Revolver have teamed with SeeYouSpaceCowboy for an exclusive splatter vinyl variant of their new album, The Romance of Affliction, limited to just 300 copies. Order yours before they're gone!
SeeYouSpaceCowboy frontwoman Connie Sgarbossa is feeling good when she speaks with Revolver from a tour stop in Richmond, Virginia. It's a couple days after the San Diego sasscore gang played the loaded Furnace Fest in Birmingham, Alabama — a long weekend of metalcore, pop-punk and hardcore bands that spanned multiple generations.
"Just three days of unbelievable bands, catching sets that just blew my mind and getting to play to an ocean of people was insane," Sgarbossa says of the event that kicked off their big return to touring. "It was a lot of fun."
It's an exciting time for the SpaceCowboy camp. When we caught up with Sgarbossa and her younger brother Ethan for our Summer 2021 print issue, the two of them assured us that band was in better shape than ever after solidifying their constantly rotating lineup into a few core members, and they were palpably stoked about the sophomore album they had just recorded, The Romance of Affliction, which will finally arrive November 5th via Pure Noise Records.
Featuring guest spots from Every Time I Die's Keith Buckley, Underoath's Aaron Gillespie, If I Die First, and rapper Shaolin G, the record encompasses a wide swath of musical directions and successfully rekindles the inertia and unpredictability of their early music, which was somewhat absent on their 2019 debut LP, The Correlation Between Entrance and Exit Wounds.
Compared to their early 2019 comp, Songs for the Firing Squad — a sassy, spastic and sonically light-hearted collection of their early EPs and a couple new tracks — Correlation was darker, sadder and more emotionally heavy than sonically fierce. Following the lead of their split EP with If I Die First from earlier this spring, Romance finds the best of both worlds between SpaceCowboy's chaotic mathcore explosions and their newfound mastery of catchy post-hardcore melodies. It's their best work yet.
"I know other members of the band have said, 'This is what SpaceCowboy is supposed to sound like,' and I'm tending to agree now," Sgarbossa says of their latest direction. "At first I viewed it very much like, "Oh, this is an experimental step out of our comfort zone," but then I kind of was like, 'No, I actually feel very comfortable with this sound.' This is what SpaceCowboy's supposed to sound like."
More than just zeroing in on a definitive sound, Romance marks the first time that Sgarbossa wrote overtly and intensely about her longtime struggles with addiction, and how substance abuse has negatively affected her relationships over the years. As she explains it, the album's title is a cheeky critique of a culture that romanticizes the unglamorous realities of chemical dependency, and her lyrical content pushes back against that by illuminating the messy complexities of someone who's enduring those afflictions in real time.
Sgarbossa candidly opened up to us about her ongoing battle with addiction, why she wants to be more public about that going forward, and how, despite her precarious personal life and the many hardships this album chronicles, her band is in a better place now than ever before.
WHAT ABOUT THIS RECORD FEELS MOST EXPERIMENTAL TO YOU? WHAT FEELS OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE?
The biggest thing for me personally was figuring out how to incorporate my screams and my sassing into a more melodic, pretty sound, rather than just sassing over weird parts, and screaming over the heavy parts. Figuring out how to navigate this world of this music that Ethan wrote, because this is the first time Ethan's written an album for us. And, really, the first time that SpaceCowboy has written an album fully together.
In the past, it was always just one guy who wrote most of it, and I put vocals over and we played it. [This time], it was a whole process between me, Ethan [guitarist], Taylor [Allen, bassist], and AJ [Tartol, drummer]. We spent a year writing 30 songs it was also the first time we worked with a producer, because we went to Isaac [Hale, Knocked Loose guitarist]. So, there's a lot of firsts and a lot of touch and go, figuring out how to pull it off, and how to make it sound like we want to
WAS IT COOL TO WORK WITH A PRODUCER? WAS IT KIND OF WEIRD AND STRANGE IN SOME WAYS?
I think it would have been weird and strange if it was anyone but Isaac, but since we felt so comfortable with him and he has been a fan of SpaceCowboy for a minute it just kind of worked perfectly. It wasn't like going to someone who's who doesn't like this kind of music and doesn't know what to do with us. He knew exactly [what to do], we were all on the same page immediately.
TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHERE THE BAND IS AT NOW COMPARED TO WHAT THE BAND WAS AT WHEN YOU MADE 2019'S CORRELATION.
For the first time I feel like SpaceCowboy's stable. During Correlation, that was only me and Jesse [Price, former guitarist-vocalist] on that album. Back then, the band was in a lot of turmoil. There was members leaving, coming, going, a bunch of stuff. But currently, Taylor re-joined the band and he was one of the three people I started the band with, it was me, Ethan, and Taylor in the beginning.
He came back and he really brought the voice of like the clean singing, because he's got the pretty voice other than Ethan, who we didn't even know could sing when we started writing this record. We kind of found that out as we went along. So, it's kind of cool, the band's definitely stabilizing, leveling out, and we're bringing back who I consider the core members of the band from back when we did our first seven-inch, many years ago.
HOW ABOUT FOR YOU PERSONALLY? HOW IS YOUR LIFE DIFFERENT NOW COMPARED TO WHERE IT WAS IN THE LAST RECORD?
The last record, I was definitely in a really terrible place in my life. I was dealing with tragedy, and the beginning of heavy, heavy addiction. I don't really remember recording Correlation, I think I was fucked up for most of that recording. Currently, I still have a lot of issues and I'm still going through a lot of shit, but it's more stable, I would say ...
I feel like, with things getting back to normal, and going back on tour again, and having a more stable lineup, and the support of people around me, I'm definitely doing far better than I was back then.
DO YOU THINK THAT SORT OF TRANSLATED INTO THIS ALBUM IN ANY WAYS?
Yeah, I think it did a lot. This album is more of a confessional reflection of the last couple of years of my life. Correlation was a lot of grandiose statements about not giving up and addiction and stuff like that, whereas this one was kind of like ... I used this entire album to just reflect on the things I've done, the poor ways that I've coped with things.
Also, it talks a lot about what it means to be a drug addict in love with a drug addict, and how I really wanted to pull the veil off that. There's that kind of Bohemian fantasy of like, "Oh, two drug addicts just living life," it's kind of romanticized, but it's definitely not like that. That's why I named it The Romance of Affliction, because it's tongue-in-cheek, kind of like, "Haha, everybody loves a good, sad song about fucked-up shit." But literally, this is the romance of affliction.
SO YOU WANT TO PUSH BACK AGAINST MAKING AN AESTHETIC OUT OF ADDICTION AND TRAUMA?
Yeah, it's basically my response to that. That's why I really wanted to get into the dirt of my life and what it is, what it actually means to do this. What it actually means to be a hoe and to do a lot of drugs. And it's not pretty. It fucking sucks, and it's a really hollow and almost torturous existence in a way, because you never feel fulfilled and you'll just keep going and going and going forever.
I SAW YOU OPEN UP ABOUT YOUR ADDICTION ON TWITTER RECENTLY, WHICH WAS SOMETHING I HADN'T SEEN YOU SPEAK ON BEFORE. ARE YOU GOING THROUGH A REALIZATION PERIOD WHERE YOU WANT TO BE MORE OPEN ABOUT IT AND COME TO TERMS WITH IT IN DIFFERENT WAYS?
Yeah, it definitely is a time where I'm kind of like, "It's time to be a bit more transparent," because I almost died a few months ago [from] an overdose. I did it to myself, and it serves as a point for me to be reflect a bit. We don't really talk about this a lot, [so] I went back and forth in my mind like, "Is this something that I should be talking about? Should I talk about that I almost died on my couch?"
I came to the point [where I was like], "Nobody really talks about this shit, or if they do, they talk about it when they're over it." But I'm in the midst of it. I had to get Narcan two to three times to bring me back to life. I want to be open about this shit. If nobody else is going to talk about it until somebody either dies or they're better, somebody needs to talk about it during the journey because that's the hardest fucking part of it.
Like any drug addict will say, I've gotten clean tons of times — never stuck — but this is the hardest part, being in it. Fighting the urges, the moral choices of whether to be clean, or say "Fuck it," and indulge because you are hurting so bad, emotionally and physically ... And it affects everyone around you. I mean, my ex-girlfriend was the one who had to find me dying on the couch. I woke up surrounded by my friends, and me not even knowing what happened, but everyone being like, "Yeah, you almost just died." It affects everyone around me, and that's something that needs to be talked about, because it can't just be the resolution, you need the plot, the story, as well.
