Canadian Musician - March-April 2022 - Page 36

PHOTO : STERLING LAROSE my mind ,” in reference to the 2019 Trapline single “ Boujee Natives .” DeRogatis had just been turned onto Snotty Nose Rez Kids was digging into their discography , adding , “ They ’ ve got flow , they ’ ve got great groove , I ’ ve liked everything I ’ ve heard by them so far .”
But despite that , Metz and Nyce can be forgiven for not feeling the love amidst two tough years of personal loss and professional stagnation forced on them by COVID .
“ With this pandemic , we ’ ve learned to not take anything for granted , whether it ’ s doing tours or just recording music or even just waking up with a roof over our heads ,” states Metz . “ Definitely , we went through a lot , but I ’ ve been saying to my partner – my girlfriend who I ’ ve been with for a while – I would tell her , like , ‘ Babe , everything that I ’ ve been through , that you ’ ve been through , we ’ ve been through , me and Q have been through , this is the year it ’ s going to pay off . Because 2022 , the beginning of this year , it ’ s been like a fucking shit show . I felt like sometimes you got to go through the worst before you get to the best and our best is yet to come .”
Life After is not a “ pandemic album ,” Metz and Nyce are quick to point out , but the circumstances have made this a personal album . It displays a greater emotional range , including a degree of vulnerability not heard from them since the debut album .
“ For me , this album was about our dayto-day life and the stuff that we were going through at the time throughout the pandemic . It wasn ’ t as politically driven , it was more for ourselves , whereas Trapline and The Average Savage was talking about making people face their inner demons . When I say that , I even mean our allies . We ’ re all taught to think a certain way and it ’ s up to us to unlearn those ways that we were taught and become better people ,” says Nyce .
That is not to say it ’ s a sombre album , though there are sombre moments . Across Life After ’ s 14 tracks , the mood swings from ominous , synth-heavy opener “ Grave Digger ” to the relentless pulse of “ Red Sky at Night ” – which is guaranteed to make you involuntarily bounce your head to a tune about police brutality – to the mosh-pit-inducing rage of “ Sink or Swim .” There are loads of high and lows , and the absence of old-school-style skits for the first time means the album benefits from a constant flow while never getting sluggish . And on “ Change ” and “ After Dark ,” you ’ re hit by another new vibe
— a ‘ 90s-esque R & B flavour over which the guys get into their personal struggles , personal growth , and the death of loved ones . Following the cockiness of “ Humble Me ,” “ After Dark ” is a deeply human way to close out the record . As Nyce acknowledges , they haven ’ t ventured into that psychological territory , at least to this degree , since “ Off the Ledge ” on the first album , which is a song they wrote from the perspective of a suicidal friend .
“ The beat determines what emotion I ’ m trying to convey ,” explains Metz . “ Like , ‘ Uncle Rico ’ [ off Life After ], obviously , is just a feelgood song . It ’ s something you could chill to , drink to , smoke to , whatever it may be . And then there ’ s songs like ‘ Change ’ where it ’ s just more personal and vulnerable . So , we definitely knew with this one that we wanted to make it personal and we really wanted to grow from Trapline and I believe we did that … We haven ’ t done anything vulnerable like that since the first album . It just felt like it was right . A lot of people throughout this pandemic , including myself , lost a lot of family . It was just during that time , and that ’ s where ‘ Change ’ came from and that ’ s where ‘ After Dark ’ came from . It just felt like if we need something like this , then I can guarantee there ’ s other people out there that are going to need these types of songs . Also , I keep going back to our growth , not just as artists , but as human beings .”
Though it ’ s certainly not the only reason , one impetus for the focus on personal growth was criticism about some of their lyrics they received from fans and community members in 2019 . In a very lengthy open letter posted on Facebook in July 2019 , Metz and Nyce wrote they wanted “ to hold each other accountable for the ways in which some of our lyrics and messages in our music have failed to uplift our community ,” and singled out songs like “ Crazy ” and “ Son of a Matriarch ” from Trapline , which