Everyone envisions what normal may look like post-pandemic. Indie-pop band Don’t Believe in Ghosts conjures up a euphoric daydream of the world months down the road. With “Put Your Head Back,” an idea originally nurtured on tour, frontman Steven Nathan funnels our collective Covid angst and invites the listener to simply shake it out. Feel your body shaking / This energy, it’s taking / From all these highs you’re chasing down, he sings.
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One particular tour stop in Indiana led to the song’s early arrangement. “We pulled some of the gear into a hotel room and got to work. After the tour we got home we worked on it a bit more,” Nathan tells American Songwriter. But it wasn’t until Covid that “the lyrics and energy took on the vibe It has now. It became more of a daydream about what life will be like when this was over. It was about how we were all having a bit of a hard time holding it together, but we will find our way to get back on track.”
“Put Your Head Back,” mixed by Mark Needham, is “a little boost of energy” right into the system. Containing bright musical polish and an irresistible hook, the uptempo summer track could very well help people “reconnect with what’s important in them and feel hopeful about what’s coming,” or at least that’s what Nathan hopes.
Don’t Believe in Ghosts─rounded out with bandmates Dan DelVecchio (guitar), Alex Goumas (bass), and Ken Yang (drums)─began out of Nathan’s New York apartment in 2017. The release of their debut full-length record, Give It Meaning, set them on course with what should have been their big breakout moment. Two sold-out shows at Bowery Ballroom primed a forthcoming (but cancelled) 2020 U.S. tour, and personal tragedy (the death of Nathan’s brother Robert) further threw their trajectory off course.
It seems fitting their first single of 2021 is “Put Your Head Back,” a hopeful and pounding pop moment about seizing the day. Right now, I’m thinking it could be time to pull these vibes together, prompts Nathan. And if it stops, oh don’t stop, you can’t fool yourself forever.
Pulling on such pop influences as Michael Jackson, Prince, Oasis, and Radiohead, Nathan’s earliest inspiration was actually Beethoven. “It was the first time I heard music that sounded like I felt inside,” he says. “Lately, I find myself only listening to music made within the last few years. I love what’s being created now, I think we’re in a real golden age of sounds and styles merging.”
“Put Your Head Back” samples a forthcoming album titled Solutions, out May 14 on Imagen Records. Perhaps unconventionally, Nathan finds himself writing the best work “maybe when I least expect to be writing,” he offers. “A last minute session that comes from pure inspiration is truly the most fun. Really though, it’s about writing more─my best stuff has come when I really challenged myself and wrote consistently for many days.”