Published May 22, 2014One of the most uncompromising bands in the heavy music realm, Louisville's Young Widows chose somewhat of an unexpected direction for their fourth album, Easy Pain. While 2011's In and Out of Youth and Lightness went for a particular mood of melancholy, depressive exhaustion, and by all accounts recording it wasn't a very enjoyable experience, the trio's latest album is a bludgeoning slab of heavy that ties together this band's already impressive catalogue. The goal this time, according to Young Widows guitarist/vocalist Evan Patterson, was to go in and to have some fun recording a really heavy, "destructive" album. Exclaim! recently spoke to Patterson about destruction, destruction and more destruction.
Easy Pain is a return to the heavier material on the first two records. What was the vibe when you went into the studio for this one?
The whole idea was to make the most destructive, heavy record we could make, without being, you know, a metal band, or not being pegged with a certain sound or genre like post-punk or post-hardcore or whatever you want to peg it. So the idea was to create the heaviest thing we could while still being content with songwriting and the craft of creating a record.
Why was that the intention going in?
Our last record was pretty tolling to create, and to write and perform, and the recording… the whole thing. It was one of those records that was such a concept of mood and direction. We pushed ourselves to create a different record than what we had ever done, or set out to do, as a band. And after doing that we were all pretty worn out and not really looking forward to writing new material. So when we went to write the first new song on Easy Pain, we decided right then that we were just going to go for it and push ourselves to be in this relaxed state of destruction, if that makes any sense. On the last record we'd play a part of a song for, like, 15 rehearsals, just working on little particulars that are probably not even fun to listen to [chuckles]. Sometimes it wasn't even an enjoyable thing and, when it comes down to it, we're doing this because it's enjoyable.
So, not to focus too much on the last record, but when you look back on it now, you don't feel negative about it, do you?
I don't look back and regret it, by any means. I love what we created and it was the perfect time for me to be doing a record like that, just dealing with personal issues in my life. It's a depressing record and it's not necessarily fun to listen to, and it shouldn't be fun to listen to. It's something that you should listen to and if you don't want to invest your time in it, it won't be appreciated.
Can you listen to it still?
I don't really listen to my own music. Every now and then I might put something on to figure out how to play a song again, but beyond that I don't sit back and relax and listen to my own songs.
Does it bug you when I refer to this new album, Easy Pain, as a return to your heavier stuff?
No, it's great. Honestly, we had the idea to do that because I don't like a lot of current heavy music and we were psyched to make a new heavy record that interests us, and have ideas and songs and lyrical concepts that still interest us within heavy music. I don't want to say it's a boring genre, but the metal/noise rock genre, like any genre, it seems a little exhausted. I mean, guitar music has been going on for-fucking-ever, there's just not much left to explore. And in creating these songs we just set out to destroy that world.
You keep using the words "destroy" and "destruction." I'm curious about that…
The theme of destruction and being destructive is more a concept about totally exploiting songwriting and the heavy genre without being too technical. It's almost like this whole metal/hardcore guitar players shredding thing, and all of the funny things that people think about a good musician, a talented musician. My idea is not to be an amazing musician, but to make a sound rather than be a great player. And even when we were recording with [producer] Kevin [Ratterman], I talked to him about the concepts of recording. He really pushed himself to make the record sound the way it does based on this concept of having a destructive record.
Do you ever miss playing the type of metalcore stuff you were doing in the '90s?
I never really even looked at it as being "metalcore." I don't miss anything, really. If I missed it, I'd still be doing it. With my interests and what I was subjected to musically at that time, I was so heavily interested in Rorschach, and Deadguy, and Kiss It Goodbye, and Neurosis and those were my peers that I looked up to, and they were touring and super active.
So who are those peers now for Young Widows?
It kind of just evolves from that natural state of finding out about new music, as well as all of the great old music that is new to me. As far as contemporary artists, Helms Alee are a band that I can still relate to what they are doing musically. As far as influences, for the past couple of years I've invested myself heavily into record collecting. For example, the idea for the drumbeat on "Kerosene Girl" came from an old soul song called "Dance Your Ass Off" by Hamilton Bohannon, and it was such a good drum beat. There's this wide variety of music that I've gotten into and tried to incorporate into my music.
How do you define success?
Success isn't really important, but it kind of keeps everything going, you know? Especially now that we're getting older, [bassist] Nick [Theineman]'s a father and [drummer] Jeremy [McMonigle]'s going to be a father in August. I don't really want to do anything else but play music, but at the same time I really love where we are right now. I could coast in this direction, and with this amount of success forever, and be content and happy.