Like Love was written by co-vocalist Joel Birch for bandmate Ahren Stringer about the passing of their dear friend, Sean 'SK' Kennedy (former bassist IKTPQ, Deez Nuts).
Like Love's deeply personal and powerful emotional message, continues The Amity Affliction's unfiltered approach to songwriting.
Following the song's release and in the lead up to the band's impending return to the live stage as the headliner of the all-Aussie Unify Gathering 2022 this January, frontman Joel Birch was kind enough to talk to Maniacs about Like Love, the role his friendship with co-frontman Ahren Stringer played in the songs creation, using music as catharis, the unique challenge of being a band during this COVID-19 era and looking forward to the future.
You recently dropped Like Love a very personal song that reflects on the passing of good friend Sean ‘SK’ Kennedy, can you tell us a little bit more about the songs origin?
There’s not a lot more to say to be honest, that’s the origin of the song. SK was one of Ahren’s close friends, and it was a given that at some point I would write a song for Ahren about SK. I was in SK’s peripheral friendship group just because of location really, so for me was upsetting but on a completely different level. I lost a close friend a few years prior and it was the same thing for Ahren, so I had a good understanding of where he was at and the place I filled in our (Ahren and my) friendship. I’m lucky to have known SK, and I’m grateful I got to have him in my life no matter how peripherally, as it helped me to write something for Ahren that I think manages the balance between grief and love.
Like Love continues the Amity Affliction’s unfiltered approach to sharing authentic, personal and painful experiences through your music. This is clearly something that is important to you to do, can you explain why?
Why would any artist want to share something that is inauthentic? I’ve spoken about this countless times over the years and the answer has never changed, music takes on a few forms for artists across all genres: storytelling, catharsis, art, expression, etc. For me, it is catharsis, and so I write about myself and what I know. I have bipolar II, my mind is racing from the moment I wake up to the moment I fall asleep, and music is the place where I get to be quiet, despite the style of music we create.
Do you ever find yourself worrying that you might be sharing too much of yourself with your audience or has that ever bothered you?
Not particularly. It’s not particularly straightforward for someone to read our lyrics and tie them back to things that have happened to me, and there are always songs I refuse to talk about it, so that’s always a way to keep me shielded from oversharing anyway. I don’t think explaining current emotions in songs is oversharing anyway, especially not when people who listen to the band are often times there because of the lyrical content.
Like Love is accompanied by a powerful video that was written and directed by you, Joel, what was the inspiration for having such a hands-on approach to the process?
We self-produced the song, we have always written all of our own music, and we have always had our hands on everything we’ve made, with a few minor exceptions so it was only natural this would be the case for this new song, especially without the ability to shoot overseas and have the entire band together due to Covid. I have to shout out to Tyson Lloyd here as well, he honestly dropped everything to make this work on a very Covid-sized budget and really helped to make the idea as impactful as he did, and I would also like to thank Jaden Marc for pulling together the location and actors – who had never acted before – to make it work.
Do you think that film is an area you’d like to continue to explore as your career continues to progress?
I don’t have time for it, and I’m not particularly obsessed with that world, which you kind of have to be if you want to pursue it, much like anything else.
Is Like Love the only new music we can expect from The Amity Affliction or did you manage to write and record some more stuff during these last two bizarre years?
Watch the video for Like Love now.
TW: Implied drug use and suicidal themes.
As a band who has spent the vast majority of your life on the road, the last two years have obviously been very unfamiliar to you, have you managed to find any unexpected positives from this time period?
Look, it’s been excruciating mentally and I haven’t even been locked down. I’ve said to the other guys that I’m not sure I would have made it out of a Victorian lockdown alive, and I don’t think that I’m being extreme by saying that. The obvious silver lining has been the invaluable time I’ve had to be here for my son, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything because I will never get it back, but playing music is more than just a job as corny as that sounds, it is something that has given my life purpose now for over a decade, and so to have that taken away from you involuntarily is life-shattering. There are many facets to the ways in which this has made life hard, just hoping now that we can get back to work at some point next year.
Another thing that we’d be remiss not to mention is the upcoming return of The Amity Affliction to the live stage at UNIFY in January. How excited are you to be able to finally play music again?
Before we let you go, we’ve got a few rapid-fire questions for you, so what first comes to mind when we ask these.
What was the first album you ever loved?
Guns ‘n’ Roses - Use Your Illusion
What is the most recent album you loved?
Benny The Butcher - The Plugs I Met (I & 2)
What was the first show you ever went to?
Throwdown (from Cronulla) in Kawana
What was the most recent show you went to?
No fucking idea sorry
Outside of music, what’s something you consider yourself to be a bit of a Maniac for?
Doing things that involve the ocean
The Amity Affliction will headline the all-Aussie Unify Gathering 2022 this January.
Watch the live music video for All My Friends Are Dead below.
Listen to The Amity Affliction now.