City Paper is not for tourists
Standout Track: No. 4, “All Consuming.” Instead of using the gotho-profundo style he indulges in elsewhere on the EP, vocalist Shawn Helton here whisper-talks the verses and wails the chorus (“Aaall consuming!/Aaall consuming!”). His bandmates offer dark, postpunky accompaniment with pounding drums and swelling feedback.
“It’s not a pop song,” says drummer David Svrjcek. “There are no guitar riffs, no real melodic piano, or anything. It’s about the intensity of Shawn’s vocals and Paul [Bernardi]’s bass line”—and about coming face to face with a vision from the subconscious. “My imaginary friend,” Helton intones. “I saw you in the archway/So permanent.”
Musical Motivation: “The song is about being pushed to the brink of insanity at a young age,” the 28-year-old Helton says. He saw the figure described in the lyrics when he was 8, during “a disturbing childhood” in Falls Church.
Bernardi paired Helton’s lyrics with music inspired by the writing of Edgar Allan Poe, especially “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Helton also “loves that story,” he says. “It reminded me of my situation, where the walls were cracking and everything was coming down.”
Setting the Mood: To record the vocal track, Helton says, “I put myself in a small room—in my bathroom, actually—and turned out all the lights. It was just me and a microphone, and I sang while staring in the mirror.”
In live performances of “All Consuming,” the band uses a keyboard to imitate the sound of church bells. “I went to Catholic school,” Bernardi explains. “So I have a lot of disturbing memories that involve church bells.” —