Only Siblings’ debut record has slowly been revealed over the course of the past few months via the Staten Island punks’ creative music videos. Not only do we finally get to hear the project in full today, but we’re also getting yet another visual, this time for the Get Well Soon single “Selfish,” which takes the quartet back to the aggressive hazing of high school. Filmed (illicitly) in the school one of the band members substitute teaches in, vocalist Alex Basovskiy shares that the clip was filmed during the school’s freshman orientation: “None of the school faculty knew we were filming a video, nor did they know we would be smashing a guitar in a bathroom. Hopefully none of them make their way to finding this write up either.”
You can watch that video below, and stream the anticipated record via Other People Records—the label that recently brought us an equally shoegaze-indebted pop punk release from Fort Collins’ Gleemer—with a track-by-track analysis courtesy of Basovskiy. You can also order the record here.
1. “Screen Door”
This one was written shortly after a relationship of mine failed. At the time I was confused and couldn’t figure out what I wanted. I had prioritized music and it ultimately made us drift apart. At the time I felt guilty for not prioritizing differently, but I was also frustrated that it felt like the relationship was never meant to work out in the first place. The broken screen door was meant to symbolize the future we would talk about that was ultimately never going to actualize. At the time, I wrote a few songs about this subject, hence the song ending with the repeated line “I wrote you down again.”
This was one of the songs that got restructured the most in the studio. It initially had a lot more parts, but we ended up scrapping a bunch and making it a simpler structure, which I think made it a lot more effective.
A motif of the record ended up being trying to figure out my relationship with everyone around me. My mom used to be a professional musician, and while she was initially very supportive of me picking up music as a kid, it became a big point of contention when my parents saw that I wanted to pursue music more seriously. I graduated college with a degree in finance but had absolutely no interest in that. When I first started writing the song, I used the term “unintelligible blur” to describe the feeling that I got from playing music and what I was constantly chasing. That ended up getting cut, but the whole song was essentially delving into the idea of chasing the intangible feeling of doing what you love as opposed to settling down for financial stability.
The verses reference this intangible feeling, while the chorus mentions the constant fighting that would occur in my household as a result of chasing the feeling. With us adopting the term “loser rock” to describe ourselves, it was an easy choice to give this song its name.
3. “My Violet”
This song was essentially about being frustrated with not being able to devote as much time to music as I had wanted. It sounds like I’m talking about a person, but I’m actually referring to music and the personal goals I set for myself. When I wrote this song, we weren’t able to tour as much as I had wanted due to some of the guys’ personal lives, and I knew we weren’t going to put out new music for a while, so I was frustrated with the whole situation. The “fear” that I reference is realizing that music may never work out and I may ultimately have to settle for something else.
This was the first of the four videos that we shot ourselves for the record. I’ve done some video stuff before, but we rented a camera and equipment I knew nothing about, so the whole process was pretty stressful. Everyone had to learn to use the camera since I couldn’t film myself for the bike scenes. We just decided to drive around random parts of Staten Island and wing it. I think that us doing the video ourselves helped our personalities shine through a little more in the end. There’s some subtle (but really not so subtle) references, including us “borrowing” some intro scenes from Donnie Darko. We don’t know much about cinematography, so why not?
4. “And I Hate It”
This one was another pretty straightforward one about a failed relationship I had. I wrote it a while after it ended and I found myself still wanting things to go back to how they were. That was super frustrating to me because I knew that I looked back on the situation with rose tinted glasses and that I shouldn’t have been so hung up on it. The song was me looking back on the good memories and realizing that it’s all over and done with. I came up with the title a while later when I had a moment of clarity and realized how frustrating it was to constantly be longing for something I’d never get back.
The video for this one was shot the same weekend as “My Violet.” We were already pretty burnt out from running around and shooting during the day, but we decided to make use of the time we had with the rented equipment as best as we could. Huge shoutout to my friend Scottie for letting us use his deli. There’s no better spot for a New York band to shoot a video in than a corner store, right?
5. “Mt. Holly”
This song was written lyrically with the help of everyone in the band because it was about an event that we all experienced together. While on tour, we witnessed a van hit a woman who was parked on the shoulder of a highway and got out to check her tires. We pulled over to try and help the woman and saw that her daughter and mom were both in the car and witnessed the whole thing. We waited until the ambulance arrived, and the woman was incoherent, but seemed to be doing alright. It wasn’t until a week later that we googled it and found that she had died a few days prior. It made us realize how quickly your whole life can change. The song is mostly from the perspective of the woman, until the very end where you find out that she has passed away.
