I’m Glad It’s You Break Down Their Grief-Filled LP “Every Sun, Every Moon” Track by Track
The 6131 release details singer Kelley Bader’s life after the death of his beloved friend Chris Avis.
The news of a sophomore record from Southern California emo collective I’m Glad It’s You was somewhat bittersweet, hearing that the group’s follow up to their 2016 6131 debut was an elegy to their late friend Chris Avis, who served as mentor to vocalist Kelley Bader and videographer for the greater SoCal punk scene with his Cavis Tapes video recordings. Building upon the heavy themes of The Things I Never Say, Every Sun, Every Moon sorts out the grief and guilt that have plagued Bader since the 2017 incident.
In turn, I’m Glad It’s You have channeled this grief into a powerful statement on love and loss, charting a songwriter’s descent into agnosticism in a way rivaled only by David Bazan—an artist Bader cites as an influence on the record’s blueprint. Expanding upon the confessional lyrics that comprise Every Sun, Bader went deep on each track, citing memories of Chris and his processing of them during the album’s conception. Stream the record below, and read on to hear Bader’s thoughts.
Every Sun, Every Moon is out today on 6131 Records. You can order it here.
1. “Desert Days”
Towards the end of writing Every Sun, Every Moon I had started to feel both that I had not said everything I needed to say, and that there were actually no words that could say the sort of thing the album was trying to accomplish. So I wrote this piano piece to stand in where I felt like language was failing me, and we put it first on the album to acknowledge the incompleteness of the album and its inability to fully communicate the experience.
2. “Big Sound”
We wanted the first song to completely capture the changes we had undergone on every level; as individuals, as a group of friends, and as the band itself. We felt that the music we had written for “Big Sound” could introduce the personal changes and the band’s sonic change at the same time. The first line is borrowed from the first real song we ever wrote as a band, and that song was also about change and reflecting on the past. So I thought it would be an impactful way to demonstrate how deeply transformative the crash was, so much so that it made us look at ourselves and our history within a new context. We wanted to retrospectively update the meaning of what we had made in the past because it became difficult to connect with who we had been before.
The lyrics are trying to paint a picture of this sort of inverted spiritual experience. In classic mystical experiences, one would normally be awakened to a new spiritual life, but I felt like this radical experience had sort of “baptized” me out of my spirituality and the worldview I had known my whole life, and into something new. I also needed the first song to recognize the positive impact Chris left on my life too, and by trying to show the pain of his loss alongside the enormity of his impact on me, I hoped it would bring a wholeness to my friendship with him.
3. “Ordinary Pain”
This song chronicles life during the first weeks following the accident. Everything sort of blurred together and it felt like I had been trapped in one long day that extended outward from the crash. A lot of good friends gave me a lot of wise advice and I tried taking comfort in the fact that grief is not only a universal experience, but it’s something I’ll pass through like everyone else.
But as time moved along I felt like the grief kept finding ways to feel new again, and I felt like I was trapped inside one long, slow crash. It was easy to recognize that the pain of loss is a normal feeling, but I never experienced it that way, and I doubt anybody ever does. But I think that’s OK, I think it’s important to let yourself feel the uniqueness of your pain and let it remind you of what someone meant to you. It’s OK if it never fully heals, I think it’s good to revisit that pain from time to time if you’re able to.
4. “Lost My Voice”
This was the first song I wrote after the accident, and it was more or less trying to communicate my inability to communicate. I was replaying my memory of that day to pull some meaning from it, and the more time I spent with that memory, the more shame I felt over it. At the end of struggling to figure out what I wanted to say, I realized that I was desperate to both cover up and express my guilt. All I wanted to say was “I’m sorry,” and then hide from the world. It’s taken a lot of time and healing, but a lot of loving people have helped me learn to let go of that. It’s not a feeling you need to fight with right away, but it won’t serve your memory of your loved ones well. It makes you constantly look at yourself so that you can’t notice the good you’ve been left with, or even how much that person loved you back.
5. “The Things I Never Said”
One year after the accident I embarked on a five-week solo tour while the rest of the band was taking time to recover. This song talks mainly about those experiences, of being alone and reflecting on the past year while being careful not to reflect too long and run the risk of slipping back into being wholly consumed by the grief I was feeling at home. There was also something about being on the road doing this incredibly lonely tour that made me feel like I was paying off some sort of debt I owed for what happened—like, as long as I was continuing the band and honoring Chris’s memory I was doing the right thing.
