Following the release of their critically acclaimed record A Brief Memoriam and linking up with legendary hardcore label Deathwith Inc, we catch up with Frail Body vocalist / guitarist Lowell Shaffer to discuss how the record was a way to deal with grief and how the US screamo scene has gained more attention in recent times.
GRIEF and loss can take numerous forms, and how we deal with it as humans is always something which is very different from person to person.
But the sense of mourning doesn’t necessarily just come from the death of a family member or a loved one, it can be a support system being pulled out from under you, being kicked out of a home or being plunged into financial debt.
This sense of loss is a deep emotion that people struggle to come to terms with.
For Rockford Illinois three-piece Frail Body, their latest output has been about healing the aches of loss and moving forward.
With their debut full-length A Brief Memoriam, the trio use their music as a cathartic release, not just for loss, but for life.
“We write as a cathartic release for ourselves,” explained vocalist / guitarist Lowell Shaffer.
“It’s not really about appealing to anyone else or worrying about what others might think. The only thing we know is to be open and honest. It would be impossible to write for this band if there were any hesitations.
“I have been dealing with the passing of my mother from cancer, and Nic (bass) recently lost his brother.
“While the lyrics were written by myself they have equal meaning for all of us whom have had to bury a loved one. It’s not something that cures any of those aches but it does help provide a direction towards healing.
“It’s an open and honest expression of love and loss.”
When it comes to how the record has been received and interpreted Lowell continued: “We put a lot of time and effort into it. It wasn’t anything that we forced out.
“If there’s any sort of social issue that this record centres around it is most definitely our current healthcare crisis in America. Many of our American political issues are the direct reasons as to why this record had to be written. We want to provide a soundtrack to loss with a glimmer of hope that can act as a silver lining, and a statement that we need serious change in this society or more and more preventable losses will occur, and this record will need to be written and rewritten over and over again.”
“It’s an open and honest expression of love and loss”, Lowell Shaffer
The band describe themselves as writing lamentations about nihilism, family death, unresolved interaction, social anxiety, old friends, existentialism, and the hopelessness of existence in modern American, and this is reflected front and centre in the new record.
This has been a formula which has been present since the band’s inception, with Nic and Lowell being used to how each other wrote music being in a project prior to Frail Body.
Lowell added: “We re-formed that project after our drummer quit and wanted to have something with a little more purpose and focused direction.
“We had played shows in several bands with Nicholas for years and we shared a practice spot with one of his bands, PAINS. We got in the same room and I think within the first practice we had already finished a song that we were having trouble with. It was a natural fit.”
Thematically the band draws on family death, social anxiety, stagnancy, and longing for a rose-coloured past.
But musically they are pulling reference from Pianos Become the Teeth, Saetia, and State Faults as well as European screamo bands like Shizune, Daïtro, and Sed Non Satiata.
These are influences which seem to have come to the forefront of a musical scene once more that thrived in the 90s.
Now, there is a bit of a revival when it comes to the screamo scene, especially in the United States.
Lowell added: “It [the screamo scene] has definitely gained much more exposure over the past year or two. We would wager to say that our progress that we’ve gotten so far is much more due to the overall listenership of other bands in our genre increasing rather than us leading in any sort of way.
“All scenes have ups and downs and we just happened to be writing albums when there is a global resurgence. We want to do everything we can to support that as we believe in artists making honest music.”
Even though Frail Body has become a standout in the new wave of screamo bands, so much so it gained the attention of Deathwish Inc, but the Illinois natives said they haven’t always fit in, especially on their home turf.
Lowell said that the Midwest seems to be a bit lacking when it comes to any semblance of a screamo scene, with the hardcore world seemingly taking centre stage.
“We don’t really feel like we have broken into our local scene,” added the guitarist.
“Our genre lends itself to a smaller listenership already. We end up playing with a lot of hardcore, pop punk, and emo bands where we are from, and it is a constant struggle playing in an abrasive band to put yourself in front of as many people as you can in a scene that isn’t exactly pushing bands like the one you’re in.”
Having only been a band since 2017 the band has already gained a reputation which is only set to grow.