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New EP from emotive post hardcore band ERAI pulls on heartstrings, gets creative juices flowing

The appeal of screamo, emotional hardcore, etc. is its insistence that some feelings can’t be articulated with words — that sometimes the only thing left to do is unload the emotional baggage with intensity and an emphatic sense of force. Berlin’s ERAI live and breathe this through their creativity and their drive to do things in their own way. Today, we have the pleasure of premiering their new opus, intelligently varied and well developed record called “Before We Were Wise And Unhappy”, along with insightful track by track commentary and lyrics! Listen and order your copy through lifeisafunnything  and Flamingo Noise.

We are currently looking for a new guitarist to replace Lorenz as he is devoting his time to academia. We will play a release show in Berlin this summer and hopefully a string of shows before the end of the year. Then back to writing and recording for the third record!

Recorded in early November 2018 by Role Wiegner at Tonmeisterei Oldenburg. Vocals recorded later by our silly selves in Berlin. Mixed and mastered by Role Wiegner at Tonmeisterei Oldenburg. At the time of recording ERAI was: Mike, Nico, Lorenz, Rouven and Peter, who touched more on the recording process and the release through lifeisafunnything and Flamingo Noise labels:

The music was recorded live (mostly) during four and a half pleasant, late-autumn days with Roland Wiegner at Tonmeisterei Oldenburg. Waking up in the studio, surrounded by that very special fume of technical devices and doing nothing but hanging out and tracking songs surely is one of those experiences that comes close to childish oblivion of being. We had a great time with Roland again and found him to be incredibly cordial and supportive.

The record/tape (lifeisafunnything is taking care of the vinyl, Flamingo Noise of the tape version) will be out in about 2 weeks. All of the record sleeves are handmade by ourselves. We screen printed the backside while the front has two different looks: the pre-order version has a die-cut cover with a plastic window and the regular version has a sticker with the cover image. There will be a video soon depicting how we assembled everything.

Here’s what he had to say about the themes behind the record:

Peter: A couple of weeks ago, my father-in-law brought a stack of old Donald Duck comics for my kids. Among them was a book I had borrowed from a classmate at the end the 80s, when I was about 9 (number 124: “Wettlauf in’s Ungewisse”). That book had been in my possession for vaguely a week or two, but I knew I had developed a certain feeling of sentimentality and nostalgia for the stories inside it; centering around topics like family, Christmas and snow. All of which were quite important resources of joy when I was young. The book clearly got myself immersed in an optimistic world of life-affirming beauty at age 9 and when I opened it up that night again to read some of it to my kids, I found I remembered not only much of the plot but also all of the different protagonists and even many of their marked characteristics and gestures.

It’s difficult to explain, but there was something vibrant I found in these characters that tickled me on the inside. Some of the childish, relentless will to understand that children apply to make sense of things had been stored in them. To me, it’s that power of imagination that makes kids stare at things in amazement and wonder, unlike the superficial gaze of the adult.

Many people I know embrace their adulthood as an emancipation from suppression they encountered when they were young. I tend to frown upon the notion that the effortless and meaningful way with which the mind of my 10 year old self made sense of things got buried somewhere between age 20 and 35. And nothing ever beats trying things for the first time, does it?

I remember a conversation with Rouven, erai’s drummer, about the tantalizing question what it means to turn 45 one day. He replied with a simple tautology: “When I’m 45, I’m 45.” Not everybody fears the prospect of getting older.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m living a life I enjoy. If only I could experience that thrill of overwhelming significance again that made me stay up all night wasting my time on the most absurd mutations of fun.

Certainly this is my personal approach on what is contained on the record. Above all, there is an incoherent amalgamation of five individuals’ ideas towards the title we agreed on: “before we were wise and unhappy”.

See the full track by track commentary below:

ERAI inlay cover

1. A Letter

When we recorded the first record I had just joined the band so there was a certain time constraint involved, however this time I was given a lot more time and space to spend on the melody and lyrics.

