if it makes you feel any better jonnie i hated the "better" artwork, mostly just because i could barely read the title :p. i'll still be checking this out, will be interesting to see if the departure of chas affects the tunes at all. good luck!
Thanks, Sam. The "Better" artwork served its purpose, like I said. It was fun and was just kind of an in the moment inspiration.
Regarding Chas, I think he had and always will have a very unique way of songwriting and adding in his own bells and whistles to things. The music is obviously different without his influence (less solo-work, but just for a few of the songs), but we were never incapable of writing without him (though he did help with some of the new songs). He just preferred to do the writing -- until it had become something loveless to him. He has a new project coming out this summer, I presume with Kyle Krejc (KeezyKabeezy), as they're both raving about summer projects that they have coming up, and it will undoubtedly be amazing to listen to, and we'll be very proud of them both. Kyle was almost our new rhythm/lead guitarist, and Scott was willing to move to bass to accommodate his entry into the band. Alas, things weren't able to work out that way on Kyle's end, and I think it kind of disheartened Chas to not be able to have another great musician in the band, that functions on the same level as Chas. Inevitably, Chas had to do what was best for him, and so did we. Either way, the grind still must go on for us with or without him. The dream doesn't just disappear, does it?
The album (aside from Dream/Burden) has a lot going on in it, and there are songs where you can definitely hear things that are hints of something that Chas might have done something similar to. But we now have Justyn, and he's not only more of a team player, but undeniably equally as great of a guitar player for lead, and whom shares the same vision for our music -- and that may result in being something good for us, or bad for us, but a lot happened to us in the last year, and these songs speak volumes about that, either way.
Regardless, it was the record that we NEEDED to write to get it all off of our chests and move on. A lot of bands say that they write the record that they needed to, and it usually doesn't get received very well. I think I understand the need to do that now on a more personal level than ever. It was nice to get back to writing a record for the right reasons -- for the music, the catharsis, and the innate drive we all share. "Don't Tell Me What I Can't Do" tackles a lot of issues that I/we faced personally and as a band, including but not limited to:
-Chas meeting his now ex-girlfriend (Don't Be A Dream)
-Chas's departure/The sacrifice that comes with chasing your dreams/Chasing your dream (Eleventh and Bleecker)
-My best friend Chris taking his own life on February 29th of this year (Psalm 51)
-My meeting the love of my life (19:35)
-Falling out or growing distant with your friends/The falling apart and breaking up of some of our favorite bands (Sometimes It's Not Enough)
-The end of a six year relationship I had with one of the most toxic woman I've ever dated (The Burden of Goodbye)
It's up to the listeners to decide if these songs are better or worse, but lyrically alone I think that we've grown leaps and bounds as a band. Paul Leavitt really did a great job of helping us really make this record come into its own. I really can't stress how much this record means to me personally, and to my bandmates. We're proud of what we've done. We hope everyone that knows us is too.