Some bands were at their peak at the very beginning of their careers. Ask anyone who used MySpace between 2003 and 2004 and agonised over choosing the most representative profile song, and they’ll probably tell you that Saosin is one of those bands.
Their first EP, Translating The Name, was a promising taste of emotional post-hardcore, topped off with Anthony Green’s tortured vocals. A deal with Capitol Records soon followed, but the frontman was suffering badly with depression and left the band in 2004, only a year after it started. In the intervening years, Anthony formed Circa Survive, fantasised about rejoining Saosin, overcame a drug addiction, became a father of three, learned to cope with his depression and anxiety, and finally – in one of emo’s biggest coups since emo stopped being a thing – rejoined Saosin, after his replacement, Cove Reber, left the band in 2010.
On a personal level, the recently-reunited Saosin is a calmer, more collected entity. If there’s any pressure from back-in-the-day fans to live up to Translating The Name, Saosin isn’t feeling it, but that’s not to say the music has lost its edge. The singles released so far – The Silver String, Racing Towards A Red Light and Control and the Urge to Pray – are just as ferocious as anything the band might have put out thirteen years ago.
We sat down with Anthony Green and guitarist Beau Burchell to find out how good they feel about being reunited.
First of all, how did the reunion come about? Was it something you were all considering before it happened?
Anthony: I’d probably been fantasising about it a year after I left the band, just [thinking about] how much I missed playing those songs. After the smoke cleared from me leaving, I felt that there was something really important to me about what conspired. [The band] was something really special. You can’t walk away from that, it’s always going to be with you. So for a really long time I thought there was more music we could be making, on top of wanting to smooth things over. We were talking about it for like four years before it actually happened.
Beau: “I didn’t really speak to Anthony much. I was probably the person who was most mad at him. At the point he quit were were all very young, and I felt like he’d ruined my life. You know if you really like someone and they dump you, and you’re like, ‘What the fuck? You’re the one thing I really like and you’re gone! We were supposed to be the next Metallica!’ But Chris [Sorensen, bass], being the more mature one, kept a relationship going with Anthony, and he said, ‘Hey, how do you feel about Anthony doing some stuff with us again?’ And I was like, ‘Really? Does he want to? Why would he want to do that again? He’s got Circa, and all that stuff, but dude, yeah, he’s awesome.’ But I had to get over my personal feelings and realise dude, that was like ten years ago, I can’t hold a grudge, it’s so stupid.”
Anthony, you’ve spoken before about your struggle with mental health issues. Was that something that contributed to you leaving the band?
A: “Oh yeah. I think my mental health issues have been the biggest thing that have kept me from some of the most important relationships in my life, whether that’s professional or personal, and learning how to navigate through that confusing dark forest has been really challenging. But luckily I’ve got people like Beau and others in my life who’ve been really patient with me, and willing to forgive me and let bygones be bygones. I’m not patting myself on the back, but that would be difficult to do for somebody who isn’t able to look at their own actions in an objective way. I fully accept accountability for how shitty [leaving the band] was. Had these guys not been so patient and warm and loving and open, it wouldn’t have been able to happen.”
You seem like you’re in a pretty good place now.
A: “I still go through the same stuff. I have a huge toolbox filled with different ways of dealing with anxiety and depression and loneliness and insecurity. I think when you’re a young kid you don’t know how to deal with that, you’re just looking for things that make you feel good. And you realise one day, maybe I’m not supposed to feel good all the time. If you didn’t feel shitty sometimes you’d never really grow or change.”
Did having your children help with your well-being?
A: “It was actually a disaster for it. Right when Meredith got pregnant the first time [with son James, six] I was losing my mind. I was doing all sorts of weird drugs, I was probably smoking weed 24 hours a day, and I didn’t know why I felt so crazy all the time. I had two different doctors that were prescribing me weird things and I was doing tons of drugs; I wasn’t ready to settle down and be a dad, so it took me a minute. It was difficult. It must have been really difficult for my wife as well, because I just wasn’t present, and I was really unsure of myself and my existence. I thought everyone in the world would be better without me, I was convinced of that for a very long time. It took a little while but then I starting realising that maybe everybody would be better if I stuck around and got my shit together.”
Before the official reunion was announced, there were rumours about who might be the new vocalist. Was there ever anyone else in the running to do the job permanently before Anthony came back?
B: “Once Cove [Reber] was no longer in the band – I can’t speak for everyone, but for me – I didn’t feel like continuing unless it was going to feel completely right. Where I’m at now, and where we’re all at, we don’t have to do the band. And I think that’s what makes it special. I have a producing career, Chris has other things, everyone else has other things. Anthony’s in like ten bands, so I think the great thing is that it’s a hobby that we’d do for free. So I think that’s why it’s turning out so special.”
Beau just joked that you’re in about ten bands, Anthony. Does being occupied help with your mental health?
A: “Yeah, for sure. Idle hands are definitely the devil’s plaything for me. If I’m not working, if I don’t have a couple of things on the horizon, I feel listless. I also really enjoy complaining about being too busy! You never get the balance.”
You’ve also mentioned that on the new record, you’ve gone for a heavier sound than you originally had. Was that intentional?
A:” I’m confused by the word ‘heavy’. So, to me, we’ve released three songs, I thought Racing Toward A Red Light was the heaviest of the three, but recently people have been saying that Control and the Urge to Pray is the heaviest one. So I don’t know what’s heavy any more. I feel like I did an interview before the record was properly recorded saying it was the heaviest thing I’d done since Translating The Name, and I think people took that and ran with it. To me, when I hear it, it sounds like what I would have done if I’d have stayed in the band. It’s a progression from Translating The Name to now when we’re old dudes.”
B: “It’s not a Hatebreed record.” [laughs]
Have you drawn on your personal experiences over the last decade to write this new record? It must have been cathartic to come back to the band you missed and let it all out.
A: “Yeah, that’s all I write about. It’s my only trick. Instead of sitting down and talking about it, I feel like the conversation happened in writing the songs. The stuff that might have been hard to say kind of got communicated through lyrics and melodies and riffs. There was an automatic trust, especially from Beau, who was somebody I was really nervous about. We never really sat down and went over it, but it kind of came out in interviews, it came out when we were talking about things, and definitely in writing the songs, I could hear it in some of the stuff he was writing. We did a show, it was one of our first reunion shows in Chicago at Riot Fest, and we had this hotel room. We were joking around calling it ‘The Dad Suite’, and he started playing this riff and I was like, ‘I really like that’. I recorded it on my phone, and it became Racing Toward A Red Light. That’s one of my favourite songs on the record. There was definitely a vibe I got from it, and the song immediately became about me dealing with them going on as a band and carrying on with Cove. It became this conversation that had never been.”
Do you think Saosin will stick around for a while, or is it too soon to say?
A: “I don’t think there’s a reason for us to ever break up. We can take huge breaks and do whatever we want to do, but then it’ll be like, “hey you wanna play some shows?’ And we’ll go do it.”
B: “It’s really fun, especially now. Everything about where we’re at right now is perfect.”
Along The Shadow is released on May 20 through Epitaph Records.