Arcadia Grey Walk Us Through Their Coming-of-Age Pop-Punk Odyssey “Casually Crashing”

Coraline Kunda breaks down all the humor and heartbreak of the Chicago trio’s latest record.
Track by Track

Arcadia Grey Walk Us Through Their Coming-of-Age Pop-Punk Odyssey Casually Crashing

Coraline Kunda breaks down all the humor and heartbreak of the Chicago trio’s latest record.

Words: Mike LeSuer

Photo: Snow Ellet

May 10, 2024

There’s a certain crushing realization that’s usually responsible for setting the whole coming-of-age process in motion for any individual who grows up tethered to a sense of reality: that there’s really nothing propping this whole “society” thing up, and that adults do not, in fact, have their shit even remotely together. While the obvious response to this realization is blind panic, it’s the sense of humor about the whole thing that completes the transition into adulthood. There’s only so much individual brooding one can take before realizing there’s a collective laugh to be had at the fate of our species.

Chicago pop-punk trio Arcadia Grey rein these broad existentialisms in a bit with their latest record Casually Crashing, an examination of these themes leaning on the epic narrative form established by Prince Daddy & the Hyena with their 2018 album Cosmic Thrill Seekers, as well as the playful spirit. In half an hour, the group fronted by Coraline Kunda examines the deep tragedies and petty grievances that define our lives as adults, from neglectful roommates to individuals who crowd us out of our own sense of self up until the moment we conjure the strength to break free and rebuild a new, stronger community around us. 

Casually Crashing is a record about the sluggish self-dissection that is the transition from youth toward adulthood,” Kunda shares of the new LP. “Watching the invisible veil of naïvety that blanketed over our friends and families slowly rot and decay into the harsh reality we reside [in]. All we are is to be casually crashing through life. Leaning on various crutches to make it through each day, losing hope in the world and people around us, losing hope in ourselves. Armed with only our wit, love of Modern Baseball, and an encyclopedic knowledge of antiquated video games, we trudge onward into the unknown, jokes blazing.” 

With the record out today, Kunda provided us with a field guide for Casually Crashing which outlines her and her band’s development over the past few years—the trajectories that informed the bulk of these songs. “Our record is the paranoid ghost of the state we were in when these songs were devised, as much as it is the power of music and friends to keep us going even through the darkest of times,” she shares. “Even though we are all crashing, we at the very least have each other.”

Stream the record below, and read on for Kunda’s track-by-track breakdown.

1. “Top-Deck Jinzo”
For a majority of my childhood, I felt powerless and had little respite from the behavior of my father. As I’ve grown into adulthood he’s refused to see me as anything beyond the scared little child he held an iron grip over. After our falling out, once I moved out, I moved on—built a new family, experienced acceptance beyond anything he would’ve ever let me imagine. I’m still haunted by what he did, and for years lived in constant vigilance that somehow he’d find a way back in, to hurt me in a new and unexpected way like he always did. This is a song of reclamation of what he tried so desperately to steal from me. I’m no longer afraid of him, but I’ll always carry the scars he left. It represents this feeling of excessive paranoid guardedness I now drag with me everywhere I go.

2. “Kevin Pickles and the Great Pool Noodle Excursion”
This song was written out of a moment of frustration with past roommates. This anger that had been building up about the littlest task that just could not be completed by them. The easiest chores that take no time at all. It felt disgusting and pointless. I felt helpless, yet couldn’t express my frustrations to them in a healthy way. But it bothered me so much, ate me up inside. It’s a feeling that we’ve all experienced. Clouding your judgment and creating an unhealthy  perception of your friends and family. This undying anger over the smallest disagreements. I wanted to capture it, reflect on how easy it is for these emotions to expand to a point of no return. Where we feel like we can’t keep it in any longer, and it escalates to dangerous and irresponsible levels. How far could you take it—would you kill your friends over it? Was it that bad? Even when you disagree on something, we’re just casually crashing to a point of no return. We’re all just burning together. 

3. “Made 4 Love”
After coming home from a tour cut short in March of 2020, I was faced with the realization that I didn’t know who I was outside of being a musician. In starting Arcadia Grey, for the first time in my life I’d found a community of like-minded individuals and experienced love and support leagues beyond anything I could’ve ever imagined growing up. Then, due to circumstances beyond my control, I was back at home and more alone than ever. In that space of self-reflection I realized how entangled my sense of self and well-being were with being a DIY touring musician. Every aspect of my life at the time existed to serve and enable my participation in furthering my band’s career. I’d sidelined my physical and emotional health, relationships with loved ones, and personal aspirations to fulfill this singular goal. “Made for Love” is a reflection of my process in redefining myself and developing self-compassion outside of just what I produce. People have value—not just for what they can provide, but in simply being. 

4. “everything is miserable and I am brooding alone in my dark dark room” 
This song was written as my personal reaction after watching Jacob Tierney’s film The Trotsky. For the majority of my adolescent and young-adult life I constantly grappled with the crushing workload of simply existing, compounded by the seeming indifference of people both in my immediate vicinity and on a global scale. With all the worldly issues and the advent of technology, I and my peers were raised in a world of constant bombardment and desensitization. One unfortunate byproduct is that many of my peers and loved ones, myself included, seemingly lost hope entirely that the world around us could ever improve. For a long time I wallowed in this apathetic haze, unsure of how to proceed. But as time unfurled, my fear and acceptance hardened into a bitter anger. This anger has propelled me into motivation to change and work to improve the world around me. Regardless of how hard I work, I’m still faced with hearing my loved ones’ whimpers for justice go unanswered and watching them suffer. The world will always be cruel, but it doesn’t mean we have to be.

5. “P Daddy Hoodie”
I can confidently say the album Cosmic Thrill Seekers is one of the sole reasons I still exist to this day. “P Daddy Hoodie” is a song about the feeling of hiding under the covers of your childhood blanket when things get scary. For years, my go-to comfort outfit when I was feeling depressed was my forest green 3XL Prince Daddy & the Hyena hoodie. While I’ve been an active fan of their work since 2017, their 2019 magnum opus redefined how I experienced music and played a vital role in my journey of self-discovery. This song exists as a monument of appreciation to the security this band’s art has provided me and plenty of other people with. There’s comfort in its consistency. In a world of constant uncertainty and distraction, I’ll always remember I can come home, put my big green hoodie on, and feel safe—at least for a moment. 

6. “Dwight 512”
In 2019 I was heavily contemplating dropping out of college to focus on the band and tour nonstop for a year. This came with a lot of feelings. This pressure from my family to stay in school. The pressure of my professors to stay in school so that I’m set up for a “real” job in the future (the irony being that I was attending film school). Then, ultimately, the pandemic happened and I was forced to take a break from school and lose out on precious band development. This song is meant to capture that pressure of doing something because someone else wants you to. How the world may view you if you choose to not align yourself with someone else’s pre-determined fate.

7. “The Rat Fortress”
This song, in tandem with “everything is miserable” and “Jet Set Greydio,” were the only three surviving songs from the second EP I’d written intending to follow Arcadia Grey’s last release, Trilogy. Following in its peers’ footsteps, “The Rat Fortress’’ extrapolates on my predication (at the time) toward altruistic behavior as a justifiable direct alternative to self-harm. While one of the more straightforward songs lyrically and musically, “Rat Fortress” is a curation of my weakest points while Arcadia lived in our first apartment together: the infighting, disdain, and sense of duty I felt for my roommates all warped my perception and, in turn, my relationship with my band. So often the world feels too big for me to change anything, and writing this song provided me with an outlet not to hold on to that sentiment and keep going.

8. “Origami Crane” 
“Crane” was written as a reaction to a group of people from Bloomington I really desperately wanted to befriend, but convinced myself they wouldn’t like me without even giving it a shot. Sometimes it’s so easy to second guess and doubt ourselves that we write off opportunities that are definitely within our grasp. “Crane” verbalizes a lot of recurring lines of inner-self talk that tormented me for years and articulates how long I personally kept myself in a box in a vain attempt at self-preservation. 

9. “Jetset Greydio” 
I wrote “Greydio” during a period in my life where I began to grow disillusioned with using substances as a means to coping with my depressive symptoms. Coming out of the pandemic, I leaned a little too heavily on weed and alcohol as means to pass time and defer anxieties to a later date. After beginning the steps to recovery, I was truly humbled by how difficult the road to a healthier relationship with substances and my loved ones looked. It’s so easy to get obsessed with the difficulties directly ahead that the big picture and the progress already made gets clouded and misconstrued. “Greydio,” for me, is acceptance of the friction experienced in the pursuit of change, in spite of setbacks and tribulation. 

10. “Halley”
“Halley” was actually the first song we wrote for the record. It catalogs the reflection I experienced in the aftermath of my grandfather’s lost battle with lung cancer after coming out to what remained of my family. Throughout my adolescence he stood as a beacon of security to me, and his death signaled the decline of my household’s stability. Unfortunately I never felt comfortable enough to share with him my confusion about my gender, even though I felt certain he’d still love me regardless. Due to a predominantly Christian upbringing I was deeply ashamed that I wasn’t the son my parents so desperately wanted, and as a result hid my identity as long as possible for safety. After coming out, tensions rose for years between my mother and I, and we nearly severed our relationship permanently as a result. In turn, I found solace in both the local music I became a part of and the family I wove within the network of friends in the Indianapolis DIY scene. “Halley” tries to express the importance of being truthful with those you love, because at the end of the day, all our time together is finite.