The Family Crest
have roots planted all over the country. The band’s seven members make up the sturdy trunk of an expansive family tree, but their albums credit more personnel than just them—the immediate outfit boasts an “extended family” of hundreds of members. Since the making of their first full-length record, 2012’s The Village, frontman Liam McCormick and company have enlisted contributors from far and wide to record with. Their network started with people from within a hundred-mile radius of San Francisco for The Village and expanded to encompass the entire West Coast for 2014’s Beneath the Brine.
Now, after foreshadowing their forthcoming effort with their recent EP Prelude to War, they’ve officially announced The War, which features contributions from folks all over the country. McCormick, with bassist/co-founder John Seeterlin and collaborator/director Keith Lancaster, embarked on a recording tour, hitting as many major cities as possible, to record instrumentals and vocals from fans who wanted to be on the record. In the end, they were able to add about 90 members to their extended family, reinforcing the larger-than-life, orchestrally charged rock anthems that the core members are already equipped to produce. The War won’t be out until Feb. 23, but today, the band is premiering the first listen of the album, “It Keeps Us Dancing,” exclusively at Paste.
Of the album’s concept, McCormick says:
The War is supposed to represent struggle and trauma and the general butterfly effect it creates on the rest of our lives. When I first started writing The War, I had just finished recording The Village, and around the time we were mixing the record, I had ended a pretty long relationship. At that point, I had already spent about eight years living in the Bay area, but I finally moved into San Francisco. It was a weird time experiencing the death of something but the birth of something, as well, so that’s what inspired the concept of the album. It’s a collection of songs about what we go through as individuals and how we deal with them.
The album’s lead single plays its part in the collection accordingly, keeping to the theme of coping with struggles. The start of the song is arrestingly tranquil, with McCormick serenading us over a sparse bed of acoustic guitars and keys. His entrancing vocals then lead listeners into a majestic ocean of strings, horns and percussion, building and building with intensity as the song progresses. “Like a fire, we’ll grow and grow / And it keeps us moving / Oh, it keeps us dancing,” he sings. At some point, the anthem dies down only to pick back up again, ending with a grand symphonic melody.
“’It Keeps Us Dancing’ is supposed to represent how as individuals, we go through a lot in our lives, and as we get older, we get more and more jaded, and because we’re jaded, we feel like we already know the outcome of our experiences,” McCormick explains. “However, I think we have to be open to the possibility of things not working out the same way every time, and we have to persevere. So the song is essentially written about falling in love with falling in love and the hope that that brings.”
The album is built on an extremely personal and emotional foundation, but there are overarching political themes present, as well. “Although I conceptualized the album during The Village era, a lot of the lyrics were written fairly recently, so there’s no way the effects of the political climate wouldn’t seep into the lyrical content,” McCormick says. “It’s very strange to be releasing something called The War during a time when this country almost seems to be at war with itself, but this record is about conflicts and how we can heal and move forward, and it feels very appropriate now.”
In support of their album, The Family Crest will be embarking on a tour around the States alongside The Dear Hunter, kicking off today, Nov. 28, in Portland, Ore. See their current itinerary below, underneath The War’s cover art and tracklist. While you’re at it, listen to “It Keeps Us Dancing” and check out a performance from The Family Crest’s recent Paste Studio session below, as well.
The War: Act I Album Art:
The War: Act I Tracklist:
01. To Love You
02. It Keeps Us Dancing
03. Take Tonight
05. Never Gonna Stop
07. Waiting Still
08. I Was Born
09. Like a Light
10. The Years
11. The Mighty Echo
12. The Rock’s Resting on Your Back
The Family Crest Tour Dates:
28 – Portland, Ore. @ Doug Fir Lounge
29 – Seattle, Wash. @ The Crocodile
01 – Berkeley, Calif. @ The UC Theatre Taube Family Music Hall
02 – Anaheim, Calif. @ House of Blues Anaheim
03 – Phoenix, Ariz. @ Crescent Ballroom
05 – Salt Lake City, Utah @ The Complex
06 – Denver, Colo. @ Bluebird Theater
08 – Chicago, Ill. @ Bottom Lounge
09 – Akron, Ohio @ Musica
10 – Baltimore, Md. @ Baltimore Soundstage
12 – Boston, Mass. @ Royale
13 – Brooklyn, N.Y. @ Warsaw
14 – Philadelphia, Pa. @ Union Transfer