With previous singles TRAILS navigated transcendent shades of human emotion. ‘Anaesthetic’ is something else. A different contrast and pointed statement.
The message is this. Digital envelopment disrupts culture. It negates justice. But it’s narcotic.
Power, corruption and lies run rampant. Big Tech drags our focus away from the present at a time when it shouldn’t be anywhere but exactly there. We know it, yet few are motivated to resist. The world’s locked in a downward turn. No one really seems to object.
‘Anaesthetic’ interrogates this numbing embrace. It’s a plea for sanity. These sonics may communicate resignation but in truth what else could better illuminate what’s at stake? Whether this changes views or not, it’s a powerful music.
Having given us the pleasure of premiering this latest track, TRAILS’ talented vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Tyler Shilling offered to share some additional thoughts. Finding him in the company of guitarist Dominic Pelecanos this is what he had to say.
Rabbit Radio: Tell me about the idea behind ‘Anaesthetic’. How did it all come about?
Tyler Shilling: The song’s idea had existed in demo form for a while but without lyrics. It gave me time to ponder on the emotions and core messages of the song, how best to translate it through the arrangement and mix. We rehearsed the song live a lot with vocal melodies set.
With time, word fragments and thoughts started to worm their way into regular use until a vision became clear. The song hints towards the idea that the far-reaching abilities of the modern technological age are being used against us. We’re all too distracted and drugged by our devices, modern media and sport - our little bubble of a life - to be worried about more pressing issues facing the world.
But it’s not so much a rallying cry as it is a resigned exhale - a shrug of the shoulders and a scratch of the head. What do we even do to begin with? I had always envisioned the song having a kind of fog over it, kind of weighed down with an aural haze. I felt that a more exasperated and disenchanted lyrical tone would complement the dark and dizzying instrumentals.
RR: It seems like from the outset bands like Radiohead were talking about the sinister possibilities of digital technology. But it seems like it’s turned out even worse than anticipated. The internet was supposed to be this egalitarian world, a utopia. Where did it all go wrong?
Dominic Pelecanos: There’s a quote by The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas. It says that at the end of the day we’re just “complicated mammals on the wings of robots”. We have such ease of access to this ultra-powerful tool that embodies almost the entire collective of human consciousness, the internet. We can ask it any question and have the answer reasonably ballparked in seconds.
We’ve even seen it catalyse the toppling of political regimes. But we’re yet to conquer our primitive desires and as a result we may end up hoisted by our own petard. Social media has become a breeding ground for feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.
Mental health is on the decline, with more kids being medicated than ever before. Our human brains are not built to receive the amount of non-stop input we’re now bombarded with day-to-day. As a result, it seems we’re headed down a dangerous path. My suggestion is that it’s probably a good idea to practice mindfulness and meditation.
RR: ‘Anaesthetic’ seems to be a shift from your previous singles. It feels more lyric driven. Was there a conscious decision to make more of statement?
Tyler: The idea wasn't so much as to make a statement, it was more an avenue to vent personal frustrations with this Pandora’s box that we as a species seem to have opened. These anxious thoughts bubbled away within me as I listened to the instrumental demos, and once I put pen to paper the lyrics began to spill out in a fairly stream of consciousness. I then sculpted them into a more cohesive narrative. The song really speaks for itself in that regard.
RR: You describe the track as “not so much a rallying cry as it is a resigned exhale.” Despite this apathy do you think music can change the world for the better?
Dominic: If anything can make a positive change, short of the aftershock of a major catastrophe, it’s art. In all its forms art has the ability to strike to the primitive core. It’s not from within the realms of reason, science or popular opinion. It’s simply emotion expressed as beauty in one form or another.
My only concern now is that the waters have been so muddied with corporate-crafted art, that if you’re not willing to look beneath the surface you’ll likely end up brainwashed. If you’re looking to find music in its most pure artistic form you’ve got to search longer and harder. Personally, as a lover of true artistic expression, I say, “Dig deep my friends, salvation is out there!”
RR: Short of complete digital zombification, what’s coming next for the group?
Tyler: We love what we do and we’re not afraid of hard work. All I can say is watch this space, things will not be slowing down anytime soon!
RR: Will we be seeing another EP or debut album anytime soon?
Tyler: While we and our wallets are content with the single format for the time being, we do have a massive arsenal of demos. We’ll be working on fleshing them out in the coming months, so anything is possible! A Christmas themed album may be on the cards?
TRAILS will be launching their new single Saturday, July 14 at Brisbane's The Bearded Lady.