Coming off the success of their debut album, Invisible Tonight (2014), and their more recent 5-song EP Unearthed (2022), the rock quartet has been hard at work at the desk and in the studio. “Relentless” is their latest riff-driven gift to their fans, and is the lead single for their highly anticipated sophomore album, We Are The Nearly Deads, due in Spring 2023.
“Relentless” is a charged-up track full of grit with a strong message of remaining tough in an even tougher world. The song displays the versatility of the band, notably during the bridge where the band opts for a tasteful piano breakdown.
The Nearly Deads decided to cast a spotlight on each of the four band member’s influences and styles throughout the album campaign, with lead guitarist Steven Tobi up first, as he’s the one seen rocking the Pistols-era mohawk for the single art.
The Nearly Deads have traveled the globe playing for their fanatic followers they call “ZombieNation.” With their support, the band has opened for underground rock staples like Halestorm, In This Moment, Butcher Babies, The All-American Rejects, and many more.
We had a moment to chat with the band about the new single, themes on the upcoming album, the Nashville rock scene and more.
So how has the year treated y’all so far?
Steven: 2022 has been great! Very busy and productive for all of us as individuals and a band. Josh got his degree in Respiratory Therapy; Javier has been releasing a lot of music with his side project Army of 100 Sheep, which is streaming everywhere; TJ has been traveling a lot and enjoying married life, and I published my first book, “The Broken Man,” on kindle and Audible; but most important to the fans, the band finished writing our upcoming album, and are currently in the studio finishing production. We also released an EP, Unearthed, earlier this year, which is five re-imaginings of some of our favorite singles.
Did you do anything fun and exciting for Halloween?
TJ: As The Nearly Deads, you’d expect us to go all out for Halloween, but we are notorious procrastinators and usually end up throwing costumes together at the last minute. The most exciting thing about Halloween this year is releasing “Relentless” out into the world. I can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks of it!
What’s the Nashville punk and rock scene like these days from your perspective?
TJ: It’s definitely changed quite a bit over the years. Some of our favorite venues have closed their doors, and many of them are struggling to hang on. However, the music is alive and well, and it’s good to see the collaborative and helpful Nashville spirit is going strong.
Let’s talk about your new single, “Relentless.” What’s the inspiration and back story behind it?
Steven: “Relentless” began like most of the songs I write- from a riff. When I’m writing music, the direction is usually inspired by my mood at the time, so when this song came to me I was feeling frustrated, inspired and motivated. I wanted to create something with energy that felt anthemic and like a call to action.
TJ: Over the last couple of years, we’ve all dealt with several negative blows. The world has seemed to be in a constant state of chaos. What is truly inspiring about these times is just how resilient and strong you can discover yourself to be. When we all first sat down to start writing this song, I was very inspired by the almost march-like guitar melody and tried to convey that in the lyrics. For me, it’s not just about facing your fears and standing up to your demons, it’s about inviting them in head-on and realizing you’re just as relentless as anything the world can throw at you.
There’s a very interesting piano-led bridge breakdown in the song that really takes a left turn from the punk energy prior. What made you take the song in that direction and who is playing the piano?
Steven: TJ is playing the piano and wrote that fantastic part for the bridge. As the song was coming together, I noticed the rhythms and vibe felt almost militaristic or like a ”march.” I love dynamics and unique moments in songs, so that realization inspired me to create a brass section part in the bridge, which inspired TJ’s piano part. From there it grew into what you hear. TJ and I are also fans of theatrical moments and orchestral music, so it’s nice to add those influences when it feels right.
TJ: My personal favorite part is the end of the bridge where the piano is added back into to the full band, it just sounds like a full-on orchestra marching away in a battle-cry. We love to create drama and moments of restraint in our writing to give the song somewhere to build, and after it was finished, I was even inspired to add the last minute speech as a final theatrical touch.
What made you choose to use “Relentless” as the lead single off of your upcoming full-length record?
Steven: It honestly came down to a vote. It was tough to pick because we feel any of the songs would be a strong first single. Ultimately we thought after being away for so long, Relentless was a song that our die-hard fans would appreciate and find familiar, yet elevated.
TJ: We love every song on this new album and really feel it’s our best work. We felt the message and drama of the song, the killer riff, and the addition of piano was the trademark Nearly Deads’ sound that would be a great re-introduction to the world. Get ready to hear a lot of variety on the rest of the album!
Speaking of the upcoming album: what else can you tell us about it? Any overarching themes or motifs etc.?
Steven: The upcoming album is called We Are The Nearly Deads, and the theme is in the name. We have always been ourselves, but through the lens of what we thought the industry expected of us. With this album, we are writing it for ourselves and it’s the most honest representation of our individual and collective styles and influences. It’s our most eclectic album yet, and we can’t wait to share it with everyone.
TJ: I second what Steve says; the theme is authenticity. Lyrically, I also incorporated everything I’ve been feeling over the past few years as we’ve stepped away and taken a break.
Where was it recorded and who helped produce it?
Steven: The album is being recorded in Nashville at Cat Room Studios with our friend and producer Brian Craddock, who is also the guitarist of Daughtry.
What messages or feelings do you typically try to convey in your music?
Steven: I feel we do our best to convey a message of self-empowerment and positivity through our music. We want people to be encouraged to be their best selves and to know that whatever they are going through, they are not alone.
What does a dream gig look like for the band?
Steven: Wembley Stadium or Rock AM Ring.
TJ: Any large festival would be amazing!
What else might you have in store for the rest of the year and into 2023?
Steven: We will be spending the rest of the year finishing the album, but do plan on releasing another single before the holidays.
TJ: We’ll also continue doing our monthly livestreams on social media and connecting with our fans on our Patreon. We can’t thank them enough for supporting us and helping us make this new album possible! In 2023, I definitely think you’ll be able to come see us live again after we release the album!