In the age of quarantine, artists are struggling with the question to release music or not. Many want to remain sensitive to the current affairs and take a step back, but there are others who know music is one the few ways people can still connect in this world. Many songs have taken on new or sequential context due to quarantine, but for indie group Mountains Like Wax, the devastating Nashville tornado on March 3 was an astronomical factor for the meaning of their new single “Braindead.”
The single, originally about nuances in relationships and isolation, took new form when the tornado ripped through the streets of East Nashville, destroying the bar, frontman Mitchell G. Taylor worked at.
“I work at a little cocktail bar in 5 Points in East Nashville called Attaboy, and was on shift that night. Our losses were astronomical,” Taylor told American Songwriter. “We lost everything, and two of my dearest friends and coworkers I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing-Mike Dolfini and Albree Sexton. In the music scene, the photo of the destroyed and well-loved Basement East has been floating around. We were right behind that. The back wall and patio destroyed my truck, along with several other total losses to our staff, and of course so many others – but none of that matters next to the brothers and sisters lost.”
Mountains Like Wax was fortunate enough to have gotten their tracks back right before the Coronavirus and tornado wiped out much of the music industry and services in their city. And although they are incredibly thankful for that they do struggle to give their music the right amount of attention.
“We were able to get the master back for ‘Braindead’ just before the tornado hit us here in Nashville. It’s been such a whirlwind of an experience, much of which is still wrapped up in confusion and a significant amount of disbelief,” Taylor said. “It’s honestly been really difficult to give any headspace to the promotion of new music, but like so many other artists, this is how we cope. But I do know I’m lucky to be here. That storm took lives, it took livelihood. It disrespected our sanctuaries and the places we feel safe.”
The intimate, alt-rock styled “Braindead” is a blend of acoustic and electronic music, stirred up by brutally honest lyrics about nuances in relationships, put forth by Taylor’s dreamy vocals. The single comes off the group’s forthcoming release Before There Was Plenty, out later this year and was produced by former member Hunter West, a natural decision for the group, who described him as talented and dedicated. Impressed by much of his previous work, Mountains Like Wax recruited Seattle-based engineer Andy Parks to mix the track.
When Mountains Like Wax takes a closer, introspective look at their music in correlation to recent devastation, they have one important message they want to get across to their listeners, while also hoping “Braindead” will be the song to do that.
“Hold your loved ones as tightly as you can, look them in the eyes without distraction, and unapologetically tell them what they mean to you. An experience like this, forces you to do nothing else other than that,” Taylor said. “It makes us want to write the music that scares us, but that we feel we need to speak – that we need to share. ‘Braindead’ is the beginning of that. Some of the contexts about the song can make you a bit uneasy, but that’s what we want. Those tracks that strike something within you are the ones that stick with you.”