From the album notes:
Cosplay is a concept album about heroism. A fierce, daily prescription of courage and mettle, or conversely, of fear and dread, can spawn an unshakeable set of behaviors that may forever define us. As we become intimately interconnected with one another, the right time and location to be impactful becomes an incessant here and now. Collectively, we will continue to be framed by our willingness to challenge or impose things such as violence, but what of our willingness to neutrality, of being present but unwilling to take part - what extrapolations should be made from our indifference? Our mythologies share a consistent interpretation of what makes a hero/ine. These characters shoulder the responsibility of entire communities as the whole world watches, smash fear before it poisons their head, and offer examples of humanist vigilantism while being treated as less than human themselves.
This record introduces some alternative narratives to the well-known comic book characters that we cherish for their larger-than-life occupancies in our own moral systems. The hope is to humanize their heroism, their dissonances, as processes that bear difficult fortitudes. Though their fictional means may be out of reach, their evolving struggle is of an attainable, cognitive capacity. Stimulating idle hands can be terrifying, but so is becoming the villain.
We had talked about doing a concept album pretty much immediately following our release of Readymade in 2013. Something tells me that Direct Hit! sold the idea with Brainless God, which came out only a month after Readymade. I got stoked on the record before I listened to it because I had heard the album had a central theme about Armageddon. I loved the recurring concept of a bomb dropping from song to song, and they were all really clever and catchy. Brainless God came at the perfect time to commit Cosplay as a concept record for me. We always had been stoked on records that just felt bigger like that, somehow more significant than most albums that get churned out with a collection of songs in isolation to one another. It was not always clear how some records could feel so damn relevant and important – not all of them were concept albums – but when one came along, we would punish our weekend friends with repeated listens, demanding they keep their ears to the ground for the band to ‘blow the fuck up.’ Some bands were already big, honestly, and deservedly so, but we always just wanted even more people to love the shit out those well-pieced records.
As a band, the first monumental record we shared was definitely The Flatliners’ Cavalcade, though. POOR ME formed at the end of 2010, so Cavalcade was out for about six months. Over the following winter, we found a drummer and wrote a few ‘funny’ songs – they were really, really bad, and definitely not funny. We had a couple different names back then, too, shit like ‘The Gay Bar’ and ‘The Rusty Wallace.’ Fortunately, no shows were played through that stint. Anyway, I had ripped my Cavalcade CD and gave the disc to Nick. The next summer, we blasted the full record at countless backyard parties. Sometimes it would be the only record that got played, just repeating for hours. We were so stoked on the record that we would even talk shit on the people that would go home or to the bars because we wouldn’t switch the playlist.
It’s stupid, anymore, to chastise people for disliking what we are into – or being into stuff that we aren’t – but there is still something to be said for bonding with new people through love of the same records. Significant differences between people can be quickly set aside if the common ground is more significant; those backyard party people who were down with Cavalcade for several hours straight are still really close friends. We still talk about how incredibly good we felt about playing a single record for an entire summer. We still delve into what a certain line means, what the song means, and why the band put everything under the marquee of Cavalcade. We still probably have no clue, but the thing is, I can recount at least five fervent conversations in Nick’s backyard that summer. They all were about how we should bail on those ‘funny’ songs, which had then comprised our entire ‘catalogue’ (heh). We bailed so we could try our hand at writing visceral, intelligent music like the endless list of bands that have written hugely important records to us. I still cite lyrics from those records, and it’s usually when I’m trying to discover and relate my own viewpoints toward the world that doesn’t always see things the way I do. I’m sometimes floored to think that I’ve been impacted so deeply by so many records, especially when I consider the source; many of these artists are non-entities in the scheme of popular media, but that has never shaken their influence on me.
So, that’s my rambling precursor to why we tried to write Cosplay with an overarching argument. A band doesn’t have to have a themed set of songs to accomplish such things, but a clear concerted effort seemed like a good idea to keep us on track with the big picture we were writing toward. We wanted to impact people with an album that was better than any single on a playlist. We wanted the appeal of one song on the record to be completed by its contrast and comparison to another on the record. We wanted to suggest that the pedestrian act of sharing music is anything but pedestrian, that honest and engaging musical works can change people. This isn’t a new argument, of course. However, it’s amazing how many people, just those we know personally, who wished they played music, wished they volunteered, wished they would stand up for themselves, wished they could expel their past or be someone or someplace else. We wish we could change that for people. And we know, it’s a long shot to hope to stimulate all that through a 12-track ensemble. But hey, if we are sure of anything, it’s that we have to first drop the denial of what we are capable to impact; we still hold that even nonentities in the scheme of popular media can make waves.
The argument, then: there’s no need to put on a costume to take part in the defense of public interest or offer an empowering narrative to inspire self-improvement in others. In fact, as many of the songs are written from the perspective of well-known comic book super-people, the record was my personal exercise in humanizing many of the otherwise-intangible personalities that we seem to surrender our praise. All stripped down, people are people, protagonists and antagonists, making critical choices to act as their solutions to their own diversity of problems.
This little write-up is the beginning of a blog that we decided to start in support of Cosplay and its argument. From here on, you can expect a different song being discussed every few weeks or so [or years], and for good or bad, well-received or disregarded, we will share a bit about how the song came about, what it means to us, etc. We are truly proud of this record and hope those who take the time to listen will find it relevant to their daily tussles, and deeply enjoy it. We also hope you see the blog as a nice companion to the tracks. Thanks for your support. <3 POOR ME