Mt. Joy Finds a “Silver Lining”
On the day of the release of the fourth single, “Silver Lining,” from their forthcoming debut album, folk band Mt. Joy’s lead singer Matt Quinn spoke to TIDAL about the events surrounding the creation of the single.
What’s the background/context of the single? What does it mean to you?
For this particular song, I actually wrote like half or more in college around 5 or 6 years ago in reaction to things going on in my hometown, Philadelphia. Drugs sort of took a toll on people I knew, and it happened all at once. I felt the burn of the epidemic across America. I saw a lot of young people passing away way too soon, and it was sort of a reaction to that.
I was trying to find some sort of silver lining to all that had swept through my town and as we became a band here and put our crew together. We were kind of forced to come up with as many songs as we could. I went back to this song, revamped it and added some things. That one specifically is a super personal song but I feel like as time has gone on, it has become more and more universally relevant.
Did you feel like you had to write the record to exercise these feelings you had? It can be depleting and make you feel hopeless when you see people degrading and falling apart around you. Did you need to write it out? Was it a cathartic experience?
For sure. For me, writing music has always been sort of cathartic, in that way. It’s my way of coming to terms with something like that. It’s hard to find where to go from there, or how to fix something like that. I’ve always turned to music and that’s where the songs came from. For me, it sounds cliché but be thankful of the people around you and make sure you’re watching them closely.
What is the songwriting process for the band like?
That particular song sort of existed in song form already. I had the song and lyrics. When it became a Mt. Joy thing, I brought it to them and the music evolved, becoming something different, but that experience. It’s kind of how we bonded for the most part, so it was pretty natural. That one in particular because it was a song that I had written years before it felt like we really had a good template for where we wanted it to go. I just tried to improve on it as much as possible.
I was an undergraduate at the time. I was going to Northeastern, so I was living in Boston. I was writing and in a band and trying to do the same sort of thing I’m doing now.
From when you started writing the song, did the message or tone change at all?
So, I added some lyrics to it recently as we revamped it and tried to update it, in terms of the growth that we’ve made as a band and with songwriting. We’ve updated it in that way and some things have happened since then that I felt like I could incorporate into it. We made some relatively minor changes, like I think I added the second verse, as part of this project. Nothing drastic.
How does this song function within the album? What purpose does this song have in the greater scheme of what the album is?
I think this song is, in some way, different. I think this whole record is very much about going through the stuff that we’ve all going through for the last 4 or 5 years and a lot of those challenges, I think, are similar to anyone in their 20s. I think it fits into that sort of experience of being young and life changing pretty rapidly. I think it is a little different in some ways, too. I think it fits, but it’s unique.
Are there any specific influences or musical cues that you picked up from people that you can hear on this song or throughout the album?
Not in the sense that we set out to “sound a bit like this” or “sonically layer” it like that. I think we have a pretty wide range of influences and I think it comes through subconsciously. I think if anything ends up sounding like other things, it’s probably more subconscious. I grew up listening to Grateful Dead and all sorts of stuff that I feel like influenced some of the sounds. I don’t think it ended up sounding like a Grateful Dead record, but I remember when I was writing the song at first, it was really just two choruses with a relatively short jam in between. I can remember the influence carried over, but what has happened is a majority of the songwriting has become more refined. So it’s like a looser song from the past being more refined.
Will there ever be enough to say about an issue like this?
I think there’s definitely more to come. For me, things happen in my life or happen to people around me, and that’s where most of the inspiration for my music comes from. Unfortunately, I don’t think this year really saw these issues being solved or being solved anytime soon. Who knows? Maybe the good news will be that next year we figured it out. I definitely feel like there will be more songs like this.
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