What if you get to the afterlife and you’re not impressed with what you see? This is the quirky idea that sparked the title for the Fast Romantics’ new album, Afterlife Blues. While it may seem like the record is about death, lead singer Matthew Angus said that it’s more about endings and new beginnings.
“Things always end. What happens when they do? What’s good about things ending? How do people react to it?” These are some of the questions they wanted to explore through this record.
“It’s not an album about death,” Angus continued, “Death is an easy way to talk about things ending. Things die every day.” Sometimes death can be a good thing: Angus mentioned the cells that die in our body daily and the renewal that goes along with it. He said that this idea, coupled with his healthy fear of death, led to the content and theme of this new work.
Not long before creating the album, Fast Romantics also went through a sort of renewal themselves. “It’s timely because it was like a rebirth for our band too. We sort of consider it our first record,” said Angus. Australians Lauren Heron and Shane O’Keefe joined the band, bringing with them new personalities, tastes, and modes of collaboration. It’s only been two years since they came on board, but Angus said that they’ve all become fast friends.
They found Shane through a classified ad, and then one day he mentioned that his girlfriend played keys and had a good voice. Their band was complete. “I want the band to be a group of tight knit friends,” said Angus, “It comes out on stage and in the music.”
The songs start with Angus, and then after he works out the general foundation, the band collaborates on arrangements. Their first single off Afterlife Blues, “Funeral Song,” sounds like something out of a dream. It turns out that’s where part of the song came from.
“People ask me if it’s a breakup record […] but I think it’s more of a transition record.”
Matthew Angus, lead singer
Angus said that he was having trouble coming up with the middle part of the song, and one night at 3:00 a.m. it just came to him. “I distinctly remember how weird that was,” he said. The song is not really about a funeral, but a different type of goodbye. “It’s written around the time of a break up,” said Angus, “when I was over it and happy that she was gone. It’s a celebratory song too.”
The whole album was written during a time of uncertainty and change for the band. They were moving, some were breaking up, and it was a time of flux in general. “People ask me if it’s a breakup record,” said Angus, “but I think it’s more of a transition record.”
He describes this period as a time “when you’re sometimes thinking about the past, sometimes looking towards the future, and sometimes smart enough to be in the present.” It’s about being in between phases and figuring out what’s coming next. “It’s like purgatory, but generally more positive,” he laughed.
No longer in between phases in their career, Fast Romantics are finding some success and enjoying not taking things too fast. “We just play and write and things pick up,” said Angus. “We’re a slow burn band.”
They are currently on tour across Canada, and Angus said that they are looking forward to making their way west to Vancouver again. He lived here for about six months and said he misses it, but not for the reasons you would think: “I miss how often it rains,” he said. Luckily for him and unfortunately for us, the weather will probably be on his side.