It's safe to say Shutups' Hadley Davis was a bit pent-up while writing songs for the Oakland, Calif., indie punk duo's first full-length album Every Day I'm Less Zen, whose video for the track "Yellowjacket" is premiering exclusively below.
During the middle of the decade Davis suffered from Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a rare medical condition in which one's skin is burned off from the inside. He spent three months in a hospital and then another two years avoiding the sun as his new skin grew in. "I was kind of like a vampire, really," Davis tells Billboard. It did give him plenty of time to concentrate on songwriting, however, and build upon Shutups' four previous EPs.
"Oh, absolutely (the album) is from that situation, and other years of just waiting for the situation to be corrected and to have a band and finally get past the point of problems with my own music and being able to get it out there -- a lot of things like that," Davis explains. "There was just a lot of time wasted, I feel. It was like coming out of two years of solitude and just going for it. It's very urgent."
Working with drummer Mia, Hadley set out to make Every Day I'm Less Zen, due out this summer, "more robust or grand" than Shutups' EPs. "I wanted to write an album, not just 12 songs," he explains. "The EPs are collections, really. I was trying to write a 44-minute piece that is technically just broken into 12 songs. I wanted something to play from start to finish that hangs together."
"Yellowjacket" is the only song on the album Davis says he and Mia wrote together in the studio, coming up with the main riff which he fleshed into the song later. "Lyrically the songs is definitely about being discontent in general," Davis explains. "I spend a lot of time avoiding actual interactions; Instead I just stay inside and write songs. That's kind of what it's about." The video, meanwhile, finds the two of them sitting on an all white couch, part of the time with nylon masks over their faces, with projections flashing graffiti-like throughout the clip while the couch changes scenarios.
"I wanted something kind of monotonous but also something with a little illusion to it, that looks a little bit fake," Davis says. "Walking around with the sofa took a lot of time, a whole Saturday of driving around my hometown (Livermore, Calif.) and setting up in different places. We definitely had to talk to a lot of people about it; If they see a camera they're gonna ask some questions, just being nosey."
Shutups are currently on the road and will also be out in May, with an even larger tour slated for July after the album's release. "We're saying yes to every show that gets offered," Davis says. He's also continuing to write and doesn't expect the explosion of material to subside any time soon.
"I've got about 30 songs," he reports. "I want to winnow it down to 12 and get back into the studio pretty much as soon as the tour's done in July and get that out. We took way too long, I think, and I don't want to wait another two years to put out a follow-up to this (album). I'm ready to go as soon as we can."