Originally formed in Wichita, Kansas in 2006, Seasons After was on top of the world with the release of their debut album Through Tomorrow in 2010. Their cover of Gerard McMann’s Cry Little Sister (you know, the song from The Lost Boys) was in heavy rotation on radio, MTV and VH1 and they graced the stages of the Vans Warped Tour, Taste of Chaos, and Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festivals. Also in 2010, original frontman Chris Schlichting left the band, though he was quickly replaced by Tony Housh. However, the band was soon faced with a lengthy legal battle with their former record label and nothing new has been heard from them since. You may have thought that was the last you would hear from them, but you, my friend, would be wrong.
Finally, they are back, releasing Calamity Scars and Memoirs independently on September 26th. Guitarist Jim Beattie took the time to talk to Screamer about the time off and what we can expect next for the band that has faced more than its fair share of trials and tribulations. The time “off” was not spent in vain, as the band worked to really focus on their next step. According to Beattie, “It was definitely mostly spent writing. There was some down time there, but the whole time we just stayed writing, kept going. We definitely knew that we were going to come back and do something with it, we just didn’t know when. Most of that time was spent just traveling back and forth with each other and writing and recording and getting the rest of the stuff done towards the new album…the emotions that we went through during that downtime definitely had a huge impact on how the songs were written, what we had to say and the way went about putting it out there.”
Calamity Scars and Memoirs was produced by Beattie and fellow Seasons After guitarist Chris Dawson and mixed and masted by Mark Lewis at Audio Hammer Studios. Beattie described the process of recording the album alongside Housh, Dawson, new bassist Jesse Saint, and drummer Tim Rails: “Well, it took almost the entire time that we were down because we recorded these songs numerous times… Dawson was very invested in the recording process, and early on he had done some recording on the engineer side of things and had a really good grasp on how to do that. We didn’t really have a budget to do too much as far as going and recording with somebody in particular, we we just took it upon ourselves to just make it our thing… we got the process down and we did it all in-house. We tracked these songs three times. The first time through was when came off the road after the first tour…. it’s like writing a paper. You write a paper and after you’ve got your first draft done, if you’ve got the opportunity to go back over it again and make it better you just do. So, I would say it was a lucky thing that we got three chances to go through these songs and make them cooler every time and make it more personal and a little better every time.”
Releasing an album independently is clearly a labor of love, and while it is very fulfilling, there are also some challenges. “The benefits are that we have control over it; we don’t have to consult anybody about how we do it or what songs we put out and choose how we go about it,” said Beattie. “The only thing I would say is that the plusses are also minuses. You know, you have to choose your own songs, you don’t have any backup as far as budgeting and money to really do anything in particular. It’s a pretty big task to take on- to try to get a band broke in today’s market, in the U.S. especially. It’s just hard, the market is so saturated and there’s so many people out there trying to do what you’re doing. I think it’s a matter of digging in and trying to find the right people to talk to and the best way to get yourselves out there. Social media definitely gives anyone a huge platform to get out there on; it’s just a matter of making the right decisions I guess.”
Speaking of social media, did the band use these outlets to keep in touch with their fans during their off time? It wasn’t so easy, due to the fact that they weren’t allowed to say much while embroiled in a legal battle, but, shared Beattie, “We tried to put little things out here and there just to let people know that we were not done… we couldn’t say much, so we felt like the best thing to do was to just not say anything because we didn’t want to cause any more problems for ourselves. But anytime that anyone asked us, we always told them, ‘Don’t count us out. We’re gonna do our best to get back at it.’”
In the band’s bio, Chris Dawson spoke about the title Calamity Scars and Memoirs: “I couldn’t think of a better way to describe a band who has been through so many trials and tribulations. The album tells a story of the absolute struggle that the band has had to endure and the definite changes that have happened not only behind the scenes but also in the actual sound of the material for this album. This is truly an evolution from where we were circa Through Tomorrow.” Beattie also commented on the difference between the two albums. He said, “We obviously had some member changes early on, right after that first album, so we knew the material was going to be a little different and we kind of had a choice to make. Were we going to reach more in the direction of what the first album was or were we going to do our own thing, with our own sound and own it. We kind of went on the side of whatever it was that we came out with, we would just own it and not worry too much about the first album. With Tony and Chris- with a singer being changed- that automatically, you’re going to have a different sound to deal with. I like what happened. The first album was really aggressive and I feel like the second album holds a lot of aggression with it, but it also kind of branches out in ways that first album didn’t quite get to.”
So far, the band has released two official lyric videos, for So Long Goodbye and My Last Words and Beattie believes that we will try to put out a performance video as well, perhaps at the beginning of 2015. His personal favorite on the album is Weathered and Worn:”It doesn’t really have anything to do with a particular situation that’s going on here and now. It’s just kind of about a spiritual journey- what you believe and what you don’t believe. It’s left kind of open ended and it connects with a lot of people I think. As far as performing, I don’t know that there’s one in particular that’s more fun… you know, you’re putting your stuff out there, people are relating to it and every song has been like a blessing to get to perform.”
After an album release party in Wichita on September 26, the band has been touring the Midwest since then, with plans to branch out to other areas as soon as possible. And if they aren’t booked in your area yet, you can check out their new digital merch store at seasonsafter.com.
After experiencing some of the highest highs and lowest lows that a band can experience, Seasons After is not ready to back down, and have not let those experiences make them bitter, though it has changed them. Beattie shared: “We appreciate all the support and this experience kind of hardened us in a way. There are things that I would do now that I’m not as scared of because of this process and because of all the down time and coming back that I wouldn’t have done in the past. There are things that you look at and know in your head, like man, if that had happened a few years ago… and nowadays nothing scares us I don’t think. I think we can overcome whatever comes our way.”