“As Much Nothing As Possible”, the debut full length offering from Boston based cold wave duo TRUE FAITH pushes its atmospheric sonic forms rooted in electronic, goth and minimal synth and its charms on the listener with a surprisingly catchy easiness and playfulness, without sacrificing its gloomy mood and alternative feel. Leaning on the nostalgic, yet refreshed tropes of its predecessors, the band unveils bold, underground sound with a contemporary bite and it’s our great pleasure to give you the first listen of the bittersweet “As Much Nothing As Possible”, along with a special track by track commentary below.
There’s an old adage about Boston and how its residents will treat you: cold, distant, and standoffish at the start, but over time what emerges is a certain warmth, a sort of familial bond that takes shape and becomes apparent just when you either need it most or when you least expect it. In a way, that oddly reflects the music and mood of True Faith, the Boston-based coldwave duo whose two principal members, Travis Benson and Quentin Moyer, do not hail from New England, but instead have entrenched themselves within the city’s often lonely and militant culture of medical school.
Produced by Lestat Ali / Recorded by True Faith at the House of God / Mixed and mastered by Will Killingsworth at Dead Air Studios / Album artwork by Lauren N. Bailey.
Benson and Moyer’s time spent here, arriving from Portland, Oregon, and rural Eastern Pennsylvania, respectively, saw not only the formation of the band, but the crystallization of the True Faith sound to the point where it falls today: a disaffected twirl through the shadows of post-punk, darkwave, and electronic-pop, but with a cerebral center based in the emotive state of the human condition. Like a proper Bostonian, it reveals its different layers the longer you spend time with it, and its affection slowly begins to glow from a core that is remarkably gentle and affirming.
And whether that’s by intent or not is beside the point. The emotion rooted in the True Faith sound is one reflected by Benson and Moyer’s experiences here in medical school and dalliances with the unforgiving and despondent Boston winter. Ironically, a break from studies brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic gave the pair time to flesh out what would become their debut album, the forthcoming As Much Nothing As Possible LP, due out January 8th, 2021 via à La Carte Records. Vinyl pre-orders are available at deathofamodernist.com.
(… continued under the track by track commentary below)
1. A Perfect Place
Travis Benson: We were conflicted about what track we should open the album with. I think it was between this song and Waiting on the Wrong Time. Ultimately, this song was chosen because Quentin’s guitar track hits hard when it comes in. This song continues to plague my mind because I can’t shake this feeling that I ripped off some other song with the vocals in the chorus. Someone, please let me know so I can move on.
Quentin Moyer: In hindsight I sort of wish I did more guitar work for A Perfect Place but at the same time I think restraint is a virtue and I’m thrilled with how it turned out. I have no doubt it will do a fine job opening As Much Nothing as Possible.
2. Borrowed Time
TB: This song got started by ultimately trying to do my best Peter Hook impression on bass and Quentin wrote a guitar riff that just fit perfectly. It originally started with the same LinnDrum solo that is present at the end but we had to nix that. That LinnDrum part is still probably my favorite part of the track. The song is like a look back at my younger years which had a certain “live fast, die young” flare to them. A lot has changed for the better in my life and there have been some pretty dark lows, so this represents overcoming a lot of those issues.
QM: My immediate goal in life is to organically play the drum solo in Borrowed Time in a performance, the closest I got was having a couple mallets in my pocket when we recorded the first ONCE show. As they say, “it’s the thought that counts.”
TB: Feel was actually the first song we did together as a duo. There were a lot of tracks that I had already written during this time, which had a much more synth-pop heavy vibe (Blame being another one). I think Quentin was still in Pennsylvania during this time and this song was written by bouncing tracks back and forth to each other. I actually think that some of the guitar parts were tracked on an iPhone. We released it as a digital-only single at first but felt it deserved a more proper release so we re-recorded some parts of it. Lyrically, the track centers around this internal conflict of self-comparison and constant attempts to meet some unobtainable arbitrary standard we’ve set for ourselves based on nothing more than our own idea about what others think of us.
QM: This track was the first thing I had written anything for in ages and I was pretty uncertain of how anything I came up with would meld with what Travis had sent me given that by now I’ve basically resolved to not stray beyond over-fuzzed/feedbacked guitar playing. Turns out I just needed the delay pedal I bought in middle school. Who knew. It was really exciting to see the track come together in the bits of cell phone recordings it was built with.
TB: This was a track I originally wrote back when I was doing the solo thing. The first iteration of this song was all synth and had a significantly stronger upbeat feel compared to the other stuff I was working on at the time, so it got shelved. While working on this LP, I stumbled across it again and we basically rewrote the entire song to have a bigger wall-of-sound vibe to it. For me, I feel like I often under-appreciate the track. I’ll give it a listen after not hearing it for a while and think “oh this is better than I remember.”
5. Waiting on the Wrong Time
TB: This was technically the first single that we premiered from the LP. Feel was released ahead of this song, but it was a different version. I played bass on this track for the recording and I think it goes up to the highest note possible on that thing. This bit me in the ass when we played it in a live set and I’m trying to sing while simultaneously trying to find the tiny little frets needed to play the bass line in the chorus. I’ve played probably every instrument in bands in the past but never had to multi-task like this band and this was the song that made gave me a stronger appreciation for those who pull it off.
