Exclusive Premiere: Rob Mayes Captivates on “Dark Nights” from ‘5,000 Blankets’

Singer/songwriter and actor Rob Mayes shares his creative talents throughout the new film 5,000 Blankets, in theaters Monday, Dec. 12–Tuesday, Dec. 13. In addition to playing the role of Bobby Saunders in the film, Mayes wrote and performed the hopeful track “Dark Nights,” which American Songwriter exclusively premieres today (Dec. 8).

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5,000 Blankets is inspired by the true story of the founding of Phillip’s Wish, a nonprofit launched by 7-year-old Phillip and his mother, Cyndi Bunch, that provides blankets to the homeless in Texas. Mayes portrays Saunders, Cyndi’s husband, and Phillip’s father, who, after a mental break, goes missing and ends up on the streets. He says meeting Cyndi helped him in his role as well as with the writing of “Dark Nights.”

“I learned from Cyndi and her son Phillip the strength and the hope that they embrace and exude all while searching for a husband and father on the freezing cold streets,” Mayes tells American Songwriter. “I set out to write a song about hope and support and faith and trust against all odds and despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles.”

Mayes describes Saunders as a hard-working man doing everything he can to support and provide for his family. After a mental break and suicide attempt, Saunders goes missing. While writing “Dark Nights,” Mayes says he wanted to “omnisciently approach the characters’ relationships in the film and the real-life events unfolding” as a way to capture the film’s moments and themes in “a larger, greater sense, as opposed to approaching the narrative and lyric from a singular perspective.” 

Mayes wrote the introspective “Dark Nights” alone on guitar in the middle of the night in a hotel room in Arkansas, where the movie was filmed. Delicate strums of the acoustic guitar alongside wavering pedal steel accompaniment complement Mayes’ comforting vocals and relatable lyrics. Listen to “Dark Nights” below.

An independent country singer/songwriter himself, Mayes says writing a song for the film was a different experience than writing for his own career.

“I wanted to approach this song from a thematic place and from the gut, as opposed to one of wit and hooky-ness,” he says. “Everyone loves the clever country song with a fresh twist as much as I do, but I deliberately didn’t want to write something that would pull the viewer and listener out of the film while watching these real-life events unfold on screen. So, it was a delicate balance of creating a lyric and something sonically that would complement what was happening on screen, and not detract from it.” 

This can be heard in the song’s chorus as Mayes sings, I’ll be your crutch, your calm, your trust, make everything alright / Even on them dark, dark nights.

“This lyric came to me while writing this song and I think it’s something that we can all relate to, no matter what our circumstances are, and no matter what we’re going through,” he says. “We always need to keep the faith and believe in one another and have each other’s backs, no matter what.” 

5,000 Blankets also stars Anna Camp as Cyndi Bunch and Carson Minniear as Phillip Bunch. The film was directed by Amin Matalqa. Tickets for 5,000 Blankets, in theatres for two nights only Dec. 12-13, are available now.

Mayes says 5,000 Blankets is a film that will touch many people this holiday season and for years to come.

“Each of us, no matter our circumstances, is dealing with something, whether or not we outwardly show it,” he says, “and I think this film is a good reminder for all of us, to not be so quick to judge, to have some patience with each other, and to embrace the empathy that inherently exists in us all.”

Photo Credit: Sonalii Castillo

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