That whole tour, we witnessed crazy stuff on the road. A few days prior, a car’s tires blew out in front of us on the highway, and the car slammed into the barricade. Needless to say, we were pretty over driving by the end of that tour.
6. “Lead Paint”
Guitarist Jordan Torres: This song was written mostly in one night on an acoustic guitar. I sent it to the band the same night and Alex started writing leads immediately and we started practicing it that week. The song is a very personal one, mostly centered around a specific time, and my interactions with someone that I care for dearly and how their own demons affected me.
Alex: This song was initially written for a full band, but we ended up scrapping that arrangement because it sounded too much like a ballad. This was the only song on the record that I didn’t sing, so to make it stick out more we decided on making it more of a lo-fi acoustic song with some guitar accents. I think the lyrics ended up feeling a lot more vulnerable and moving when the instrumentals became more restrained.
[Bassist Damian LaRocco] and Jordan initially wrote most of this song, both instrumentally and lyrically. They shared a lot of the same feelings I did when it came to being unsure of the future and if music would end up working out for us. Initially, Damian and Jordan sang it, and it was structured differently. We trimmed it down in the studio, and when we made the decision to have me sing, I ended up rewriting the melodies with [producer Corey Coffman] and changing the lyrics to better fit that. The idea remained the same, and the whole song is just about wanting to fully immerse yourself in what you enjoy doing. The reference to “noise” and “warm light” is music. The “consequences” and “weight” are the idea of being forgotten and never being able to accomplish our dreams.
I think this song sticks out the most both instrumentally and lyrically, but that was intentional. It’s short and super simple and has weird solos that walk the line of being cheesy. On the surface, the lyrics seem to have a complete lack of self awareness. The whole point of the song was a tongue-in-cheek take on some people that were around us at the time. We saw a lot of people that took music seriously, but focused too much on the idea of “fake it ’til you make it.”
For a while, when our local music scene was doing well it seemed like all anyone cared about was how many likes their band had on Facebook instead of focusing on writing music that meant something to them. I thought it was all a bit silly, so we wrote a song that poked fun at that idea. I never had any specific person in mind, but the lyrics are from the perspective of someone faking it ’til they make it. I reference the age old cliché of hating your hometown (“This place is just the worst”), being vain (“Something has gotten in the way of what I like to see, my mirror is missing the reflection”), and meaningless music (“Don’t bother listening, the title means nothing”).
We approached the shooting of the music video with the same exact mentality. The idea was to get kids to dress like us and seem to be playing in the worlds biggest band, when in reality they’re just playing pretend. The kids did a great job and we had a lot of fun throwing in some random references.
This song was written when I looked back to my mindset in the middle of a failing relationship. The title is referring to myself, because I was aware that my selfish actions were a huge part of the reason why things weren’t working out. The song was me realizing how selfish I was in the relationship. The whole first verse was essentially me realizing that I was destroying the relationship and not caring. This was symbolized by the idea of seeing a deer cross the road but not slowing down. The choruses were me realizing that I would say whatever it took to keep the relationship going until the wheels fell off. The first chorus referenced some specific arguments we would have. The second chorus was me realizing my actions were ultimately not working, but still hoping I could “fool” my way out of constant problems.
Instrumentally, the song was influenced by Dinosaur Jr. Because of that, I wanted the song to be more fuzz-driven than what we had done in the past. We all ended up liking the sound so much that most of the record ended up having that specific tone, so in a way this song kind of changed the trajectory of the whole sound of the LP.
One of the guys is a substitute teacher, and for whatever weird reason, he volunteered for the school he works at to shoot the video. There was an orientation for incoming freshmen and their parents going on the entire time we shot. Lyrically, this song isn’t particularly lighthearted, but we wanted to have a less serious approach to the video and make it seem almost like it was a school project. Being back in a high school was definitely a strange feeling for me, but we all had fun with it.
Fun fact: The math problem on the “student’s” test in the intro scene is a part of the Navier-Stokes equations, which have been named one of the seven most important unsolved equations in mathematics. School is hard. Also, none of the school faculty knew we were filming a video, nor did they know we would be smashing a guitar in a bathroom. Hopefully none of them make their way to finding this write up either.
10. “Corner of the Bed”
This song was written right at the end of a relationship when I felt entirely responsible for it failing. At the time I was frustrated with the idea of the person moving on, so the song was my way of showing my vulnerabilities and trying to move on myself. It mentions a lot of the common threads between the previous songs, feeling insecure and frustrated with my own actions. This song ended up being longer and more aggressive than the rest, so we thought it would make for a good closing track.