Gatherers’ 2018 record We Are Alive Beyond Repair breaks the molds of confessional heavy music by incorporating “confessions” that are not the singer’s — or the band’s — own. The band, fronted by Rich Weinberger, relays messages drawn from the broad human experience that are not stories to be boiled down but are instead enveloping feelings and moods to be grasped at and experienced.
Weinberger, as the band’s lyricist, drew inspiration from already existent works of art of numerous forms. That’s not to say, though, that every song simply reflects another piece out there somewhere; there’s no obvious one-to-one relationship here. The record contains the songs of the poet who views the world around them and somehow turns that environment into a story.
“For me, personally, I’m more inspired by a third person perspective on things,” Weinberger explains. “On We Are Alive Beyond Repair, without boiling everything down into specifics, the whole album is an amalgamation of being inspired by visual art, literature, movement, time and place. Every song is a different swath of color; every song is a different headspace. I think this band has always prided itself on always aiming to create a mood rather than a concept album or anything like that. We don’t want this record to be singularly boiled down to being of a particular topic or a particular narrative.”
Staying away from explicitly topical music frees the listener to experience their music more fully, Weinberger feels. The bigger picture is important to him.
For We Are Alive Beyond Repair, the “bigger picture” is symbolized by a literal picture — the art adorning the front of the record. It’s a photograph taken by Evelyn Bencicova that Weinberger took on as the album’s art before most of the songs had even seen a first draft. The picture guided his and his band mates’ writing for most of the process, keeping them in line with what began to take shape in initial demos.
“Because every time we were able to write, we had that photo to look back to, it just kept us on track,” he explains, “It kept us in order to make an album that felt like an album from start to finish, that resonated with the artwork, that made sense with the album title.”
Many other pieces of art weighed on the creation of the actual content of the album, including some that Weinberger feels an observer might never guess were connected.
He offers the graphic novel Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine as an example.
“I read that, and it made me feel a certain way for that week,” he explains. “I was obsessed with the way I felt because of reading that, and from there, I was able to write something else.”
“At the time, I was very, very particular about the type of art and literature I was gravitating towards,” he adds, speaking on the writing process. “I pulled out a common thread, and was like, ‘so I’m in a mood because of this, how do I regurgitate that onto paper?’”
Through that process, We Are Alive Beyond Repair grew into an at times emotionally ugly but romantic sounding work.
The musical sensibilities of neither Weinberger nor the band operate on only one track. It’s just the art that they were taking in while writing that’s reflected in their work — “I’m not like a dark, troubled soul or anything like that,” Weinberger quips, laughing. He appreciates bands whose respective records encapsulate different moods.
His own band, to him, is just setting down that track. Although the band has three full length albums out with the release of We Are Alive Beyond Repair, he suggests that their 2018 record is their real debut with him on board as vocalist. Weinberger sets it apart with qualities like real “reciprocity between the vocals and the instrumentation.”
He and his band mates are thrilled, in the end, with the results of their work — and now, it’s up to observers to listen.
Image via Kelsey Ayres