Stay Behind is out now.
Without a shadow of a doubt, Stay Behind, the debut album from Chicago quartet Droughts is our favourite post-hardcore album of the year so far. Raw, experimental, and melodic, the record is an unhinged rollercoaster ride that plumbs the depths and heights of human experience. Simply, it is beautiful and disgusting. It’s human.
We just knew that there would be fascinating stories behind such a cathartic and bruising album. With this in mind, we sat down for a rather candid chat with Joseph Klomes (vocals/bass) about the album, touching on coming to terms with who you are, and what the world around you is and isn’t.
Grab Stay Behind on delicious swamp green vinyl from Bandcamp.
This album was for those in my life who left an impact, positive and negative.
Stay Behind is about coming to terms with your past, your present, and your future. I took a vacation with my wife to Alaska, Washington, and Oregon in August 2015. I was almost a year into my marriage, and was standing on the edge of finally coming to terms with who I was, and where I wanted my future to go. The album cover is a photo I took standing on a mountain ridge in Alaska. This was the last time we were together living the life we thought we were going to have.
1. Welcome Back
This song is for my wife.
I struggled for years with my identity, my relationships, and my mental health. I got married October 2014 to my beautiful wife, and in October 2015 I came out as bisexual to her, my friends, and my family. I was 28 at the time. I look back at the previous 28 years and think about what kept me closeted, the friendships that kept me there, and how I never want to feel like that again. This song was for them, but most importantly for my wife, the person who stayed with me as my entire emotional support system. She let me know she always loved me, and would always be by my side. This was a recap of a shitty past, and an optimistic look towards the future.
2. God City
This song is for Sean Murphy.
The very last text I sent my friend Sean was discussing a video of Kurt Ballou’s studio “God City”. I respected Sean’s musical opinion and ability more than any other person. He recorded the first 2 Droughts releases. He killed himself one early morning at the end of March 2012. This song is about our last text and our last embrace. He has this funny handshake (its kinda like making the Spock handsign and interlocking your fingers with the other person). He did it because he thought it was more comfortable than a normal handshake. And it really was more comfortable. Leaving his funeral, I touched his coffin in that shape. It was the last time I visited his grave because I can’t bring myself to go.
3. Pure Carbon
This song is for my racist family members.
Your diamonds are nothing but a false sense of your worth. Get fucked.
4. I Wish I Had Your Optimism
This song if for my future children.
I am expecting my first child in June. I want her to grow up knowing she has the power to impact this world in a positive way, but also her actions can negatively impact it too. This was me at 28 saying my optimism wants me to think the best of people, but maybe that is too naive of an outlook.
This song is for the person who mentally abuses me day after day.
I thought you had my best interest at heart. But you don’t. You only care about yourself, and how to manipulate others to get ahead in your career. The gay jokes, the dishonesty, the trash talking behind my back. This is me saying I’m done with it.
6. Remove Yourself
This song is for wanting to change.
This is me wanting to change. This is me wanting public perception of me to change. This is me doubting all of that, and accepting who I am.
This song is for Dave Wegner.
Dave was someone who I considered my best friend growing up. Here on the edge of 30, I recognize how destructive his friendship was. He relentless belittled me. Relentlessly question my sexuality in negative jokes. This is me acknowledging that toxic friendship and moving on. I never want to hear from him again.
8. Lose Light
This song is for my wife.
This is me losing my mind. Breaking from reality, and looking for someone, something, to ground me. There she was, always dropping whatever was going on in her life to support me. She was one of the few people that saw me at my lowest. My 3 am panic attacks where nothing felt real. My nightly routine of never sleeping because I was spiraling out of control thinking too much about death. She was my beacon, and I was terrified of losing her.
This song is for my counselor.
I was hitting terrifying lows with my mental stability. I sought help. This is me thanking my therapist/counselor. This is me finally admitting my sexuality. This is me saying it is ok, and healing. Seek help. There is no shame in it.
10. Stay Behind
This song if for leaving home.
This is the oldest song on the album. We wrote it in 2012/13, but rerecorded it because it summed up everything I went thru the past 4 years. It was me wanting to burn everything to the ground to start over. It was me wanting to leave the US and move to somewhere in Scandinavia. Burn our government to the ground and start over.
11. Never Done
This song is for my self doubt.
I constantly think everything I do is not good enough for anyone. My art, my music, my emotional availability. At some point you have to loose that doubt. I take comfort in knowing everyone has this self doubt. You can’t escape it, so you might as well use it constructively.
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