Good Album Friday Interview: Some Days Are Darker
November 28, 2020
Some Days are Darker is the bluesy, goth-tinged soul project by singer-songwriter Lear Mason. Inspired by ’80s alt-pop and ’50s-era recording, the solo endeavor calls back to rock-and-roll crooners like Chris Isaak as well as goth-rock greats like Nick Cave and The Sisters of Mercy.
This week, Some Days are Darker released the latest single from its upcoming debut EP Love+Truth, which drops July 31 via Inferno Choir. “Take Me Anywhere” continues where the EP’s debut video “Wolves” left off, creating an immersive world rich with love, loss, and rebirth. Watch the video for “Take Me Anywhere” and read highlights from my conversation with the Some Days are Darker frontman below.
What drew you to music?
As long as I can remember, music was always around me. As a little kid, we had a piano in the living room and on the other side of the room was a record player. There was such a wide gamut of records in there—The Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Prince. My mom was always playing a lot of Motown and soul music. My dad was into more rock-and-roll—Stooges, MC5, Zeppelin. I think in a lot of ways, that stuff influenced me early on. By the time I was finding artists for myself like Depeche Mode, Joy Division, Bauhaus, and some of the gothier post-punk bands, I just decided I wanted to play guitar. I think I just felt like I wanted to be able to create music, so I should get a guitar because I was primarily listening to rock music, and I can just figure out what to do next. I was 12 years old. I didn’t necessarily have a great epiphany. I just felt like I wanted to be part of that world.
Where are you from?
I’m actually from Windsor, Ontario, which is Canada but right across the border from Detroit. If you live in Windsor, there’s nothing to do, but you can get to Detroit in 10 minutes. In Detroit, there’s everything to do—all the great concerts and shows were there. If you live in Windsor, your culture is across the river. I felt pretty connected to that. Motown, The Stooges, and MC5 came from there.
Can you touch on some of the themes on Love+Truth?
I had some major life changes—some falling outs with friends, made a few enemies—and found myself in a bit of a challenging place. At the same time—because so many things were going wrong—I quickly learned who the really important and loyal people in my life were. On top of all that, I was falling in love, which I had not expected to do at that point in my life. Finding new love combined with all the turmoil and things that were falling apart, it’s almost like—have you ever heard this quote, “When things are falling apart, it sort of seems like they’re actually falling together”? You look around and everything’s blowing up and things are going bad and wrong and not the way you planned. Things don’t always go the way you planned, but I inadvertently found my way into some really wonderful relationships and things too. I think that conflict and riding that line is what led me to these songs, and it’s given me a lot of material to draw from.
I don’t know if this is a quote but I really like, “Everything happens for no reason.”
I would say that the most common theme of Some Days Are Darker is just love songs, but the underlying theme is existentialism. So, your quote is very relevant. It’s the struggle and the turmoil that we feel, how we cope with the outside world, and who we are going to be in that world. Yeah, it’s all wrapped up in there.
The Some Days are Darker sound is hard to box in genre-wise. When I first heard the EP, I thought it sounded like if HIM was an acoustic band.
That’s funny, I’m a big of fan. I have the exact same problem. I could never get my message straight when it comes to the genre. If you’re solidly in a genre, it’s really easy to say. But I think being solidly in a genre is a little too narrow for me.
Tell me about the “Wolves” music video.
That’s the first video that I did. It’s kind of a scattered timeline, but covers the same kind of themes of love, loss, and rebirth. I think there’s some fairly apparent ritual cleansing and ritual burning things going on in that video. I also like to pepper in a few other Easter eggs for anyone that’s paying attention. The video for “Take Me Anywhere”—which is the second song on Love+Truth—is almost part of an anthology. It picks up where the “Wolves” video left off. It’s all wrapped up in creating that world.
I really enjoy concept albums and seeing music videos for each song on an album.
I’ve always been a big fan of concept albums because you know that the artist is fully involved. There’s an overarching idea to everything. It’s not just a bunch of songs that are good that they piled together. It’s a whole body of work. There’s a story arc to it, almost like the way you watch a 10-part TV series. You have all these individual episodes which are the songs, but you have this greater arc that you can take away from it. I think anyone who’s a Bowie fan or a Queen fan or a Pink Floyd fan, you have to be a fan of concept albums.
Some Days are Darker is very cinematic. What else do you draw inspiration from?
A lot of design. I totally nerd out on black and white photography and typography design. A huge part of it is film and contemporary TV. Some of my favorite albums are soundtrack albums. Just before you called, I had the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack on. Right next to that is Pretty in Pink and True Detective. I’m thinking cinematically a lot of the time when I’m writing, and the music videos that I’ve done so far kind of play into that same idea too. I am thinking of Some Days Are Darker as kind of a world that you can escape into.
You’ve also covered “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers. How did that come about?
I oscillate wildly between trying to nail this perfect sentiment—and craft the perfect lyric or song—and wanting to pile all my guitars up and light them on fire. I write love songs. That’s what I do. Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No sunshine” is a two-minute song that I think just about anyone—I’ve never heard anyone say, “I don’t like that song.” Anyone I talk to says, “Yeah, of course, what a great song.” It’s one of those songs where you hear it, and it just hits. It’s so concise but so emotional. It’s got sorrow in it, but it’s wrapped so beautifully in a pretty package. It’s that beautiful sadness thing that is really hard to hit as an artist, and he perfected it. I was actually really nervous to do that cover because it was one of those covers that I didn’t know if I could live up to … I think it lives very comfortably in the context of the five other songs on the album. If that helps bridge people over— and hopefully they check out the other songs and find something they like too—that’s pretty great. I know I’ve discovered a lot of bands through a cover song. You mentioned HIM earlier, and their cover of “Wicked Game”—to me—is better than the original. It’s a great cover. Sometimes you find a band via a cover, but you realize the rest of their catalogue is relevant to your interest … We’re actually filming one of the scenes for the video for “Ain’t No Sunshine” tonight. That might come out hopefully in August.
You’re currently based in Phoenix, Arizona. How do you think that translates to your music?
I have somewhat of a love hate relationship with Phoenix. It’s been very good to me in a lot of ways—my girlfriend’s here, we have a great studio downtown, my brother lives here. We are right in the Arts District near Roosevelt. All of that’s really cool, but at the same time Phoenix is brutally hot. The days are really tough. The summers are hard. You kind of hide from the sun and only work at night a lot of the year. I think the idea that I’m rooted here but I’m also kind of dying to get out of here creates a tension and a sense of longing that I’m still kind of hoping for something more, or looking for what that next place might be. But for now, I’m here.
What’s your favorite album from start to finish?
The Sisters of Mercy’s First and Last and Always. I put that thing on and I just flip it all day long.