The roots of Second Letter were planted in the hardcore and post-hardcore scenes of the '80s and '90s. Looking through the separate discographies of three of its original members —Rob Haworth, Pete Moffett, and Jim Kimball — reads like reads like a killer playlist, with such bands as Farside, Government Issue, Retisonic, Hard Stance, and Burning Airlines being respresented. But we're here to talk about Second Letter, a quintet that first came together in 2017. Since the formation, John Hutchins replaced Kimball. The group's keyboards are handled by Carin Smith, adding a vital component to their sound, while Chris Woodhead rounds out the band on lead guitar.
Next month, Second Letter will be releasing Cicatrix, their debut full-length. With a strong melodic core at the heart of its material, the album's lyrics often offer Rob's satirical take on the current political circus. You see, when he's not working on music, Rob's an author and academic who teaches courses focusing on the social foundations of education, anarchism, and critical pedagogies.
"Over the past 4 years, I have been using basic GarageBand to develop all of the demos of the songs," Rob tells me about the material on Cicatrix.
"It has given me time to reflect on the songwriting process as opposed to jumping into the studio and being worried about time constraints. Plus, it gives the rest of the band a foundation to work from."
Rob and Second Letter have chosen No Echo to present "Anything," an absolute earworm of a track from the forthcoming Cicatrix collection.
I asked Rob for some of the songwriting background for the song. "For 'Anything' I wanted to continue using the keys/piano layering concept that I had been working with on the 'Dead Emblems' track. It adds another element for me that was not there when I was playing in prior bands. My first incarnation of the song were the verses. I developed the riff and then thought about an interesting lead guitar that complimented the rhythm.
"Of course, I am playing with such amazing band mates, and they definitely add another element of sophistication to the parts when we recorded the song in the studio. After I put together the verses, I was able to bring in the intro and strong bridge (a nod to Radiohead). It is pretty interesting that we have recorded some of the instruments in different spaces (Noisy Little Critter/Lavabed Recording), but Mike Fanuele of Lavabed put it all together from production to the final mixing the entire album."
Rob then offered his thoughts on the inspiration behind the track: "Lyrically, 'Anything' takes both straightforward and abstract swipes at our dysfunctional lives within our contemporary socio-cultural, political, and economic while pointing out how our lives have been transformed into the commodification of everything. The song asks the listeners 'a simple question' which reflects on whether or not we are willing to engage in the difficult discussions surrounding human existence and a new world beyond the tweets and political collapse of consumer culture."
I love when melodic, guitar-driven rock contains lyrics that go beyond the usual "she broke my heart" fare, and Second Letter clearly feel the same way.
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