Community Spirit is the re-creation of songs from childhood during the lockdown, approaching the younger self with complex feelings and different perspectives. Looking back, sounds emerged from childhood tunes tangled up with new meanings. The reminiscence of a simpler time is combined with hope for a better future. As a creation out of the lockdown, Community Spirit also ponders on a pre-covid world where people got to enjoy the spirit of community – getting together, experiencing life, and playing music. Working through restrictions and limitations, The Academic is bringing us a DIY EP on July 17.
Community Spirit was recorded almost entirely in a tiny bedroom with frontman Craig Fitzgerald producing for the first time. The EP is a nice surprise with a refreshing twist from The Academic’s usually content written directly through their experiences in life (we love that as well!). The lyrics from a different time with the melancholy undertone adds a complex aftertaste to the sounds. “We wanted to maintain the essence of innocence when you were that young with lyrics, and we wanted to allow the narrative of the EP to be about children but us looking back as adults,” said Fitzgerald.
The opening of “I Don’t See Good” started with simple drum kicks alongside dazzling soundscape, twirling through the reflection and distortion of time into the past. The taste of candy and first kisses resurfaced in the expansion of memories. Eventually, it faded as the door toward the past closes behind us. The senses still linger, thoughts running wild in space.
“Not Your Summer” tapped into the shadows and lights sneaking in between the leaves on a summer afternoon. With catchy guitar riffs floating occasionally up in the air and the right amount of ambiance under the vocals at the right time, the song is fluid in between the line of past and present.
“Kids (Don’t End Up Like Me)” is a letter addressing the younger self, reflecting on life and past decisions. Spirited rock n roll reminded us of the rebellious late-teens when we start to think we have all the answers in life but just full of attitude. Yet in Fitzgerald’s voice, a hint of bittersweet brought us back to the present. Read our press interview with The Academic on the childhood theme and challenges recording during the lockdown.
Written by Katrina Yang
Press Q&A with The Academic
Q (Rising Artists Blog): “Community Spirits” is very narrative in terms of its storytelling. Can you tell me more about the childhood theme of the songs?
CRAIG: At the start of the year, the country had opened up lockdown for Christmas. I think we have all slightly lost our minds. It lasted about three weeks of Christmas for us to act a bit normal, and then the country came back with a level five lockdown. We’ve been playing some Christmas gigs, and all our gears were in lockup. I was in the writing mood, and all I had was a guitar and very little to sing. I felt like everybody was really down. There was nothing to sing because the four of us were always having our eyes open, living. We write songs about that. Before this, we decided to do an EP, and I’ve done all demos of two songs. They were songs from our childhood. We wanted to maintain the essence of innocence when you were that young with lyrics, and we wanted to allow the narrative of the EP to be about children but looking back as adults.
Q (Rising Artist Blog): What are some challenges you faced or interesting stories to tell in the making of this EP?
STEPHEN: The challenge was finding somewhere to record it physically. In my bedroom, where we recorded most of it, there was like one space of the desk. A couple of people can sit in the coach, and someone had to lay on the bed or in the bed. When we say it was DIY, we weren’t lying about it, except for the drums. We rented a room to do it because it just couldn’t fit. We did it all in a tiny bedroom. People use the term “bedroom pop” a lot, but we took it very seriously.
Q (Music Enthusiasts Blog): How would you guys describe the process?
CRAIG: […] We wanted to go back to the earlier days of catching the performance, like how great Dean was on drums and how great Matthew and Stephen were on lead guitar and bass. That was the beginning of it, and we would add to it. […] We were just playing like four kids again, and that’s the essence of this EP and what brought it by the name. That song is extremely old and was written when we were teenagers. We didn’t have cars, and we were relying on our parents dropping us off to play guitar together. The whole essence of this EP – being home even though we had to escape and didn’t get to go elsewhere
Q : What is it like revisiting old lyrics and making something entirely new and fresh?
CRAIG: For the song “Kids,” that was the song we played before Dean was ever in our band. We tried it so many times. I actually have an old version where Matt’s drumming on it. I definitely think it was stranger because I just sent over an acoustic thing and put it through our bands’ WhatsApp, letting people decide whether it was still a thing or not. And then we had to make sure we were not to make the same mistake we had done over the past few years trying to make the song make sense.
MATTHEW: Sometimes, the best thing you could do with a song that was written so long ago, and you nearly forget about it, is to revisit it with completely fresh ears and different perspectives on life and songwriting. It can totally change the lyrics you thought when you were really naïve. When you come back a few years later, it makes so much more sense than the simplicity then.
STEPHEN: Yeah, it’s strange how time has on lyrics. The lyrics were the same on Kids, but when we were younger, we were kind of looking forward and very anxious, but now we’re a bit older, it seems more self-reflective.
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