There is a story and “concept” that continues on this second release and while I tried to adhere to some narrative constraints I did also allow myself to be much more personal. I think a strong theme on all these songs is regret and looking back in order to look forward. I feel like we often collect people along the way and carry them throughout life, whether it’s a burden or if they’re no longer with us at all.

And I particularly like the chorus on this track haha

Lyrics:

Was it wrong for me to think that nothing could from this pain?
And wasn’t the first time just like the last?
So full of doubt
An empty glass

Well it’s too late
We’ve run aground towards a never ending spiral down
An inside view of the end
The end of something great
Something pure
Something profound
A solution to a former life
Where once we shared a greater sense of each other
Built everything that surrounds us

As winter’s edge returns to sun, unknowingly under sung
“Like we are thieves are trampled the leaves” they turn into mud under foot

The children, they surround me
I still remember
You were so kind, in the garden
The children, they surround us

It wasn’t you at all

For years and years and years I couldn’t see straight
But now that I can see it’s already too late
The pictures you drew of greater men than me
They will all turn to dust
Life’s one great guarantee
We welcome new seasons and forget old reasons
We’re drying for the sake of our past
We welcome new seasons and forget old reasons
Because it’s the last of our futures

Like parasites looking up to heaven
They always make me sick
I refuse to forget
These regrets they follow me in to day after day

For years and years and years I couldn’t see straight
But now that I can see it’s already too late
The pictures that you drew of greater men than me
They will all turn to dust
Life’s one great guarantee

2. On A Wing

I am utterly terrified by flying and last year was in a plane over Iceland when the pilot informed the cabin that we should be able to see the Northern Lights on the right. Unfortunately, the plane visibly titled as people rushed to one side of the plane! So I experienced this weird mix of incredible beauty looking at the aurora above and the abject terror of not making it down alive…

Anyway, I wanted to use that experience of thinking about your loved ones 30,000 feet in the air and sort of praying to the emo gods that if they do spare you then you will try to be a better human being. And strange how once you land you probably wouldn’t even express these emotions in person.

The beginning vocal melody was a total shit to complete and I was super frustrated until one afternoon I completely smashed it out of nowhere! Sometimes it is better to scale back instead of constantly trying to give 200%.

Lyrics:

I know that I’m too unkind
In summertime
But I see no reason
No reason at all
For I am myself
A song in the dark
And I let go
Just to say goodbye
With one eye open
I see your smile
And I swear
That on my life
That I don’t care
And I am so unaware

It’s plain to see a thousand shining stars
It forces me to wonder what I’ve missed
There seems to be an ever greater presence
When you can’t see the forest for the trees
And as we wait the woodlands it surrounds us
And we’re no longer alone and no longer free

If saving me is the worst that you can do
Then set me down into the murky depths
This hateful sea it will drown us all
And wash away all that avails us

It’s plain to see a thousand stars
It forces me to wonder what I’ve missed
And all that I’ve known
But I don’t care
We were so unaware
If the world ends here…

Torn apart and living sideways
These waves they rise
Please take my hand
We’re going down
This hateful sea it will drown us
And wash us away

3. Sky Never Learned To Drive

This is my favourite track on the record and probably the track I am most proud of singing on in my entire “career” as a vocalist. I’m listening to a bunch of “alt-country” crap at the moment like Julia Jacklin which is basically just sad music for cowboys, but like that confessional but self-deprecating worldview.

Thematically it’s about that weird creative spark you have right before you fall asleep, where you have these amazing ideas or thoughts but are then generally lost to deep sleep. I can’t speak for anyone else but I think we’re at our most honest with ourselves before we drift off and I like the idea of a private confession with yourself.

Again, killer chorus and I’m really happy with the melody here. I feel that on this record you can really hear that we have all been playing together for a while now.

Lyrics:

If I could come clean for just one second
What would I say?
Where would I begin?

These images they trickle down my memory
Long summer nights with you
When we were young
When we were carefree
Before we were wise
Wise and unhappy

When I’m lost in you, dragging that cold hard lake
Willing to spread out for just one moment with you

As I remember much less and less
From day to day I find it harder to express
This dark feeling in my chest
The images they trickle down
Where would I begin?

