Art & Culture Reviews

Interview: Small Words create a unique and important concept album with “Good Day, Bad Me”

Considering May is Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time to bring some attention to an interesting and thoughtful concept record brought to life by the band Small Words. Their record Good Day, Bad Me follows four people going through the worst year of their life. We spoke to frontman Nick Long about the record and what it means to them. Learn more about Small Words below.

Introduce yourself and tell us your role in the band.

My name is Nick, I write the small words, and I do the singing!

Tell me about the process of making the record. It started out from a series of nightmares.
How did that evolve and transform into this?

Yeah, the record came from a super strange place in my psyche. I kept having this recurring nightmare where I had moved away from all my friends and family, I had stopped playing music, and I started filling the void with substance, and sex. Then I’d wake up super confused, and sweaty. And the next night the dreams would pick up right where they left off. There were brief moments of questioning which reality was mine, and so to combat the weirdness, I started writing down themes from the dreams. Shortly after, those writings started forming into the songs: “Brooklyn”, and “Shoot Up”.

What was it like working with Ace Enders and Nik Bruzzese? How did it enhance the record making process?

Those guys are incredible musicians, and producers. We brought them this record in a very loose developmental state, and they were able to see through the edges, and push us into making each song stick out in a completely unique way. I don’t think we could have made this record with anyone else, in the time we had. They know how to prioritize the muse.

Did the process of recording re-hash any of the emotional weight behind the record?

I only had one close call with a panic attack in the studio. It was when we started recording the title track, “Good Day, Bad Me”. My voice was in rough shape, and I could feel myself ruining the track, things started spiraling. Ace Picked up on the fact that I was losing it, and he told me to take a break. There’s this piano in the main tracking room, and I sat there and played the shit out of that thing for 5 minutes, and it somehow reeled me back in. We knocked the song out quick after I had the anxiety to put behind the words.

Part of the concept of the record touches on “accepting one’s own mortality without spoon feeding “it’s gonna be okay”. Can you elaborate more on this and how it came to be part of the message of the album?

Mortality is a big theme of the record. There are four characters, each living through the worst year of their life. One character could care less if they live or die (Brooklyn, Shoot Up). The second is struggling with wanting to end their life (Girlfriend, GDBM). The third, is ready to die, but sticking around for someone else’s well-being (Hospice). And the fourth is grieving the loss of someone they’ve lost, wishing it could be them in their place.

I think mortality is a hard thing for all of us to accept, in one way or another. It can either rob you the experience of living, or add meaning into a mundane day, depending on how you look at it. The people in these songs are genuinely struggling the same way we all do. And I think if I wrote them a happy ending, it would rob them of the triumph of getting through it. Which in the end of the record, that’s all they do… they make it through. Everything doesn’t magically get better for them at that point, but it’s the first step in the right direction for them.

This is such a bold concept for the record. Bold in that sometimes conveying this kind of emotion can become muddy in terms of music. At any point were you worried that the concept you were trying to get across would get lost?

I was super worried about that, but the first day in the studio put all those worries to bed. Ace, and Nik were immediately passionate about the story of the record. They made sure that whatever we were doing musically would serve the narrative of the record. Heaven’s Gate takes place near the water, so the song became surf influenced. Hospice takes place in a home, where the character has 4 months to live, so the first half of the song is the person strumming and singing from their hospital bed in their room. I’d be singing vocals on a track, and Nik or Ace would stop me, and ask me to think over that characters motive. And we’d hit it all again from the top.

There’s a peak and a pit for everything. Based off the concept of the record what has been the peak and the pit of your year in relation to the year talked about on the record?

I was definitely in the pit during the writing process of this record. I was having a very hard time keeping my anxiety under control, and I had a huge case of imposter syndrome with all the songs. By the time we got to really making the record, I was on the total opposite spectrum. I was probably a bit manic, to be honest. So that was definitely the peak. That’s always my cycle with a record though. Music was one of the first places I ever noticed my mental pattern with myself.

You have some shows coming, how do you think these songs will translate into the live space?

People really seem to get it, and it gives me so much confidence in what we’re doing. That’s honestly my favorite part of this band, is meeting people who this music speaks to. Even if people don’t personally struggle with an illness, they come up and can talk about the way it’s affected their lives. Stories are what I try to tell in my music, so to have that returned by someone who has just been moved by our set is an incredible treat. It keeps me educated, and it keeps me connected.

Any summer plans coming up? More shows soon?

In late July we go back to The Lumberyard to record the next set of songs, and I couldn’t be more excited to be back at it again! In terms of shows, we are saving up money right now, so there are no plans to tour out of state, just yet… BUT SOON! 

What’s one thing you hope to accomplish with this record and new chapter of the band?

I hope we can make people feel less alone. That’s all we’ve ever set out to do as creators, and I can already see it happening with this record, and it means the world to me.

Any last words for the interview?

I just wanted to say thank you for what you all do at Impressions. You all help out a lot of up and coming bands, and it makes a difference for us lil guys. Thank you for taking the time to ask so many in depth questions. I wish you all the best, and I look forward to the net time I can chat with you all :]

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