QM: For the longest time this song didn’t really click for me until we finally had an opportunity to play it “live” for our first performance with ONCE Virtual. I think the high bass notes piercing through and the electric snare beat really carry the track. We had a blast filming its official video with Grant and Dylan as well. Favorite track.
TB: Blame is probably my favorite track on the LP, which is funny because it is pretty different from our more recent material. This was another track that came together when we started playing together. At this time, I think the group was at this sort of crossroads regarding the style. We had a bunch of other songs along these lines that we ended up scrapping in favor of a more post-punk sound. But I just love how this track came together and felt it deserved to see the light of day. I think I was on my annual early-80’s era Mute Records kick at the time, which explains everything.
QM: It took a long time to get Blame to sound right, between the questionable recording practices and trying to coax out vocals that fit the bill (for the latter we thank honorary band member Kelsey for her efforts). The way it ties up As Much Nothing As Possible is bittersweet for me. This album fell into place during a time all of us will be talking about likely for the rest of our lives, with much of it written as we awaited the OK to resume clinical obligations in Boston. It instills in me the same uneasy hope I had leaving my apartment for work for the first time since everything went to Hell.
Mixed and mastered by Will Killingsworth at Dead Air Studios in Western Massachusetts, “As Much Nothing As Possible” is led by its impulsive lead single, “Waiting On The Wrong Time,” which premiered in October to global praise from online media outlets and underground radio.
“Boston can be a cold and desolate place,” admits Benson. “But I think the bigger influence has been us both being students and trudging through a dehumanizing career process. Burnout, depression, and suicide are all unfortunately common occurences in our field and our own experiences traversing this landscape have absolutely been the biggest influence in the writing.”
“For a long stretch we had been working 60 to 80 hour weeks in the hospital,” says Moyer. “Until one day— for some reason —we stopped doing that for several months in 2020, and thus we had the time to reflect and build what is now True Faith.”
True Faith originated as a Benson solo project, taking his love of post-punk and deathrock from his teenage years out west and creating an outlet for bleak, desolate compositions that complemented the overall feeling of defeat and malaise of life in 2020. The addition of Moyer, which came after True Faith released a self-titled cassette earlier this year, both filled a void and allowed a proper path forward.
“I could sense the limitations I would have as a solo project, both from a technical aspect but even from a creativity aspect—I find it best to have others to bounce ideas off,” says Benson. “Quentin and I have played together before and I knew that his style would really compliment mine well. His addition has been an asset in the terms of writing, which I feel is evident when you compare the material on the cassette vs the LP.”
But Benson still feels True Faith and its sound is “still a work in progress,” one that will likely evolve as the two continue their journey and they emerge from studies, whether that be here in Boston or elsewhere. “The reality is that this project is still in its infancy and still has a lot of room to grow and hone our own sound,” he says. “At the start of our collaboration together, we were separated due to social distancing and we relied on bouncing recordings back and forth to each other. Now that we are able to be together in the same location, it opens up more opportunities in terms of writing. I feel like our initial work has had a more rigid process due to that distance—now we have the ability to adapt and alter things in real-time.
What As Much Nothing As Possible is, as it stands on the precipice of its release, is a testament to where True Faith is at this moment in time, both as a musical project entrenched in a new, more minimal brand of darkwave synth, but also for who Benson and Moyer are as people, living in a new city, approaching, embracing and at times rejecting the guarded layers that surround the skepticism of the people who call Boston home. And as the stark exterior begins to fade away, revealing the emotion hardened at its center, the album suggests this is just the beginning of a larger, as-yet-undefined story.
“My hope is that it heralds bigger things to come,” says Moyer, “while remaining timeless to what motivated us musically in the first place.”
Early praise for True Faith:
Destroy//Exist: “‘Waiting on the Wrong Time’ sees the band taking their merging of post-punk and new wave a step further, appearing more accessible structurally and rocking an ampler sound, yet maintaining the dark eccentricity that’s made their art so appealing in the first place.”
White Light White Heat: “Massachusetts duo deviates from the clear New Order hints of the previous tune ‘Feel’ with an increasingly personal sound approach steeped in daunting and melancholic moods creeping through a dense haze of fear and angst, weaved into a pulsating frenzy of thumping, splashing and syncopated rhythms, punctuated repeatedly by ominous warbling and sinuous throbbing bassline, amid soaring icy bright glowing synth swirls and brief emotional guitar flourishes, as serene, baritone male vocals reflect on life’s darker times, while eliciting bright horizons into the harmonious tapestry of dreams.”
Post-Punk.com: “Musically, the song is a shift from the dark, synth-heavy sounds of their first EP into a more polished, 80’s post-punk sound inspired by bands like New Order and Echo & The Bunnymen. The result is a languid daydream that sounds like a cross between a track featured on Joy Division’s Licht und Blindheit EP, and a touching pop track culled from a French Lively Arts compilation.”
Vanyaland: “[‘Feel’] links up the more goth-leaning origin sounds with one of modern day electronic-pop. It’s a mood of hope and promise sharpened around the edges of darkwave and post-punk’s usual sonic gravity.