While quarantine and coronavirus sensationalism seem to have taken the wheel in news, indie-rockers Cold War Kids are making sure we do not forget about existing politics, specifically that of the US border, where mothers and fathers are being torn apart from their babies upon arrival. To paint this story appropriately Cold War Kids wrote “1 x 1” (one by one) and elicited the help of singer Wesley Schultz of The Lumineers to bring the song to a new level.
“This song was inspired by the stories of child migrants separated from their families at the border,” Nathan Willett of Cold War Kids told American Songwriter. “Now that we are all quarantined – it has taken on an extra meaning. One by one each of us are staying apart to help the whole of us.”
The single takes on an americana/folk flair with acoustic guitars and features vocal hooks sang by a chorus of children, adding depth, hope and a soft spot in a tear-filled song. Willett and Schultz’s vocal harmonies are seamless and Schultz’s raspy voice singing the solo line: ‘Walked a thousand miles to this promise land/little did we know we were already damned’ adds texture and context, while wandering above the grounded vocals planted by Willett.
Supplementing the already powerful single is an equally affecting video. The black and white filmed music video focuses on close-up shots of Willett singing and playing his acoustic guitar while surrounded by projected images of people, Schultz included that sing in unison: ‘One by one/We will come,’ followed by Willett’s lines: ‘You make me wait/at the gate/ to see your face again,’ that serve to draw a portrait of the song’s setting.
Southern California based Cold War Kids got their start in 2006 with their debut release of Robbers and Cowards and saw escalated success with the single and chart hit “Hang Me Up To Dry” in 2007. Formed in 2004 in Fullerton, California the band’s initial break was provided with their signing to indie label Monarchy Music, who carried them for two years until picking up a deal with Downtown/V2 Records, who would release their full-length debut. While still holding fast to their indie nature, they received further advancement when the single “First” was certified Gold by Recording Industry Association of America along with its Australian and Canadian equivalents in 2015 from the record Hold My Home.
Today Cold War Kids powers on with their seventh studio album New Age Norms 1, released in November 2019.