HAS OPENING UP ABOUT IT MADE YOU FEEL ANY BETTER? HEARING WORDS OF SUPPORT FROM OTHER PEOPLE AND WHATNOT.
Yeah, definitely. As anybody can guess, I play in a band, I benefit a lot from getting shit out there, and the catharsis that comes from it, so it's been really nice to not have to keep this side of me a secret. To be open about it, more so than I've ever been, and to be like, "Yeah, I am a drug addict, I am an alcoholic, I've been fighting these things for years, and sometimes I win, sometimes I lose." It is what it is. That's literally just life.
There definitely is a sense of catharsis and understanding that comes from talking to other addicts, because, for example, any opiate addict will tell you that an opiate addict will relapse, it's inevitable. I don't know any addicts who've gotten clean and never gone back. But to a normal person, that's alarming and they don't understand, but to somebody who's dealt with that, they'd be like, "Yeah, I get it. It's hard." And that drug, especially, is one that's really hard to kick.
So, it's nice to find other people who've dealt with it, and to even shed light on it for people who haven't dealt with it, and want more insight so maybe they don't think anybody who's smoking oxy out of tinfoil is just a piece of shit junkie. Understanding like, "Hey, we're people. You like my music, you like me as a person? Well, that's what I struggle with."
ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC SONGS ON THE ALBUM THAT DIRECTLY GET INTO THE TOPIC OF ADDICTION?
There're songs like "The Romance of Affliction," the title track, which is directly about what it means to be an addict in love with an addict. The first song ["Life as a Soap Opera Plot, 26 Years Running"] is all about using anything you can around you and being so desperate to hide your feelings and to mask how you feel that you'll do anything, sex, drugs, whatever it is, anything to not feel.
[The album] delves into a lot. It delves into addiction, it delves into love, it delves into promiscuity and desperation to find human connections. It dives into a lot, but I would say drugs and alcohol will always weave their way through all of those things.
BEYOND THE LYRICS, THERE ARE SO MANY AWESOME GUEST VOCALISTS ON THIS ALBUM LIKE KEITH BUCKLEY, AARON GILLESPIE, SHAOLIN G AND IF I DIE FIRST. THE ALBUM IS VERY PERSONAL, SO WHY DID YOU FEEL LIKE BRINGING ALL OF THESE OUTSIDE VOICES IN?
That was more for the music side of it, the actual sound. Because it is a very personal record, but I also was keeping in mind how it sounds, how it's presented and having artists that we love, and vocalists that we love the sound of.
I'M ASSUMING KEITH AND AARON ARE PERSONAL HEROES OF YOURS?
Yeah, they're both in bands that we all love. I mean, [Every Time I Die's] Hot Damn! is super important to me, Underoath are beyond important to me. I just saw them at Furnace Fest. I was onstage losing my mind. Yeah, being able to pull in these huge influences for us and have them be part of this with us, it was just, it's amazing. It's kind of something I never thought would happen, but it just did in an instant, and I was like, "Oh, that's wild."
HOW DID THE COLLAB WITH AARON COME ABOUT?
It was kind of funny. We literally texted Isaac while we were in the studio, like "Isaac, we got Aaron, where should we put him?" And Isaac's like, "I got the perfect place for him," and he sent the part, he sent the section, he's like "Have him sing Taylor's part here," and I'm like, "You know what? That's fucking genius. Thank God for Isaac Hale."
SO YOU GUYS REALLY TRUSTED ISAAC THEN?
Oh, absolutely. It was really sick because we had full trust in him, but it was a really big collaborative effort, it wasn't just like Isaac wrote these songs for us after we sent them. It was really, like, sit down for eight to 10 hours a day, and [we'd just] always be riffing or pre-pro-ing vocals and showing him what we had, and him being like, "Oh, maybe we can tweak this."
It's something we never really sat down and thought about with Correlation, like "What would make Correlation a full LP?" For this album, I was thinking "What emotional notes do we want to hit? What kind of trajectory, what kind of plot does this LP have, and how do we hit all of these elements in ways that are sick and cohesive and make this LP a full experience, instead of just a handful of songs that are smashed together into one vinyl?" Yeah, it was amazing.