But frequently that pacifying feeling would be pierced by complete bereavement, and during this period it was accompanied by regret more than it had ever been. There were so many things that I wanted to say to Chris that I couldn’t, and there was such a depth to the irony of having written a whole LP about not speaking up that devastated me. And this song reflects on that regret.
Musically this song was written almost entirely by Robi, I only arranged it and made a couple small changes. But the pace and sudden dynamic changes in the music coincide so well with that feeling of trying to suppress the regret until it became too much to handle. After time, though, I think I’ve learned to let the waves come and go as they will. Occasionally I would say the things I wish I could have said out loud in my car, and I truly believe that it’s a healing ritual.
6. “Death Is Close”
I never anticipated how pervasive some of the effects of the accident would be—I had been told it would take some time before the trauma had worked its way out of our systems, but it kept showing up in small, unexpected ways. At the time I was commuting to school, and there were days when I would be too afraid to drive on the freeway, so I’d take side streets and end up late to class.
Most days I’d feel it around town and at work, it felt like waiting for a sudden earthquake that was going to destroy everything, and you knew it was coming, but no one else did. So it made me feel like I was losing my mind, and I couldn’t make it go away, the feeling was just waiting everywhere. I felt like I couldn’t express this particular feeling to everyone, so I was constantly trying to hide it from people. That’s when I had the idea to take this beautiful, summertime, Beatles-inspired song and pair it with lyrics about this fear and trauma I had in order to demonstrate this facade of peace and stability I felt like I needed to maintain.
There’s a quick reference to a Hebrew proverb that says something along the lines of “Oh death, where is your sting?” And at the time I couldn’t understand how anyone could ever write something like that honestly. I felt it everyday, I had no control over anything. I’ve since come back to loving that proverb, but in an entirely different way. On one hand I think it’s so clever and ironic, and on the other I’ve found so many ways to let death exist comfortably with me, and that’s when I feel a sense of having beat it from time to time.
7. “Silent Ceremony”
This song marked a point in the writing where I felt like I accomplished something I had been trying to do from the start. Over the course of writing these songs, I never felt like I was able to effectively say what I meant—it felt impossible to say anything directly, so I was always looking for metaphors and stories to demonstrate the ideas through. Aside from the grief itself, one of the most challenging things to communicate was losing connection to the Christian stories and myths that had shaped my life, so I began looking to other stories and myths for meaning and ways to connect with my world again.
But I was actually brought back to a lot of stories found in my previous faith tradition that incorporate these ancient rites and rituals surrounding grief that I found in other practices and traditions that have existed since the beginning of human history. So I started researching how people throughout history have responded to death through spiritual practices with my friend Erin. And what I pulled from that time was this picture of humanity utterly struggling so desperately to be in touch with the ones we’ve lost, fighting to take power away from death and find life again.
People everywhere have always been trying to commune with the dead, telling stories about life after death, investing life into their memory through rites and rituals. It connected me to a sense of humanity that I had never felt before. I felt almost as if the entire human story was about trying to find life when it’s taken from us. That image of begging the unknown for our loved ones is so beautiful and heartbreaking to me. And I can’t fully explain how much that has impacted me.
I come from a particular denomination of Christianity that places a lot of emphasis on miracles and God as personal savior, and this song chronicles my final stepping away from that. The second verse tells the story immediately following the accident of a family who pulled over and myself praying for a miracle that didn’t happen, while the rest of the song I’m re-examining the stories, mostly the story of Lazarus, that informed my faith tradition and asking questions about them that I hadn’t heard asked before.
A lot of this song musically and lyrically is inspired by my favorite songwriter, David Bazan, and I only say that in light of how deeply his work has impacted me as a person, well beyond songwriting. Even in my youth, his music gave me some freedom to challenge the beliefs I grew up in and around, and this was the most poignant experience of questioning I’ve ever undergone. I don’t fully know how to explain why yet, but this song is one of the most difficult for me to talk about, let alone sing. So I’ll leave it at that.
