only the city itself, but America as a whole. It was a combination of external and deeply personal issues that led me to the conclusion that I just had to get out of America for a while. Ever since my college days, I had always dreamed about moving to Japan. But after graduating, life and other adult responsibilities had gotten in the way, and so I began to accept the fact that I’d probably never achieve that goal. Lots of dreams die in that way I suppose.”
Mike Walker – guitar, bass, arrangements, vocals, lyrics / Seth Engel – drums, aux percussion / Recorded @ Ohmstead by Seth Engel & Adrian Kobziar / Mixed by Seth Engel
“But when I hit that breaking point in 2020, I thought “Fuck it, I’m doing it now.”” – continues Mike.
“And so I applied for a job teaching English in Japan. Fast forward to 2021 and I was informed that I not only got the job, but that I would be relocated to a rural town nestled in the mountains of northern Kyoto. I was set to leave in early October of 2021, which gave me about half a year to prepare for leaving Chicago. At first, I had planned to go for just one year and then come back, but as October grew closer and closer, I was overcome by a creeping suspicion that I might never return. And so I set to record one more album with my friends in Chicago as a sort of farewell to the City that I had called home for nearly 12 years.”
The entire album is sort of a wave goodbye to Chicago, and the final track ‘Michael & The Whale‘ is sort of Mike saying “Well my friends, I may not be coming back.”
“And after a year and a half, I am still here in the mountains of Kyoto and it does indeed seem likely that I will not be returning to Chicago for a very long time.” – he continues. “I suppose the whale that appears in the song’s lyrics, and the character, who is named after me, being “swallowed by a whale” represents the way that one can become overwhelmed by the way adult life and its many responsibilities can leave you feeling paralyzed and unable to make a change. People take temporary jobs just for the money, get into unhealthy relationships or develop destructive habits that seems to take over their lives and by the time they break away from them, if they ever manage to do so, they often find themselves looking in the mirror at an exhausted and well-aged face that they don’t recognize. Hence the line “when it spit him out, he had grown old.”
“I didn’t want to let that happen to me any more than it already had. I felt like I had fallen asleep at age 24 and then woken with a start only to realize that I was 31 and that seven years of my life had passed like a fever dream. The whale had spit me out, but now I had to make a huge change in order to take back control of my life. So I “turned myself into a bird” as the songs says, and flew away from my old life, all for the hope of a chance at a new start in a distant land far from home. Perhaps it was wrong of me to leave my old life behind, and that decision still torments me from time to time. But it was something that I felt I had to do, and I’m glad that I had the balls to do it.”