At times, it’s really easy to feel overwhelmed with everything that’s going on around and within you. Life is never easy, but there are certain instances where you feel like the world is conspiring against you. For Chris Sutter, frontman of Chicago punk trio Meat Wave (incredibly named after a nearly fifteen-year-old Onion article), the feeling wouldn’t fade for an extended period of time, despite his best efforts. In fact, the helplessness was so ominous and overpowering that Sutter gave it a name: The incessant. The phrase was so fitting, that eventually the band decided it was the perfect name for their next album, which comes out mid-February.
Halfway through The Incessant comes “Bad Man,” which is perhaps the most straightforward track on the record, and definitely a highlight that will make ears perk and heads bang. It is complete with a soaring hook that sees Sutter yelping, “I’m a bad man,” and will likely be the first song to remain stuck in your head. Check out the track, which we’re premiering exclusively above.
Back to that phrase — just the word alone evokes a sense of horror, even if the source of the horror remains blurred. “It’s a really good word to describe these hyper emotive situations that I would find myself in where I was just full of feeling and sometimes confusion and regret. It was just very oncoming and overwhelming. So that time in my life and those situations I would find myself in… that’s the incessant,” Sutter told me over the phone when we spoke about the record.
As it turns out, this period of dismay allowed Sutter to write songs unlike any he had written previously, provoking a time of reflection and exploration that brought out the real truth, where his previous work often masked his true emotions behind “my opinions on my external world, or people around me, or the government, or society.” The result is twelve noisy, yet melodic statements of emotional disarray and personal reflection.
For Sutter, writing the new Meat Wave record was more than simply collating a collection of songs. “Beyond making a record, it was really just self-improvement and self-reflection, which I had never done before.” Across the record’s twelve tracks, Sutter works to investigate what he was going through during this period, and the product is nothing short of staggering.
Meat Wave’s third record The Incessant is a twelve song analytical interpretation of a dark period in Sutter’s life, giving listeners a full view into his headspace. The band self-recorded their first two full-lengths, and with The Incessant, they wanted to get out of their comfort zone in an attempt to work toward personifying this indescribable emotional state known henceforth as “the incessant.”
They booked studio time far in advance during the writing period to set a deadline for their work, and found themselves fine-tuning and working on the music more than they ever had. By the time their studio sessions arrived, the band had already self-recorded the album in full twice over, but still felt they could do better. “We thought, ‘who could we work with? Who would be cool?’ and we all pretty much immediately said, ‘Steve Albini would be the dream.'”
After months of pre-production, the trio headed into the studio with Albini, who is perhaps best known for his work on Nirvana’s In Utero, tracking and mixing the entirety of the record in just four days. “[Steve] cared about what we were doing and wanted to help us, and he would offer advice, which I didn’t really expect. But he was just down to do whatever the hell we wanted.”
With Albini’s help, the band was able to perfectly create a sonic interpretation of that oncoming, overwhelming sensation of “the incessant.” It’s a twelve-track onslaught of palpable, wrenching discomfort and anxiety, fittingly coming to a climax with closing track “Killing The Incessant.” Sutter describes the track as something of an epitomical soundtrack to these emotions, starting with a cacophony of noise before a familiar melody reprise, and an ultimate abrupt cut to a beautiful acoustic guitar line that ends the record. “The whole record is supposed to embody that feeling, but more specifically the last track is sonically what it feels like to me.”
The Incessant is out February 17 via Side One Dummy Records. Pre-order it here, and check out an b-side from the Incessant sessions that was released as part of the anti-Trump Our First 100 Days project here. In support of The Incessant, Meat Wave will hit the road in February, the dates for which you can find below.
02/09 Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
02/10 Madison, WI @ The Frequency
02/11 St. Louis, MO @ Fubar
02/12 Bloomington, IN @ The Bishop
02/13 Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Tavern
02/15 Allston, MA @ Great Scott
02/16 Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right
02/17 Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle
02/18 Washington, DC @ Comet Ping Pong
02/19 Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Café
02/22 London, ON @ Call The Office
02/23 Toronto, ON @ The Baby G
02/25 Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle