Just before Hartford, Connecticut’s Sorority Noise began writing what would become their second album, ‘Joy, Departed’, vocalist/guitarist Cameron Boucher was dealt some tough love about his other band, hardcore/screamo outfit Old Gray, that radically changed his whole approach to writing songs.
“I have a really close friend from New Hampshire called William James,” explains Boucher, “He’s an incredible spoken word artist who talks a lot about his suicide attempts and how we’re better than that. I drove up to New Hampshire one night to see him perform and I talked to him after the show and told him I was working on writing this record, and he was kind of just like, ‘You should* say *something.’ And I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ He’s a very real dude and he just said ‘All of your music has been bullshit. You’ve been victimising people and taking the problems in your life and the struggles that are real within you and blaming them on other people, when we need to accept that we’re what’s going on, and if we want to make any changes in our lives, we have to do it from within.’ And that really struck me. It was a pretty long and intense conversation, and it wasn’t easy to hear, but it changed my perspective of songwriting. I realised it’s an opportunity to say so much more.”
And so that’s what the band – formed in September 2013 and completed by bassist/vocalist Ryan McKenna, guitarist/vocalist Adam Ackerman and drummer Charlie Singer – did with Joy, Departed. The album’s ten songs traverse a variety of hard-hitting issues, from drug addiction to suicide to faltering relationships, and pour out the consequences via blasts of nuanced noise that’s a combination of indie-rock, punk and folk. Entirely inspired by things that have happened to Boucher and his friends, it’s an incredibly cathartic record, but one which always manages to shake off the darkness of the incidents that inspired it and instead turn them into something more positive and life-affirming.
“As much as I feel like I’ve come far in terms of self-reflection and understanding of myself,” says Boucher, “there’s still so much further to go. I still have feelings of self-doubt consistently and whatnot, and I’m working to get out some of those darker parts with some new Old Gray stuff, but with Sorority Noise I’m working to keep it in a more positive light for the people that are listening, and I’m hoping to get the message across that people are worth so much more than suicide. It’s not something you should have to do. You’ll think about it, and that’s inevitable.
“I have manic depression,” he continues, “so it’s something I’ve always thought of. It’s not something you should act on, because although it may be a present thought, you’re so much more damaging to yourself and those around you in that self-destructive moment. I’ve had far too many friends commit suicide and now I completely see how much that can harm people around you. So now, whenever I lose someone, rather than dwell on their loss, I like to put them on my team – so whatever I do from that point on is with them. Like my friend Andrew, he showed me how to play guitar, so everything I’ve done musically he’s right there with me. And the rest of the friends I’ve lost, they’re right there with me as well. I like to think that I’m continuing the life that they cut short.”
As such, Sorority Noise’s aspirations vary greatly to those that most bands have. Writing and playing music is obviously incredibly cathartic for many bands, but for Boucher that’s its primary concern. And even though the hype has recently been swirling around the four-piece, that’s not something he’s going to let get the better of him. Rather, the effect the music has already had on both himself and other people, is reward enough.
“I’ve played in a lot of bands over the past few years,” he says, “but I’ve never had music received quite as positively before. For people to hear it and react positively, and for some to even say that it’s made a difference to their lives, it’s so surreal and I’m unbelievably grateful that we have this opportunity to put out music that means something to them. It’s wild.”
Joy, Departed is out now via Top Shelf Records. For more information on the band, visit their Facebook page.