Where was the magic?
I still feel the same
It’s like you have vanished
Something to fill the space

It’s like I can’t remember
One single fucking day
When you would not surrender
I didn’t even change

Where are you now?
What are you doing?
What is one more day, without you?

I lying here on the inside looking outside
And though I swear you’re everywhere
But here with me
You’ll never see the way

You’re standing there
Looking inside from the outside
And though you stare
You’re everywhere in misery
Too late to see me now

We’re out here
From the outside and the inside
I’m never there
So let’s pretend you’re here with me
Not just a memory

(These lines repeat again, pointless to repeat)

4. The Red Door

For this song I took my love of Shirley Jackson and M. R. James, mixed in some allusions to time travel and basically ripped off No Devolución-era Thursday.

I’m not terribly good at explaining my lyrics because I’m quite private/lazy but this song is about making a deal with yourself to stop bad habits which is always much easier said than done. I am fascinated by this idea of regret and how it can make you see the past with rose-tinted glasses.

This song is just utterly so much fun to sing along to and I cannot wait to play it live.

Lyrics:

We welcome you to the end
To the end of everything
A red door
It entices you, glowing and shimmering
Waiting for it’s master to return
And like before, like so many times before
We have been waiting, watching you since birth
Weaving you back in our arms
Another lesson in self-control

I remain inside of my mind
Waiting for it to return
And although I try to realise
That nothing is forever

(…)

Weaker and weaker
Deeper and deeper
These tunnels lead me back to you

It takes so much to break these chains
To spend most nights just figuring out how to change
These chains they rust

These symbols they wait like answers
They wait like answers on a page
And lately I have felt better my love
And slowly, very slowly
I’ve felt these chains break away

I remain inside of my mind
Waiting for you to return
I guess we never learn
And although we try to relax
These demons keep coming back
And nothing will ever be the same
Until we force a change
This insignificance, what should we make of this
Remove another lie

Weaker and weaker
Deeper and deeper
These tunnels lead me back to you

I accept my faults
If one day it leads me back to you

It takes so much to break these chains
These chains rust

5. Lights Out (Curtain Close)

The first record had some very strong themes of death and futility so I tried to inject some elements of brightness amongst the navel-gazing this time. Again, I think the main themes I wanted to touch upon were regret, childhood and self-reflection. I just got sick of singing about death and misery to be honest! I’m excited to see what the next record will be about.
I’ve been on my annual Radiohead marathon recently so it was nice to tip my hat to them during this song. The guys did such an incredible job on this track. I feel like it’s a potential future fan favourite for sure.

Lyrics:

A bitter soundtrack
A broken light
Another lover
So new and so bright
What would it take to take it back?
Create another chapter, to reignite
It’s never too late
Until it is

It was never so easy to find some clarity
Than when I was with you
We’re walking away
But it feels like and never is
Until it’s you
With your auburn hair
Like winter leaves
To find another
Another way

Marry me
We’ll run away
There is a spotlight
The curtain closed

There is a clarity that’s left in these words
That’s left in these in these words
A naked honesty that I will never forget
I remember your face
Why can’t I please remember my own
If it’s the last thing I leave

Marry me
We’ll walk away
There is a spotlight
There is a change

There is an answer that I chose to ignore
Because it’s the one I fear the most

Lights out
Curtain close
Remove the spotlight
Remove my clothes

A bitter soundtrack
A broken light
I suffer through my wounds

Another day, another night alone
Another day, the city awaits

Lights out
Curtain close
There is a door, there is a place
That I have walked through so many times before

6. Before We Were Wise And Unhappy

Mike: I wrote an entire chapter from an imaginary book for this track, a book that our main character is writing about him unravelling and attempting fix the past. All very metaphysical and pretentious but a fun little experiment.

New EP from emotive post hardcore band ERAI pulls on heartstrings, gets creative juices flowing
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