Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Shawn Biggs at Studio Paradiso, San Francisco, CA
Rosiness doesn't come easily, or at all to Caleb Nichols' CHURCHES songs. While he might have created his own - in name only, there's no place of worship that he can believe in, when the appealing thought about life after death in a world constructed by the followers of a religion where the creed is, "Every egg you eat becomes your slave in heaven." It must say something about the way the world is currently treating you, to feel that obsessive egg-eating will lead you to a promised land where you could lord over the jack-offs who used to treat you like shit.
CHURCHES songs seem to come from a damaged heart - though it's not damage that's going to do anyone in too quickly. It just adds up and starts branching out, conquering. The damages are like rust and they can be felt, building up on his ribs, under his chin and around his ankles. It advances at a pedestrian-like speed, but it wears right through. There's not much he can do to scrape it away, so he's just got to cope with it, see if he can manage, see if he can put a coat over it. A song that appears on the band's debut EP tells the story of a person, imagined as what I like to picture as a whale. In "Save Me," the main character is either forced upon the shore or has beached itself. It's in bad shape and there doesn't seem to be much hope that anything's going to get it back into the water.
We can picture the person/whale, indenting into the wet sand along the shore, its tail swishing more and more lethargically, gasping for breath, making sad sounds. Somehow, we picture a look in its eyes that isn't freaked out or panicked. It's partly resigned, but it's also something that feels okay with the outcome, as if there might be a tear of joy, forming in the bottom well. Nichols sings, as the character, "How I feel is beautiful." It might not be the fairest ending, there on that cold beach, stuck and suffocating, but it will have to do for that life - may it be just one of many and may it be the final hard one.
Below, Nichols tells of the seeds and sparks of the four songs that appear in this session.
This is a song from our new self-titled EP, but a slightly different version, with a different ending. The whole song was the result of a stoned conversation with my boyfriend's friend, Katie. She said she'd started a new religion, and the main tenet of the religion was 'every egg you eat becomes your slave in heaven.' So, the more eggs you eat, the more egg-slaves you have waiting for you in heaven to do your bidding. Sounds like a good deal to me.
This song is also on our new EP, which is free by the way. Until we run out of free downloads, which could be any minute of course. I wrote this song last year, while struggling pretty badly with anxiety surrounding travel. My last band had broken up, and I was working on writing songs for what would be CHURCHES, and at the same time was trying to master my fear of flying so I could play shows as the bassist of WATERS. I guess this is kind of about that.
I wrote this song while living in Oakland in 2010. At the time I was feeling like every time I spoke my mind around people my own age about politics, music or whatever, that I'd just get totally shot down unless I said what I was expected to say. That was a bad feeling.
This song was a present to myself on my 29th birthday, which happened recently. It's about the dilemma lots of people face between doing what they want and doing what they are kind of supposed to do. I wrote the lyrics and music during the day, and then went out to karaoke with Van and Marte from WATERS and some other friends at this insane place called the Cambria Pines Lodge (in Van's hometown of Cambria, CA). Our posse of course demonstrated a high level of skill. I performed "Total Eclipse of the Heart." Van and Marte did a stellar duet of the Aerosmith classic "I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing." Moral of the story: you don't have to grow up. Ever. So don't.