Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
As you're reading this, if you're reading it on February 18th, 2010, and not many, many years in the future in some archived setting, the Constantines are on their way to the Winter Olympiad in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, to perform. The Canadian band isn't concerned about the lack of snowfall there, or the warmer than needed temperatures. They don't care that the snow on the slopes, or the snowboard runs has the consistency of mashed potatoes. What the band might be most concerned about lies somewhere more in the depths of that pristine land up north there - something a little less than pristine. Okay, a lot less than pristine. It's as if the band exists in the cryptic moonlight of a harvest moon, or one stirring the palpitations of the hearts more than should be. It's as if we're back in the lairs of a wolf pack or a werewolf's den, where there's blood splattered on the walls and there's a small pile of bones tucked off to the side somewhere - evidence of what goes on when the bodies are stricken with hunger pangs. The Constantines lurk in the backwoods, where shacks contain secrets and creatures who have purposefully retreated a bit to be alone with their creeping thoughts and moans. "Sub-Domestic," a song that the band recorded for the album "Shine A Light" back in 2003, is an excursion into this world that sounds as if it's slightly feral and maybe somewhat of the fires of hell. It's a confession, so lead singer Bryan Webb mentions at the outset with rattlesnake tail shakers going agitated in the background, and he sings, "Does sanctuary still exist?" It sounds as if this rock and roll band - through Webb's whiskey-ed and emotional vocals - is finding itself looking for peace where they might never find it, driving itself mad in the search. For the songs on all of the band's records are full of maddening descents, drops in morale and many souls pleading for some kind of muting of the chaotic storms that keep flashing and arising with teeth bared and little remorse. These are songs of men sent running for the hills - that sanctuary that they're so desperately seeking - and looking over their shoulders all along the way because there's an inherited and substantiated fear that something or many some things may be gaining on them. The ground feels as if it's smoking, dense with fog and there's an escapist in the words that Webb sings. He's looking to settle racing heart rates and just not feel so overwhelmed. It's a splash of scalding water to the face, then it cools and another round gets tossed. It's as if every Constantines song contains elements of paranoia, a flipping out, some beings fighting in the dirt, getting messy, a break to catch some breath back and then some kind of epiphany, before the indignation and another slighting starts the process all over once again. Webb sings, "The last sound that I'll make will be the last sound that I hear," and it's part of a sensation that sounds as if no medicine could work on. It feels as if all the lights will be dying sooner rather than later and we'll all be left with our faulty senses, to see, touch, hear and feel whatever the skittering and blinking transmissions will allow. It's entering this darkness, on a regular basis, that make these songs tear at you like the midnight hours that they are, asking for frankness and all of the current concerns to be out in the open. It's facing these dark nights with some kind of scared familiarity, as Webb sings, "Where's my black water, my loving cup." We go into the unknown with our coffee.
Constantines Official Site
Arts & Crafts Records