Sufferer Shed Light on Anxiety and Depression With Their Music: "The Only Reason We're Scared of the Dark Is Because We Can't Clearly See What's There"
Awareness is everything, according to California “supergroup,” Sufferer. With their 2017 debut album, the band started a dialogue about mental health, anxiety and depression, and as long as they’re making music, they want to keep that discussion going. In an effort to shed some light on the darkness that surrounds anxiety and depression, Sufferer not only tackle the subject throughout their music, but also put their money where their mouth is, donating 35% of everything they make as a band to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Sufferer just wrapped up a run of tour dates in support of their debut album this month, but it won’t be long before we hear from them again, with plans to release new music and hit the road again in 2019. Until then, get to know a little bit more about the band, their goals and what you can do to further the discussion about mental health below.
Interview by Shannon Shumaker
Can you tell us a little bit about Sufferer for anyone who might be hearing you for the first time?
Sufferer is, first and foremost, a means of understanding anxiety and depression. We have three vocalists (representing the Sufferer, his Anxiety, and his Depression), each with a unique vocal tone, which is meant to help listeners decipher the fragmented thoughts that can occur within a single mind. The music is inherently heavy, considering the subject material, but should feel appropriate despite the fact that it may be a little less comfortable for listeners who haven't ventured far into the genre of heavy rock.
Prior to (and alongside) Sufferer, you guys were all part of other projects - what makes this one special for you? What have you learned from the other bands that has helped you to create the best music possible with Sufferer?
To me, this is a more purely artistic expression. I certainly write with my emotions in my other band, Hail The Sun, but what I compose is then interpreted by our singer, Donovan, who sometimes interprets something differently than the emotion I was feeling when I wrote the part/song. That's an important part of how we collaborate/experiment in that band, so I often bite my tongue in favor of seeing what we end up with! But with Sufferer, I had the opportunity to really ask myself: What does anxiety sound like to me? What about depression? Once I had these sounds, I knew they'd be compounded on by Cory's lyrics and Blake's drums, while retaining that inherent emotion that I'd set out to portray. Seeing these Points of Origin so clearly/transparently, I think, helped give each song a strong, specifically-relatable foundation.
Nearly a year ago, you released your debut album as Sufferer. Now that it has been out for a while and you’ve had the chance to play those songs live, what are some of your favorite things about the album?
Playing it live, my favorite thing is the lack of repetition throughout the album. Each song has its own set of rhythms, chords, and mini-motifs that tell individual stories. They all relate on a 'meta' level, but they never feel too similar. I also really love the natural dynamic flow of the live set, which we weren't sure would translate so easily from the LP.
What do you hope fans take away from your debut album or just your music in general?
My biggest hope is that a listener is able to recognize and understand that anxiety and depression are merely voices in our heads, and that they can and DO exist separately from our own conscious thought. I secretly want to force introspection. Short of that, though, I just hope people think the riffs/beats are sick.
You’ve mentioned before that 35% of everything you earn as Sufferer will donated directly to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. What makes this such an important cause to you and the band?
Awareness is everything. The only reason we're scared of the dark is because we can't clearly see what's there! If we know where the bed ends, and where the table legs are, we can avoid those bumps in the night, whether the lights are on or not. Reaching out to the ADAA helps further support the greater cause, so more people may benefit from seeing these things that exist in the dark of our minds, regardless of their interest in our music.
You guys are also gearing up to hit the road in support of your debut album! What are you most excited about on these upcoming shows?
Well, we just passed the halfway mark for the tour, and so far what has excited us most is the enthusiasm that exists across the entire country! We played Providence, RI, last night, which is in the furthest corner possible from the bedroom in which I wrote much of this album, and still there were people there who related to the music, the message, and the movement. What more could we ask for?
What can fans expect from any upcoming tour dates?
The set certainly gets tighter each and every night, but I've also noticed we're all retaining a sense of rawness about the performance, which feels really, REALLY good. It's like melding a perfectionist attitude toward timing/flow with an anarchist attitude toward regularity. We're able to take the subject material very seriously, while allowing/encouraging improvisation and spontaneity for the sake of the live show.
Do you have any other big plans in store for the rest of 2018? Could fans expect some more new music soon?
We'll be hibernating a bit for the remainder of this calendar year, to scheme and dream up a 2019 that will include new music, and more touring! We're never completely gone ;)
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
You are more than just your thoughts. You are your actions and your words. Be who YOU want to be, no matter what that voice in your head keeps telling you.