9. “The Silver Cord”
After I had really committed to writing the whole album through a linear concept and extended metaphors, I started to feel really comfortable for the first time in this process—or at least like I had found a way to manage expressing something that felt so inexpressible. This song came right on the other side of that revelation. The metaphor was from a conversation I had with my good friend Liz as she was explaining some of her out-of-body experiences to me. She was describing what seems to be a pretty common experience of seeing or feeling a silver cord that connects you to yourself so you can always find your way back from whatever spiritual world you’ve entered.
I felt that this, as a metaphor, paints a picture of my experience so much better than I could. The experience of being thrown out of yourself and who you’ve always been, and into this search for someone you’ve lost, the search for meaning and some sign that there’s something beyond this life. But then getting so desperate in your search that you sever everything that connects you to yourself and who you used to be in order to find what you’re after. Ultimately you find yourself lost and wondering if you’ll ever come back to being a whole person again. And that is really what I wouldn’t have been able to say, or even realize had happened to me, without this metaphor to speak through. I don’t know if you could ever go back to a version of yourself before an event such as this, but I do think you can find a new way to be whole again.
Going into recording, I had more doubts about this song than any other. Firstly, although it was and still is one of my favorite songs I’m Glad It’s You have ever written, it had a lot going on musically that felt risky to me, like we were pushing it a little. The descending A chord progression is completely out of character with what I’ve ever written, and the piano piece brings the song close to an era of music that is so out of line with what we’ve done in the past. So even though I was head-over-heels for it, I couldn’t tell if we were making a huge mistake or not.
Secondly, the lyrics had come as the first major turn in the album where I had decidedly attempted to introduce something more hopeful and forward-looking to the album.The combination of the two felt like a massive risk to me, and I didn’t know if anyone would be willing to accept a song that suggested optimism. I was afraid it could undermine everything I had written prior. But honestly, I wrote this song because I needed to. It almost felt like lying, but I needed to write something hopeful to just keep me moving.
I had just reread Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus, and my second reading of it helped me understand the value of the stories and myths we tell. It helped me see that while there may not be a quantifiable, essential meaning behind any of this, life is filled with the meaning you ascribe to it. We tell stories to try to make sense of things that seem meaningless. But all the tools I had been given to make meaning in my own life and the world around me vanished after the accident, and this book helped me see that I could take all the stories I had been given in life that now felt contaminated and meaningless, and rewrite them in new, more beautiful ways.
It’s a repurposed “Hallelujah” when the one you knew doesn’t work anymore. Ultimately it’s about squaring up with the weight of life and the meaninglessness you feel, and giving it all you have anyway. And with a song I initially felt so insecure about, it felt appropriate to just go for it.
11. “Every Sun, Every Moon”
I wrote “Myths” and “Every Sun, Every Moon,” the last two songs on Every Sun, Every Moon, almost out of necessity. But “Every Sun, Every Moon” is undoubtedly my favorite I’m Glad It’s You song. The writing process had become so devastating to my mental health, and walking through my experiences of the accident day after day had made it increasingly clear that I still hadn’t found any closure. And the reality was that I didn’t want to find any. I know that I couldn’t keep living inside this tragedy forever, but moving forward felt like I’d be moving further away from my friend, and I wasn’t ready for that.
Living in the memory of that day made me feel close to him, but it made me even more aware of his absence. And that’s really all I could see when I started writing this song. Everywhere he wasn’t. It was the constant search for something that wasn’t here anymore. But as I began writing the first verse, I felt this radical turn of perspective as I was rereading what I had written. It might come across as cliché, but I literally just switched the words around and could feel the impact of the meaning immediately.
The sun and moon concept started as a way of expressing how constant and pervasive the grief was, but the picture showed me this play on light and shadow, how they exist together and are really only seen through each other. I was so fixated on Chris’s absence all the time, and when I stopped looking for what’s missing, I felt like I could see all the ways he’s still with us. Our collective memory of him, the stories we tell, the personal sacrifices he made for others are still here and they carry him along with us.
Closure, for me, has been accepting the weight of loss and the joy of having known someone like him at all within the same cup. It will always hurt and fill me with gratitude simultaneously. Our friend is gone and here at the same time. And everything and everyone we lose, every good thing that’s gone, can still exist and can be reborn if you’ll let it. This song is about taking the absence and the presence, the beauty and the heartache, the joy and the grief all in the same breath, and letting all of it make you whole.