While Brooklyn trio Big Bliss’ new single “A Seat at the Table” lands somewhere between R.E.M.’s melancholic jangle-pop and the preceding era of early-’80s post-punk, the message conveyed on the track, unfortunately, is a little more of-the-moment. Inspired by band leader Tim Race’s experience watching the events of January 6, 2021 unfold in real time on TV while bedridden with COVID, the resulting track signals a breaking point we’ve likely all reached at this point in history where it feels like all the promises made to us by older generations have come up empty as we’re constantly subjected to multiple large-scale, easily preventable tragedies on a regular basis.
“A Seat at the Table” is the first single from the band’s newly announced sophomore album Vital Return, which will arrive on August 18 via Good Eye Records. The LP promises to go deeper in processing personal and communal traumas and ultimately coming out the other side stronger. Judging by the lead single, even the darkest moments on the record sound polished with a bright sheen.
Check out the video for “A Seat at the Table” below, and read on for some insight into the track (and video)’s themes provided by the band’s Tim Race. Pre-orders of Vital Return are available here.
I wrote the lyrics for “A Seat at the Table” on January 6, 2021. I was at home wracked with COVID, and so I watched the events of that day alternating between the screen and the steamed towel I needed to help me breathe. Fevered and quarantined during a once-in-a-century-pandemic, I heard a familiar ritual: TV news first broadcast violent chaos, then honed analysis, and in time, a body count.
I was in fifth grade when Columbine happened. My memory of it is eerily familiar: I was home sick from school watching TV when around noon the channel abruptly cut to pictures of kids my older brother’s age splattered with blood, falling half-conscious out of windows to escape. My seventh grade class in Pittsburgh was sent home early because we still did not know the whereabouts of Flight 93 on 9/11.
Every one of my peers shares a wealth of experiences like these. They are our generation’s where-were-you-when moments. Television offered us just enough distance that life appeared able to go on, only with another modicum more generalized mortal fear than the time before.
We went on to be the first generation in American history to do worse than our parents.
We came of age in the dregs of late-stage capitalism. While feckless, cowardly politicians shielded special interests like the gun lobby and broke taxes for the rich; the Supreme Court decided that corporations were people; and the US went into a 20-year unjust, racist war. Our adulthood arrived to a broken promise—our generation’s seat at society’s table was pulled from under us, leaving us locked in survival mode by design.
That survival, both individual and collective, physical and economic, is outside of our control. Our greatest threat is being in the wrong place at the wrong time.