The Spill Canvas Walk Us Through “Conduit,” Their First Album in Nearly a Decade

The MySpace-era emo vets catch us up to speed by detailing their new album, out now via Pure Noise.

In an era when music festivals are handing out increasingly large cash rewards for decades-old bands to get back together, it’s somewhat rare that those reunion shows lead to new material from the artists. The Spill Canvas are one such band—after reuniting for a handful of tours in support of their iconic mid-aughts LPs, Nick Thomas talked his band into writing their first new material together in nearly a decade.

Conduit follows 2012’s Gestalt, incorporating plenty of new life experience into the lyrics sheet without upending their recognizable grungy, emo-tinged pop-punk sound too much. Wrestling with heavy topics ranging from poly-substance addiction, a schizoaffective disorder diagnosis, and the death of his mother, Thomas’ lyrics are shaded with a new sense of earnestness, even while the music sounds like—in Thomas’ words—”Cursive mashed up with The 1975.” Vocal contributions from members of All Get Out and Eisley, though, reinforce the spirit of emo and post-hardcore the band’s been maintaining for two decades now.

Going deep on each song, the songwriter shares the story behind each track on the record below. Stream the full album, and read on for his track-by-track breakdown.

1. “Architecture”

This feels like the best way to open the album to me. High energy, blasting off straight out the gate. The lyrical content also being rooted in a topic I wanted to set the tone of the album with—a raw, unfiltered take on the music industry/pop culture and the unfortunate way things turned out between me and people who used to be my best friends. 

2. “Firestorm”

I recall after writing the music for this we heard hints of Cursive mashed up with The 1975 and weren’t sure what would come of it. But once the vocals were tracked it all came together and we knew it’d likely be the first single that could properly reintroduce our new chapter of music to the world. My favorite part is the dichotomy between the powerful gospel choir layers and the lyrics on desire via technology. 

3. “Darkside”

Definitely a collective favorite amongst us all. Also has some of my favorite guitar parts on the entire album. Unlike most every other Conduit song, I had briefly hit a wall with fleshing out the content and melodies to this one. But after mining through some old lyrics I finally cracked the code and found a tune that perfectly represented the toxicity of an old relationship from my past and the dual personalities that I seemed to have taken on within that awful roller coaster.

4. “Calendars”

The inside joke with this one is how we dubbed it the “car commercial song”—mainly because of the synth-driven intro. The electronic elements that make up these roots were definitely outside our comfort zone, but we felt it necessary to fully explore the uncharted territory of what we could achieve in the arena of our brand of uptempo super pop. There’s no better outcome than the satisfaction from pushing ourselves into this new space and getting a result we can all enjoy.

5. “Blueprints”

This one is by far the most raw exposed-nerve song for me personally. Being about the passing of my mother due to complications from a double lung transplant, I don’t know that there’s been a more difficult song to write ever. We didn’t have the best relationship, but when she got diagnosed with a genetic emphysema-esque disease I began repairing any burnt bridges between us from the past. Fortunately, this allowed me to have a proper goodbye during her final days in hospice. The silver lining is the immense healing achieved by writing this song in her loving memory. 

6. “Cost”

I’ve been battling a poly-substance addiction since 2009, which I wouldn’t wish on anyone, ever. Then in 2019 I received a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder with psychotic features. Needless to say, even in recovery now, it’s an internal war that doesn’t ever let up. My intention was to capture the quintessence of the daily bloodbaths I have with the demons that have permanently infected my soul and mind. Lyrical content aside, I’m honored and floored by the incredible guest vocal feature by the amazing Nathan Hussey of All Get Out. His presence really makes this track feel complete to me.

7. “Gallon”

The crux of this song for me is the juxtaposition of the major key, floaty happiness of this music, and the extreme darkness of the lyrics. In my early twenties I struggled with suicidal thoughts that aren’t really an issue for me today, and have since become rare flickers that leak through once every couple years. The goal was to illustrate these scarce moments in the most authentic way possible. 

8. “Akathisia”

Touching once again on my dual diagnosis of a schizoaffective addict. The content here stems from everything my wife has had to deal with amidst my minefield. On the musical end I’m proud of us for pushing ourselves outside our comfortable standard timing and specifically sought out to write a rock song in 5/4.

9. “Molecules”

I’ve joked with my wife, Sarah, that I don’t have to write another gushy song for her for a good while after penning this one. Being the first official love song I’ve written for her in the five years we’ve been married, I feel so lucky the powers that be gave my heart access to create such a perfect representation of my affections toward her. The whipped cream and cherry on top is the incredible musicianship from our pseudo fifth member, Geoff Black, and the stunningly beautiful guest vocal feature from Sherri Dupree-Bemis of Eisley.

10. “Conduit”

Having the album title before writing the lyrics to this song, it was a no-brainer to expand on the idea of being a conduit for the universe to broadcast messages and evoke emotions via songs it wires directly into my skull. After writing Spill Canvas music for over sixteen years, I still attribute all of what we’ve created to merely being the vessels through which higher forces speak. I also feel this is our best closing of an album to date with the ethereal release of the outro instrumental.

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